Madeline Malcolm by Eliza Leslie
Now here—now there—in noise and mischief ever.
"Well, Juliet, how is your friend, Cecilia Selden?" said Edward
Lansdowne to his sister, as they were sitting by the parlour fire, in
the interval between daylight and darkness. It was the evening after his
arrival from Princeton college to spend a fortnight at Christmas with
his family in Philadelphia.
Juliet. I believe Cecilia is very well. At least she was so when last
I saw her, about five weeks since.
Edward. Is it five weeks since you have seen Cecilia Selden? You were
formerly almost inseparable. I hope there has been no quarrel between
Juliet. None at all. But—somehow—I am tired of Cecilia Selden. She is
certainly a very dull companion.
Edward. Dull! You once thought her very amusing. For my part, I
always found her so. She has read a great deal, is highly accomplished,
and as she travels every summer with her parents, she has had
opportunities of seeing a variety of interesting places and people. And
above all, she has an excellent natural understanding.
Juliet. But she is always so sensible and so correct, and every thing
that she says and does is so very proper.
Edward. So much the better. You will improve by being intimate with
Juliet. I never shall be intimate again with Cecilia Selden. She is
too particular, too fastidious. She does not like Madeline Malcolm.
Edward. And who is Madeline Malcolm? I never heard of her before.
Juliet. Her father is our next door neighbour. You know we did not
live in this house when you were last in Philadelphia. The very day we
moved, Madeline Malcolm came in to see us, in the midst of all our
bustle and confusion, and stayed the whole afternoon. She said she had
long been desirous of becoming acquainted with me, was delighted that
we were now near neighbours, and therefore could not forbear running in
to commence the intimacy immediately.
Edward. But "in the midst of all your bustle and confusion," it must
have been very in convenient to receive a visitor, and to entertain her
the whole afternoon.
Juliet. Why,—we were a little disconcerted at first, but she begged
of us not to consider her a stranger. She was just as sociable as if she
had known us for seven years; and she was so queer, and there was so
much fun in every thing she said and did, that she kept me laughing all
Edward. I should like to see this prodigy of fun.
Juliet. No doubt you will soon have that pleasure; for she runs in and
out, the back way, ten times a-day.
Juliet had scarcely spoken when they heard a voice in the entry, singing
"I'd be a butterfly," and Madeline Malcolm, a tall, black-eyed,
red-cheeked girl, with long ringlets of dark hair, came flying into the
parlour, exclaiming, "What, still by fire-light—I shall have to pull
your Peter's ears myself, if he does not mind his business and light the
astral lamp sooner. O! here he comes. Now, Peter, proceed; and take
yourself off as soon as you have accomplished the feat. Well,—now that
there is no longer any danger of falling over this young gentleman, I
must beg leave to be introduced to him in form. I surmise that he is the
most learned Mr. Edward Lansdowne of Nassau-Hall, Princeton. Ah! I have
torn my frock on the fender. Just like me, you know." Juliet immediately
introduced her brother. "Well, Ned," exclaimed Miss Malcolm, "you have
come to make us happy at last. Your sister has talked so much about you
that I have actually been longing for your arrival. Come, tell us the
best news at college. I have a cousin there, but he has not been in town
since the rebellion before the last. I suppose he goes to New York to
take his frolics. Come, tell us all the particulars of your last
'Barring out;' I suppose it was conducted according to the newest
fashion. Juliet, did you ever see any thing like Ned's face? A sort of
mixed expression; trying to smile and be agreeable, but looking all the
time as if he could bar me out himself."
In this manner she ran on for near half an hour, Juliet laughing
heartily, and Edward not at all. At last she rose to go away, and when
Juliet invited her to stay all the evening, she said she must go
home, for they were to have waffles at tea, and she would not miss them
on any consideration. However, the tea-table in Mrs. Lansdowne's parlour
being now set, she took a spoonful of honey which she dripped all over
the cloth, and then giving Juliet a hearty kiss, she seized Edward's arm
saying, "Come, Ned, escort me home. I am going in at the front-door this
time, and there is always ice on our steps, so be sure to take care that
I do not fall."
When Edward took his leave at Madeline's door, she shook hands with him,
saying, "Am I not a wild creature? You see how my spirits run away with
Edward came back with a countenance of almost disgust. "If this is your
new friend," said he to his sister, "I must say that I consider her
scarcely endurable. Why, she never saw me before this evening, and yet
she is as familiar as if she had known me all her life. To think of her
calling me Ned."
"Ah!" said Juliet with a smile, "I suspect that to be the grand
offence, after all. But depend upon it, you will like her better when
you know her better."
"I very much doubt my ever liking her at all," replied Edward.
Nothing could exceed the sociability of Madeline Malcolm. She
breakfasted, dined, and drank tea at Mrs. Lansdowne's table nearly as
often as at her father's; and she frequently ran in early in the
morning, and scampered into Juliet's chamber before she had risen. Mr.
and Mrs. Lansdowne (both whose dispositions were remarkably amiable and
indulgent) did not approve of their daughter's intimacy with Madeline.
