The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations
Then out into the world, my course I did determine;
Though, to be rich was not my wish, yet to be great was charming.
My talents they were not the worst, nor yet my education;
Resolved was I, at least to try, to mend my situation.--BURNS.
In the meantime, the session of Parliament had begun, and the Rivers' party
had, since February, inhabited Park Lane. Meta had looked pale and pensive,
as she bade her friends at Stoneborough good-bye; but only betrayed that
she had rather have stayed at home, by promising herself great enjoyment in
meeting them again at Easter.
Flora was, on the other hand, in the state of calm patronage that betokened
perfect satisfaction. She promised wonders for Miss Bracy's sisters--talked of
inviting Mary and Blanche to see sights and take lessons; and undertook to
send all the apparatus needed by Cocksmoor school; and she did,
accordingly, send down so many wonderful articles, that curate and
schoolmistress were both frightened; Mrs. Taylor thought the easels were
new-fashioned instruments of torture; and Ethel found herself in a condition
to be liberal to Stoneborough National School.
Flora was a capital correspondent, and made it her business to keep Margaret
amused, so that the home-party were well informed of the doings of each of
her days--and very clever her descriptions were. She had given herself a
dispensation from general society until after Easter; but, in the meantime,
both she and Meta seemed to find great enjoyment in country rides and
drives, and in quiet little dinners at home, to George's agreeable political
friends. With the help of two such ladies as Mrs. and Miss Rivers, Ethel could
imagine George's house pleasant enough to attract clever people; but she
was surprised to find how full her sister's letters were of political news.
It was a period when great interests were in agitation; and the details of
London talk and opinions were extremely welcome. Dr. Spencer used to come
in to ask after "Mrs. Rivers's Intelligencer"; and, when he heard the lucid
statements, would say, she ought to have been a "special correspondent."
And her father declared that her news made him twice as welcome to his
patients; but her cleverest sentences always were prefaced with "George
says," or "George thinks," in a manner that made her appear merely the
dutiful echo of his sentiments.
In an early letter, Flora mentioned how she had been reminded of poor Harry,
by finding Miss Walkinghame's card. That lady lived with her mother at
Richmond, and, on returning the visit, Flora was warmly welcomed by the
kind old Lady Walkinghame, who insisted on her bringing her baby and
spending a long day. The sisters-in-law had been enchanted with Miss