Monday, August 21, 2006

08Jul1859, Have Enjoyed This Ball More Than Any Other

LONDON, July 8th, 1859.
—We went to Lord's to see the humiliating Harrow match : our 11 are at the lowest ebb of bad play, and they remarkably good. Unhappy Charles only got 9. . . .

A very delightful ball at Ly. Mary Wood's, of which the following were the great events. The Comte de Paris was there, and he engaged Susy Clinton for a quadrille, and set off to find a vis-à-vis. He returned saying " Ii n'y en a pas ! " whereupon Atie. P. grabbed Sir C. Wood, and sent him off to find one. In the interregnum, however, I (who wasn't dancing) flew at Willy, and dragged him up to act vis-à-vis ourselves, for which the Comte gave me two beautiful little bows of thanks. This was happiness enough ; but after the quadrille the Comte came up and thanked Atie. P. for getting him a vis-à-vis, thinking it was her doing, and she, with her wonted sagacity, told him what an honour I had felt it, and that I had a great enthusiasm for France. (Rather a lie that ; my enthusiasm is for the old Royalty, not for that fidgety country.) Well, he didn't speak for a moment, as if he was pleased, and then asked if she thought I wd do him the honour of dancing with him. I didn't hear all this transaction, being out on the balcony airing myself. The next thing I saw was the Comte making a gracious bow to M., and she with a most awestruck curtsey accepting him for the next quadrille. The fact was he had taken her for me ! So I was made to take her place, and waited in palpitating excitement. After the valse that was going on, it was the turn for a Lancers, but they had a quadrille instead. The Comte, however, being engaged for that dance, couldn't throw his partner over, tho' it wasn't Lancers, and couldn't have me of course. So after it was over, he came up to explain. I stood up in unutterable bathing feel, and he began in lovely French, and the extreme of grace in his manner, to say that he had expected the dance just over would have been Lancers, would it be too late for me to wait for the next quadrille ? was I sure it wouldn't be ? then " Mais, ne vous dérangez pas," so I sat down, thrilling ; and a good deal more talk about dancing, the quantity of valsing, which he didn't like, the pity they never danced polka mazurka, how nice balls in the country were, etc. Oh ! how delighted I was ! The Fates decreed however that my quadrille should never come off. The next was Lancers, and then the stupid cotillon, so up he had to come again : " Je suis désolé," and what not. I managed to say : " Monseigneur, vous m'avez fait trop d'honneur en me demandant," and then curtseys and bows, and we went away. I cannot describe the nobleness of his look and manner, and the beautiful old French courtesy. And there he is, the descendant of that ancient glorious race, tho' it is a younger branch, still the same blood ; banished from his country, and with that upstart Napoleon on the throne in his eye ! What with awe, respect, compassion, and gratitude, I was nearly out of my mind. Certainly I have enjoyed this ball more than any other.

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