« PreviousContinue »
she should play well enough to win. He only wanted hier to understand sufficient of the game to lose in a creditable manner. But it would not do: she was unconquerably stupid ; never dealt the right number of cards; never shewed her point; was ignorant even of the common terms of the art; did not know a quart from a quint, or a pique from a repique; could not tell when she was capotted. There was no comfort in beating her; so the poor General was fain to accept his old Brigade-Major as a substitute, who gave him three points and beat him.
In other respects, she was an excellent wife; gentle, affectionate, and sweet tempered. She accommodated herself admirably to all the General's ways; listened to his admonition with deference and to his stories with attention the formidable one, beginning, „When I was in Antigua,“ not excepted; was kind to the old Brigade-Major; and when he, a confirmed old bachelor, joined his patron in certain dissertations on the natural inferiority of the sex, heard them patiently, and if she smiled, took good care they should not find her out.
To be sure, her carelessness did occasionally get her husband into a scrape. Once, for instance, when he, being inspecting certain corps twenty miles off, she undertook to bring his dress clothes, for the purpose of attending a ball, given in his honour, and forgot his new inexpressibles, thereby putting the poor General to the trouble and expense of sending an express after the missing garment, and keeping him a close prisoner till midnight, in expectation of the return of his messenger. Another time, he being in London, and the trusty Major also absent, she was commissioned to inform him of the day fixed for a grand review; sate down for the purpose; wrote a long letter full of chitchat and he could not abide long letters ; never mentioned military affairs; and on being reminded of her omission, crammed the important intelligence into a crossed postscript under the seal, which the General, with his best spectacles, could not have deciphered in a month! so that the unlucky commander never made his appearance on the ground, and but for a forty years' reputation for exactness and punctuality, which made any excuse look like truth, would have fallen into sad disgrace at head quarters.
In process of time, however, even these little errors ceased. She grew tall, and her mind developed itself with her person; still lively, ardent, and mercurial in her temperament, with an untiring spirit of life and motion, and a passionate love of novelty and gaiety, her playfulness ripened into intelligence, her curiosity became natural, and her delight in the country, deepened into an intense feeling of the beauties of nature. Thrown amidst a large and varying circle, she became in every laudable sense of the phrase, a perfect woman of the world. Before a change in the volunteer system, and a well merited promotion took the General from B., she had learned to manage her town visits and her country visits, to arrange soirées and dinner parties, to give balls, and to plan picnics, and was the life and charm of the neighbourhood. I would not be even sure that she had not learned piquet; for lovely as she was, and many as there were to tell her that she was lovely, her husband was always her first object; and her whole conduct seemed guided by the spirit of that beautiful line, in the most beautiful of ballads:
For auld Robin Gray's been a gude man to me.
Sinee his death for she has been long a widow Lady Sanford have I not said that the good General became Sir Thomas before his decease? has lived mostly on the Continent; indulging, but always with the highest reputation, her strong taste for what is gayest in artificial life, and grandest in natural scenery. I have heard of her sometimes amongst the brilliant crowds of the Roman carnival, sometimes amidst the wildest recesses of the Pyrenees; now looking down the crater of Vesuvius; now waltzing at a court ball at Vienna. She has made a trip to Athens, and has talked of attempting the ascent of Mont Blanc! At. present she is in England; for a friend of mine saw her the other day at the Cowes regatta, full of life and glee, almost as pretty as ever, and quite as delightful. Of course, being also a well-dowered and childless widow, she has had lovers by the hundred, and offers by the score; but she always says that she has made up her mind not to marry again, and I have no doubt of her keeping her resolution. She loves her liberty too dearly to part with the blessing; and well as she got on with Sir Thomas, I think she has had enough of matrimony. Besides, she has now reached a sedate age, and there would be a want of discretion, which hitherto she never has wanted, in venturing What was that you said, ma’am? The newspaper! Have I read the newspaper? - People will always talk to me when I am writing! - Have I read to-day's paper? No; what do you wish me to look at? This column: Police reports – new publications births? – oh, the marriages! 'Yesterday, at Bow
Church, Mr. Smith to Miss Brown! not that? Oh! the next! 'On Friday last, at Cheltenham, by the Venerable the Archdeacon P – Dennis O'Brian, Esq., of the —th regiment.' But what do I care for Dennis O'Brian Esq.? “What's Hecuba to me, or I to Hecuba?' I never heard of the gentleman before in my days. Oh! it's the lady! “Dennis O'Brian, Esq. to Lady Sanford' - 'Angels and ministers of grace defend us! here is a surprise! - to Lady Sanford. Ay, my eyes did not deceive me, its no mistake; relict of the late Major - General Sir Thomas Sanford, K.C.B.' And so much for a widow's resolution ! widow's too! I would not have answered for one of the demure. A General's widow, at the ripe age of forty (oh, age of indiscretion!) married to an ensign in a marching regiment; young enough to be her son, I warrant me; and as poor as a church mouse! If her old husband could but know what was going forward, he would chuckle in his grave, at so notable a proof of the weakness of the sex so irresistible a confirmation of his theory. Lady Sanford married again! Who, after this, shall put faith in woman? Lady Sanford married again!
and a gay
Beneath our feet and o’er our head
Their names are graven on the stone,
Death rides on every passing breeze,
Our eyes have seen the rosy light
Our eyes have seen the steps of age
Turn, mortal turn! thy danger know
Turn Christian turn! thy soul apply