Vanity Fair HTML version
In Which Miss Sharp and Miss Sedley Prepare to Open the Campaign
When Miss Sharp had performed the heroical act mentioned in the last chapter, and had
seen the Dixonary, flying over the pavement of the little garden, fall at length at the feet
of the astonished Miss Jemima, the young lady's countenance, which had before worn an
almost livid look of hatred, assumed a smile that perhaps was scarcely more agreeable,
and she sank back in the carriage in an easy frame of mind, saying--"So much for the
Dixonary; and, thank God, I'm out of Chiswick."
Miss Sedley was almost as flurried at the act of defiance as Miss Jemima had been; for,
consider, it was but one minute that she had left school, and the impressions of six years
are not got over in that space of time. Nay, with some persons those awes and terrors of
youth last for ever and ever. I know, for instance, an old gentleman of sixty-eight, who
said to me one morning at breakfast, with a very agitated countenance, "I dreamed last
night that I was flogged by Dr. Raine." Fancy had carried him back five-and-fifty years in
the course of that evening. Dr. Raine and his rod were just as awful to him in his heart,
then, at sixty-eight, as they had been at thirteen. If the Doctor, with a large birch, had
appeared bodily to him, even at the age of threescore and eight, and had said in awful
voice, "Boy, take down your pant--"? Well, well, Miss Sedley was exceedingly alarmed
at this act of insubordination.
"How could you do so, Rebecca?" at last she said, after a pause.
"Why, do you think Miss Pinkerton will come out and order me back to the black-hole?"
said Rebecca, laughing.
"I hate the whole house," continued Miss Sharp in a fury. "I hope I may never set eyes on
it again. I wish it were in the bottom of the Thames, I do; and if Miss Pinkerton were
there, I wouldn't pick her out, that I wouldn't. O how I should like to see her floating in
the water yonder, turban and all, with her train streaming after her, and her nose like the
beak of a wherry."
"Hush!" cried Miss Sedley.
"Why, will the black footman tell tales?" cried Miss Rebecca, laughing. "He may go back
and tell Miss Pinkerton that I hate her with all my soul; and I wish he would; and I wish I
had a means of proving it, too. For two years I have only had insults and outrage from
her. I have been treated worse than any servant in the kitchen. I have never had a friend
or a kind word, except from you. I have been made to tend the little girls in the lower
schoolroom, and to talk French to the Misses, until I grew sick of my mother tongue. But
that talking French to Miss Pinkerton was capital fun, wasn't it? She doesn't know a word