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Dora Thorne   By: (1836-1884)

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Charlotte M. Braeme

Chapter I

"The consequences of folly seldom end with its originator," said Lord Earle to his son. "Rely upon it, Ronald, if you were to take this most foolish and unadvisable step, you would bring misery upon yourself and every one connected with you. Listen to reason."

"There is no reason in prejudice," replied the young man haughtily. "You can not bring forward one valid reason against my marriage."

Despite his annoyance, a smile broke over Lord Earle's grave face.

"I can bring a thousand reasons, if necessary," he replied. "I grant everything you say. Dora Thorne is very pretty; but remember, she is quite a rustic and unformed beauty and I almost doubt whether she can read or spell properly. She is modest and good, I grant, and I never heard one syllable against her. Ronald, let me appeal to your better judgment are a moderate amount of rustic prettiness and shy modesty sufficient qualifications for your wife, who will have to take your mother's place?"

"They are quite sufficient to satisfy me," replied the young man.

"You have others to consider," said Lord Earle, quickly.

"I love her," interrupted his son; and again his father smiled.

"We know what it means," he said, "when boys of nineteen talk about love. Believe me, Ronald, if I were to consent to your request, you would be the first in after years to reproach me for weak compliance with your youthful folly."

"You would not call it folly," retorted Ronald, his face flushing hotly, "if Dora were an heiress, or the daughter of some "

"Spare me a long discourse," again interrupted Lord Earle. "You are quite right; if the young girl in question belonged to your own station, or even if she were near it, that would be quite a different matter. I am not annoyed that you have, as you think, fallen in love, or that you wish to marry, although you are young. I am annoyed that you should dream of wishing to marry a simple rustic, the daughter of my lodge keeper. It is so supremely ridiculous that I can hardly treat the matter seriously."

"It is serious enough for me," returned his son with a long, deep sigh. "If I do not marry Dora Thorne, I shall never marry at all."

"Better that than a mesalliance," said Lord Earle, shortly.

"She is good," cried Ronald "good and fair, modest and graceful. Her heart is pure as her face is fair. What mesalliance can there be, father? I never have believed and never shall believe in the cruel laws of caste. In what is one man better than or superior to another save that he is more intelligent or more virtuous?"

"I shall never interfere in your politics, Ronald," said Lord Earle, laughing quietly. "Before you are twenty one you will have gone through many stages of that fever. Youth is almost invariably liberal, age conservative. Adopt what line of politics you will, but do not bring theory into practice in this instance."

"I should consider myself a hero," continued the young man, "if I could be the first to break through the trammels of custom and the absurd laws of caste."

"You would not be the first," said Lord Earle, quietly. "Many before you have made unequal marriages; many will do so after you, but in every case I believe regret and disappointment followed."

"They would not in my case," said Ronald, eagerly; "and with Dora Thorne by my side, I could so anything; without her, I can do nothing."

Lord Earle looked grieved at the pertinacity of his son.

"Most fathers would refuse to hear all this nonsense, Ronald," he said, gently. "I listen, and try to convince you by reasonable arguments that the step you seem bent upon taking is one that will entail nothing but misery. I have said no angry word to you, nor shall I do so. I tell you simply it can not be. Dora Thorne, my lodge keeper's daughter, is no fitting wife for my son, the heir of Earlescourt. Come with me, Ronald; I will show you further what I mean."

They went together, the father and son, so like in face yet so dissimilar in mind... Continue reading book >>

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