Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 2, Ch. 11

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Letter XI


YESTERDAY morning we received an invitation to dine and spend the day at Mr. Branghton's; and M. Du Bois, who was also invited, called to conduct us to Snow Hill.

Young Branghton received us at the door; and the first words he spoke were, "Do you know, sisters a'n't dressed yet."

Then, hurrying us into the house, he said to me, "Come, Miss, you shall go upstairs and catch 'em,-I dare say they're at the glass."

He would have taken my hand; but I declined this civility, and begged to follow Madame Duval.

Mr. Branghton then appeared, and led the way himself. We went, as before, up two pairs of stairs; but the moment the father opened the door, the daughters both gave a loud scream. We all stopped; and then Miss Branghton called out, "Lord, Papa, what do you bring the company up here for? why, Polly and I a'n't half dressed."

"More shame for you," answered he; "here's your aunt, and cousin, and M. Du Bois, all waiting, and ne'er a room to take them to."

"Who'd have thought of their coming so soon?" cried she: "I am sure for my part I thought Miss was used to nothing but quality hoursh."

"Why, I sha'n't be ready this half-hour yet," said Miss Polly; "can't they stay in the shop till we're dressed?"

Mr. Branghton was very angry, and scolded them violently: however, we were obliged to descend, and stools were procured for us in the shop, where we found the brother, who was highly delighted, he said, that his sisters had been catched; and he thought proper to entertain me with a long account of their tediousness, and the many quarrels they all had together.

When, at length, these ladies were equipped to their satisfaction, they made their appearance; but before any conversation was suffered to pass between them and us, they had a long and most disagreeable dialogue with their father, to whose reprimands, though so justly incurred, they replied with the utmost pertness while their brother all the time laughed aloud.

The moment they perceived this, they were so much provoked, that, instead of making any apologies to Madame Duval, they next began to quarrel with him. "Tom, what do you laugh for? I wonder what business you have to be always a laughing when Papa scolds us?"

"Then what business have you to be such a while getting on your clothes? You're never ready, you know well enough."

"Lord, Sir, I wonder what's that to you! I wish you'd mind your own affairs, and not trouble yourself about ours. How should a boy like you know any thing?"

"A boy, indeed! not such a boy, neither: I'll warrant you'll be glad to be as young when you come to be old maids."

This sort of dialogue we were amused with till dinner was ready, when we again mounted up two pairs of stairs.

X [h] quality hours


As Evelina reported during her first London stay fashionable society, "the quality," awakened, dined, and pursued amusements later than their humbler contemporaries. See note on "quality," Volume I, Letter XIV.