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THE PARLOUR BOARDER.'
Though every day the fancies vary,
MY CHATTERTON had a new sensa
tion — something to talk of in the dormitory, when the candles were out, and a couple of dozen young ladies, having said their prayers, were supposed to be cosily asleep. They weren't. They talked in a suppressed tone, and confided to each other profound secrets concerning the sweethearts they had seen in the holidays, or remarked at church. Amy, to tell truth, though most garrulous of all Madame Simonet's pupils, did not go in for sweethearts. Her special faculty was story-telling. She was a little Scheherazade. She would begin a tale at the end of the Midsummer holidays, and it would not be finished at Christmas.
At the same time, she liked gossip for a change. And now, there was a theme for gossip which interpolated pleasantly between the chapters of little Amy's endless romance and night. It is requisite here to remark that Madame Simonet was quite a young lady, almost as young as some of her pupils, but quite capable of keeping them in order. Had she not, her husband could. He was a French émigré, quite old enough to be her father. He taught French and drawing to all the best families round Silchester. Byand-by he married the maiden lady, Miss Maddox, who kept the ladies' school at Silchester. His fame as a teacher increased the success of the school; in time he gave up most of his teaching, except at a few great houses.
But Madame Simonet died rather suddenly; and when this sad even occurred, the old gentleman was rather puzzled what to do. He asked Dr. Sterne, who was the medical attendant at Silchester Semi
“I cannot keep a ladies' school, mon ami. It would be deemed improper in this remarkably religious island. Yet I do not want to throw away so good a property. What do
He looked so grave about it that our friend the Doctor could harldly help laughing.
They were strolling along a path overshadowed by limes, which was one of the choicest corners of the seminary gardens. They had other choice spots. Monsieur Simonet was a great fruit grower, and beat all the neighbourhood (ay, even Squire Silchester himself) in melons and peaches. Naturally he had no desire to leave the scene of his skill—his cherished glass frames, and southern walls, and asparagus beds. He was melancholy.
“It certainly does seem difficult for you to teach a lot of little girls,” said the Doctor. “Still, there are governesses, you know. They could keep the brats in order."
“ What is brat?" asked Monsieur Simonet.
“ Brat, my dear friend,” replied the Doctor, “is old English for a pinafore or a petticoat, and so has come to mean the tiny inhabitant of such garments. How you are to manage a set of brats is of course a puzzle. Still, I think you may do it.”
“ How?" exclaimed Simonet, smoking fiercely. “Am I to send a lot of babies to bed when they are naughty? It is very unlucky. I like the place, but I fear there is nothing to be done.'
“Why not marry Selina Woodman?” said the Doctor.
Marry that child! Besides, I cannot marry for a year at least, according to your etiquette.”
“Public opinion will forgive you for six months. Go away for change, and leave the governesses to take charge of the school. With me to look after them, I shall be much surprised if at the end of the time little Selina does not show herself superior to all her colleagues.”
" Then she'll want to govern me,” said Simonet, horror-stricken. “No, my dear Doctor; I had better give the affair up. Besides, she is so young.”
“ That fault will mend. You are young for your years. Take my advice, the county will be delighted to think you are obliged to go away and grieve. Go. Grieve. Come back and marry Selina."
“But if she won't? I am sixty, and she is twenty-two.”