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had the faintest notion of virtue.
Langthwaite was the centre of salvation, and
outside its sphere revolved desolation and ruin.

There was a national school at
Langthwaite, where all the ladies went on different
days and at different hours, to superintend,
some the work, and some the spelling; and
there was a Sunday school where everyone
fought for a class. It was the cordon bleu
of Langthwaite to have a class in the Sunday
school. There were a great many dissenting
chapels, and a great many missionary meetings.
Religious excitement being the principal
dissipation at Langthwaite, school feasts,
Dorcas meetings, district visitings, missionary
sermons, awakening preachings, and prayer
meetings, were infinite. The parish clergyman,
Mr. Bentley, said that the parish was
well-worked; and so it was. It was worked
until its mental condition was in such a state
of turmoil and unrest that no one knew
exactly what to believe.

To this society came Rosa Floriani, the
widow of an Italian artist-count, certainly, and
the semi-papistical latitudinarian, perhaps.
Why she came to Langthwaite seemed a
mystery to many. But it was in truth no
mystery:—she thought it was only right to
live among her tenants, and to do her best
to the society which gave her her fortune.

She was a beautiful woman, about
twenty-eight or thirty years of age, with
fine blue eyes, and light auburn hair,
as soft and shining as silk, braided in
two thick wavy masses of imprisoned curls.
She was very pale, as if she had lived much
in darkened rooms; but her lips were
red, and so were her nostrils. She was
about the middle size; one of those women
with small bones and soft outlines who
keep young and supple to the last. She
was negligent but coquettish in her dress;
with such taste in all her arrangements, that,
when she received her visitors in a white
muslin dressing-gown and small morning-cap,
clinging, like trellis-work against flowers, to
the curling hair, she seemed to be far better
dressed than the Miss Grandvilles in their
silks and satins, and jewellery and lace, and
grander than their grand carriage with a
footman six feet high. She was excessively
indolent in her habits; at least the
Langthwaite world said so; never, by any chance,
"dressed" at eleven or twelve o'clock, which
was the general time for paying morning
visits in that part of the world; and always
receiving her monde, as she called them,
upstairs in her dressing-room, in this kind of
pretty negligencevery often wearing
slippers, not shoes; little slippers of blue,
or rose, or brown satin, trimmed round
with lace and ribbon, clacking on the
ground as she walked, for they had no
heels. And indeed it was said that Madame
Floriani had been seen in the middle of the
day, and even in the evening, in the same
undress, which was very near to a crime in
Langthwaite. But her abode was worse
than her attire. She had fitted up Whitefield
House with all her Roman treasures,
and they scandalised Langthwaite. The
Miss Grandvilles said they were quite shocked,
and Mr. Bentley spoke through his nose,
and sighed as he called the pretty woman
"heathenish." She had casts of many of
the best statuary set about her apartments
Saint Catherine's Marriage, the Madonna,
Saint Sebastian, the Judgment of Paris,
a Venus or two, and a few martyrdoms.
All this was like fire to stubble among
the people of Langthwaite. But Madame
Floriani, totally unconscious of the effect she
was producing, only thought the Langthwaitians
very cold in matters of art, and strangely
ignorant of real merit.

She was an artist herself; and sometimes
when they came in their grand, stiff, expensive,
and ungraceful toilettes, they found her
dressed in a man's brown holland blouse, girded
with a broad leathern band: while a little blue
velvet cap, with a long tassel, was stuck
jauntily on the top of her graceful head, just
above those curly handfuls of bright auburn
hair. Whereat they were doubly shocked;
and the Miss Grandvilles, very tall, bony and
desiccated gladiators, said she was really very
unfeminine, and that it positively was not
proper.

Madame Floriani's worst enemy was Mr.
Bentley. Mr. Bentley was the young
incumbent of Langthwaite. He was not more
than thirty as it was, and he looked like
twenty. He was a tall, round, boyish person,
with a round face, and round cheeks highly
coloured, an innocent little snub nose, with
those wide flat nostrils that make a grey-
beard look a youth, light-grey eyes, narrow
shoulders, red handsvery redwith the
fingers always swollen, as if from chronic
chilblains, and a full, unformed month,
swollen, too, like a boy's. But in spite of
this round face, with its ludicrous boyishness,
Mr. Bentley had taken up the condemnatory
and ascetic side. His sermons breathed more
than Judaic severity; hatred of pleasure,
hatred of art, hatred of liberation, hatred of
everything but extreme Calvinistic tenets,
church-going, and missionary meetings. This
was Mr. Bentley's profession of faith as far
as he dare utter it even in Langthwaite.
Yet his solemn looks and severe words were
in such ludicrous contrast to that round,
red, apple-face of his, which nature
intended to express jollity, that more than
once Madame Floriani looked up and laughed,
sating, with her sweet voice and foreign
accent, "But, Monsieur l'Abbé, assuredly
you do not believe in yourself when you
speak so!"

Which words used to make Mr. Bentley
furious. As he said to the Miss Grandvilles,
his fast allies, it was very painful to see
Madame Floriani's unconverted state of mind.
Thus the war between the pretty foreign

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