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A lady of quality


ALadyofQuality,byFrancesHodgsonBurnett
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Title:ALadyofQuality

Author:FrancesHodgsonBurnett
ReleaseDate:March24,2005[eBook#1550]
[Lastupdated:December9,2011]

Language:English
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Transcribedfromthe1896FrederickWarne&Co.editionbyDavidPrice,email

ccx074@coventry.ac.uk


ALADYOFQUALITY
Beingamostcurious,hithertounknown
history,asrelatedbyMr.IsaacBickerstaff
butnotpresentedtotheWorldof
Fashionthroughthepagesof
TheTatler,andnowforthe
firsttimewrittendown
by
FrancisHodgsonBurnett
WereNaturejusttoManfromhisfirsthour,heneednotaskforMercy;
then’tisforus—thetoysofNature—tobebothjustandmerciful,forso
onlycanthewrongsshedoesbeundone.


CHAPTERI—Thetwenty-fourthdayofNovember
1690
Onawintrymorningatthecloseof1690,thesunshiningfaintandredthrougha
lightfog,therewasagreatnoiseofbayingdogs,loudvoices,andtramplingof
horsesinthecourtyardatWildairsHall;SirJeoffrybeingabouttogoforthahunting,andbeingamanwithacholerictemperandbig,loudvoice,andgiven
tooathsandnoiseevenwheningood-humour,hisridingforthwithhisfriendsat
anytimewasattendedwithboisterouscommotion.Thismorningitwasmoreso
thanusual,forhehadguestswithhimwhohadcometohishousetheday
before,andhadsuppedlateanddrunkdeeply,wherebythedayfoundthem,
somewithheadaches,somewithanauseaattheirstomachs,andsomeonlyinan
evilhumourwhichmadethemcurseattheirhorseswhentheywererestless,and
breakintoloudsurlylaughswhenacoarsejokewasmade.Thereweremany
suchjokes,SirJeoffryandhisbooncompanionsbeingrenownedthroughoutthe
countyforthefreedomoftheirconversationasforthescandaloftheirpastimes,
andthisday’twaswellindeed,astheirloud-voiced,oath-besprinkledjestsrang
outonthecoldair,thattherewerenoladiesabouttorideforthwiththem.
’TwasSirJeoffrywhowaslouderthananyother,hehavingdrunkevendeeper
thantherest,andthough’twashisboastthathecouldcarryabottlemorethan
anyman,andseeallhisguestsunderthetable,hislastnight’sbouthadlefthim
inill-humourandboisterous.Hestrodeabout,castingoathsatthedogsand
ratingtheservants,andwhenhemountedhisbigblackhorse’twasamidsucha
clamourofvoicesandbayinghoundsthattheplacewaslikePandemonium.
Hewasalargemanoffloridgoodlooks,blackeyes,andfullhabitofbody,and


hadbeenmuchrenownedinhisyouthforhisgreatstrength,whichwasindeed
almostthatofagiant,andforhisdeedsofprowessinthesaddleandatthetable
whenthebottlewentround.Thereweremanyevilstoriesofhisroysterings,but
itwasnothiswaytothinkofthemasevil,butrathertohiscreditasamanofthe
world,for,whenheheardthattheyweregossipedabout,hegreetedthe
informationwithaloudtriumphantlaugh.Hehadmarried,whenshewas


