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The Good French Governess
by [?]

With these opinions, Mad. de Rosier readily promised to abstain from all direct or indirect interference in the religious instruction of her pupils. Mrs. Harcourt then introduced her to them as “a friend, in whom she had entire confidence, and whom she hoped and believed they would make it their study to please.”

Whilst the ceremonies of the introduction were going on, Herbert kept himself aloof, and, with his whip suspended over the stick on which he was riding, eyed Mad. de Rosier with no friendly aspect: however, when she held out her hand to him, and when he heard the encouraging tone of her voice, he approached, held his whip fast in his right hand, but very cordially gave the lady his left to shake.

“Are you to be my governess?” said he: “you won’t give me very long tasks, will you?”

“Favoretta, my dear, what has detained you so long?” cried Mrs. Harcourt, as the door opened, and as Favoretta, with her hair in nice order, was ushered into the room by Mrs. Grace. The little girl ran up to Mad. de Rosier, and, with the most caressing freedom, cried,–

“Will you love me? I have not my red shoes on to-day!”

Whilst Mad. de Rosier assured Favoretta that the want of the red shoes would not diminish her merit, Matilda whispered to Isabella–“Mourning is very becoming to her, though she is not fair;” and Isabella, with a look of absence, replied–“But she speaks English amazingly well for a French woman.”

Mad. de Rosier did speak English remarkably well; she had spent some years in England, in her early youth, and, perhaps, the effect of her conversation was heightened by an air of foreign novelty. As she was not hackneyed in the common language of conversation, her ideas were expressed in select and accurate terms, so that her thoughts appeared original, as well as just.

Isabella, who was fond of talents, and yet fonder of novelty, was charmed, the first evening, with her new friend, more especially as she perceived that her abilities had not escaped Mad. de Rosier. She displayed all her little treasures of literature, but was surprised to observe that, though every shining thing she said was taken notice of, nothing dazzled the eyes of her judge; gradually her desire to talk subsided, and she felt some curiosity to hear. She experienced the new pleasure of conversing with a person whom she perceived to be her superior in understanding, and whose superiority she could admire, without any mixture of envy.

“Then,” said she, pausing, one day, after having successfully enumerated the dates of the reigns of all the English kings, “I suppose you have something in French, like our Gray’s Memoria Technica, or else you never could have such a prodigious quantity of dates in your head. Had you as much knowledge of chronology and history, when you were of my age, as–as–“

“As you have?” said Mad. de Rosier: “I do not know whether I had at your age, but I can assure you that I have not now.”

“Nay,” replied Isabella, with an incredulous smile, “but you only say that from modesty.”

“From vanity, more likely.”

“Vanity! impossible–you don’t understand me.”

“Pardon me, but you do not understand me.”

“A person,” cried Isabella, “can’t, surely, be vain–what we, in English, call vain–of not remembering any thing.”

“Is it, then, impossible that a person should be what you, in English, call vain, of not remembering what is useless? I dare say you can tell me the name of that wise man who prayed for the art of forgetting.”

“No, indeed, I don’t know his name; I never heard of him before: was he a Grecian, or a Roman, or an Englishman? can’t you recollect his name? what does it begin with?”

“I do not wish either for your sake or my own, to remember the name; let us content ourselves with the wise man’s sense, whether he were a Grecian, a Roman, or an Englishman: even the first letter of his name might be left among the useless things–might it not?”