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That Unfortunate Marriage, Vol. 3   By: (1835-1913)

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Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen.


( All rights reserved. )



The following morning Mrs. Dormer Smith was in a flutter of excitement. She left her bedroom fully an hour earlier than was her wont. But before she did so she sent a message begging May not to absent herself from the house. For even in this wintry season May was in the habit of walking out every morning with the children whenever there came a gleam of good weather. Smithson, Mrs. Dormer Smith's maid, who was charged with the message, volunteered to add, with a glance at May's plain morning frock

"Mr. Bragg is expected, I believe, Miss."

"Very well, Smithson. Tell my aunt I will not go out without her permission."

Smithson still lingered. "Shall I would you like me to lay out your grey merino, Miss?" she asked.

"Oh no, thank you!" answered May, opening her eyes in surprise. "If I do go out, it will only be to take a turn in the square with the children. This frock will do quite well."

Smithson retired. And then Harold, who was engaged in a somewhat languid struggle with a French verb, looked up savagely, and said

"I hate Mr. Bragg."

Wilfred, seated at the table with a big book before him, which was supposed to convey useful knowledge by means of coloured illustrations, immediately echoed

"I hate Mr. Bragg."

"Hush, hush! That will never do!" said May. "Little boys musn't hate anybody. Besides, Mr. Bragg is a very good, kind man. Why should you dislike him?"

"Because he's going to take you away," answered Harold slowly.

"Nonsense! I dare say Mr. Bragg will not ask to see me at all. And if he does, I shall not be away above a few minutes."

"Shan't you?" asked Harold doubtfully.

"Of course not! What have you got into your head?"

"Yesterday, when they didn't think I was listening, I heard Smithson say to C├ęcile "

May stopped the child decisively. "Hush, Harold! You know I never allow you to repeat the tittle tattle of the nursery. And I am shocked to hear that you listened to what was not intended for your ears. That is not like a gentleman. You know we agreed that you are to be a real gentleman when you grow up that is, a man of honour."

" I didn't listen!" cried Wilfred eagerly.

"I am glad you did not."

"No, I didn't listen, Cousin May. I was in Cyril's room. Cyril gave me a long, long piece of string; ever so long!"

May laughed. "Your virtue is not of a difficult kind, Master Willy! You never do any mischief that is quite out of your reach." Then, seeing that Harold looked still crest fallen, she kissed his forehead, and said kindly, "And Harold will not listen again. He did not remember that it is dishonourable."

The child was silent, with his eyes cast down on his lesson book, for a while. Then he raised them, and looking searchingly at May, said, "I say, Cousin May, I mean to marry you when I grow up."

"And so do I!" said Wilfred, determined not to be outdone.

"Very well. But I couldn't think of marrying any one who did not know his French verbs. So you had better learn that one at once."

Harold's naturally rather dull and heavy face grew suddenly bright; and he settled himself to his lesson with a little shrug, and a shake like a puppy. "No; you wouldn't marry any one who didn't know French, would you?" said he emphatically.

"And I know F'ench!" pleaded Wilfred.

"There now, be quiet, both of you, and let me finish my letter," said May. And there was nearly unbroken silence among them.

Meantime Mr. Bragg was having an interview with Mrs. Dormer Smith. He had gradually made up his mind to put the same question to her that he had put to Mrs... Continue reading book >>

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