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      "You might have all come to tea on Thursday, if you had been good-natured," she said. "Mr. Colfox read us a poem by Swinburne, out of one of the new magazinesthere are so many nowadays that I never remember which is which. Belinda was delighted with itbut Alicia and I can't rise to her height. Mr. Colfox reads poetry beautifully. You can't judge of his powers by only hearing him read the lessons," added Mrs. Crowther, as if the English Bible were a poor thing.


      The state and power of some of these abbesses, and the comfortable, cheerful security of their lives at that time made the position much sought after. It was a splendid provision for the daughters of great houses, and a happy life enough if they did not wish to marry. The following anecdote is given by Mme. de Crquy, and, although it happened rather earlier in the eighteenth century, perhaps forty or fifty years before the time now in question, it is so characteristic of the state of things that still prevailed that it may not be out of place to give it.


      [273]

      The Comtesse de Noailles frowned.

      And small wonder! Was the Duchess of Orlansa woman of saintly character and the great grand-daughter [121] of Louis XIV.to tolerate the governess of her children being seen in a den of blasphemy and low, unspeakable vice and degradation like the Cordeliers Club, or their being themselves shown with rejoicing a scene of horror and murder, and join in the triumph of ruffians who were attacking their religion, and the King and Queen, who were also their own cousins? Was it possible that anybody in their senses would tolerate such a governess? Added to which the Duchess was now aware of the terms on which Mme. de Genlis and the Duke stood to each other. It could no longer be said of her


      [231]

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      The doors were shut; all was silencethe stillness of the star-lit night.

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      Isola was not mistaken, for Mrs. Crowther called three or four days afterwards and upbraided her for sending the cards.Madame should take a mule, said a postillion coming up to her, as she walked slowly up the precipitous mountain path. It is much too tiring for a lady like Madame to go up on foot.

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      One evening he was at the Opera ball, then frequented by people in good society. Masked or not, they were equally known to M. dEspinchal, who as he walked through the rooms saw a man whom he actually did not know, wandering about with distracted looks. He went up to him, asking if he could be of any use, and was told by the perplexed stranger that he had just arrived from Orlans with his wife, who had insisted on coming to the Opera ball, that he had lost her in the crowd, and that she did not know the name of the h?tel or street where they were. Calm yourself, said M. dEspinchal, Madame, your wife is sitting by the second window in the foyer. I will take you to her, which he did. The husband overwhelmed him with thanks and asked how he could possibly have known her.


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