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and duchess, amidst cheers and congratulations, set off on their tour. They were escorted for five miles by three hundred of the mounted tenantry. I followed in a post chariot, having for my companion a young Frenchwoman, whom the duchess had kindly allowed me to engage, as assistant to me in the light duties of the toilette.
On the third day we reached Lavandale Court, a fine old mansion in a richly wooded park, which was filled with deer.
Here, at the end of three weeks, the party was augmented by the arrival of the Earl of Aberayron and Lady Caroline Clareville.
They brought intelligence of some proceedings which had taken place since the departure of the duke and duchess, which certainly ought not to have surprised those who knew the characters of the parties.
Lady Aberayron had not the tact to conceal her chagrin at the (to her) unexpected marriage of the Duke of Lavandale to his amiable cousin; and as soon as the bridal party drove off, she expressed her feelings to those around her
in no measured terms, and to the infinite disgust of all who heard her. Her ladyship, however, chose to remain and partake of the festivities; and the ball went off more to her satisfaction, as her daughter had flirted so successfully with her different partners as to leave the impression on the minds of the lookers-on, (if any one cared to observe it,) that she, at any rate, was totally indifferent to the desertion of the duke.
The following morning another elegant dejeuner was spread, and happy groups were assembled in the various apartments, when a scream from one of them caused a rush to the spot from whence it proceeded.
It was from the Countess of Aberayron ; she was in violent hysterics, an open letter lying on the ground beside her. Those near her said she had been inquiring for her daughter and mademoiselle, neither of whom had appeared that morning; and at length the letter above mentioned was brought in, the servant saying that it had been left at one of the Park lodges the night before.
An acquaintance of the countess took up the letter, thinking she had better ascertain the cause of her friend's illness, and at the same time satisfy her own curiosity. It was from Miss Barrett, and ran nearly as follows:--
“ DEAR MAMMA, “ I suppose you will not be much surprised to hear that I have consented to make my beloved count happy by sharing his fortunes and bearing his name. As I knew you would make a great fuss about it, I thought it best to start off at once; for as to putting your foolish plan of last night into execution, of making a dead set at your step-son, (now that I have lost the foolish duke,) you may depend upon it, that would be no go. I can see with half an eye, what you with all your sharpness cannot, that Lord A. is a great deal too cunning to be caught, though he is younger than the rain duke, who flattered himself, poor simpleton, that I loved him for himself alone.
“Mademoiselle accompanies me, partly because I shall want her in a strange place, and
partly because she says she will not stay behind to be scolded by you.
“ Excuse my taking your diamond necklace and ear-rings, which you lent me to shine in last night, but the count thought they would add to my brilliancy at our Paris parties.
“ I shall write again as soon as I reach Versailles, where my dear Jules has a charming little villa.
“I have not said a word yet to him of the abominable treatment we have received from those detestable Clarevilles; I mean about cheating us of the income left us by my steppapa.
“ While you are busy at your cards, I shall be busy with mademoiselle, arranging matters to slip away as soon as the ball is over. So no more at present from
“ Your affectionate daughter,
“ CHARLOTTE BARRETT.
“ P.S.-Direct to Madame la Comtesse de Piquette, St. Angelique, près de Versailles.Adieu.”
This epistle, so characteristic of the writer, was read aloud by the kind friend of the countess, while some more considerate persons were endeavouring to restore the unhappy lady to composure. Their humane efforts, however, were in vain. She was a woman of strong passions, though she was generally very successful in concealing them under an appearance of the greatest mildness; but she now gave way to a burst of anger, which astonished the aristocratic party by whom she was surrounded.
When her ladyship became at length more calm, she set off for London ; intending to send for her brother to go in pursuit of the fugitives. He, however, finding there was no pay, positively refused his assistance, tenderly saying to his distracted sister, that he thought, under their present circumstances, Miss Charlotte was “ a good riddance."
Before I quit this disagreeable subject, 1 may as well now finish all I have got to say about these unprincipled people.
Six weeks had not elapsed since the flight of Miss Barrett, before she again wrote to her