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barter, and exchange whatever she had in hand for something better. Neither was the fact of her sister being a candidate any objection, but rather the contrary—a fact that, for the credit of the sex, we are concerned to state, though we should be violating our oath of accuracy

if we were to omit it.

We are sorry to say for so plump and pretty a young lady, that there were few things Maria liked better than wresting her sister's sweethearts from her—" cutting her out,” as they call it. As we are quite sure all this will appear very naughty and unnatural to the majority of our fair readers, we are consoled for the infliction of writing it, by thinking that at all events such work will be new to them.

Be that, however, as it may, the fair sisters were in competition ; Maria having sounded Amelia as to her willingness to take a quiet transfer of Charles Summerley in lieu of her turn at Tom Rocket, and got a decided negative. We have already mentioned that Maria had had two more sweethearts than Amelia, added to which, wherever she could, she had always insisted upon having the pick of the comers, carrying the nursery importance of two years' seniority of birth forward in the page of life.

In looks the sisters were so much alike, that the men were willing to take one or other just as they were “ hounded on” by mamma, the weighty importance attaching to a first-born in the male line, having no influence in the female one. The girls were both nice plump, round, air, fresh, rather dairy maidish-looking beauties, with pleasant countenances, lightish brown hair, blue eyes, and beautiful teeth, possessing all the ingredients, in short, that London milliners work up into firstrate beauties, if not first-class fashion. Indeed, we don't know but if they had had a coronet on their carriage instead of a 'cow, but they might have passed for first-class fashion too. So much alike were the sisters, and so exactly alike did they dress, that but from the fortunate circumstance of Maria having a most coquettish little mole on the left side of her upper lip, which generally procured for her the name of “Moley” among the wits of their various country-houses, the “wateringplaces,” they would have been difficult to distinguish, and a recently entered lover might have got hold of the wrong one.

Alike, however, as they were in person, they were wholly different in disposition, but as few women are so devoid of blandishment and self-command as not to be able to control themselves during courtship and make the men believe them “perfect angels,” and as no man has penetration enough to open the doubly Bramah guarded locks of a woman's heart, we should be getting too much in advance of our story were we here to describe the difference. Suffice it to say, that the hitherto pliant Amelia had declined yielding her turn at the « Richest Commoner” to “ Moley," an announcement that Moley had just made to mamma, when we broke off to bespeak the sympathy of our readers for Mrs. Dooey. We need hardly say, that Mrs. Dooey entered most fully into Moley's feelings-nay, she almost joined in reproaching Amelia for her unaccommodating spirit and want of sisterly love-when mother joins daughter it makes fearful odds.

Indeed, as the start in these matters is half the battle and more, an elder sister always stands a much better chance than a younger one,

She has great advantages if she chooses to push them—best seat in the carriage, most prominent place at the Opera, first introduction at a ball, and precedence at a dinner-party. What a world of business may be done

song, was

at a dinner-party! Unsentimental, almost degrading as the operation of eating is, a dinner is capable of drawing forth an infinity of unadulterated love. The old cormorants in beads and turbans at the top of the table are too busy guttling and swizzling to take heed of what is passing below, as they do at a ball or a route, while the young ones down by the host will have managed badly if they haven't paired off to better advantage than to allow of their watching their neighbours. Then the jabber, the clatter, the pop, the fiz, the “Champagne, sir,” all tend to conviviality and rashness. But to our tale. Well, Amelia and Moley were pitted against each other for the Richest Commoner, and mamma favoured Moley's pretension. Still Maria did not care to tell the old lady how far Charles and she had gone on the road-matrimonial, though as we shall not indulge in that sort of reserve with the reader, we may say she had him in hand as it were—could "bag" him any time she liked--and she thought, from the now changed aspect of affairs, that "time," as the Irishman has it in his



THE TWELFTH TENDER PROP. As soon as the slight redness produced by the crying and excitement of the foregoing scene had subsided, Moley put on her most bewitching bonnet and feather, with a new check dress of groseille colour on gray glaze, and with a rich lace-covered sea-green silk parasol over head, proceeded to take a saunter through the tree and idler-lined streets of Glauberend, in search of the youth who, like Mrs. Bond’s ducks, she had invited down to be killed. Charles had only arrived by the mailtrain that morning, but had been lounging about sufficiently long in the idle watching place to attract the attention of sundry fair forms who had casually “stepped to the window" to thread their needles, see what sort of a day it was, or whose carriage it was that was grinding past. There's a buck !” exclaimed one ; " who can he be, I wonder !"

Sophy! just come and look here!” cried another. “Isn't this man like George Muggins ?" asked a third, as her cousin responded to the summons.

