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The reader will perhaps have learned by this time a thing which I had myself suspected
before I had been twenty-four hours in Mr. Nosnibor's house--I mean, that though the
Nosnibors showed me every attention, I could not cordially like them, with the exception
of Arowhena who was quite different from the rest. They were not fair samples of
Erewhonians. I saw many families with whom they were on visiting terms, whose
manners charmed me more than I know how to say, but I never could get over my
original prejudice against Mr. Nosnibor for having embezzled the money. Mrs. Nosnibor,
too, was a very worldly woman, yet to hear her talk one would have thought that she was
singularly the reverse; neither could I endure Zulora; Arowhena however was perfection.
She it was who ran all the little errands for her mother and Mr. Nosnibor and Zulora, and
gave those thousand proofs of sweetness and unselfishness which some one member of a
family is generally required to give. All day long it was Arowhena this, and Arowhena
that; but she never seemed to know that she was being put upon, and was always bright
and willing from morning till evening. Zulora certainly was very handsome, but
Arowhena was infinitely the more graceful of the two and was the very ne plus ultra of
youth and beauty. I will not attempt to describe her, for anything that I could say would
fall so far short of the reality as only to mislead the reader. Let him think of the very
loveliest that he can imagine, and he will still be below the truth. Having said this much, I
need hardly say that I had fallen in love with her.
She must have seen what I felt for her, but I tried my hardest not to let it appear even by
the slightest sign. I had many reasons for this. I had no idea what Mr. and Mrs. Nosnibor
would say to it; and I knew that Arowhena would not look at me (at any rate not yet) if
her father and mother disapproved, which they probably would, considering that I had
nothing except the pension of about a pound a day of our money which the King had
granted me. I did not yet know of a more serious obstacle.
In the meantime, I may say that I had been presented at court, and was told that my
reception had been considered as singularly gracious; indeed, I had several interviews
both with the King and Queen, at which from time to time the Queen got everything from
me that I had in the world, clothes and all, except the two buttons I had given to Yram,
the loss of which seemed to annoy her a good deal. I was presented with a court suit, and
her Majesty had my old clothes put upon a wooden dummy, on which they probably
remain, unless they have been removed in consequence of my subsequent downfall. His
Majesty's manners were those of a cultivated English gentleman. He was much pleased at
hearing that our government was monarchical, and that the mass of the people were
resolute that it should not be changed; indeed, I was so much encouraged by the evident
pleasure with which he heard me, that I ventured to quote to him those beautiful lines of
Shakespeare's -
"There's a divinity doth hedge a king, Rough hew him how we may;"