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Love Me Little, Love Me Long   By: (1814-1884)

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Love Me Little, Love Me Long

by Charles Reade

PREFACE

SHOULD these characters, imbedded in carpet incidents, interest the public at all, they will probably reappear in more potent scenes. This design, which I may never live to execute, is, I fear, the only excuse I can at present offer for some pages, forming the twelfth chapter of this volume.

CHAPTER I.

NEARLY a quarter of a century ago, Lucy Fountain, a young lady of beauty and distinction, was, by the death of her mother, her sole surviving parent, left in the hands of her two trustees, Edward Fountain, Esq., of Font Abbey, and Mr. Bazalgette, a merchant whose wife was Mrs. Fountain's half sister.

They agreed to lighten the burden by dividing it. She should spend half the year with each trustee in turn, until marriage should take her off their hands.

Our mild tale begins in Mr. Bazalgette's own house, two years after the date of that arrangement.

The chit chat must be your main clue to the characters. In life it is the same. Men and women won't come to you ticketed, or explanation in hand.

"Lucy, you are a great comfort in a house; it is so nice to have some one to pour out one's heart to; my husband is no use at all."

"Aunt Bazalgette!"

"In that way. You listen to my faded illusions, to the aspirations of a nature too finely organized, ah! to find its happiness in this rough, selfish world. When I open my bosom to him, what does he do? Guess now whistles."

"Then I call that rude."

"So do I; and then he whistles more and more."

"Yes; but, aunt, if any serious trouble or grief fell upon you, you would find Mr. Bazalgette a much greater comfort and a better stay than poor spiritless me."

"Oh, if the house took fire and fell about our ears, he would come out of his shell, no doubt; or if the children all died one after another, poor dear little souls; but those great troubles only come in stories. Give me a friend that can sympathize with the real hourly mortifications of a too susceptible nature; sit on this ottoman, and let me go on. Where was I when Jones came and interrupted us? They always do just at the interesting point."

Miss Fountain's face promptly wreathed itself into an expectant smile. She abandoned her hand and her ear, and leaned her graceful person toward her aunt, while that lady murmured to her in low and thrilling tones his eyes, his long hair, his imaginative expressions, his romantic projects of frugal love; how her harsh papa had warned Adonis off the premises; how Adonis went without a word (as pale as death, love), and soon after, in his despair, flung himself to an ugly heiress; and how this disappointment had darkened her whole life, and so on.

Perhaps, if Adonis had stood before her now, rolling his eyes, and his phrases hot from the annuals, the flourishing matron might have sent him to the servants' hall with a wave of her white and jeweled hand. But the melody disarms this sort of brutal criticism a woman's voice relating love's young dream; and then the picture a matron still handsome pouring into a lovely virgin's ear the last thing she ought; the young beauty's eyes mimicking sympathy; the ripe beauty's soft, delicious accents purr! purr! purr!

Crash overhead! a window smashed aie! aie! clatter! clatter! screams of infantine rage and feminine remonstrance, feet pattering, and a general hullabaloo, cut the soft recital in two. The ladies clasped hands, like guilty things surprised.

Lucy sprang to her feet; the oppressed one sank slowly and gracefully back, inch by inch, on the ottoman, with a sigh of ostentatious resignation, and gazed, martyr like, on the chandelier.

"Will you not go up to the nursery?" cried Lucy, in a flutter.

"No, dear," replied the other, faintly, but as cool as a marble slab; "you go; cast some of your oil upon those ever troubled waters and then come back and let us try once more."

Miss Fountain heard but half this sentence; she was already gliding up the stairs. She opened the nursery door, and there stood in the middle of the room "Original Sin... Continue reading book >>




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