They had spoken to her on the subject; but Madeline's frank and
caressing manner, and her perpetual good-humour, had so won the heart of
Juliet, that it was painful to her to hear a word against her friend, as
she called her. So her parents concluded to let it pass for the present;
trusting to Juliet's becoming eventually disgusted by some outrageous
folly of Madeline's, who seemed to think her professed volatility an
excuse for every thing; and that the appellation of a wild creature,
which she took pride in giving herself, would screen her from any
resentment her unwarrantable conduct might provoke.
Still, as Edward observed, she had a great deal of selfishness and
cunning; as is generally the case with wild creatures; for when females
have so little of the delicacy of their sex as to throw aside the
restraints of propriety, the same want of delicacy makes them totally
regardless of the feelings or convenience of others, and renders them
callous to every thing like real sympathy or kindness of heart.
At home, Madeline was allowed to do exactly as she pleased; her father's
thoughts were perpetually in his counting-house, and her step-mother,
who spent all her time in the nursery, was incessantly occupied with the
care of a large family of young children, of whom Madeline never took
the least account. And she was so much at Mr. Lansdowne's that Juliet
had few opportunities of returning her visits.
She borrowed all Juliet's best books, and did not scruple to lend them
again to any person that she knew. Some of the books were never
returned; and others were brought back soiled, torn, and in a most
deplorable condition. One of her jokes was to take up Juliet's
muslin-work, and disfigure it with what she called gobble-stitch. She
came in one day and found the parlour unoccupied, and Juliet's
drawing-box on the table, with a beautiful landscape nearly finished.
Madeline sat down and daubed at it till it was quite spoiled, and when
Juliet discovered her at this employment, she turned it off with a
laugh, insisting that she had greatly improved the picture. She found
Juliet one evening engaged in copying a very scarce and beautiful song,
which she had borrowed from her music-master, and which had never been
published in America. On Juliet's being called up stairs for a few
moments to her mother, Madeline took the pen, and scribbled on the
margin of the borrowed music, some nonsensical verses of her own
composition, in ridicule of the music-master.
Edward presented his sister at Christmas with a set of a new English
magazine, which contained biographical sketches and finely engraved
portraits of some of the most celebrated female authors. Madeline came
in soon after the arrival of the books; and having looked them over, she
insisted on carrying one of the volumes home with her. Next day she
brought it back, with a pair of spectacles drawn with a pen and ink
round the eyes of each of the portraits that, as she said, "The learned
ladies might look still wiser." Upon this Edward immediately left the
room, lest his indignation should induce him to say too much, and
Juliet could not help warmly expressing her dissatisfaction. But
Madeline pacified her by hanging round her neck and pleading that her
love of fun was constantly leading her to do mischievous things; and
that she was sure her darling Juliet loved her too well not to forgive
Cecilia Selden, a sensible and amiable girl, and formerly Juliet's most
intimate friend, was an object of Madeline's particular dislike and
ridicule; of which Cecilia perceived so many palpable symptoms, that she
left off visiting at Mrs. Lansdowne's house; to the great regret of
Mrs. Templeton, a lady that lived at the distance of a few squares, gave
a juvenile ball, to which Juliet and Edward were invited, and also
Madeline with several of her little brothers and sisters. Soon after
Juliet had gone up to her room to commence dressing, Madeline came in
followed by a servant with two bandboxes, and exclaiming, "Well, Juliet,
I have brought all my trappings, and have come here to dress with you,
that I may escape being put in requisition at home to assist in
decorating the brats, who will entirely fill up our carriage, so I am
going to the ball in yours. There now, get away from the glass and
let me begin."
Juliet removed from the glass, and throwing a shawl over her shoulders,
sat down by the fire, determined to wait patiently till Madeline had
finished her toilet. But this was no expeditious matter. Madeline always
professed to be too giddy to have her clothes in order, or to think of
any thing before the last moment. Every article that she was to wear
this evening required some alteration, which Juliet was called upon to
make, till Lucy, a mulatto seamstress that lived in the family, came up
to assist the young ladies in dressing. Madeline's white satin
under-frock was longer than the tulle dress that she wore over it: and
after it was put on, it was necessary to make it shorter by turning the
hem up all round and running it along with a needle and thread. Her
satin belt would not meet, and after a great deal of pulling and
squeezing in vain, the only remedy was to take off the hooks and eyes
and set them nearer to the ends. She desired Lucy to arrange her hair
for her, which was a difficult task, as Madeline would not hold still a
moment; and after it was at last accomplished, she declared that Lucy
had made a fright of her, and demolished the whole structure with her
own hands, strewing the floor with hair-pins and flowers. She then
called Juliet to her assistance; and, in the course of time, her hair
was finished to her satisfaction.
When Madeline was dressed, she took a lamp from the mantlepiece and
setting it on the floor, that she might see her feet to advantage with
her embroidered silk stockings and white satin shoes, she began to caper
and dance; and in performing one of her best steps she kicked down the
lamp, which splashed all over her right foot, and over the lower part of
her dress, beside deluging the carpet with oil. She screamed violently,
and her volatility seemed to forsake her when she held up her beautiful
tulle dress bespattered with lamp-oil. Juliet endeavoured to console
her, and lent her another pair of silk stockings, and Lucy was sent to
the nearest shoemaker's to bring several pair of white satin shoes that
Madeline might choose from among them. But what was to be done with the
disfigured frock? Madeline declared she had no other dress that was
handsome enough to wear that evening, and said she would rather stay
away from the ball than not look as she wished. Juliet, who was about
the same size, offered to lend her a frock, even the clear muslin she
was to wear that night herself; but Madeline said that Juliet's dresses
were all too plain for her, and that she had set her mind upon the white
silk-sprigged tulle, and nothing else.
