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Princess   By: (1853-1895)

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E text prepared by Al Haines

American Authors' Series, No. 17.




Author of "Oblivion," "Jean Monteith," "Eleanor Gwynn," Etc.

New York: United States Book Company Successors to John W. Lovell Company 150 Worth St., Cor Mission Place Copyright, 1886, by Henry Holt & Co.

With love and admiration,

I dedicate this book to the memory of my friend,




When the idea of a removal to Virginia was first mooted in the family of General Percival Smith, ex Brigadier in the United States service, it was received with consternation and a perfect storm of disapproval. The young ladies, Norma and Blanche, rose as one woman loud in denunciation, vehement in protest fell upon the scheme, and verbally sought to annihilate it. The country! A farm!! The South!!! The idea was untenable, monstrous. Before their outraged vision floated pictures whereof the foreground was hideous with cows, and snakes, and beetles; the middle distance lurid with discomfort, corn bread, and tri weekly mails; the background lowering with solitude, ennui, and colored servants.

Rusticity, nature, sylvan solitudes, and all that, were exquisite bound in Russia, with gold lettering and tinted leaves; wonderfully alluring viewed at leisure with the gallery to one's self, and the light at the proper angle, charmingly attractive behind the footlights, but in reality! to the feeling of these young ladies it could be best appreciated by those who had been born to it. In their opinion, they, themselves, had been born to something vastly superior, so they rebelled and made themselves disagreeable; hoping to mitigate the gloom of the future by intensifying that of the present.

Their mother, whose heart yearned over her offspring, essayed to comfort them, casting daily and hourly the bread of suggestion and anticipation on the unthankful waters, whence it invariably returned to her sodden with repinings. The young ladies set their grievances up on high and bowed the knee; they were not going to be comforted, nor pleased, nor hopeful, not they. The scheme was abominable, and no aspect in which it could be presented rendered its abomination less; they were hopeless, and helpless, and oppressed, and there was the end of it.

Poor Mrs. Smith wished it might be the end, or anywhere near the end; for the soul within her was "vexed with strife and broken in pieces with words." The general could and did escape the rhetorical consequences of his unpopular measure, but his wife could not: no club afforded her its welcome refuge, no "down town" offered her sanctuary. She was obliged to stay at home and endure it all. Norma's sulks, Blanche's tears, the rapture of the boys hungering for novelty as boys only can hunger the useless and trivial suggestions of friends, the minor arrangements for the move, the decision on domestic questions present and to come, the questions, answers, futile conjectures, all formed a murk through which she labored, striving to please her husband and her children, to uphold authority, quell mutiny, soothe murmurs, and sympathize with enthusiasm; with a tact which shamed diplomacy, and a patience worthy of an evangelist.

After the indulgent American custom, she earnestly desired to please all of her children. In her own thoughts she existed only for them, to minister to their happiness; even her husband was, unconsciously to her, quite of secondary importance, his strongest present claim to consideration lying in his paternity. Had it been possible, she would have raised her tent, and planted her fig tree in the spot preferred by each one of her children, but as that was out of the question, in the mother's mind of course her sons came first. And this preference must be indulged the more particularly that Warner the elder of her two boys, her idol and her grief was slowly, well nigh imperceptibly, but none the less surely, drifting away from her. A boyish imprudence, a cold, over exertion, the old story which is so familiar, so hopeless, so endless in its repetition and its pathos... Continue reading book >>

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