"Her wit Values itself so highly, that to her All matter else seems weak." --Much Ado about Nothing*.
GWENDOLEN'S reception in the neighbourhood fulfilled her uncle's expectations. From Brackenshaw Castle to the Firs at Wancester, where Mr Quallon the banker kept a generous house, she was welcomed with manifest admiration, and even those ladies who did not quite like her, felt a comfort in having a new, striking girl to invite; for hostesses who entertain much must make up their parties as ministers make up their cabinets, on grounds other than personal liking. Then, in order to have Gwendolen as a guest, it was not necessary to ask any one who was disagreeable, for Mrs Davilow always made a quiet, picturesque figure as a chaperon, and Mr Gascoigne was everywhere in request for his own sake.
Among the houses where Gwendolen was not quite liked, and yet invited, was Quetcham Hall. One of her first invitations was to a large dinner party there, which made a sort of general introduction for her to the society of the neighbourhood; for in a select part of thirty and of well-composed proportions as to age, few visitable families could be entirely left out. No youthful figure there was comparable to Gwendolen's as she passed through the long suite of rooms adorned with light and flowers, and, visible at first as a slim figure floating along in white drapery, approached through one wide doorway after another into fuller illumination and definiteness. She had never had that sort of promenade before, and she felt exultingly that it befitted her: any one looking at her for the first time might have supposed that long galleries and lackeys had always been a matter of course in her life; while her cousin Anna, who was really more familiar with these things, felt almost as much embarrassed as a rabbit suddenly deposited in that well-lit space.
"Who is that with Gascoigne?" said the archdeacon, neglecting a discussion of military manœuvres on which, as a clergyman, he was naturally appealed to. And his son, on the other side of the room--a hopeful young scholar, who had already suggested some "not less elegant than ingenious" emendations of Greek texts--said nearly at the same time, "By George, who is that girl with the awfully well-set head and jolly figure?"
But to a mind of general benevolence, wishing everybody to look