A debutante’s diary: Alice charms a hero

Saturday September 19th, 1868

My pleasant visit is drawing near its termination; but I still
have any amount to write. Sir John the redoubted Indian hero has succumbed, yielded up his colours and himself, rescue or no rescue, tied bound prisoner at the feet of ‘Sweet seventeen’, who to tell the truth is somewhat perplexed about what to do with her conquest. Whatever can have possessed him to take my pretty smiles and words given as freely to the lowest peasant so much au sérieux, I can’t conceive, for to treat him as I did Morland never even entered my mind, and to him I was only a shade more gracious than to the general public.

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He caught me by myself in the cedar room, standing with me head leaning against the mantel piece, looking down idly into the fire, my thoughts as far from him as from Kelham itself. After a few banal remarks, during which I was meditating a plausible excuse for disappearing, he began lamenting his solitude, in a sentimental tone, that my quick perceptions caught, and thought boded no good. ‘I can’t say I pity you in the least,’ was my slightly heartless answer. ‘If the country bores you, take a house in London and patronise the Park morning and afternoon. You’ll find plenty of society there.’ But all this little manège was entirely thrown away on the individual for whose edification it was enacted. When a man has once made up his mind to make a fool of himself it requires nothing less than an earthquake to stop him.

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