Blanche, and conduct her down the broad carpeted stair; but she fell to the lot of Pen upon this occasion, Mr. Foker being appointed to escort Mrs. Welbore Welbore, in consequence of his superior rank as an earl's grandson.
But though he was separated from the object of his desire during the passage downstairs, the delighted Foker found himself by Miss Amory's side at the dinnertable, and flattered himself that he had manœuvred very well in securing that happy place. It may be that the move was not his, but that it was made by another person. Blanche had thus the two young men, one on each side of her, and each tried to render himself gallant and agreeable.
Foker's mamma, from her place, surveying her darling boy, was surprised at his vivacity. Harry talked constantly to his fair neighbour about the topics of the day. "Seen Taglioni in the Sylphide, Miss Amory? Bring me that souprame of Volile again, if you please" (this was addressed to the attendant near him); "very good: can't think where the souprames come from; what becomes of the legs of the fowls, I wonder? She's clipping in the Sylphide, ain't she?" and he began very kindly to hum the pretty air which pervades that prettiest of all ballets, now faded into the past with that most beautiful and gracious of all dancers. Will the young folks ever see anything so charming, anything so classic, anything like Taglioni?
" Miss Amory is a sylph herself," said Mr. Pen.
"What a delightful tenor voice you have, Mr. Foker!" said the young lady. "I am sure you have been well taught. I sing a little myself. I should like to sing with you."
Pen remembered that words very similar had been addressed to himself by the young lady, and that she had liked to sing with him in former days. And sneering within himself, he wondered with how many other gentlemen she had sung duets since his time? But he did not think fit to put this awkward question aloud: and only said, with the very tenderest air which he could assume, "I should like to hear you sing again, Miss Blanche. I never heard a voice I liked so well as yours, I think."
"I thought you liked Laura's," said Miss Blanche.
" Laura's is a contralto: and that voice is very often out, you know," Pen said bitterly. "I have heard a great deal of music in London," he continued. "I'm tired of those professional people -- they sing too loud -- or I have grown too old or too blasé. One grows old very soon in London, Miss Amory. And like all old fellows, I only care for the songs I heard in my youth."
"I like English music best. I don't care for foreign songs much. -- Get me some saddle of mutton," said Mr. Foker.
"I adore English ballads of all things," said Miss Amory.
"Sing me one of the old songs after dinner, will you?" said Pen, with an imploring voice.
"Shall I sing you an English song, after dinner?" asked the Sylphide, turning to Mr. Foker. "I will, if you will promise to come up soon:" and she gave him a perfect broadside of her eyes.
"I'll come up after dinner, fast enough," he said simply. "I don't care about much wine afterwards -- I take my whack at dinner -- I mean my share, you know; and when I have had as much as I want, I toddle up to tea. I'm a domestic character, Miss Amory -- my habits are simple -- and when I'm pleased I'm generally in a good humour, ain't I, Pen? -- That jelly, if you please -- not that one, the other with the cherries inside. How the doose do they get those cherries inside the jellies?" In this way the artless youth prattled on: and Miss Amory listened to him with inexhaustible good humour. When the ladies took their departure for the upper regions, Blanche made the two young men promise faithfully to quit the table soon, and departed with kind glances to each. She