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STORY OF MY LIFE.
66 Ill fits it me
TOWARDS the afternoon of the day upon which Sir William was expected in London, I took leave of Mary, promising her to return the moment I had transacted all my business, and with an anxious and troubled mind awaited his arrival at my uncle's house in Whitehall Gardens.
“ You will of course give me the pleasure of your company to day at dinner,” said my good
humoured relative, “I was not aware that you were in London, or I should have written you a note.'
" It will give me great pleasure to accept your invitation,” I replied, “and in return I ought to apologize for not having sooner called, but I thought you were still in the country.”
This was white lie number one; what the different hues of mendacity are, I will not here stop to enquire, but I dreaded the numerous falsehoods my clandestine marriage would involve me in. At this moment, my father's travelling chariot drove up to the door, and he welcomed me with open arms.
“I have already engaged the cornet to meet you at dinner,” remarked Admiral Pembroke, “and as I am old fashioned, and martinet enough to be punctual, if you have nothing of consequence to say to him, he had better go home and rig himself out, he is staying at Limmer's I rather think."
“Yes," I responded, white lie number two.
Relieved by this suggestion, after making the kindest enquiries respecting my mother's
health, I proceeded to the hotel to dress for dinner, and at a quarter past seven ushered into the drawing-room, where I found, what I own to this day, affords me much pleasure, a man's party.
“Oh the wretch !” exclaims some fair one a perfect monster unfit for ladies' society.”
Let me offer a few words in explanation, a ladies party in a pleasant country house, among friends in London, at the Star and Garter, Richmond, or Crown and Sceptre, Greenwich, is delightful, and some of my happiest hours have been spent in such intercourse, but a formal London dinner during the season, of from five and twenty to thirty persons, is to my mind a perfect abomination.
The invitation card names a quarter before eight; but woe betide the unlucky wight who arrives there within half-an-hour of that time, he will probably find no one in the hall except the butler adjusting his cravat, and ringing violently for the groom of the chambers; a footman who has been carrying in the knife tray, sets it down, and rushes into his livery
coat, each of the above commenting in their own phraseology, upon the early arrival. “Some country cousin fresh from Derbyshire.” “Dem'd odd, people wont give us time to deck the table.” “I shall certainly give warning if I am not allowed to dress myself.”
Upon entering the drawing-room, he will most likely tumble over the housemaid's brush, in return for which he receives a look of the most ineffable contempt; in escaping the Scylla of the cobweb sweeper, he will run a good chance of falling foul of the Charybdis of the man that attends to the wax-lights, and who has just lit the chandelier. After standing for twenty minutes arranging his whiskers and curls before a looking-glass, the lady of the house enters, attempting to button a tight white kid glove, she is followed by her husband, who, hearing a double knock, was interrupted in his toilet, as is evident from his shirt-studs not being properly fastened.
After numerous apologies from both host and hostess, the guests drop in at intervals. One fears she is late, but “the gardens were so