She continued to lament her misfortune, when a thought struck her that
it was possible to conceal the spots of oil by arranging artificial
flowers round the lower part of the dress. But Juliet had no such
flowers, not having yet begun to wear them, and her mother had long
since left them off. Madeline's whole stock of flowers, was already
disposed of on her head, and she protested against taking out a single
one; saying, that it required a multitude to cover all the oil-stains.
At last she exclaimed, "I have just thought of it, Juliet,—There are
plenty of flowers in the French vases on your front-parlour
mantle-piece.[A] I will have them. They will
exactly."—"But," said Juliet, "I know not that my mother will approve
of the flowers being taken out of the vases."—"Nonsense," replied
Madeline. "What a vastly proper person you are. Tell her that your
volatile friend Madeline took them; and she will expect nothing better
of such a wild creature."
So saying, she ran down stairs, and found Edward dressed for the ball,
and waiting for them in the parlour. "Here, Ned, my boy," said she, "off
with those glass shades, and hand me out the flowers from the vases. I
have kicked over a lamp and splashed my frock with oil, and I must have
all the flowers I can get, to hide the stains. Why do you look so
dubious? I will send them safely back again to-morrow morning. What,
won't you give them to me? Oh! then I shall make bold to help myself to
them."—She jumped on a chair, and was going to lift one of the glass
shades, when Edward, fearful of the consequences, stepped up and took
out the flowers for her; and when she had obtained them all, she ran off
with them in her lap, dropping them along the stairs as she went.
When she entered the chamber, she called out to Juliet, "Come now, dear
creature, down on your knees with a pin-cushion in your hand, and pin
these flowers all nicely round my frock, so as to cover every one of the
vile oil-spots." "Shall I do it, miss?" said the maid, who had just
finished wiping up the oil that had fallen on the carpet, and which,
however, left a large splash of grease. "Miss Juliet will rumple her
dress if she stoops down to put on the flowers."—"So much the better,"
said Madeline, "it will be an advantage to that new muslin to have a
little of the stiffness taken out. Come, Lucy, you may hold the candle."
Juliet then stooped down, and in a most painful posture proceeded to pin
the flowers round Madeline's frock, which she did so adroitly as to
conceal all the spots of oil.
Just as this business was completed a servant brought into the room a
small red morocco case, inclosing a beautiful pearl necklace, and
accompanied by a note from her grandfather, in which he requested her
acceptance of it as a new-year's gift, and desired that she would wear
it on that evening at Mrs. Templeton's ball.
While Juliet was admiring the necklace, Madeline took it out of her
hand, saying, "Let me see how this looks on my neck. Beautiful—really
beautiful. Ah, Juliet, it is so pretty I cannot bear to take it off
again. Come I shall wear it this evening."—"But indeed," said Juliet,
"I should like very much to wear it myself; particularly as it is my
grandfather's request."—"Nonsense," answered Madeline; "grandpa is not
going to the ball himself, and how will he know whether you wear it or
not? And your father and mother are both at the theatre, and are
ignorant even of its arrival. I forgot to bring a necklace with me: so
this comes quite apropos. Come, I am not going to give it up this
evening. Possession, you know, is nine points of the law: and your white
neck requires no pearls to set it off."
"You know very well that my neck is not white," said Juliet.
"Well then," replied Madeline, "if it is brown, the pearls will make it
look browner still. Positively you shall not have it to-night, if I run
for it." Upon which she ran down stairs into the front-parlour, and
pretended to hide behind the window-curtain, to save herself, as she
told Edward, from the vengeance of Juliet, whose new necklace she had
seized and carried off. Edward did not think this a very good joke;
however, he made no comment, and his sister coming down immediately
after, he handed her and Madeline into the carriage, and accompanied
them to Mrs. Templeton's.
At the ball the volatility of Madeline reached its climax. She talked,
laughed, flirted, jumped, and occasionally appealed to those in the same
cotillon to know if they had ever seen such a wild creature. Edward,
however, could not help observing her unkindness and rudeness to the
little children, whom she pushed about and scolded, whenever they came
in her way. Two of her younger sisters were preparing to dance together,
when Madeline and Edward, who were looking for a place, came up. "This
cotillon is completed," said Edward, "and so, I believe, are all the
others. Let us stand by, and look on. I always enjoy seeing the children
dance." "No indeed," said Madeline, "I had rather dance myself. Here,
Ellen and Clara, go and sit down, and give us your places." The children
began to object; but she pushed them away and commenced the cotillon,
saying she was determined to dance every set.
The next set, however, no one asked Madeline to dance. She looked very
much displeased at being obliged to sit still, and was yet more so, when
Charles Templeton brought up a very handsome little midshipman, in his
uniform, who, on being introduced to both the young ladies, immediately
requested the pleasure of Miss Lansdowne's hand for the next set.
