Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

- Clare felt her blood boil in her veins ; for is there anything so exasperating as to feel that those you love are trampled on? ..“ My sister is no disgrace to her family," she said, indignantly ; : " but its highest honour-I wish I could boast of so certain a title to excellence as she does." ; ;" Perhaps you had better make your debût at the next Gloucester festival,” said the Countess, ironically. “I doubt not you would be rapturously, received."

“I have no ambition of the kind,” replied Clare, “neither had my sister-but she is one of the loveliest creatures I ever beheld, and such was the universal opinion of every one that she met at the Wynnes”.”

“And pray do our friends know of this mighty discovery you have made ?”.

"No! the secret rests with ourselves.”.

“ So much the better. It would never do for the world to know you had such beggarly relations." i “What! not even though they are my

ever

own mother and sisters ? Besides, they are all more perfectly lady-like than any of our acquaintances.”

“Oh, yes! I dare say," said the Countess, with a sneer, “I remember your--ah! hem-Lady Llewellen always set up for being a quiet, genteel sort of person ; but she generally failed with people who were at all distingué.

“ Really!” said Clare, “ I should never have imagined that possible, since it is always allowed, that quiet, lady-like manners, even when accompanied by comparative imbecility, pass in society for good breeding ; and many a fool goes down as somebody, simply because she has the talent of hiding her inanity under a ladylike exterior, and saying nothing. But my mother is not only well-bred, but sensible and elegant."

“ You seem to have discovered wonders in a short time," said the Countess, angrily; “ but all this is folly. I suppose you mean to perform something magnanimous, for

you have been evidently in the heroics ever since you have been back; so for pity's sake, my dear, finish at once ; for I nerer could stands scenes in my life, and shall die of it."

“I really do not know what you mean, aunt," said Clare, in an annoyed voice. “ I seo nothing magnanimous or heroic in being so happy as to find you bave a mother and sisters, when you imagined you had none."

“ Happy, indeed! It is the most un. fortunate discovery you could possibly have made, and unless you are extremely careful, and insist upon their keeping the secret, it may ruin your prospects for ever.”

“I see no necessity of keeping the secret ; nor do I see how my having such near and dear relatives can injure my prospects.”

The Countess Sforza opened her eyes even broader than she sometimes opened them for a fashionable stare. Clare stood

WIT

her gaze without shrinking. At last she said .

"Why Clare, you perfectly astonish me. Is it possible that all the pains which have been taken with your education should be thrown away, and that you should be, at least, so little versed in knowledge of the world as not to know that there is not a greater curse than poor relations."

“So Charles Lamb says, I believe," responded Clare, drily.

“What has Charles Lamb to do with us? Do you not know that you are now looked upon as a person of consideration, but that with an almost destitute mother and sisters, you will be thought very differently of?”

“ The opinion of anybody who would judge me by the circumstances of my friends, is not worth a thought. I would relinquish any one whom I had considered my friend, did he show so contemptible a spirit, eren had I discovered my mother to be a farmer's wife, instead of a baronet's." “Then I suppose you mean to take up your mother and this heroic sister of yours, and talk of them as your friends." ;

“I certainly mean to treat them, talk of them, and consider them as my mother and sisters, as long as they have no objection, under whatever circumstances I may · be placed ; and surely, my dear aunt, you could not expect me to do otherwise.”

Clara added the concluding clause in a pacifying tone, fearing that it would not please, but it had no effect on her aunt, whose torpid nature was roused, and whowas violently irritated.

“I certainly do expect you to do otherwise, Miss Llewellen,” she said, as soon as she could gain utterance ; "or you must renounce me. Do you suppose that I have brought you up in ignorance of those who have been a disgrace to your family, and the means of its ruin, until your present age, with the intention of your becoming re-united to them, when your expectations are as good as they now are ? Your

« VorigeDoorgaan »