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That Unfortunate Marriage, Vol. 1   By: (1835-1913)

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THAT UNFORTUNATE MARRIAGE.

BY FRANCES ELEANOR TROLLOPE

AUTHOR OF "AUNT MARGARET'S TROUBLE," "A CHARMING FELLOW," "LIKE SHIPS UPON THE SEA," ETC.

IN THREE VOLUMES. VOL. I.

LONDON: RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON

Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen.

1888.

( All rights reserved. )

THAT UNFORTUNATE MARRIAGE.

CHAPTER I.

Augustus Cheffington had made an unfortunate marriage. That was admitted on all hands. When he was a Cornet in a cavalry regiment quartered in the ancient Cathedral City of Oldchester, he ran away with pretty Susan Dobbs, the daughter of his landlady. Augustus's friends and family all the Cheffingtons, the Dormer Smiths, the Castlecombes deplored this rash step. It was never mentioned, either at the time or afterwards, without expressions of deep commiseration for him.

Nevertheless, from one point of view there were compensations. This unfortunate marriage was made responsible for a great many shortcomings, which would otherwise have been attributed more directly to Augustus Cheffington himself. For example, it was said to account for his failure in his profession. He had chosen it chiefly because he very much liked the brilliant uniform of a certain crack regiment (it was in the days before competitive examinations); and he had no other aptitude for it than a showy seat on horseback, and a person well calculated to set off the works of the regimental tailor. But when years had passed, and he had remained undistinguished, his friends said, "What could one expect after Augustus's unfortunate marriage?"

After a time he sold out of the Army, and went to live on the Continent, where very shortly he had squandered nearly all his money, and fallen into shady paths of life; and again there was a chorus of "I told you so!" and a general sense that all this was due to the unfortunate marriage.

Finally, his wife died, leaving him with one little girl, the sole survivor of five children; and he came to England with the idea of securing some place which should be suited to his birth, his abilities, his habits, and his inclinations. No such place was found. Several members of the Peerage were applied to, to exert their influence with "Government" on behalf of so well connected a personage as Augustus Cheffington. But "Government" behaved very badly, "Government" was insensible to his claims. His claims, it is true, were not small. They required a maximum of remuneration for a minimum of labour. He was unable, also, to furnish any proofs of his fitness for one or two posts which happened to be vacant, except the undeniable fact of his cousinship with all the Cheffingtons and Castlecombes in England; and to this kind of qualification "Government," it appeared, attached no importance at all.

He paid a round of visits at country houses, and renewed his long disused acquaintance with a score of more or less distant relations. But he was not popular. It has been observed that unsuccessful men very often are not popular. "Gus Cheffington has dropped out of the running," men said. "A fellow naturally gets forgotten when he has kept out of sight for years and besides, he makes himself so deuced disagreeable! He's always grumbling."

This latter accusation was true. If England had shown no maternal affection for her long absent son, the son returned her hard heartedness with interest. Indeed, in his case, it turned into active resentment. He got tired of country houses and town mansions where he was received but coolly. He was sarcastic and bitter on the failure of his connections to procure him a lucrative sinecure. He considered that the country was travelling downhill at break neck speed, and, for his part, he did not feel inclined to move his little finger to impede that fatal course. Moreover, the black coffee was, nine times out of ten, utterly undrinkable... Continue reading book >>




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