Juliet stood up with the midshipman; but there was some delay in forming
the cotillons, and her partner perceived that one of his shoe-strings
was broken. He asked Charles Templeton, who was in the next cotillon, if
he would put him in a way of repairing the accident; and Charles desired
the midshipman to accompany him to his room for the purpose. Madeline,
who had heard all that passed, stepped up to Juliet and said to
her—"Juliet, as you are one of the modest people, I suppose it will
embarrass you to stand here till your partner comes back again; so do
you sit down, and I will stand and keep your place for you. You know I
have brass enough for any thing."
Juliet, grateful for Madeline's unexpected kindness, and feeling really
at standing up in the cotillon
without her partner, consented willingly, and took Madeline's seat. In a
few minutes the midshipman returned, and looked much surprised when he
saw another young lady in the place of his partner; but before he had
time to consider why it was so, the music commenced, and Madeline began
to right and left, and led off the cotillon; disappointing Juliet of her
The midshipman, however, did not speak to Madeline during the whole set;
and when he had led her to a seat, he left her, and went up to Edward,
and expressed his surprise that Miss Lansdowne, after being engaged to
dance with him, had substituted another young lady in her place. Edward,
to whom his sister had explained how it happened, repeated her account
to the midshipman, who was much vexed, and went immediately to apologize
to Juliet, and to ask her hand for the next set, which she was obliged
to refuse, as she was pre-engaged both for that set and the following.
"So," said Madeline, as she passed Juliet on her way to the cotillon
with a new partner, "you see I tricked you out of the smart young
midshipman, who is the prettiest fellow in the room, and I was
determined not to sit still a single set."
Madeline's volatility attracted the attention of the whole company, and
the delight of finding herself an object of general notice gave her
fresh spirits as she ran to the very top of the country-dance,
oversetting a little boy on her way, afterwards romping down the middle,
and throwing herself into a seat the moment she had got to the bottom.
Soon after, while refreshments were handed round, she took an
opportunity of purposely spilling a glass of lemonade on Cecilia
Selden's pink crape frock, and she threw a piece of orange-peel in
Edward's way that he might slip on it, which he did, and very nearly
Juliet, who had recently recovered from a severe cold, brought with her
into the ball-room a very handsome blue silk scarf, which her mother had
lent her, enjoining her to put it on whenever she was not dancing, as a
guard against being suddenly chilled when in a perspiration. Madeline,
happening to look at Juliet, observed the scarf and thought it very
becoming. She suddenly twitched it off Juliet's shoulders and threw it
over her own, saying, "Now, Juliet, you have been beautified with this
scarf long enough. It is my turn to wear it awhile." Poor Juliet knew
not how to object, though her seat (the only one she had been able to
obtain) was directly against a window, from which there was a draught of
air on the back of her neck. The consequence was a renewal of her cold,
and a sore throat which confined her for several days to the house.
The above may serve as a specimen of Madeline's various exploits at the
ball. After Juliet and her brother had got home, Edward stood for half
an hour in the middle of the parlour-floor with his bed-candle in his
hand, while he expostulated with his sister on her strange infatuation
for her new friend; declaring that, with all her volatility and apparent
frankness and good-humour, he had never known a girl more artful,
selfish, and heartless than Madeline Malcolm.
Instead of returning the flowers and the necklace on the following
morning, as she ought to have done, Madeline wore them in the evening to
another ball; and finally when Mrs. Lansdowne sent for the flowers, they
came home in a most deplorable state, soiled, crushed, and broken; so
that they were no longer fit to ornament the vases, and some of them
were entirely lost.
Madeline did not come in to see Juliet till she knew that she had quite
recovered from her sore-throat; having, as she afterward told her, a
perfect antipathy to a sick-room, and a mortal dislike to the dismals.
She forgot to return the necklace till Juliet, with many blushes, and
much confusion, at last reminded her of it. "Why," said she, "you seem
very uneasy about that necklace. Between friends like us, every thing
ought to be common." Madeline, however, had never offered to lend Juliet
the smallest article belonging to herself.
The next time Madeline came, she brought the necklace in her hand.
"Here," said she "is this most important affair; I took a fancy to wear
it round my head at Mrs. Linton's, and I can assure you I had a great
deal of pulling and stretching to get it to clasp. Why did grandpapa
give you such a short necklace? However, soon after I began to dance,
snap went the thread, and down came all the pearls showering about the
floor. How I laughed; but I set all the beaux in the cotillon to picking
them up, and I suppose they found the most of them. You see I have
brought you a handful. And now you can amuse yourself with stringing
them again. Come now, don't look so like Ned.—How can you expect a wild
creature as I am, to be careful of flowers, and beads, and all such
trumpery? I dare say, you are now thinking that your sober Cecilia
Selden would have returned the pearls 'in good order and well
conditioned.' But I never allow any one to get angry with me: you know I
am a privileged person. So now look agreeable, and smile immediately.
Smile, smile, I tell you." Juliet did smile, and Madeline throwing her
arms round her neck, kissed her, exclaiming, as she patted her cheek,
"There's my own good baby. She always, at last, does as I bid her."
The next day Juliet heard that the windows of Mr. Malcolm's house were
all shut up; but she was not long in suspense as to the cause, for
shortly after, Madeline came running in the back way, and said with a
most afflicted countenance, "O, Juliet, you may pity me now if you never
did before. We have just heard from New Orleans of the death of aunt
Medford, my father's only sister."
Juliet. I am very sorry you have received such bad news.
