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The Widow Barnaby Vol. I (of 3)   By: (1835-1913)

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First Page:

THE WIDOW BARNABY.

BY FRANCES TROLLOPE,

AUTHOR OF "THE VICAR OF WREXHILL," "A ROMANCE OF VIENNA," ETC.

IN THREE VOLUMES. VOL. I.

LONDON: RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.

1839.

LONDON: PRINTED BY SAMUEL BENTLEY, Dorset Street, Fleet Street.

THE WIDOW BARNABY.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION TO THE FAMILY OF THE FUTURE MRS. BARNABY. FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES. MATERNAL LOVE. PREPARATIONS FOR A FETE.

Miss Martha Compton, and Miss Sophia Compton, were, some five and twenty years ago, the leading beauties of the pretty town of Silverton in Devonshire.

The elder of these ladies is the person I propose to present to my readers as the heroine of my story; but, ere she is placed before them in the station assigned her in my title page, it will be necessary to give some slight sketch of her early youth, and also such brief notice of her family as may suffice to make the subsequent events of her life, and the persons connected with them, more clearly understood.

The Reverend Josiah Compton, the father of my heroine and her sister, was an exceedingly worthy man, though more distinguished for the imperturbable tranquillity of his temper, than either for the brilliance of his talents or the profundity of his learning. He was the son of a small landed proprietor at no great distance from Silverton, who farmed his own long descended patrimony of three hundred acres with skilful and unwearied industry, and whose chief ambition in life had been to see his only son Josiah privileged to assume the prefix of reverend before his name. After three trials, and two failures, this blessing was at last accorded, and his son ordained, by the help of a very good natured examining chaplain of the then Bishop of Exeter.

This rustic, laborious, and very happy Squire lived to see his son installed Curate of Silverton, and blessed with the hand of the dashing Miss Martha Wisett, who, if her pedigree was not of such respectable antiquity as that of her bridegroom, had the glory of being accounted the handsomest girl at the Silverton balls; and if her race could not count themselves among the landed gentry, she enjoyed all the consideration that a fortune of one thousand pounds could give, to atone for any mortification which the accident of having a ci devant tallow chandler for her parent might possibly occasion.

But, notwithstanding all the pride and pleasure which the Squire took in the prosperity of this successful son, the old man could never be prevailed upon by all Mrs. Josiah's admirable reasonings on the rights of primogeniture, to do otherwise than divide his three hundred acres of freehold in equal portions between the Reverend Josiah Compton his son, and Elizabeth Compton, spinster, his daughter.

It is highly probable, that had this daughter been handsome, or even healthy, the proud old yeoman might have been tempted to reduce her portion to the charge of a couple of thousand pounds or so upon the estate; but she was sickly, deformed, and motherless; and the tenderness of the father's heart conquered the desire which might otherwise have been strong within him, to keep together the fields which for so many generations had given credit and independence to his race. To leave his poor little Betsy in any degree dependent upon her fine sister in law, was, in short, beyond his strength; so the home croft, and the long fourteen, the three linny crofts, the five worthies, and the ten acre clover bit, together with the farm house and all its plenishing, and one half of the live and dead farming stock, were bequeathed to Elizabeth Compton and her heirs for ever not perhaps without some hope, on the part of her good father, that her heirs would be those of her reverend brother, also; and so he died, with as easy a conscience as ever rocked a father to sleep.

But Mrs... Continue reading book >>


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