398 WHAT WILL HE DO WITH IT?
there, without his wife, more pretentious than his father — being a Lord of the Admiralty — felt a certain awe of Darrell, and spoke little, which was much to his own credit, and to the gen- eral conviviality. The other members of the symposium, be sides Lady Selina, Honoria, and a younger sister, were but Dar- ■ rell, Lionel, and Lady Selina's two cousins; elderly peers — one with the garter, the other in the cabinet — jovial men, who had been wild fellows once in the same mess-room, and still joked at each other whenever they met as they met now. Lionel, who remembered Vance's description of Lady Selina, and who had since heard her spoken of in society as a female despot who car- ried to perfection the arts by which despots flourish, with maj- esty to impose, and caresses to deceive — an Aurungzebe in pet- ticoats — was sadly at a loss to reconcile such portraiture with the good-humored, motherly v/oman who talked to him of her home, her husband, her children, with open fondness and becom- ing pride, and who, far from being so formidably clever as the world cruelly gave out, seemed to Lionel rather below par in her understanding ; strike from her talk its kindliness, and the residue was very like twaddle. After dinner, various members of the Vipont family dropped in — asked impromptu by Carr or by Lady Selina, in hasty three-cornered notes, to take the occa- sion of renewing their acquaintance with their distinguished con- nection. By some accident, among those invited, there were but few young single ladies ; and by some other accident, those few were all plain. Honoria Vipont was unequivocally the belle of the room. It could not but be observed that Darrell .seemed struck with her — talked with her more than any other lady; and when she went to the piano, and played that great air of Beethoven's in which music seems to have got into a knot that only fingers the most artful can unravel, Darrell remained in his seat aloof and alone, listening, no doubt, with ravished attention. But just as the air ended, and Honoria turned round to look for him, he was gone.
Lionel did not linger long after him. The gay young man went, thence, to one of those vast crowds which seem convened for a practical parody of Mr. Bentham's famous proposition — contriving the smallest happiness for the greatest number.
It was a very great house, belonging to a very great person. Colonel Morley had procured an invitation for Lionel, and said, " Go ; you should be seen there." Colonel Morley had passed the age of growing-mto society — no such cares for the morrow could add a cubit to his conventional stature. One among a group of other young men by the door-way, Lionel beheld Dar-