Madeline. Oh! but the worst of it is, that it will prevent our going
to the play to-night. We had engaged seats with the Rosemores, in a
delightful box. We were going to see the Belle's Stratagem, with the
masquerade, and the song, and the minuet, and the new French dancers. I
would not have missed such an entertainment for a hundred dollars. How
very provoking that the bad news did not arrive one day later. If it had
not come till to-morrow I should not have cared, for then our charming
evening at the theatre would have been over. And now, to think that
instead of going to the play, I must stay at home and look at my father
grieving for old aunt Medford. There now, Juliet, your face is again in
the style of Ned's. Positively, if you are so particular, I shall cut
your acquaintance. Those that I consider my friends must enter into all
my "whims and oddities," and not expect me to act according to rule. I
hate hypocrisy. Why should I pretend to grieve for aunt Medford when I
have never seen her since I was six years old?
Juliet. But sympathy for your father—
Madeline. Why, where is the use of sympathy? When people are in grief,
sympathy only makes them worse.
Juliet. If you yourself were in affliction, Madeline, you would find
the sympathy of your family and friends very gratifying.
Madeline. Wait till I am in affliction and then I will tell you.
"Toujours gai," is my motto, and "vive la bagatelle" for ever.
So saying, she danced out of the room, and went home; but in a short
time she returned, looking very mysterious, and peeping in at the door
to ascertain if Juliet was alone. "Juliet, love," said Madeline in a low
voice, "come with me into the back parlour, lest we should be
interrupted. I have something of great consequence to tell you."
As Madeline often dealt in mysteries, Juliet thought this new secret
nothing more than usual, and accompanied her into the back parlour,
where Madeline cautiously bolted the folding-doors and locked the side
door. "Now, Juliet," said she in an under voice, "I know I may depend on
your secrecy." "Certainly you may," replied Juliet.
Madeline. Well then, I must confide to you a plan that has just struck
me. I cannot bear the idea of giving up the play to-night, and you know
it is out of the question for any of the family to be seen there.
Juliet. Of course none of you can go to the theatre when your house is
shut up for the death of a near relation, and when Mr. Malcolm is in
such deep affliction.
Madeline. It is certainly a great pity that aunt Medford died;
particularly just at the time she did, as it will spoil all our gayety
for the winter. No more plays, and balls, and parties this season.
People ought always to die in the summer. But you know, dear Juliet, I
have not seen my aunt Medford for ten years, and I really have forgotten
all about her. So, how can you expect me to be inconsolable? And I
cannot endure the thought of being disappointed in going to the theatre.
I might as well go, as stay at home and think about it all the evening.
Juliet. O no, indeed! Even if you have no personal regard for your
aunt, respect for your father's feelings and a proper regard for
decorum, ought to subdue your desire of going at this time to a place of
Madeline. That is exactly such a speech as Cecilia Selden would make
on a similar occasion. It is a pity "the truly wise man" is not here.
How Neddy would applaud.
Juliet. But where is the use of talking in this manner. You know you
cannot go to the theatre.
Madeline. I know I can.
Juliet. How? In what way? I do not understand you.
Madeline. My going to the theatre to-night depends principally on
Juliet. On me!
Madeline. Yes, for I will not venture alone, and you must go with me.
Juliet. Go with you—I go with you!
Juliet. And who else?
Madeline. Nobody else. Now don't look as if you were ready to run
through the wall to get away from me; but listen and understand. Our
nursery-maid, Kitty, has permission to go this evening and stay all
night with a sick sister. So when she is off, I can easily slip into
her room and select a suit of her clothes, (which I believe will nearly
fit me,) and she has a tolerably large wardrobe for a servant. Then I
will steal in the back way, bringing a suit for you. Don't look shocked.
I shall tell my father and mother that being very low-spirited, I am
coming in here to spend a quiet evening with you. I heard Mrs.
Lansdowne, when I was here yesterday, propose to your father to leave
her at her sister, Mrs. Wilmar's, on his way to the Wistar party
to-night, and call for her as he comes back; which of course will not be
before ten o'clock at the very earliest. Therefore the coast will be
clear, as I suppose Ned will go to his beloved Athenĉum. So you see
every thing seems to conspire fortunately to forward our plot.
Juliet. Our plot. O! do not call it ours. I never will have any
thing to do with a plot.
Madeline. Yes, but you must though. Why this is nothing. I have
plotted a hundred things in the course of my life, and so I shall again.
Well, now hear the whole. I will slip in the back-way, and you must be
alone in your room ready to receive me. After we have put on our
disguises, we will go down stairs very softly and steal out at the alley
gate. Then we will make the best of our way to the theatre, and go in
at the gallery-door, passing, of course as two servant-girls. When we
have reached the gallery we will mix with the crowd, and sit at our ease
and enjoy the play; at least the masquerade-scene, which I would not
miss for the world. I am absolutely dying to see the French dancers.
Nobody can possibly discover us under our disguises. We will not go till
the first act is over, and the audience settled; and we will come away
before the last scene of the comedy. Then after we get home we will
resume our proper dresses, and present ourselves to our parents, looking
as demure as if we had been sitting by the fire, and talking sensibly,
all the evening. No one will ever know what we have really been doing.
It will be a most charming frolic, and something for you and I to laugh
about, ten years hence. I always enjoy these queer exploits that no one
else has courage to undertake.
