BETA

THE MISTAKE.

(AN OLD GEM RESET.)

Miss Marion Gray was an old maid confest1
Of some forty and two p’rhaps to spare ;2
And she lived in a region that once was “ the West,”3
And held up its head I’ve been told with the best4
In short, it was Red Lion Square.5
Though the first bloom of youth had been wiped from
her cheek,
6
Though her hair was—don’t breathe it—a wig,7
Though the vulgar remarked that her voice was a
squeak,
8
And her nose rather red, and her temper not meek,9
She was “ merry as e’er was a grig.”10
The Square has gone down, but the trees are still green11
That o’ershadow the dull plot of ground,12
Some grass and a sprinkling of flowers are seen13
By those who in summer-time peep through the screen14
Of old iron that totters around.15
Her house is an old one—’twas built at the time16
When Anna the Stuart was Queen :17
No legends suggested that aught of sublime18
Was connected therewith, and no terrible crime19
Rooms, closets, or cellars had seen.20
Though a dark-looking stain on the drawing-room floor,21
Might have hinted a story of guilt22
To the brains of a Spinner of Tales by the score,23
Who had lifted the carpet (’twas just by the door),24
Where some blood—or some beer—had been spilt.25
No roses climbed over the mansion, but bowers26
As dwellings are terribly “ slow,”27
Some flower-pots stood in the yard, and the showers28
Still watered the mould and the sticks, but the flowers29
Were potted some ages ago.30
Miss Gray, as we’ve said, was an old maid confest,31
Who of “ offers” had had just a score,32
(Did you e’er know a lady not quite at her best,33
Who hadn’t been bothered with many a pest,34
In the shape of a man, or a bore ?)35
Her income sufficed for herself and a maid,36
Extremely good looking and young ;37
But, like all pretty girls, a most tiresome jade,38
She gave her poor mistress not much of her aid,39
And a very great deal of her tongue.40
One morning in summer, the weather was fine,41
But the lady was still in her bed,42
Though the church (if there is one) was just striking [nine,43
When the door-bell rang out like a summons to dine,44
And the fair one uplifted her head,45
Rose, passed from the room, and leaned over the stairs46
To listen—What mortal can blame ?47
’Twas a failing she had (knowing all men are bears),48
That she liked to “ drop down” on the maid “ una-[wares,”49
If she thought that a “ follower” came.50
Two woman and a man. The man is carrying a package. The elder woman is standing facing the man and pointing towards the package. The younger woman is standing behind the elder woman; she has her hand held up to her mouth, as if she is laughing. 1/2 page.
Why that start of amazement—that look of surprise,51
Why those feelings that fast men call “ queer ? ”52
To Jane’s “ What do you want, sir?” a deep voice [replies : —53
I die for your mistress, my dear.”54
For me is he dying ? oh ! beg him to wait,55
I’ll be down, Jane, as soon as I can,”56
(For her costume was then in a terrible state,57
Loose and white like a Muse, or a Grace, or a Fate,58
Ere crinoline fashions began. )59
She had dined not long since at a rustic retreat,60
Near Kennington Oval, or Square,61
Where a gentleman filling a neighbouring seat,62
Had gazed in a manner that’s fondly called “ sweet,”63
As he helped her to jelly with hare.64
Could it chance to be he—it was early, but then,65
Love visits both early and late :66
Of course, she still hated “ those horrible men,”67
But she liked to encourage a little, and then68
Oh, dear ! she was making him wait.69
Her toilet complete, she descended in haste,70
All a-flutter her lover to scan.71
Just paused at the stair-foot (she’d exquisite taste),72
To tighten a little the cord at her waist,73
And moved forward to look at the man.74
He looked rather “ seedy,” a cap in his hand,75
A parcel just opened to show,76
She collapsed—the disturber on seeing her stand77
Amazed— “ took an attitude,” sheepish and bland,78
Like a goose, but she couldn’t say beau.79
My master has done, miss, the best that he can,”80
(Displaying a marvel of skill),81
Your master—the dyer—you infamous man ! ”82
He stared— “ Go away, sir, as fast as you can,83
And I’ll send the amount of your bill.”84
He thought she was mad, not at all, she was sane,85
As a woman so worried could be,86
She crawled to her chamber assisted by Jane,87
And (after restoratives) came down again88
To her breakfast of toast and of tea,89
Rather late in the day, with her spirits restored90
(Much sooner than Jane had expected),91
She searched out a card from an odd little hoard,92
And entered this call on this mystical board,93
As the twenty-first offer—Rejected.94