The Concert

One morning, Mrs. Bretton, coming promptly into my room, desired me to open my drawers and show her my dresses, which I did without a word.

“That will do,” said she, when she had turned them over. “You must have a new one.”

She went out. She returned presently with a dressmaker. She had me measured. “I mean,” said she, “to follow my own taste, and to have my own way in this little matter.”

Two days after came home—a pink dress!

“That is not for me,” I said hurriedly, feeling that I would almost as soon clothe myself in the costume of a Chinese lady of rank.

“We shall see whether it is for you or not,” rejoined my godmother, adding with her resistless decision, “Mark my words. You will wear it this very evening.”

I thought I should not; I thought no human force should avail to put me into it. A pink dress! I knew it not. It knew not me. I had not proved it.

My godmother went on to decree that I was to go with her and Graham to a concert that same night; which concert, she explained, was a grand affair to be held in the large salle, or hall, of the principal musical society. The most advanced of the pupils of the Conservatoire were to perform. It was to be followed by a lottery au bénéfice des pauvres; and to crown all, the King, Queen, and Prince of Labassecour were to be present. Graham, in sending tickets, had enjoined attention to costume as a compliment due to royalty; he also recommended punctual readiness by seven o’clock.

About six, I was ushered upstairs. Without any force at all, I found myself led and influenced by another’s will, unconsulted, unpersuaded, quietly overruled. In short, the pink dress went on, softened by some drapery of black lace. I was pronounced to be en grande ténue, and requested to look in the glass. I did so with some fear and trembling; with more fear and trembling, I turned away. Seven o’clock struck; Dr. Bretton was come. My godmother and I went down. She was clad in brown velvet. As I walked in her shadow, how I envied her those folds of grave, dark majesty! Graham stood in the drawing-room doorway.

“I do hope he will not think I have been decking myself out to draw attention,” was my uneasy aspiration.

“Here, Lucy, are some flowers,” said he, giving me a bouquet. He took no further notice of my dress than was conveyed in a kind smile and satisfied nod, which calmed at once my sense of shame and fear of ridicule. For the rest, the dress was made with extreme simplicity, guiltless of flounce or furbelow. It was but the light fabric and bright tint which scared me; and since Graham found in it nothing absurd, my own eye consented soon to become reconciled.

I suppose people who go every night to places of public amusement can hardly enter into the fresh gala feeling with which an opera or a concert is enjoyed by those for whom it is a rarity. I am not sure that I expected great pleasure from the concert, having but a very vague notion of its nature, but I liked the drive there well. The snug comfort of the close carriage on a cold though fine night, the pleasure of setting out with companions so cheerful and friendly, the sight of the stars glinting fitfully through the trees as we rolled along the avenue, then the freer burst of the night sky when we issued forth to the open chaussée, the passage through the city gates, the lights there burning, the guards there posted, the pretence of inspection to which we there submitted, and which amused us so much—all these small matters had for me, in their novelty, a peculiar exhilarating charm. How much of it lay in the atmosphere of friendship diffused about me, I know not. Dr. John and his mother were both in their finest mood, contending animatedly with each other the whole way, and as frankly kind to me as if I had been of their kin.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.