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Aunt Mary   By:

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Author of 'The Story of a Mouse,' 'The Story of a Cat,' 'The Castle and the Cottage,' Etc.

London George Routledge and Sons Broadway, Ludgate Hill New York: 416 Broome Street 1881.

[Illustration: AUNT MARY.]




In one of those very pretty suburban villas which are to be seen in the neighbourhood of all our large towns, Aunt Mary lived, at the time when my tale commences.

Indeed she had lived there the greater part of her life, for her father, Mr. Livesay, who had been a highly respected merchant in London for a great many years, had, unlike the generality of this prosperous class, retired from business as soon as he had secured a moderate competency for himself, his wife, and their four daughters, of whom our Aunt Mary was the eldest.

Mr. Livesay had purchased the pretty house, to which he had retreated from the hurry and bustle of the great city, but before doing so, he had taken care to ascertain that the inhabitants of the adjoining villa were likely to prove agreeable neighbours; and this he had done to his entire satisfaction, as Mr. and Mrs. Maitland, with their two sweet little children, gave promise of pleasurable society.

At the time of his retirement from business, the four daughters of Mr. Livesay were grown up to woman's estate; though perhaps that can hardly be said of the youngest, Irene, who was only sixteen, while her two sisters, Ada and Alice, were of the respective ages of eighteen and twenty.

Great pains had been taken in the real education of these young ladies, for their excellent mother had spared no pains in their early training; and as they were all quick and clever children, the task of 'teaching the young idea how to shoot,' in their case, proved 'delightful.' We wish this were oftener the case; but to proceed: Aunt Mary, as we have said, was the eldest of these young ladies; she was at the discreet age of four and twenty indeed, she might have been thirty, for the aptitude she displayed in household matters, taking all the care of housekeeping off her good mother's hands, and being looked up to, and appealed to, in all doubtful matters by her sisters.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Livesay considered their daughter Mary their chief treasure; indeed, she was everything that a daughter ought to be.

There was one thing, however, lacking that her three sisters possessed: she was not beautiful. Aunt Mary, if she had been pretty in infancy, had been spoiled by that dreadful ravager, the small pox, which she had caught, through the carelessness of a nurse, when she was five years old.

It had not, however, left her entirely without good looks; for the kindly feelings of her heart beamed forth in the eloquent dark eyes and the sweet smile that almost invariably lighted up her face.

Laughingly, she used to say to her sisters, 'Well, you may all get married, and I shall live at home with my mother and father.'

And even as Aunt Mary said, so it came to pass: her sisters all married, and she remained at home, the loving daughter, the tender nurse, the deepest mourner for the loss of their dear parents, whom she had so dutifully cherished in their old age.

At the death of Mr. and Mrs. Livesay, which happened about ten years after the marriage of their two daughters, Ada and Alice whom I must now introduce to the reader as Mrs. Ellis and Mrs. Beaumont Aunt Mary was warmly entreated to give up housekeeping, and go and reside with one or other of her sisters, especially as Irene, the youngest, who had for the last twelve months undertaken the task of governess to the two Miss Maitlands, their next door neighbours, was now engaged to be married, and the house, it was urged, would be too large and too lonely for Aunt Mary to reside in with any comfort.

This proposition, however, did not at all suit one who had for so many years acted independently; nor, although she was fond of children, would she on any account undertake a partial teaching of them... Continue reading book >>

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