“ Can that be Fanny Walker's Margate beau that she talks so much about?” inquired a fourth, as she saw Charles looking attentively at the house.

“Oh, my! but isn't that a case!" whispered young Harry Hustler, who was desperately busy sweethearting Miss "Emily Miller in the dining-room of 41, Claremont Place, when Maria and Charles met just before the window, behind whose green trellis blinds they were ensconced. Isn't that a case ?" repeated he, pressing his charmer's hand as they Eat watching.

It was now about high-tide, and Maria was not sorry to be seen by all the wandering “ pullers to pieces” with such a smart young man as Charles. She wanted a vast quantity of things at the different shops, bazaars, and lounges. A yard and a quarter of pink ribbon here; three-quarters of " white aerophane” there; some “tulle," of course, at a third (did any body ever know a lady go out shopping that didn't want tulle ?) and finished off with a comprehensive tour to match a piece of most unmatchable velvet. Still Moley was wary. Though she was as sweet and smiling as ever in the shops where there were none but the "genteel young people" to see, she was cool and distant in the streets, and carried herself with a sort of easy indifference as though she were walking with a cousin, or a youth that she didn't care a straw about. A woman could see at a glance that the love-making was all on Charles's side ; indeed, a sagacious cit, who hadn't got away by the morning train, observed to his neighbour in the “ buss,” as the two stood at the end of Market Street to let the vehicle pass, that Miss Dooey seemed to be taking the youth very coolly. Great was the sensation that Charles produced. His gentlemanly appearance, and easy unassuming manner would have run him up to a high premium had he appeared “ open to all and influenced by none,” like our friend the Richest Commoner, and even as it was they rated him considerably above any thing he was entitled to, on the strength of his intimacy with Miss Dooey.

“You may rely upon it he's somebody,said the pompous Major Slooman, the all-important master of the ceremonies ; "you may rely upon it he's somebody,repeated he, in his usual didactic manner in the midst of a select group of youthful admirers, clustered on the stone steps leading up to Grandpoules billiard-rooms and cigar divan. The youths when they went home then began to “run Charles up," till they magnified him into an honourable ; and as he had no servant to contradict the statement, he “stood at that” as they say on 'Change. There was, a time when Maria would have been pleased at such a piece of exaggeration, but recent events had caused a revolution in the petty empire of her heart. She quite agreed with mamma, though she did not care to pay the old lady the compliment of acknowledging that she did, that it was as well to have an equivalent, and that “looks would not last for ever.' As long as there was no “real equivalent in the way, Maria, like a great number of most exemplary young ladies, was monstrously disinterested ;--she never thought of money ; money, in her mind, could not make happiness ; whatever there was she would be content, but oh ! most treacherous of temptations, no sooner did the chance of a real tangible equivalent come in the way, than she changed her opinions as quick as a certain ex-minister can do.

Having paraded Charles as much as she thought would do her good, that is to say, enough to let people see how well she was off for men, prepared for disposing of him on the second day.

Charles was naturally shy, and moreover, modest enough not to think himself exactly a match for Miss Dooey, and being quite a novice in lovemaking, might have gone on till now without offering. Indeed“ Moley," had all along taken the initiative herself, and as the reader has seen, had now brought him down, though we must do her the justice to say, that when she wrote she had not exactly the views she at present entertained. “The unnatural competition,” as her mamma and she designated it, that she was likely to have to undergo with her own sister” made her anxious to settle Charles's business as soon as possible. Some may think Charles soft, but let them remember his bringing up, and that he had no sister or female friend to put him up to the tricks of the sex. Indeed, the sagacious and experienced will often find it difficult to apportion an old lady's encouragement between common politeness and the serious intentions of promoting a son-in-lawship, where, in short, society ends, and sweet-hearting proper begins. Most young men who are asked to a house where there are girls think they are asked for the express purpose of making love to them, and when they get chassez'd, instead of being thankful for the food-grateful for the "wittles," do nothing but abuse


their host and hostess for inviting them, “if they didn't think them fit matches for their daughters."

Some people will say you'll never find an old lady very keen about a man who she doesn't think has money, either in possession, reversion, remainder, or expectancy; but that would be striking at the very root of the trade, of we “ 3 vol.” gents, whose business it is to deck out in the brightest and most glowing colours those praiseworthy parents who give up three-fourths of their income to make a beloved daughter happy with a pennyless son-in-law. We, at all events, must stand up for the existence of such monsters of perfection.

To give the ladies their due, and there is no one more anxious than the writer of this little narrative, they beat the men hollow at asking real, cool, not to say impudent questions. Full of the most refined delicacy, distressed beyond measure at asking you to ring the bell, shocked at the idea of your getting up to bring them the cream, they yet can bring their pretty pouting lips to put such home questions as would stagger most men to think of.