Juliet (firmly.) Madeline, I will not disguise myself like a
servant-girl; and I will never accompany you secretly to the theatre,
nor to any other place.
Juliet spoke in so firm a tone, that Madeline was at first abashed, and
remained for a few moments silent. But, not easily repelled, she soon
recovered from her confusion, and exerted all her eloquence to prevail
on her dear friend, as she called her, to join in the scheme. By turns
she flattered, caressed, and ridiculed her, and then tried to win her
consent by representing the delights of the masquerade-scene, as she had
heard it described by a lady who had recently seen the comedy of the
Belle's Stratagem. Juliet held out steadily for a long time. But at
length her firmness gave way, and she finally yielded; as Madeline had
foreseen. Her reluctance was so great, that her consent was, after all,
rather extorted than given, and Madeline, having kissed her rather
oftener than usual, ran gayly to her own home, singing "I won't be a
After Madeline had gone, Juliet felt so uneasy at having suffered
herself to be persuaded against her conscience, that she was on the
point of calling her back and retracting her promise. When she went to
dinner, the consciousness of her intended deceit destroyed her appetite,
and made her feel as if she could not raise her eyes towards her
parents, or answer them when they spoke to her.
Edward bent on her a scrutinizing glance, and saw that all was not
right; but supposing that she had committed some fault in the course of
the morning for which her mother had seriously reprimanded her, he was
unwilling to notice her apparent mortification, and tried to divert the
attention of his parents by talking to them of Cooper's last novel,
which had been published that morning, and of which he had already gone
through the first volume.
Mrs. Lansdowne, however, remarking that her daughter did not eat,
inquired if she felt unwell, and Juliet replied that she had a violent
headache: which was literally true. After dinner, her mother recommended
that she should retire to her room and lie down, which she gladly did:
her mind being too much agitated to take interest in any occupation.
Once in the afternoon, she heard Edward come up stairs and tap at her
door; but fearing that he had observed her confusion at dinner, and that
he might ask her some question concerning it, she lay still, and did not
answer to his knock, so that, supposing her to be asleep, he softly
Towards evening, her mother came to inquire after her: and Juliet,
unwilling to meet the family at table in her present state of
discomposure, requested to have her tea sent up. "My dear," said Mrs.
Lansdowne, "as you are not well, I will not go to my sister Wilmar's
this evening, but I will stay at home and sit with you."
"O, no, dear mother!" replied Juliet, "I know you wish to see aunt
Wilmar: I am sure my tea will relieve my headache, and I have no doubt,
when I have drunk it, I shall feel well enough to rise, and sit up all
the evening." Accordingly, after Juliet had taken her tea, she rose and
adjusted her dress, and when Mrs. Lansdowne came up again, she found her
daughter sitting by the fire with a book, and apparently so much
recovered, that she felt no scruples about leaving her, as she was
really desirous of passing the evening with Mrs. Wilmar, who was
confined to the house with the influenza.
At last Juliet heard her father and mother depart, and Edward went out
soon after. In a few minutes, Madeline came cautiously up stairs, and
glided into the chamber, carrying a large bundle. "All's safe," said
she, "the coast is quite clear, and we have not a moment to lose. It
is a fine moonlight night."
Juliet's courage now failed entirely; and she vehemently besought
Madeline to give up a scheme fraught with so much risk and impropriety.
But Madeline was immovable, declaring that she had set her heart on it,
and that she enjoyed nothing so much as what she called an
out-of-the-way frolic. "Since you are so cowardly, Juliet," said she, "I
wish I could venture to go alone; but wild as I am, I confess I am not
quite equal to that—Come, now, off with your frock, and get yourself
dressed in these delectable habiliments."
She then began to unfasten Juliet's dress, who pale, trembling, and with
tears in her eyes, arrayed herself in the clothes that Madeline had
brought for her. The gown was a very dirty one of dark blue domestic
gingham, and she put on with it a yellowish chequered handkerchief, and
a check apron. Over this she pinned an old red woollen shawl, and she
covered her head with a coarse and broken black Leghorn bonnet. The
clothes that Madeline had allotted to herself were a little better,
consisting of a dark calico frock, a coarse tamboured muslin collar, an
old straw bonnet very yellow and faded, and a plaid cloak which belonged
to the cook, and which she had taken out of a closet in the garret.
The two young ladies did not know, or did not recollect, that when
real servant-girls go to the theatre, they generally dress as well as
they can, and take pains to appear to the best advantage. The clothes
that Madeline had selected were quite too dirty and shabby for the
occasion. To complete their costume, she gave Juliet a pair of coarse
calf-skin shoes, which were so large that as she walked her feet seemed
to rise up out of them. Madeline, for her part, put on a pair of
carpet-moccasins over her slippers.
After they were dressed and ready to depart for the theatre, Juliet's
tremor increased, and she was again on the point of relinquishing her
share in the business; but she again yielded to the solicitations of
Madeline, who led her softly down stairs by the light of the moon that
shone in at the staircase windows. They stole, undiscovered, across the
yard and out at the alley-gate; and finding themselves in the street,
began to walk very fast, as people generally do when they are going to
When they came in view of the theatre, they saw no persons there, except
two or three gentlemen who went in at the pit-door. Juliet's heart
failed entirely; and she shrank back as Madeline, taking her hand,
attempted to pull her towards the door that admitted the gallery-people.
