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OF

A HOUSEHOLD.

BY THE AUTHOR OF

"ALICE WENTWORTH."

“For wedded men ne kennen no measure,
When as they find a patient creature."

The Clerke's Tale. CHAUCER.

IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. III.

LONDON:

HURST AND BLACKETT, PUBLISHERS,
SUCCESSORS TO HENRY COLBURN,

13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.

1855.

249.2, 263,

.

LONDON:

Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street.
SECRET HISTORY

OF

A HOUSEHOLD.

CHAPTER I.

1

MRS. MOWBRAY's doubt “whether she should or should not accept” Lady Derwent's invitation did not last long. She accompanied her sisterin-law to the country, where she and her bright smiles, and never failing vivacity were the life of Wyvil Park. There was a hunt-ball, which was attended by Lady Derwent and all her party ; Mrs. Mowbray was declared the beauty among beauties, the hunting season itself began, Mrs. Mowbray had already enjoyed “three capital

VOL. III.

B

runs," and the way in which she “ took the fences,” excited great admiration in the breasts of all those who knew they had authority enough to prevent their wives and daughters from imitating her.

She received, indeed, such an amount of incense during this visit, her vanity was so constantly fed, that although it would not be precisely correct to say the past was actually forgotten, she could at least always shut it out of her mind, and give herself up heart and soul to whatever amusement was going forward.

It was therefore with considerable annoyance, that she one morning perceived there was a letter for her in Mrs. Vincent's hand; for, as there was no regular correspondence between them, she only heard from her when there was anything positively to communicate; and from the very feeble state in which she had last seen her grandmother, she had an instant foreboding that this letter must contain an announcement which would put an end to all her present gratifications. Nor was she mistaken in her conjecture; for on opening it, she found that though Mrs. Mansell was still alive, her existence could not be prolonged beyond a few days, and that her (Gertrude's) presence was expected at Burfield Lodge.

“Everard had not yet arrived, but would be there,” it was supposed, “ by that night.” It was plain to Mrs. Mowbray, that she must not be behind her brother in readiness to comply with such a call; but it would perhaps have been hard for her fully to observe the decorum suitable to the occasion, had not her feelings of purely selfish vexation been merged in others of a very different nature, owing to what she saw towards the conclusion of the letter, (which was very disjointed, and appeared to have been several times interrupted.) Mrs. Vincent mentioned half apologetically as one reason for summoning her from the circle of friends whose company she was enjoying, “that Ellen, on whom she could otherwise have depended, had been confined the day before; an event which had taken every one by surprise, as it had not been expected for some weeks, and which had been communicated to her (Mrs. Vincent) by a letter from Mrs. Stapylton's maid.

“I wonder,” proceeded the writer, “whether Mr. Stapylton will come home now; I much

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