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Hopes and Fears or, scenes from the life of a spinster   By: (1823-1901)

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[Picture: Frontispiece]

HOPES AND FEARS

OR SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF A SPINSTER BY CHARLOTTE M. YONGE

[Picture: Title picture]

ILLUSTRATED BY HERBERT GANDY

London MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1899

All rights reserved

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

"She felt, rather than saw him watching her all Frontispiece the way from the garden gate to the wood."

"I find I can't spare you, Honora; you had better Page 11 stay at the Holt for good."

"He drew the paper before him. Lucilla started Page 296 to her feet."

PART I

CHAPTER I

Who ought to go then and who ought to stay! Where do you draw an obvious border line?

Cecil and Mary

Among the numerous steeples counted from the waters of the Thames, in the heart of the City, and grudged by modern economy as cumberers of the soil of Mammon, may be remarked an abortive little dingy cupola, surmounting two large round eyes which have evidently stared over the adjacent roofs ever since the Fire that began at Pie corner and ended in Pudding lane.

Strange that the like should have been esteemed the highest walk of architecture, and yet Honora Charlecote well remembered the days when St. Wulstan's was her boast, so large, so clean, so light, so Grecian, so far surpassing damp old Hiltonbury Church. That was at an age when her enthusiasm found indiscriminate food in whatever had a hold upon her affections, the nearer her heart being of course the more admirable in itself, and it would be difficult to say which she loved the most ardently, her city home in Woolstone lane, or Hiltonbury Holt, the old family seat, where her father was a welcome guest whenever his constitution required relaxation from the severe toils of a London rector.

Woolstone lane was a locality that sorely tried the coachmen of Mrs. Charlecote's West End connections, situate as it was on the very banks of the Thames, and containing little save offices and warehouses, in the midst of which stood Honora's home. It was not the rectory, but had been inherited from City relations, and it antedated the Fire, so that it was one of the most perfect remnants of the glories of the merchant princes of ancient London. It had a court to itself, shut in by high walls, and paved with round headed stones, with gangways of flags in mercy to the feet; the front was faced with hewn squares after the pattern of Somerset House, with the like ponderous sashes, and on a smaller scale, the Louis XIV. pediment, apparently designed for the nesting place of swallows and sparrows. Within was a hall, panelled with fragrant softly tinted cedar wood, festooned with exquisite garlands of fruit and flowers, carved by Gibbons himself, with all his peculiarities of rounded form and delicate edge. The staircase and floor were of white stone, tinted on sunny days with reflections from the windows' three medallions of yellow and white glass, where Solomon, in golden mantle and crowned turban, commanded the division of a stout lusty child hanging by one leg; superintended the erection of a Temple worthy of Haarlem; or graciously welcomed a recoiling stumpy Vrow of a Queen of Sheba, with golden hair all down her back.

The river aspect of the house had come to perfection at the Elizabethan period, and was sculptured in every available nook with the chevron and three arrows of the Fletchers' Company, and a merchant's mark, like a figure of four with a curly tail. Here were the oriel windows of the best rooms, looking out on a grassplat, small enough in country eyes, but most extensive for the situation, with straight gravelled walks, and low lilac and laburnum trees, that came into profuse blossom long before their country cousins, but which, like the crocuses and snowdrops of the flower borders, had better be looked at than touched by such as dreaded sooty fingers... Continue reading book >>




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