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Coralie Everyday Life Library No. 2   By: (1836-1884)

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Author of "Dora Thorne," "The Mystery of Colde Fell," "The Belle of Lynn," "Madolin's Lover," "The Heiress of Hilldrop," Etc., Etc.



"Eighty pounds a year!" My reader can imagine that this was no great fortune. I had little or nothing to spend in kid gloves or cigars; indeed, to speak plain, prosaic English, I went without a good dinner far oftener than I had one. Yet, withal, I was passing rich on eighty pounds a year.

My father, Captain Trevelyan, a brave and deserving officer, died when I was a child. My mother, a meek, fragile invalid, never recovered his loss, but died some years after him, leaving me alone in the world with my sister Clare.

When I was young I had great dreams of fame and glory. I was to be a brave soldier like my dear, dead father, or a great writer or a statesman. I dreamed of everything except falling into the common grooves of life which was my fate in after years. My mother, believing in my dreams, contrived to send me to college we both considered a college education the only preliminary to a golden future. How she managed it out of her slender means I cannot tell, but she kept me at college for three years. I was just trying to decide what profession to adopt, when a letter came summoning me suddenly home.

My mother was ill, not expected to live.

When I did reach home I found another source of trouble. My sister Clare, whom I had left a beautiful, blooming girl of eighteen, had been ill for the past year. The doctors declared it to be a spinal complaint, from which she was not likely to recover, although she might live for years.

She was unable to move, but lay always on a couch or sofa. The first glimpse of her altered face, so sweet, so sad and colorless, made my heart ache.

All the youth and bloom had died out of it.

My mother did not live many days; at her death her income ceased, and I found myself, at twenty, obliged to begin the world as best I could, the sole protector of my invalid sister. The first step was to sell our little home, a pretty cottage at Hempstead, then to take lodgings nearer the city; after that I set vigorously to work to look for a situation.

Ah, me, that weary task! I wonder if any of my readers ever went quite alone, friendless, almost helpless, into the great, modern Babylon, to look for a situation; if so, they will know how to pity me. I spent many pounds in advertisements; I haunted the agency offices; I answered every advertisement I read it seemed all in vain.

My father's regiment was then in India, but I wrote to several of the officers, who had known and valued him. Then, as a last resource, I looked up the few friends my mother had.

If there is one thing more dreary than looking for a situation, it is what is commonly called "hunting up one's friends." I found many, but some were old and indifferent, others too much engrossed in their own affairs to have any time to devote to mine. Some shook hands, wished me well, promised to do all they could to help me, and before I had passed from their sight forgot my existence.

I gave up my friends. Their help in the hour of need is a beautiful theory, but very seldom put into practice.

Just as I was growing dull and dispirited, a friend upon whom I had not called, and whose aid I had not solicited, wrote to me and offered me a situation as clerk in his office, with a salary of eighty pounds per annum, to be afterward increased. God send to every weary heart the comfort this news brought to mine. I ran to Clare with the letter in my hands.

"Eighty pounds a year, darling!" I cried; "there is a fortune."

We had neither of us ever had much to do with money; we were quite ignorant of its value, how far it would go, what it would purchase, etc. It seemed an inexhaustible sum. We had cheap, comfortable apartments in Holloway a room for my sister and two smaller rooms for myself... Continue reading book >>

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