"We have now gone too far to recede," whispered Madeline,—"You must
stand by me now. I will not go back, and you must come forward.
Here, take my money and put it down with yours—I forgot my gloves, and
my hands will betray me, so I must keep them wrapped up in my cloak."
Juliet laid the money on the ledge before the doorkeeper, who looked at
them with some surprise. They pulled their bonnets more closely over
their faces, and passed up the stairs; Madeline running as fast as
possible, and Juliet entreating her in a low voice to stop a little, as
she could not keep pace with her. They soon found themselves in the
gallery, and being assisted over the benches by a very polite black man,
they took their seats among some coloured people about the centre of the
The crowd and heat were intolerable. Juliet kept her eyes cast down;
afraid to look round the house, or even to steal a glance towards the
stage. Madeline, however, looked round boldly, and in a few minutes, to
her great consternation, she perceived Edward Lansdowne standing up in
the back part of one of the stage-boxes. Having finished his novel, and
feeling no inclination to read any more that night, he had concluded to
go to the theatre, reminded of it by seeing the bill in the evening
paper. "Juliet," whispered Madeline, "there is my evil genius." "Where,
where?" exclaimed Juliet, thrown almost off her guard. "If we can
distinguish him at so great a distance, he can also discover
us."—"You forget," replied Madeline, "that we are in disguise." These
words, though uttered in a whisper, were evidently heard by the people
round, who all turned to look at them; and some tried to peep under
their bonnets, which made Juliet draw hers down over her face till her
sight was entirely obscured by it.
The play went on; but Madeline and Juliet could not enjoy it, all their
attention being engaged by the continual fear of discovery. Juliet,
however heard enough to convince her that her parents would never have
taken her to see the Belle's Stratagem; as when they did indulge her
with a visit to the theatre, they always selected a night when the play
was unexceptionable, and the whole entertainment such as a young lady
could witness with propriety.
At length came the masquerade-scene, and in a short time the French
dancers appeared. Just then, a short, fat, red-faced and very vulgar
Englishwoman who sat behind Madeline and Juliet, gave each of them a
twitch on the shoulder, saying, in a broad Yorkshire dialect, "I'll
thank you gals or ladies or whatsomdever you be, to take off your
bunnets and let a body have some chance of seeing the show; for I've
been popping my ead back and furrads atween you ever sence you comed
hin, and thof I've as good a right to see as any body else, I've ardly
got a squint at the hactors yet."
The girls were now in a most critical dilemma. To take off their bonnets
seemed out of the question, as the exposure of their heads would no
doubt betray them, and their fear and perplexity were so great that they
had not presence of mind either to speak or move.
"Don't pertend that you don't ear me," said the Englishwoman, giving
them both a hard push forward with her huge hands. "I bees a true King
Georgeswoman, and won't be put upon by none of the Yankees, not I, thof
I am come to their country. I pays my money as well as you, and I've
jist as good a right to see the show; and if you won't take off them big
bunnets, I'll be bound I'll make you, if there's even a row about it.
I've raised a row afore this time when I've been put upon."
"Oh! let us go, let us go," said Juliet, gasping with terror, and
seizing Madeline's arm.
"Honly wait," continued the Englishwoman, "till I tells my usband, who
sets ahind here, to call 'turn 'em out.' You may be ladies. But I bees
an onest oman, and if I've come to a land of liberty, the more reason
that I should make free to speak my mind; and if we're all hequal, why
then nobody han't no right to put upon me."
By this time the two girls, in an agony of trepidation, had scrambled
over the benches and got to the door, expecting every instant to hear
the dreaded words, "turn them out," and to see Edward's eyes directed
towards them, with those of the whole audience. Scarcely conscious of
what they were doing, they ran down the gallery-stairs, and flew out of
the door into the street. As is usual toward the latter part of the
play, a number of boys had collected about the fruit-stalls waiting for
checks, that they might gain admittance to see the farce; and as
Madeline ran past them, her cloak flew open, and the moonbeams shone
brightly on a brilliant ring which she always wore on her fore-finger.
This with something in their appearance that would cause even
unpractised eyes to suspect that they were young ladies, attracted the
attention of the boys, who stared at them with surprise and curiosity.
Madeline and Juliet ran down the street in breathless terror. They had
gone about a square from the theatre before they recollected that their
way home lay in a contrary direction, and that they ought to go up the
street instead of down. "Oh! we are going from home instead of
towards it," exclaimed Juliet; and they immediately turned about and
ran up Chestnut street. They again passed the theatre, terrified,
bewildered, their bonnets falling back and discovering their frightened
faces in full view; Madeline's cloak half untied and flying out behind
her, and Juliet still grasping one corner of her shawl (which had fallen
entirely off her shoulders) and dragging it after her along the
pavement. On seeing them running back in this forlorn condition, the
boys set up a loud shout, and calling out "Hurrah for the ladies,"
pursued them up Chestnut street.
A young gentleman who had left the theatre a few minutes before, and was
walking leisurely up the street, turned round to discover the meaning of
all the noise that was coming after him, and caught Juliet, breathless
and almost dead, by her two hands. "Juliet," he exclaimed, "my sister
Juliet!" "Oh, Edward!" she shrieked, and fell into his arms drowned in
"Save me, save me," cried Madeline, catching him by the coat. "Madeline
too!" said Edward. "What does all this mean?"
