A Change of Mind

(Rural Repository, “Laura Lovel “ By Eliza Leslie 1837)

Laura had tact enough to perceive that any further attempt at a conversation on books, would be unavailing; and she made some inquiry about the annual exhibition of pictures at the Athenaenm.

‘ I believe it is a very good one,’ replied Mrs. Brantley. ‘ We stopped there one day on our way to dine with some friends out of town. But as the carriage was waiting, and the horses were impatient, we only stayed a few minutes, just long enough to walk round.”

‘ Oh ! yes, mamma,’ cried Augusta, ‘ and don’t you recollect we saw Miss Darford there in a new dress of lavender-colored grenadine, though grenadines having been over these hundred years. And there was pretty Mrs. Lenham, as the gentleman call her, in a puce-coloured italianet, though italiancts have been out for ages. And don’t you remember Miss Grover’s canary colored reps bonnet that looked as if it had been made in the ark. The idea of any one wearing reps!—a thing that has not been seen since the flood ! Only think of reps !’

Laura Lovel wondered what reps could possibly be. ‘Now I talk of bonnets,’ pursued Augusta ; ‘ pray, mamma, did you tell Miss Pipingcord that I would have my Tuscan leghorn trimmed with the lilac and green riband, instead of the blue and yellow ?’

‘Indeed,’ replied Mrs. Brantley. ‘ I found your cousin Mary so extremely ill this afternoon when I went to see her, and my sister so very uneasy on her account, that I absolutely forgot to call at the milliner’s as I had promised you.’

‘ Was there ever any thing so vexatious !’ exclaimed, Augusta, throwing down her beadwork—’ Really, mamma, there is no trusting you at all. You never remember to do any thing you are desired.’ And flying to the bell she rang it with violence.

I could think of nothing but poor Mary’s danger,’ said Mrs. Brantley, ‘ and the twenty five leeches that I saw on her forehead.’

‘Dreadful!’ ejaculated Augusta. ‘But you might have supposed that the leeches would do her good, as of course they will. Here, William,’ addressing the servant man that had just entered; ‘ run as if you were running for your life to Miss Piping cord, the milliner, and tell her upon no account whatever, to trim Miss Brantley’s Tuscan Leghorn with the blue and yellow riband that was decided on yesterday. Tell her I have changed my mind and resolved upon the lilac and green. Fly as if you had not another moment to live, or Miss Pipingcord will have already trimmed the bonnet with the blue and yellow.’

‘ And then,’ said Mrs. Brantley, ‘ go to Mrs. Ashmore’s, and inquire how Miss Mary is this evening.’

‘ Why, mamma,1 exclaimed Augusta; ‘ aunt Ashmore lives so far from Miss Pipingcord’s that it will be ten or eleven o’clock before William gets back, and I shall be all that time on thorns to know if she has not already disfigured my bonnet with the vile blue and yellow.’

* Yesterday,’ said Mrs. Brantley, ‘ you admired that very riband extremely.’

‘ So I did,’ replied Augusta, ‘ but I have been thinking about it since, and as I tell you. I have changed my mind. And now that I have set my heart upon the lilac and green, I absolutely detest the blue and yellow.’

• But I am really very anxious to know how Mary is to-night,’ said Mrs. Brantley.

‘Oh !’ replied Augusta, ‘ I dare say the leeches have relieved her. And if they have not, no doubt Dr. Warren will order twentyfive more—or something else that will answer the purpose.—She is in very good hands—I am certain that in the morning we shall hear she is considerably better. At all events I will not wear the hateful blue and yellow riband—William what are you standing for ?’

The man turned to leave the room, but Mrs. Brantley called him back. ‘ William,’ said she,’ tell one of the women to go to Mrs. Ashmore’s and inquire how Miss Mary is.’

‘ Eliza and Matilda are both out,’ said William, ‘ and Louisa is crying with the toothache, and steaming her face over hot heebs— I guess she won’t be willing to walk so far in the night-air, just out of the steam.’

‘ William !’ exclaimed Augusta, stamping with her foot, ‘don’t stand here talking, but go at once ; there’s not a moment to lose. Tell Miss Pipingcord if she has put on that horrid rihin, she must take it off again, and charge it in the hill, if she pretends she can’t afford to lose it, as I dare say she will—and tell her to be sure and send the bonnet home early in the morning—I am dying to see it.’

To all this Laura Lovel had sat listening in amazement, and could scarcely conceive the possibility of the mind of so young a girl being totally absorbed in things that concerned nothing but external appearance. She had yet to learn that a passion for dress, when thoroughly excited in the female bosom, and carried to excess, has a direct tendency to cloud the understanding, injure the temper, and harden the heart.

Till the return of William, Augusta seemed indeed to be on thorns. At last he came, and brought with him the bonnet, trimmed with the blue and yellow. Augusta snatched it out of the bandbox, and stood speechless with passion, and William thus delivered his message from the milliner—

‘ Miss Pippincod sends word that she had ribanded the bonnet afore I come for it—she says she has used up all her laylock green for another lady’s bonnet, as chose it this very afternoon ; and she guesses you won’t stand no chance of finding no more of it, if you sarch Boston through ; and she says, she shew you all her ribands yesterday, and you chose the yellow blue yourself, and she han’t got no more ribands as you’d be likely to like. Them’s her very words.’

‘ How I hate milliners !’ exclaimed Augusta, and ringing for the maid that always assisted her in undressing, she flounced out of the room and went to bed.

‘ Miss Lovel,’ said Mrs. Brantley, smiling, ‘you must excuse dear Augusta. She is extremely- sensitive about every thing, and that is the reason she is apt to give way to these little fits of irritation.’

Laura retired to her room, grieving to think how unamiable a young girl might be made, by the indulgence of an inordinate passion for dress.

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Published in: on April 27, 2013 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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