She was rich in apparel, but not bedizened with finery; her ornaments were costly, rare, and such as could not fail to attract notice, but they did not look as though worn with that purpose. She knew well the great architectural secret of decorating her constructions, and never descended to construct a decoration. But when we have said that Mrs Stanhope knew how to dress, and used her knowledge daily, we have said it all. Other purpose in life she had none.
The sofa had certainly been so placed that those who were behind it found great difficulty in getting out; -- there was but a narrow gangway, which one person could stop. This was a bad arrangement, and one which Bertie thought it might be well to improve....
The rector's weight was resting on the sofa, and unwittingly lent all its impetus to accelerate and increase the motion which Bertie intentionally originated. The sofa rushed from its moorings, and ran half-way into the middle of the room. Mrs Proudie was standing with Mr Slope in front of the signora, and had been trying to be condescending and sociable; but she was not in the very best of tempers; for she found that, whenever she spoke to the lady, the lady replied by speaking to Mr Slope. Mr Slope was a favourite, no doubt; but Mrs Proudie had no idea of being less thought of than the chaplain. She was beginning to be stately, stiff, and offended, when unfortunately the castor of the sofa caught itself in her lace train, and carried away there is no saying how much of her garniture. Gathers were heard to go, stitches to crack, plaits to fly open, flounces were seen to fall, and breadths to expose themselves; -- a long ruin of rent lace disfigured the carpet, and still hung to the vile wheel on which the sofa moved.
So, when a granite battery is raised, excellent to the eyes of war-faring men, is its strength and symmetry admired. It is the work of years. Its neat embrasures, its finished parapets, its casemated stories, show all the skill of modern science. But, anon, a small spark is applied to the treacherous fusee -- a cloud of dust arises to the heavens -- and then nothing is to be seen but dirt and dust and ugly fragments.
Return to Memorable passages and poems
Return to Home page
This page last updated: June 1, 2005.