First Impressions

`HE is very clever, Maggie,' said Lucy. She was kneeling on a footstool at Maggie's feet, after placing that dark lady in the large crimson velvet chair. `I feel sure you will like him. I hope you will.' `I shall be very difficult to please,' said Maggie, smiling, and holding up one of Lucy's long curls, that the sunlight might shine through it. `A gentleman who thinks he is good enough for Lucy, must expect to be sharply criticised.'

`Indeed, he's a great deal too good for me. And sometimes, when he is away, I almost think it can't really be, that he loves me. But I can never doubt it when he is with me - though I couldn't bear any one but you to know that I feel in that way, Maggie.'

`Oh, then, if I disapprove of him, you can give him up, since you are not engaged,' said Maggie with playful gravity.

`I would rather not be engaged: - When people are engaged, they begin to think of being married soon,' said Lucy, too thoroughly preoccupied to notice Maggie's joke, `and I should like everything to go on for a long while just as it is. Sometimes I am quite frightened lest Stephen should say that he has spoken to papa, and from something that fell from papa the other day, I feel sure he and Mr Guest are expecting that. And Stephen's sisters are very civil to me now: at first, I think they didn't like his paying me attention; and that was natural. It does seem out of keeping that I should ever live in a great place like the Park House - such a little, insignificant thing as I am.'

`But people are not expected to be large in proportion to the houses they live in, like snails,' said Maggie, laughingly. `Pray, are Mr Guest's sisters giantesses?'

`O no - and not handsome - that is, not very,' said Lucy, half-penitent at this uncharitable remark. `But he is - at least he is generally considered very handsome.'

`Though you are unable to share that opinion?'

`O, I don't know,' said Lucy, blushing pink over brow and neck. `It is a bad plan to raise expectation; you will perhaps be disappointed. But I have prepared a charming surprise for him; I shall have a glorious laugh against him. I shall not tell you what it is, though.'

Lucy rose from her knees and went to a little distance, holding her pretty head on one side, as if she had been arranging Maggie for a portrait and wished to judge of the general effect.

`Stand up a moment, Maggie.'

`What is your pleasure now?' said Maggie, smiling languidly, as she rose from her chair, and looked down on her slight, aërial cousin, whose figure was quite subordinate to her faultless drapery of silk and crape.

Lucy kept her contemplative attitude a moment or two in silence, and then said,

`I can't think what witchery it is in you, Maggie, that makes you look best in shabby clothes; though you really must have a new dress now. But do you know, last night I was trying to fancy you in a handsome fashionable dress, and do what I would, that old limp merino would come back as the only right thing for you. I wonder if Marie Antoinette looked all the grander when her gown was darned at the elbows. Now, if I were to put anything shabby on, I should be quite unnoticeable - I should be a mere rag.'

`O quite,' said Maggie, with mock gravity. `You would be liable to be swept out of the room with the cobwebs and carpet dust, and to find yourself under the grate, like Cinderella. Mayn't I sit down now?'

`Yes, now you may,' said Lucy, laughing. Then, with an air of serious reflection, unfastening her large jet brooch, `But you must change brooches, Maggie; that little butterfly looks silly on you.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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