Another gentleman now came up, and ordered off the boys, reprimanding
them severely for chasing two unprotected females; and Edward taking one
of the girls under each arm, walked on in silence, much affected by the
sobbing of Juliet.
Madeline soon recovered herself, and attempted an explanation of the
strange predicament in which he had found them; passing it off as a very
good joke, and a further proof of her ungovernable volatility.
Edward remained silent. He would not reproach her, but he determined in
his mind what course to pursue. He took leave of Madeline at her own
door, and on entering his father's house, he told Juliet that she had
better, as soon as possible, divest herself of her disguise. Juliet
could not speak, but she wept on her brother's shoulder; and Edward
kissed her cheek, and bade her good night.
She retired to bed, but she could not sleep; and in the morning she rose
earlier than usual, and went into the parlour, where she knew she would
find Edward. She looked very pale, and her eyes were swimming in tears.
"Oh! Edward," said she, "what did my father and mother say, when they
came home last night, and you told them all that happened?"
"I told them nothing," replied Edward, "I love you too well to betray
you. I have kept your secret, and I shall never disclose it. But I must
have a recompense."
Juliet. Any, any recompense, dearest Edward. What can you ask that I
could possibly refuse.
Edward. I require you, from this day, to give up all acquaintance with
Madeline Malcolm. Your infatuation for a girl who, under the name of
wildness and volatility, sets all propriety at defiance, is to me
astonishing. Henceforward let there be no more intimacy between you. It
must be checked before it leads to consequences still worse than the
adventures of last night.
Juliet. I acknowledge that Madeline is too regardless of decorum, and
that she says and does many strange and improper things: but then she
has so good a heart.
Edward. Tell me one proof of it. You have fallen into the common
error of supposing that all persons who profess to be giddy, wild, and
reckless, have kind feelings and good hearts. On the contrary, they may
too often be classed with the most selfish, cold, and heartless people
in the world; for they have seldom either sense or sensibility, and
while resolutely bent on the gratification of their own whims, are
generally regardless of the peace and convenience of those about them.
When I first went to college I thought as you do. I supposed that the
most careless, noisy, and desperate boys must necessarily have kind and
generous feelings. But I found the contrary to my cost; and I am now
convinced, that, with some few exceptions, the best hearts are generally
united with the best heads and the best manners.
Juliet. But even if I never visit Madeline myself, how shall I prevent
her running in to me as she does, two or three times a day?
Edward. Very easily. Write her a concise note, intimating that you do
not consider it proper to continue your acquaintance with her.
Juliet. Oh! Edward, I never can do that.
Edward. Is not this the recompense I am entitled to, for keeping your
Juliet. Indeed, Edward, you are too cruel.
Edward. Severe, perhaps, but not cruel. The exigency of the case
requires decisive measures. "I am cruel only to be kind," and you will
thank me for it hereafter.
Juliet. Well then, I will write the note. And if it must be done I
will do it immediately; for if I allow myself to think about it long, it
will grieve me so much that I shall never have resolution to go through
with it. (She goes to the desk and writes.) There now, Edward, read
Edward, (reading.) "Though convinced that it is better our intimacy
should cease, it is not without regret that I decline all further
intercourse with Madeline Malcolm. For her health and happiness I offer
my best wishes; but in future we can only meet as strangers.
Now seal and send it.
Juliet. Oh, Edward! it is hard to give up Madeline. But I believe you
are right, and I ought not to regret it.
Edward. I know I am right.
Juliet then rang the bell for a servant, to whom with a quivering lip
and hesitating hand she gave the note, desiring him to leave it next
door for Miss Malcolm.
After breakfast, when Juliet was again alone with her brother, she said
to him, "Edward, I have never yet concealed any thing from my parents. I
think if I were to disclose to them the whole truth, I should feel less
Edward approved of this determination, and they went together to their
mother, to whom Juliet candidly related the whole history of their going
to the theatre in disguise. She kindly endeavoured to throw as little
blame on Madeline as possible; and Edward tried to apologize for
Juliet's partiality for this dangerous girl, and for the yielding
gentleness of disposition with which his sister had allowed herself to
be influenced by her; and for her want of judgment in not perceiving the
faults of Madeline in as strong a light as they appeared to every one
Mrs. Lansdowne's pleasure, on finding that her daughter had consented to
give up this very improper intimacy, counterbalanced her regret at
Juliet's having been persuaded by Madeline to join in the folly and
indecorum of the preceding evening. For this, however, she thought the
girls had been sufficiently punished by all they had suffered at the
theatre, and during their ignominious flight from it.
Madeline's parents had no suspicion of her having been at the play in
disguise, and the idea of confessing it to them never for a moment
entered her head. She was highly indignant at Juliet's note; and
fortunately her resentment was too great to allow her to make any
attempt at renewing their intimacy. She took care, however, to let no
one suppose that the acquaintance had ceased by Juliet's desire; telling
every body that Juliet Lansdowne was a little fool, and that she had
grown quite tired of her.
In the spring, Mr. Malcolm removed with his family to New York, and
their house next door to Mr. Lansdowne's was immediately taken by the
father of Cecilia Selden who had again become the intimate friend of