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The New Mistress A Tale   By: (1831-1909)

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The New Mistress, by George Manville Fenn.




"Remember, Hazel," said Mrs Thorne, "remember this we may be reduced in circumstances; we may have been compelled by misfortune to come down into this wretched little town, and to live in this miserable, squeezy, poorly furnished house or cottage, with the light kept out by the yellow glass, and scarcely a chimney that does not smoke; we may be compelled to dress shab "

"Yes, yes, mother dear "

" Bily ," said Mrs Thorne, with indignant emphasis on account of the interruption, "but remember this, Hazel, you are a lady."

"Forgive me for interrupting you, mother."

" Mamma , Hazel," said the lady, drawing herself up with great dignity. "If we are by a cruel stroke of fate compelled to live in a state of indigence when pride has made my eldest child refuse the assistance of my relatives, I still maintain that I have a right to keep up my old and ladylike title mamma."

"But, dear, I am only a schoolmistress now a national schoolmistress, and it would sound full of foolish assumption if I called you mamma. And are you not my dear, dear mother! There, there, good bye, dear," cried the speaker, kissing her affectionately; "and mind the dinner is done, for I shall be, oh, so hungry."

"As you please, Hazel," said Mrs Thorne, smoothing down her dress, and looking ill used. "Let it be mother then. My feelings have to be set aside as usual. My life is to be one slow glide down a slope of indignity to the grave. Ah, what have I done to deserve such a fate?"

"Mother, dear mother, pray, pray don't grieve, and I'll strive so hard to make you and the girls happy. You will soon like this little cottage; and when we get some more furniture, and some flowers, and a bird in the window, it will look so bright and cheerful and there, there, pray don't cry. I must go; it only wants five minutes to nine, and I must not be late the first morning."

"I think it disgraceful that, in addition to six days a week, you should be compelled to go and teach on Sundays as well; and I shall make a point of speaking to Mr Lambent the first time he calls that is, if he should ever condescend to call."

"No, no, pray don't think of such a thing, dear," cried Hazel Thorne excitedly. "You forget that I have the whole of Saturday, and there, there dear, dear mother, I must go. Good good bye."

Hazel Thorne kissed the stiff stately looking lady in the stiffest of widow's weeds, and with a bright look and a cheery nod, she hurried out of the little Gothic schoolhouse, with its prim, narrow lancet windows; but as she closed the door, the bright look gave place to one of anxious care, and there was a troubled nervous twitching about her lips that told of a struggle to master some painful emotion.

She had but a few yards to go, for the new school buildings at Plumton All Saints were in one tolerably attractive architectural group, built upon a piece of land given two years before by Mr William Forth Burge, a gentleman who had left Plumton All Saints thirty but it should be given in his own words, as he made a point of repeating them to every new comer:

"Yes, sir; I left Plumton thirty year ago, after being two year with old Marks the butcher, and went up to London to seek my fortune, and I think I found it, I did."

Mr William Forth Burge's fortune was made by being a butcher's boy for some years, and then starting among some new houses near Chelsea on his own account. Fashion and the speculative builders did the rest. Mr William Forth Burge's business grew to a tremendous extent, and at forty five he sold it and proudly returned to his native place a gentleman, he said. Stout, red faced, very pomatumy about his smooth, plastered down dark hair, very much dressed in glossy broadcloth and white waistcoats, and very much scented with his favourite perfume, "mill flowers," as he called it... Continue reading book >>

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