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We have a few drawbacks; yes, that cannot
be denied. We are damp and draughty, and
I doubt the drains, and question the healthiness
of the soil; but one must have something, you
.know; and a grand outside does compensate
one for many out-of-sight annoyances. The
greatest annoyance to me, however, is the
children. We are overrun with children. Surely
we are a rabbit warren in process of transformation;
for every house, excepting my own and
one or two others, teems with little folks, from
the apoplectic baby in fluffy white legs to ihe
ungainly schoolboy with arms too long for his
sleeves, and ankles far below his trousers.

In spite of our grandeur of appearance, we
have strange people among us in our square;
and I, an unmarried lady of a certain age-
the granddaughter of a dean, and with an
ancestral bishop hanging up in the dining-room, I,
with aristocratic traditions floating through my
family, and claiming a profound acquaintance
with the best of breeding, I ought to be held a
pretty good judge of the quality of my
associates; and I say that some of us are equivocal
enough. I will tell you, my dears, what we are
all like, and then you can judge for yourselves.
Here, draw your chairs a little nearer; it is so
vulgar to have to speak loud.

I will begin with myself, as I am entitled to
do. I am a single lady of a certain age, as I
said; of good family, and of sufficient, but by
no means extravagant income. I was called
handsome in my time; but that was long ago,
for I am not ashamed to confess my age. Why
should I be ashamed to say that I am fifty-five?
I am strong and active, and have excellent
health; and why should I desire the reputation
of greater youth? Do you think I covet the
admiration of men? I had enough of it in
my time, perhaps; but that is no matter. I
trust I am too wise now for follies of this
sort, my dears. I leave them to young simpletons
like yourselves, who believe that candles
are stars, and go on fluttering and fluttering
till you singe yourselves to rags, and die,
suffocated in a dirty bath of boiling tallow. And
that you call falling in love.

I have nothing to complain of in my life; the
servants, and the tradespeople, and those dreadful
children in the square, and the undesirable
people one meets with there on a summer's
evening, are about the whole of my miseries.
But I am a pretty fair match for my servants,
and do not let them cheat me very much; and
as for the tradespeople, I generally go to market
myself, every day, and I should not like to be in
the place of the man who attempted to deal me
out light weights. I know they call me mean,
but I say that right is right, and being robbed
forms no part of right. At all events, I have the
best of the argument, my dears, for I keep my
money, and remember the proverb about laughing
and winning. Perhaps I have said enough now
for you to understand what I am like an
unmarried lady with two maids, three dogs, a
parrot, a pair of Java sparrows, two amadavats,
and an Angora cat; a little sharp in temper at
times, and not easily taken in; very strict in
morals, and with an unspeakable loathing for
all your flirting, dressy misses in their balloons
and impudent little hats, who strut up and down
the square with their short red petticoats stuck
out like opera dancers' skirts, and their flaunty
gowns looped up in D'Aulnoy festoons over them.
But I am a lady; and that is not what every
one can say of herself.

I am not fortunate in my immediate neighbours.
Opposite I have a family who worry
my life out by their finery and vulgarity. The
mother and her three daughters- ranging from
the ages of twelve to eighteen- are for ever
parading the square with their hideous crinolines
and little pert hats with streaming feathers, looking
singularly unlike rational women of wholesome
domestic life. The mother decks herself
like a parrot in all colours, and sticks a plume
on the top of her bonnet, like a cockatoo's crest.
I have seen the milkman's dirty little children
gaping after them as after so many May-day
queens. The man- I will not call him
gentleman- is a soap-boiler, and overflowing with
fat and money. They are odious people
altogether, vulgarly fashionable- don't you know?
- insolently wealthy. They are always visiting,
or with company at home; and, in the
summer evenings, they come and sit out on the
balcony like a crowd of butterflies, in all sorts
of incongruous colours, laughing so that the
whole square can hear them. Now, is not this
distracting, my dears, and have I not the right
to complain? To be sure, people do say that
they are good-natured; but vulgar people always
are good-natured. It is only your high blood
that has nerves and sensibilities; and, indeed,
whenever I hear of any one being remarkably
amiable, I set him down as of necessity a
vulgarian without redemption. My soap-boilers
bear out my theory. They are notoriously frank
and hospitable, give largely to charities, and
spoil their servants in the most disgusting manner;
besides, harbouring quite a nest of beggars
at all times round their door. But would they
dress as they do, would they laugh as they do,
and troop about in such ostentatious jollity, if
they were not the vulgarest of the vulgar? And
do you think that a few pence given here and
there, or a little stupid good nature can atone
for such a fault as this? No, my dears, and no
lady could think otherwise. We must stand by
our order, and not suffer ourselves to be
betrayed into accepting anything lower, because it
is good-natured. Remember that!

Next door to these dreadful people live others
just as dreadful; indeed more so, if that were
possible: my only consolation in the whole
affair being that none of these horrors live on
my side of the way. My own immediate neighbours,
thank goodness, are respectable enough,
if disagreeable, and would scorn any likeness to
the creatures I have mentioned. And when you
have taken a house, young ladies, you, too, will
find that there is something in having decent and
proper people for your side neighbours. There
is a feeling of contamination from the misdeeds