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The Daisy chain, or Aspirations   By: (1823-1901)

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By Charlotte Yonge


No one can be more sensible than is the Author that the present is an overgrown book of a nondescript class, neither the "tale" for the young, nor the novel for their elders, but a mixture of both.

Begun as a series of conversational sketches, the story outran both the original intention and the limits of the periodical in which it was commenced; and, such as it has become, it is here presented to those who have already made acquaintance with the May family, and may be willing to see more of them. It would beg to be considered merely as what it calls itself, a Family Chronicle a domestic record of home events, large and small, during those years of early life when the character is chiefly formed, and as an endeavour to trace the effects of those aspirations which are a part of every youthful nature. That the young should take one hint, to think whether their hopes and upward breathings are truly upwards, and founded in lowliness, may be called the moral of the tale.

For those who may deem the story too long, and the characters too numerous, the Author can only beg their pardon for any tedium that they may have undergone before giving it up. Feb. 22nd, 1856.




Si douce est la Marguerite. CHAUCER.

"Miss Winter, are you busy? Do you want this afternoon? Can you take a good long walk?"

"Ethel, my dear, how often have I told you of your impetuosity you have forgotten."

"Very well" with an impatient twist "I beg your pardon. Good morning, Miss Winter," said a thin, lank, angular, sallow girl, just fifteen, trembling from head to foot with restrained eagerness, as she tried to curb her tone into the requisite civility.

"Good morning, Ethel, good morning, Flora," said the prim, middle aged daily governess, taking off her bonnet, and arranging the stiff little rolls of curl at the long, narrow looking glass, the border of which distorted the countenance.

"Good morning," properly responded Flora, a pretty, fair girl, nearly two years older than her sister.

"Will you " began to burst from Etheldred's lips again, but was stifled by Miss Winter's inquiry, "Is your mamma pretty well to day?"

"Oh! very well," said both at once; "she is coming to the reading." And Flora added, "Papa is going to drive her out to day."

"I am very glad. And the baby?"

"I do believe she does it on purpose!" whispered Ethel to herself, wriggling fearfully on the wide window seat on which she had precipitated herself, and kicking at the bar of the table, by which manifestation she of course succeeded in deferring her hopes, by a reproof which caused her to draw herself into a rigid, melancholy attitude, a sort of penance of decorum, but a rapid motion of the eyelids, a tendency to crack the joints of the fingers, and an unquietness at the ends of her shoes, betraying the restlessness of the digits therein contained.

It was such a room as is often to be found in old country town houses, the two large windows looking out on a broad old fashioned street, through heavy framework, and panes of glass scratched with various names and initials. The walls were painted blue, the skirting almost a third of the height, and so wide at the top as to form a narrow shelf. The fireplace, constructed in the days when fires were made to give as little heat as possible, was ornamented with blue and white Dutch tiles bearing marvellous representations of Scripture history, and was protected by a very tall green guard; the chairs were much of the same date, solid and heavy, the seats in faded carpet work, but there was a sprinkling of lesser ones and of stools; a piano; a globe; a large table in the middle of the room, with three desks on it; a small one, and a light cane chair by each window; and loaded book cases. Flora began, "If you don't want this afternoon to yourself "

Ethel was on her feet, and open mouthed... Continue reading book >>

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