« FöregåendeFortsätt »
guardianship of that artful woman, was almost more than the high-born and unhappy Lady Caroline could bear.
The countess began early to show her power in a thousand ways, and poor Lady Geraldine saw that till she had completed her twenty-first year she should know no happiness, as she was to be under the control of a woman at once artful, vulgar and unprincipled, but with whom, for the sake of her father's memory, she must keep up decent appearances.
Lady Caroline, though loathing the companionship of such a being as her step-mother, was compelled to submit to the necessity of living with her, or she must be deprived of the society of her beloved sister, and that dear sister be left alone to endure the tyranny of the detested countess.
Six weeks after the earl's death the whole family set off for England, going by Switzerland. Not one of the party seemed to trouble themselves to notice the wonderful and enchanting scenery through which we passed. Our two ladies were too miserable, the countess and Miss Barrett too happy, and the attorney and mademoiselle too ignorant to enjoy it.
Arrived in London, the dowager countess took possession of the superb town house, and her vulgar brother became a constant inmate, and I soon saw, or fancied, that he was endeavouring to make himself agreeable to the lovely and accomplished Lady Geraldine. She, poor dear young lady, and her noble sister, were looking out with great anxiety for letters from their brother and cousin, from whom they had not heard since the demise of their father. Nothing could be more unpleasant to the feelings of the sisters than their being obliged to associate with such a creature as the brother of Lady Aberayron. This man, Mr. Jynks, was, in his own opinion, a handsome man, and having found himself much admired and sought after in the little town in which he had practised, (since his father's death,) he was as conceited as he was vulgar. This creature, together with Mademoiselle Didier, who, I am sure, was neither more nor less than a Paris sempstress, were considered fit companions for the beautiful and accomplished Ladies Clareville.
Another person was added to the family circle about this time, namely, the Count Piquette; a very musical person, who was originally introduced at the desire of Miss Barrett, to accompany her in her musical studies, and the obliging count having nothing particular to occupy him at this time, kindly undertook for the slight remuneration of board and lodging to superintend the musical department at Clareville House.
We had been in London about a month, when I heard of the arrival of Lady Eustace in town, and I asked and obtained leave from my kind young mistress to visit her, and delighted I was, after so long an absence, once again to see so dear and valuable a friend.
She listened with kind interest to all my adventures, and joined me in pitying the Ladies Clareville, and deploring the infatuation of their father.
I had seen Mrs. Davies several times, and found her the same excellent creature she had ever been; and she again and again, as well as Lady Eustace, offered me the shelter of her roof whenever I might require it.
I received about this time a long letter from my early friend, Mrs. Howard, assuring me that the money I had sent to her in India had been of the greatest service in relieving her and her husband from their embarrassments, adding, she hoped the time would come when they could repay me. She had made up her mind, she said, though with great unwillingness, to send her only child to England to her aunt and sister, the Misses Moreton, in hopes that they would take charge of the little girl till she could join her, which she trusted she and her husband would be able to do in less than three years. Mrs. Howard went on to say, that having lost four children from the climate, she could not risk her last darling, and ended by begging I would see her aunt and sister, (whose address she enclosed,) and find out how they were disposed as to receiving her little daughter, whom she meant to despatch by the next fleet under the care of a native servant.
As this letter had been lying at the house of Mrs. Davies many weeks, I hastened to comply with my friend's request by waiting upon her aunt and sister immediately, as it was very probable the little stranger had arrived. · I found the elder Miss Moreton at home, but should not have known her, never having set my eyes upon her since I left the vicarage which had sheltered me in the Isle of Wight so many years since.
I brought myself to her recollection, apologizing at the same time for my intrusion, and explaining that I should be thankful if she would inform me when she expected Mrs. Howard's little girl.
Miss Moreton received me very freezingly, and said that she did not expect any child, as she had written to her niece to desire she would not send it, as she positively would not take the charge of it.
“Perhaps," I ventured to say, “the young