The semi-attached couple
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (1947)
Format: PDF / Kindle / ePub
Size: 7.8 MB
Downloadable formats: PDF
The Semi-Attached Couple
THE SEMI-ATTACHED COUPLE
BY THE HON. EMILY EDEN
THE SEMI-ATTACHED COUPLE
"WELL, I have paid that visit to the Eskdales, Mr. Douglas," said Mrs. Douglas in a tone of triumphant sourness.
"You don't say so, my dear! I hope you left my card?"
"Not I, Mr. Douglas. How could I? They let me in, which was too unkind. I saw the whole family, father and mother, brother and sisters-the future bride and bridegroom. Such a tribe! and servants without end. How I detest walking up that great flight of steps at Eskdale Castle, with that regiment of footmen drawn up on each side of it one looking more impertinent than the other!"
"There must be a frightful accumulation of impertinence before you reach the landing-place, my dear for it is a long staircase."
"Don't talk nonsense, Mr. Douglas," said his wife, sharply. "I shan't go again in a hurry. That whole house is hateful to me: Lady Eskdale with her dawdling, languid manner, and her large shawl, and conceited cap and that Lord Beaufort, with his black eyebrows and shining teeth. Lady Eskdale looked as old as the hills, with all that lace hanging about her face. She has grown excessively old, Mr. Douglas. I never saw anybody so altered."
"Did you think so, Anne? I thought her looking very handsome yesterday, when I met her in her pony carriage."
"Ah that pony carriage that is so like her nonsense. Pony carriages are the fashion, and she has taken to drive. I should not be the least surprised any day to hear that she had broken her neck. Why cannot she go out in her britzska, and be driven by her coachman? and as for looking handsome, it is not very likely that she should at her age. Lady Eskdale is as old as I am, Mr. Douglas."
"You don't say so," was again on the point of escaping Mr. Douglas's lips, and after a pause he bethought himself of the lovers as a safer topic than Lady Eskdale's beauty he had tried that too often in his life. "Did you see Helen, my dear?"
"Oh! to be sure. She was sent for. 'Dear Love,' as Lady Eskdale drawled out, 'she is so happy and you must see Teviot, he is such a darling if he were my own son, I could not love him more.' So in they came, the dear love and the darling. You know how I hate those London sort of men, with their mustachios and chains and offensive waistcoats, and Lord Teviot is one of the worst specimens I ever saw of the kind-"
"And Helen?" again said Mr. Douglas.
"Oh, Helen!" said Mrs. Douglas, and then paused. She was in imminent peril of being forced to praise, but escaped with great adroitness. "Well, if Helen were not one of that family, I should not dislike her. She is civil enough, and promised to show the girls her trousseau but she is altered too. I think her looking dreadfully old, Mr. Douglas."
"Old at eighteen, Anne! what wrinkled wretches we must be! Has Helen grown gray?"
"No but you know what I mean: she looks so set-up, so fashioned. In short, it does not signify, but she is altered."
Mr. Douglas had his suspicions that Helen must have been looking beautiful, since even his wife could not detect, or at least specify, the faults that were to be found in her appearance. He had seldom seen her so much at fault for a criticism. Mrs. Douglas had never had the slightest pretensions to good looks in fact, though it is wrong to say anything so ill-natured, she was excessively plain, always had been so, and had a soreness on the subject of beauty, that looked perhaps as like envy as any other quality.
As she had no hope of raising herself to the rank of a beauty, her only chance was bringing others down to her own level. "How old she is looking!"-"How she is altered!" were the expressions that invariably concluded Mrs. Douglas's comments on her acquaintances and the prolonged absence of a friend was almost a pleasure to her, as it gave her the opportunity of saying after a first meeting, "How cha