Charles Dickens


'My adorable girl,' urged Mr Sparkler, 'try your aromatic vinegar. I have often seen my mother try it, and it seemingly refreshed her.

And she is, as I believe you are aware, a remarkably fine woman, with no non--'

'Good Gracious!' exclaimed Fanny, starting up again. 'It's beyond all patience! This is the most wearisome day that ever did dawn upon the world, I am certain.'

Mr Sparkler looked meekly after her as she lounged about the room, and he appeared to be a little frightened. When she had tossed a few trifles about, and had looked down into the darkening street out of all the three windows, she returned to her sofa, and threw herself among its pillows.

'Now Edmund, come here! Come a little nearer, because I want to be able to touch you with my fan, that I may impress you very much with what I am going to say. That will do. Quite close enough. Oh, you do look so big!'

Mr Sparkler apologised for the circumstance, pleaded that he couldn't help it, and said that 'our fellows,' without more particularly indicating whose fellows, used to call him by the name of Quinbus Flestrin, Junior, or the Young Man Mountain.

'You ought to have told me so before,' Fanny complained.

'My dear,' returned Mr Sparkler, rather gratified, 'I didn't know It would interest you, or I would have made a point of telling you.' 'There! For goodness sake, don't talk,' said Fanny; 'I want to talk, myself. Edmund, we must not be alone any more. I must take such precautions as will prevent my being ever again reduced to the state of dreadful depression in which I am this evening.'

'My dear,' answered Mr Sparkler; 'being as you are well known to be, a remarkably fine woman with no--'

'Oh, good GRACIOUS!' cried Fanny.

Mr Sparkler was so discomposed by the energy of this exclamation, accompanied with a flouncing up from the sofa and a flouncing down again, that a minute or two elapsed before he felt himself equal to saying in explanation:

'I mean, my dear, that everybody knows you are calculated to shine in society.'

'Calculated to shine in society,' retorted Fanny with great irritability; 'yes, indeed! And then what happens? I no sooner recover, in a visiting point of view, the shock of poor dear papa's death, and my poor uncle's--though I do not disguise from myself that the last was a happy release, for, if you are not presentable you had much better die--'

'You are not referring to me, my love, I hope?' Mr Sparkler humbly interrupted.

'Edmund, Edmund, you would wear out a Saint. Am I not expressly speaking of my poor uncle?'

'You looked with so much expression at myself, my dear girl,' said Mr Sparkler, 'that I felt a little uncomfortable. Thank you, my love.'

'Now you have put me out,' observed Fanny with a resigned toss of her fan, 'and I had better go to bed.'

'Don't do that, my love,' urged Mr Sparkler. 'Take time.'

Fanny took a good deal of time: lying back with her eyes shut, and her eyebrows raised with a hopeless expression as if she had utterly given up all terrestrial affairs. At length, without the slightest notice, she opened her eyes again, and recommenced in a short, sharp manner:

'What happens then, I ask! What happens? Why, I find myself at the very period when I might shine most in society, and should most like for very momentous reasons to shine in society--I find myself in a situation which to a certain extent disqualifies me for going into society. it's too bad, really!'

'My dear,' said Mr Sparkler. 'I don't think it need keep you at home.' 'Edmund, you ridiculous creature,' returned Fanny, with great indignation; 'do you suppose that a woman in the bloom of youth and not wholly devoid of personal attractions, can put herself, at such a time, in competition as to figure with a woman in every other way her inferior? If you do suppose such a thing, your folly is boundless.'

Mr Sparkler submitted that he had thought 'it might be got over.' 'Got over!' repeated Fanny, with immeasurable scorn.

'For a time,' Mr Sparkler submitted.