+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error




THE lives of the two girls at Lady Caroline's
were so completely happy, that they
were induced to doubt whether they had
ever really lived before. The difference
between their racketty, disorderly, Bohemian
existence while their father was alive, the
pinched and poverty-stricken home which
they shared with their mother until her
death, and the refined comforts and luxuries
which awaited them at their uncle's, was, of
course, very great. But they were too young
to feel it at the time, and they had come to
look upon Woolgreaves as their home, and
until Marian Ashurst entered upon it as
its mistress, as an epitome of everything
that was charming. Lady Caroline's house
was much smaller than Woolgreaves; her
income, probably, was nothing like their
uncle's; and yet about her house and her
servants, her carriage, and everything she
had, there was a stamp of refinement and
of good taste, springing from high breeding,
such as they had never witnessed, even
under Mrs. Creswell's regime; and
whatever fault the girls found with Mrs.
Creswell, they invariably allowed her the
possession of good taste. And Lady
Caroline herself was so different, so
immeasurably superior to any woman they
had seen. With the exception of Lady
Churchill, they had known no one save the
village people and the wives of the principal
manufacturers at Brocksopp, who had
been daughters of other principal
manufacturers at Shuttleworth and
Combcardingham, and might have been made in
one mould, or punched out of one piece;
and Lady Churchill was a stupid old
woman in a brown front, who, as Gertrude
knew, said "obleege," and "apurn" for
apron, and "know-ledge," and nearly drove
you mad by the way in which she stared
at you and rubbed her nose with a
knitting-needle, while you were attempting to
find conversation for her. But, in the
girls' eyes, Lady Caroline was perfection;
and it would have been indeed odd had
they not thought her so, as, for reasons
best known to herself, she went in more
determinedly to make herself agreeable to
them than she had done to any one for
some years previous.

One reason was that she liked the girls,
and was agreeably disappointed in them;
she had expected to find them provincial
parvenues, thrown upon her by their quarrel
with a person of similar position and
disposition with themselves, and had found
them quiet lady-like young women,
unpretentious, unobtrusive, and thoroughly
grateful to her for the home which she
had offered them in their time of need.
From the step which she had taken so
chivalrously Lady Caroline never shrank, but
she told the girls plainly, in the presence
of Mr. Joyce, that she thought it highly
desirable that the fact of their being there
as her guests should be officially made
known to Mr. Creswell, to whom every
consideration was due. As to Mrs. Creswell,
there was no necessity to acknowledge
her in the matter; but Mr. Creswell was
not merely their nearest blood relation, but,
until adverse influences had been brought
to bear upon him, he had proved himself
their most excellent friend, and even at
the last, so far as Lady Caroline could
gather from Gertrude, had made some
feeble kind of fight against their leaving