And they do it to in such an easy, natural, unaffected matter-of-course sort-of-way that a man is almost drawn into answering them in the same strain.

What have you ?" an old lady will ask, with as much ease as she would the “time of day.”

There was no occasion for Moley to go quite so far as this; indeed, it was in her mamma's department ; all that Moley now wanted was to “pass" Charles, as the poor law people say to that inestimable parent and expert mouser.

Accordingly, on the second day, having met him at Bachelors' Library, at the corner of the street leading into the Atherton Road, the quietest, most secluded, and shadiest in the neighbourhood; after sweeping the footway with her long petticoats in the disinterested way all womankind, from the sovereign down to the scullion do, for some half mile or so, she suddenly turned the subject of their then conversation, the beauty of a butterfly that kept flaunting before them, by asking him, not " if his mother knew he was out,” but if “his uncle knew he was down ?” “Why n-0-0," replied Charles, rather confused at the question. Do you think

you are doing right in not acquainting him ?" asked Moley, who was quite one of the “all square and fair” (when it suited her purpose) sort, looking at him with one of her sweetest, softest, blandest, shop looks.

Charles blazed up like a lighted bottle of straw.

“I'm sure—I'm afraid — I doubt I would-I only wish I might," gasped he, “ but really-Oh dear! you know what I mean," and thereupon, he fluttered his fingers as though he would shake his meaning out of them—as one sometimes sees a nervous barrister, who has lost the "point" of the staylace of his eloquence. Wicked Moley pretended not to "take.”

“ I'm sure, my dear, I'd do any thing to oblige you,” said the tantalising beauty ; " but you know I'm not acquainted with your uncleneither is mamma.”

Oh, dear, that's not it,” exclaimed Charles, “that's not it!" repeated he, still on the grand flutter.

“ Tell me how I can serve you, and I'm sure I will,” observed Moley, seeing he must have a “lift."



“Then let me tell my uncle--let me tell my uncle that I'm up herethat I'm down here--that I'm away from town-for-for-for-the purpose of seeing you."

Certainly,” replied Moley, “certainly ;" adding, “and mamma, and Amelia, of course.

“Oh, yes,” gasped Charles, really believing her pretended simplicity ; " but you in particular."

Moley was silent.

“Tell me!" exclaimed he, seizing her gloveless hand, “tell me that I may say I'm here for the purpose of seeing you, and in the hopes that you'll be my-my-my-wife.

Moley remained silent, and Charles passing his arm round her neatlyshaped waist, drew her forcibly towards him, and impressed such a smack of a buss on her sweet full lips, as caused a labourer to pop his great bacon-face head over the adjoining hedge, and exclaim,

Whoy, dang it! What's oop now?" Murder! scream ! screech ! scream !" went Moley, scuttling off as though it were her first performance in the bussing line.

" I've a good mind to lick you, you great fool !” exclaimed Charles, doubling his fist, and looking monstrously irate.

De !" replied the man, o'ur hedge, and de it."

"Oh, my dear Charles !" exclaimed Moley, seizing his arm as he overtook her, instead of licking the labourer, “oh, my dear Charles !" repeated she, quite out of breath.

“ Never mind the brute,” said Charles, giving her another most hearty salute on her lips, which he followed up with one on the mole itself.

"Oh, you naughty boy !” exclaimed Maria, “ I'll really tell mamma, and have you whipped.'

” Thinking he might as well be whipped for a score, as for what he had got, he just renewed the attack, and Moley, taking warning by the recent interruption of the countryman, and considering that if the news of such recreation was to reach the ears of the “ Richest Commoner,” it might seriously damage her prospects in that quarter, she availed herself of an opportune turn-rail for passing into the fields, through which a quiet but most conveniently-disposed foot road for seeing, led by a circuitous way back to the town.

Having re-adjusted her bonnet and ringlets, and adopted a more staid demeanour, she again assumed the admonitory tone, that a year or two's seniority entitles a woman to take over a youth of Charles Summerley's age. Indeed, we don't know that we are going beyond the mark in saying that a woman of twenty is more than a match for any man of thirty --far more than a match when the man has surrendered his reason by falling in love with her. - What do


think your uncle would say if he was to see you walking way

??? asked Mõley, at last leading back as near as she could to the point at which the countryman interrupted them.

"That I've got a very pretty, charming companion,” replied Charles, eyeing her with all the adoration of a first love.

Pooh, pooh," replied she, “that's not worthy of you ; but seriously now, Charles,” continued she, again placing her arm within his, “ do you think

you are doing right in keeping him in ignorance?"

in this


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