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The Daughters of a Genius   By: (1857-1917)

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The Daughters of a Genius, by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey.




"What is your letter, my dear? You seem annoyed. No bad news, I hope," said the master of Chedworth Manor, looking across the table to where his wife eat behind the urn, frowning over the sheet which she held in her hand. She was a handsome, well preserved woman, with aquiline features, thin lips, and eyes of a pale, indefinite blue. She looked up as he spoke, then threw down the letter with a sigh of impatience.

"Oh, bad news, of course! When did we ever return from a holiday without finding something of the sort awaiting us? It's from Stephen Charrington. He says he would have written before, but heard that we were abroad, and did not know where to direct. Edgar is dead. He died a fortnight ago, and the funeral was on Friday week. I never knew a man who married improvidently and had a huge family who did not die before he reached middle age. It seems a judgment on them; and here is another instance. Forty nine his last birthday! He ought to have lived for another twenty years at least."

Mrs Loftus spoke with an air of injury which seemed to imply that the deceased gentleman had died out of pure perversity, and her husband knitted his brows in disapproving fashion. Even after twenty five years of married life his wife's heartless selfishness could give him a twinge of shocked surprise when, as now, it was obtrusively displayed. He himself made no claims to philanthropy, but one expected some natural feeling from a woman; and with all his faults, Edgar Charrington had had close claim on her sympathy.

"He was your brother, my dear," he said dryly. "I suppose the poor fellow would not have died if he could have helped it. We have not seen anything of him for a long time, but he used to be a most attractive fellow. I thought he would have made his mark. Never met a man with so many gifts painting, music, writing; he used to take them up in turn, and do equally well in each."

"But excel in nothing! That was the undoing of Edgar; he had not the application to keep to one thing at a time, but must always be flying off to something new. That disastrous marriage was like a millstone round his neck, and practically doomed him to failure. Oh, I know what you are going to say. There was nothing against Elma; and you admired her, of course, because she was pretty and helpless; but I shall always maintain that it was practically suicide for Edgar, with his Bohemian nature, to many a penniless girl, with no influence to help him on in the world. How they have managed to live at all I can't imagine. He never confided in me, and I made a point of not inquiring. To tell the truth, I lived in dread of his wanting to borrow money, and one has enough to do with one's own claims. I think he was offended because we never invited the children, for I have scarcely heard from him for the last five years. Really, it was too great an experiment I can't imagine what they must be like, brought up in that little village, with next to no education. Social savages, I should say."

"How many children were there? I've forgotten how they come after the first two. Stephen and Philippa visited us once long ago, and I remember thinking her an uncommonly handsome child, with a spirit of her own, which will probably stand her in good stead now. The boy was not so interesting. How many are there besides these two?"

"Oh, I don't know. Dozens! There was always a baby, I remember," returned Mrs Loftus impatiently. "Goodness knows what is to become of them now that they are left orphans, with practically no means of support. Stephen seems quite bewildered with the responsibility... Continue reading book >>

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