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Agnes Grey

9. The Ball
'Now, Miss Grey,' exclaimed Miss Murray, immediately I entered the schoolroom,
after having taken off my outdoor garments, upon returning from my four weeks'
recreation, 'Now - shut the door, and sit down, and I'll tell you all about the ball.'
'No - damn it, no!' shouted Miss Matilda. 'Hold your tongue, can't ye? and let me
tell her about my new mare - such a splendour, Miss Grey! a fine blood mare - '
'Do be quiet, Matilda; and let me tell my news first.'
'No, no, Rosalie; you'll be such a damned long time over it - she shall hear me
first - I'll be hanged if she doesn't!'
'I'm sorry to hear, Miss Matilda, that you've not got rid of that shocking habit yet.'
'Well, I can't help it: but I'll never say a wicked word again, if you'll only listen to
me, and tell Rosalie to hold her confounded tongue.'
Rosalie remonstrated, and I thought I should have been torn in pieces between
them; but Miss Matilda having the loudest voice, her sister at length gave in, and
suffered her to tell her story first: so I was doomed to hear a long account of her
splendid mare, its breeding and pedigree, its paces, its action, its spirit, &c., and
of her own amazing skill and courage in riding it; concluding with an assertion
that she could clear a five-barred gate 'like winking,' that papa said she might
hunt the next time the hounds met, and mamma had ordered a bright scarlet
hunting-habit for her.
'Oh, Matilda! what stories you are telling!' exclaimed her sister.
'Well,' answered she, no whit abashed, 'I know I could clear a five-barred gate, if I
tried, and papa will say I may hunt, and mamma will order the habit when I ask it.'
'Well, now get along,' replied Miss Murray; 'and do, dear Matilda, try to be a little
more lady-like. Miss Grey, I wish you would tell her not to use such shocking
words; she will call her horse a mare: it is so inconceivably shocking! and then
she uses such dreadful expressions in describing it: she must have learned it
from the grooms. It nearly puts me into fits when she begins.'
'I learned it from papa, you ass! and his jolly friends,' said the young lady,
vigorously cracking a hunting-whip, which she habitually carried in her hand. 'I'm
as good judge of horseflesh as the best of 'm.'
 
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