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The Young Step-Mother   By: (1823-1901)

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Fail yet rejoice, because no less The failure that makes thy distress May teach another full success.

Nor with thy share of work be vexed Though incomplete and even perplexed It fits exactly to the next. ADELAIDE A PROCTOR


'Have you talked it over with her?' said Mr. Ferrars, as his little slender wife met him under the beeches that made an avenue of the lane leading to Fairmead vicarage.

'Yes!' was the answer, which the vicar was not slow to understand.

'I cannot say I expected much from your conversation, and perhaps we ought not to wish it. We are likely to see with selfish eyes, for what shall we do without her?'

'Dear Albinia! You always taunted me with having married your sister as much as yourself.'

'So I shall again, if you cannot give her up with a good grace.'

'If I could have had my own way in disposing of her.'

'Perhaps the hero of your own composition might be less satisfactory to her than is Kendal.'

'At least he should be minus the children!'

'I fancy the children are one great attraction. Do you know how many there are?'

'Three; but if Albinia knows their ages she involves them in a discreet haze. I imagine some are in their teens.'

'Impossible, Winifred, he is hardly five and thirty.'

'Thirty eight, he said yesterday, and he married very early. I asked Albinia if her son would be in tail coats; but she thought I was laughing at her, and would not say. She is quite eager at the notion of being governess to the girls.'

'She has wanted scope for her energies,' said Mr. Ferrars. 'Even spoiling her nephew, and being my curate, have not afforded field enough for her spirit of usefulness.'

'That is what I am afraid of.'

'Of what, Winifred?'

'That it is my fault. Before our marriage, you and she were the whole world to each other; but since I came, I have seen, as you say, that the craving for work was strong, and I fear it actuates her more than she knows.'

'No such thing. It is a case of good hearty love. What, are you afraid of that, too?'

'Yes, I am. I grudge her giving her fresh whole young heart away to a man who has no return to make. His heart is in his first wife's grave. Yes, you may smile, Maurice, as if I were talking romance; but only look at him, poor man! Did you ever see any one so utterly broken down? She can hardly beguile a smile from him.'

'His melancholy is one of his charms in her eyes.'

'So it may be, as a sort of interesting romance. I am sure I pity the poor man heartily, but to see her at three and twenty, with her sweet face and high spirits, give herself away to a man who looks but half alive, and cannot, if he would, return that full first love have the charge of a tribe of children, be spied and commented on by the first wife's relations Maurice, I cannot bear it.'

'It is not what we should have chosen,' said her husband, 'but it has a bright side. Kendal is a most right minded, superior man, and she appreciates him thoroughly. She has great energy and cheerfulness, and if she can comfort him, and rouse him into activity, and be the kind mother she will be to his poor children, I do not think we ought to grudge her from our own home.'

'You and she have so strong a feeling for motherless children!'

'Thinking of Kendal as I do, I have but one fear for her.'

'I have many the chief being the grandmother.'

'Mine will make you angry, but it is my only one. You, who have only known her since she has subdued it, have probably never guessed that she has that sort of quick sensitive temper '

'Maurice, Maurice! as if I had not been a most provoking, presuming sister in law. As if I had not acted so that if Albinia ever had a temper, she must have shown it.'

'I knew you would not believe me, and I really am not afraid of her doing any harm by it, if that is what you suspect me of... Continue reading book >>

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