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THE FANCY BALL.

BY THE HONORABLE CHARLES PHIPPS.

I DARE say few of my readers have ever visited the little town of Homesgrove; indeed, unless they had been determined to travel very far out of their road to wherever they were going, or had a second sight of the fame it was to acquire through the medium of this eventful tale, it is very improbable that they should have discovered a place which neither Mogg or Patterson have been able to coax into any cross road between Falmouth and Berwick. Unknown, however, as Homesgrove may generally be as yet, and undiscovered by many as it may still remain, I can assure my readers that the interests, consequence, and notoriety of that small, unchartered collection of bricks and mortar appeared to its inhabitants as important and as worthy of attention as those of any city, reformed or unreformed, in the united kingdom. It had its great people, swelling with their own grandeur; its little people, puffing up to become of consequence; its select society and its vulgar set; its aristocrats and republicans; its geniuses and its men of sense; its wits and its buts; in short, an epitome of the whole household stuff of a large metropolis.

Amongst the greatest of the great, and the richest of the rich, was Mr. Leslie, the banker, who, if his wealth was to be estimated by the number of notes in circulation with the design of Leslie Priory engraved in the top lefthand corner, and the autograph of Archibald Leslie written in the diagonal righthand one, must have been more opulent

than all his neighbours combined, as all their wealth appeared to consist of his money. Higher still in dignity, and the dispenser of all this wealth, was Mrs. Leslie, the mistress of Leslie Priory, and the wife of its proprietor. Of a size that should have ensured the stability of any bank, and a pomposity sufficient to maintain any consequence arising from riches, her broad face, like the reflection in a horizontal tea-spoon, seemed still further to expand with irrepressible good humour, and her magnificence to grow more elated by the repetition of unbounded hospitality. Immeasurable, however, became this amiable expansion of countenance, and profuse almost to extravagance was to be this friendly entertainment of guests upon the 15th of July, 1817, when returned to his home the only son, the idolized child of this warm-hearted couple. Fresh from the glories of the late short but eventful campaign of 1815, polished and formed into a perfect preux chevalier by a two year's mixture in the society of the French capital, beaming with the beauty, and bursting with the spirits of youth, almost of boyhood, it would have been hardly possible to have imagined an object more formed to justify parental pride than Horace Leslie, the king of the intended feast, the hero who had scarcely numbered eighteen summers.

The long expected day of the projected fête at last arrived, hot and calm as could be desired; the sky was uninterrupted blue, the sun unsparingly scorching, and the lawn most thirstily brown. There could not be better weather for the description of fête, for it was one of those entertainments upon which you are allowed to remain upon an unshaded, dusty lawn as long as the sun retains

its power; and when the evening becomes cool, and the guests are completely tired, you are permitted to rest your limbs and cool your body by dancing in closed apartments, the atmosphere of which is carefully warmed with a profusion of wax candles, and perfumed with a mixture of occasionally expiring oil lamps.

Mrs. Leslie was about by nine o'clock. By about, I mean she had been in every room, from the conservatory to the kitchen; in all the tents, the booth for the Bampford pandæans, the temporary cow-house for the syllabubs; had tried the spring of the boards for the village sword dancers, and had paced the exact distance (twice to be quite sure) between the targets for the Homesgrove Toxopholite Society; and had seen that the beef and plum pudding was "cutting up," for the country people, who were to dine at twelve; and the barrel of ale rolled out to a spot where the men could easily walk to it, and stagger from it. Everything was in order; not a contretemps, not a misfortune-except, indeed, that the heat had turned all the cream for the strawberries sour, and the long period for which the ice-house had been open, had converted that cool repository into a cistern of tepid water; but cream was always to be had in a dairy country, and ice always to be bought in a town like Homesgrove, and thus the rus in urbe, or rather urbs in rure, removed all grievances.

Mr. Leslie had been at the bank since seven to get his business done by twelve, determined, for that day at least, to stop payment after that hour.

At the door of the mansion, upon that morning, Horace met his mother; he, bright with the hope of enjoyment,

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and the enthusiastic affection of an indulged son, she, flushed with unwonted exertion, and panting under the weight of flower pots for the entrance hall, and cut flowers to "grow spontaneously" in the jellies and blanc manges. 'My own dearest old lady," said the spoiled boy, as in his boisterous salute he upset one of the geraniums and half of the hoarded blossoms, destined "sweets to the sweet;""you look like the effigy on your clock of Summer stealing the flowers of Spring. Thank you for your scattered gifts," continued he, arranging a bouquet, "this will be just the thing to make me welcome. I shall be back by eleven."

"Why, where can you be going this morning, my dear Horace?"

"Where? where but to Binfield, to persuade Colonel Arnot to forget his gout, and despise his velvet shoe, and to bring Helen to the fête."

"My dear boy," said Mrs. Leslie, more gravely," there is no occasion to display such very great anxiety for the presence of Colonel and Miss Arnot, and I must seriously caution you against being caught by that girl's pretty face, for you know that they are as poor and as proud as last year's mayor."

"Oh, good bye, dear mother," cried Horace, laughing and running away; "I do not intend to listen to a word against the power of pretty faces for the next three years; and as I am neither going to borrow money nor ask a favour, it matters little to me how poor or how proud they are."

Now I must in confidence reveal to my readers that this caution against the enslaving authority of beauty,

which Horace laughed at as premature, could not, in this instance, be justly accused of any unnecessary precipitancy, on the contrary, it might better have been taunted with being what is called in vulgar diction, "a day after the fair:" for, in fact, Horace and the lovely Helen had long since been aware of, and done full homage to each other's rare personal beauty, and though our hero's age was now eighteen, and nearly two summers less had ripened Helen to the bloom of sixteen, yet must I acknowledge that for some years past it had been thoroughly arranged between them that nature had formed them for each other. I entirely agree with a delightful authoress, that an early affection amongst little children is not so uncommon an event as to be considered a token of the precocity of some extraordinary genius; I not only believe that such childish preference is very common, but that where the seclusion of the country nurses these early ideas, their effect is often felt through life. This certainly was the case with the two of whom I write. But, indeed, it was hardly to be avoided that two beings so admirable should be aware of each other's mutual perfections.

I need hardly say that the united persuasions of Helen and Horace were sufficient to induce Colonel Arnot to sally forth from his usual seclusion; and that among the loveliest of the throng assembled on the lawn of Leslie Priory, none was so much remarked as Helen Arnot. The fête was very successful, and went off uncommonly well. There were few accidents. The sword dancers, to be sure, having had their share of the good cheer, and their turn at the ale barrel, before they were called upon to enact their pageant, soon allowed their pantomime to

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