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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-06-15 21:24:16
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bong 88 .com

"I don't know that, my dear," said Haldane; "women are easily persuaded to folly, and there are men who have a knack of persuading you that imprudence is generosity, and self-sacrifice proved by endangering other people's peace and prosperity--as your poor mother could also have told you. However, we need not make ourselves prematurely uncomfortable about Nelly. Let us hope her choice may be wise and happy, and that she may use the freedom her father and her aunt left her with discretion." The discussion then turned upon other matters of business, and this part of the subject was abandoned. It returned to Gertrude Baldwin's thoughts as she looked pensively abroad on her wide domains in the early morning, and it troubled her. "We were both so little when he left us," she thought, "that I don't think my father could have preferred Nelly very much to me, and my mother only saw her for a minute before she died. Rose told me she had scarcely strength to hold the baby to her breast, and not strength enough to speak a word to it, so she cannot have loved her more than me; I was with her for a little time--it is very strange. What care has been taken to give her all he could give; and nothing left to me for my own self, on account of my own self! And how strange uncle James looked when I said so! I am sure he understands that I feel it and wonder at it. "How little I know of my mother, and I so like her, he says! Perhaps I am old enough now for them to tell me more about her and that first marriage of hers, which I am sure must have been something dreadful. I will ask uncle James some day when he is very well. Aunt Lucy has never told us anything but that she and mamma were great friends, and mamma was 'a dear thing.' Somehow I don t like to hear our dear dead mother spoken of as 'a dear thing'--absurd, I daresay, but I do not; and dear aunt Eleanor never talked of her as anything but papa's wife--his idolised wife. "How well I remember when I first began to understand that he died of her loss in reality, though it took time to kill him, because he was good and patient and tried to be resigned! But he could not live longer without her, and God knew it and did not ask him. I remember so well when aunt Eleanor told me that, and seemed to know it so well, that she could better bear to know that he was dead than to know that he was still wandering about, because there was no home for him here. I wonder was he very fond of us--or perhaps he was not able to be. I am sure he tried. Ah, well! this we can never, never know until we are orphan children no longer; and any doubt dishonours him. "To think that I am so important a personage, the owner of a great estate, the employer of so many of my fellow-creatures,--with so much power in my weak woman's hands for good or for evil,--and that I am all this solely because of great misfortune--solely because I am an orphan! If they were living, there might indeed have been rejoicing here to-day, for our pleasure and our parents' pride: but no more. It is wonderful to think of that,--wonderful to think of what might have been. Shall I be a good woman, I wonder? Shall I be a faithful steward? I don't know--I am so ignorant: but for uncle James, I am so lonely. At least I will try--for my father's sake, and mamma's, and his, and for my own sake and for God's; but O, I wish, I wish I could have found in my father's will anything, however trifling, which he desired to come to me from him, for my own sake." Tears were standing in the dark, clear gray eyes of the young lady of the Deane, and she had forgotten all about the birthday ball. CHAPTER V. THE "RACCROC DE NOCES." The breakfast-table at the Deane was but scantily furnished with guests at noon on the day after the ball, and only among the younger portion of that restricted number did the spirit of "talking it over" prevail. The gentlemen, with the exception of George Ritherdon, discussed their breakfast and their newspapers, and the matrons were decidedly sleepy and a little cross. George was in high spirits. He had very thorough notions on the subject of enjoying a holiday, and he included among them the delight of escaping from the obligation of reading newspapers. "Look at your friend, Mr. What's-his-name, of some queer place, like Sir Walter Scott's novels," he whispered to Gertrude. "The idea of coming on a brief visit to Paradise, and troubling your head about foreign politics and the money-market! There he goes--Prussia, indeed! What a combination of ideas--Bochum Dollfs and the Deane!" Gertrude laughed. The pleasant unaffected gaiety of his manner pleased her. She had not been prepared to find George Ritherdon so light of heart, so ready to be amused, and to acknowledge it. She knew that he was younger than his chum Robert Meredith; but she had fancied there would be some resemblance between them, when she should come to know them better, in a few days' close association with them. But there was no resemblance; the friendship between them, the daily companionship had brought about no assimilation, and there was one circumstance which set Gerty thinking and puzzling to find out why it should be so. She had known Robert Meredith for years; her acquaintance with George Ritherdon was of the slightest; and yet, when the day after the ball came in its turn to a conclusion, and she once again set her mind to the task of "thinking it over," she felt that she knew more of George Ritherdon, had seen more certain indications of his disposition, and could divine more of his life than she knew, had seen, or could divine in the case of Robert Meredith. The girl was of a thoughtful speculative turn of mind, an observer of character, and imaginative. She pondered a good deal upon the subject, and constantly recurred to her first thought. "How odd it is that I should feel as if I could tell at once how Mr. Ritherdon would act in any given case, and I don't feel that in the least about Robert Meredith!" "I was horribly ill-treated last night," George said, after he and Gertrude had exchanged ideas on the subject of newspapers in vacation time. "You ask me to a ball. Miss Baldwin, and then don't give me a dance. I call it treacherous and inhospitable." "I couldn't help it," said Gerty earnestly, with perfect simplicity. "I had to 'dance down the set,' as they say in the country dances--to begin at the beginning of the table of precedence, and go on to the end." "A very unfair advantage for the fogeys," said George Ritherdon, not without having made sure that none of Gertrude's partners of last night were at the table. "The Honourable Dort would be grateful if he heard you, Ritherdon," observed Meredith. "I suppose one couldn't reasonably call _him_ a fogey," returned George. Gertrude laughed; but Eleanor said sharply, "No, he is only a fool." Meredith was seated next her, and while the others went on talking, he said to her in a low tone, "Do you think him a fool? I don't. He knows the value of first impressions, and being early in the field, or I am much mistaken." If Robert Meredith had made a similar remark to Gertrude, she would simply have looked at him with her grave gray eyes, in utter ignorance of his meaning; but Nelly understood him perfectly. "He _is_ an admirer of Gerty's," she said. "And a more ardent admirer of the Deane," said Meredith. "Do you like him?" "Not at all. Not that it matters whether I do or not; but Gerty does not either. I daresay Lord and Lady Gelston think it would be a very good thing."


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