fifteen,thebloomingtoastofthecounty,forwhomhispassionhadlongdied
out,havingindeeddepartedwiththehoneymoon,whichhadbeenofthebriefest,
andafterwardshehavingborneheragrudgeforwhathechosetoconsiderher
undutifulconduct.Thisgrudgewasfoundedonthefactthat,thoughshehad
presentedhimeachyearsincetheirmarriagewithachild,afternineyearshad
passednonehadyetbeensons,and,ashewasbitterlyatoddswithhisnextof
kin,heconsideredeachofhisoffspringanillturndonehim.
Hespentbutlittletimeinhersociety,forshewasapoor,gentlecreatureofno
spirit,whofoundlittlehappinessinherlot,sinceherlordtreatedherwithscant
civility,andherchildrenoneafteranothersickenedanddiedintheirinfancy
untilbuttwowereleft.Hescarcerememberedherexistencewhenhedidnotsee
herface,andhewascertainlynotthinkingofherthismorning,havingother
thingsinview,andyetitsofelloutthat,whileagroomwasshorteningastirrup
andbeingswornatforhisawkwardness,hebyaccidentcasthiseyeupwardtoa
chamberwindowpeeringoutofthethickivyonthestone.Doingsohesawan
oldwomandrawbackthecurtainandlookdownuponhimasifsearchingfor
himwithapurpose.
Heutteredanexclamationofanger.
“Damnation!MotherPossetagain,”hesaid.“Whatdoesshethere,oldfrump?”
Thecurtainfellandthewomandisappeared,butinafewminutesmorean
unheard-ofthinghappened—amongtheservantsinthehall,thesameoldwoman
appearedmakingherwaywithahurriedfretfulness,andshedescendedhaltingly
thestonestepsandcametohissidewherehesatonhisblackhorse.
“TheDevil!”heexclaimed—“whatareyouherefor?’Tisnottimeforanother
wenchupstairs,surely?”
“’Tisnottime,”answeredtheoldnurseacidly,takinghertonefromhisown.
“Butthereisone,butanhourold,andmylady—”
“Bedamnedtoher!”quothSirJeoffrysavagely.“Aninthone—and’tisninetoo
many.’Tismorethanmancanbear.Shedoesitbuttospiteme.”
“’Tisilltreatmentforagentlemanwhowantsanheir,”theoldwomananswered,
asdisrespectfulofhisspouseashewas,beingatime-servingcrone,and
knowingthatitpaidbutpoorlytocoddlewomenwhodidnotastheirhusbands
wouldhavetheminthewayofoffspring.“Itshouldhavebeenafineboy,butit


isnot,andmylady—”
“Damnherpulingtricks!”saidSirJeoffryagain,pullingathishorse’sbituntil
thebeastreared.
“ShewouldnotletmerestuntilIcametoyou,”saidthenurseresentfully.“She
wouldhaveyoutoldthatshefeltstrangely,andbeforeyouwentforthwould
haveawordwithyou.”
“Icannotcome,andamnotinthemoodforitifIcould,”washisanswer.
“Whatfollydoesshegivewayto?Thisistheninthtimeshehathfeltstrangely,
andIhavefeltassqueamishasshe—butnineismorethanIhavepatiencefor.”
“Sheislight-headed,mayhap,”saidthenurse.“Sheliethhuddledinaheap,
staringandmuttering,andshewouldleavemenopeacetillIpromisedtosayto
you,‘ForthesakeofpoorlittleDaphne,whomyouwillsureremember.’She
pinchedmyhandandsaiditagainandagain.”
SirJeoffrydraggedathishorse’smouthandsworeagain.
“Shewasfifteenthen,andhadnotgivenmenineyellow-facedwenches,”he
said.“TellherIhadgonea-huntingandyouweretoolate;”andhestruckhis
bigblackbeastwiththewhip,anditboundedawaywithhim,houndsand
huntsmenandfellow-roysterersgallopingafter,hisguests,whohadcaughtatthe
reasonofhiswrath,grinningastheyrode.
*****
Inahugechamberhungwithtatteredtapestriesandbarelysetforthwith
cumbersomepiecesoffurnishing,myladylayinagloomy,canopiedbed,with
hernew-bornchildatherside,butnotlookingatortouchingit,seemingrather
tohavewithdrawnherselffromthepillowonwhichitlayinitsswaddlingclothes.
Shewasbutalittlelady,andnow,asshelayinthelargebed,herfaceandform
shrunkenanddrawnwithsuffering,shelookedscarcebiggerthanachild.Inthe
briefdaysofherhappinessthosewhotoastedherhadcalledherTitaniaforher
fairyslightnessanddelicatebeauty,butthenherfairwavylockshadbeenofa
lengththattouchedthegroundwhenherwomanunboundthem,andshehadhad
thecolourofawildroseandtheeyesofatenderlittlefawn.SirJeoffryfora
monthorsohadpaidtempestuouscourttoher,andhadsowonherheartwithhis
dashingwayoflove-makingandthedaringnessofhisreputation,thatshehad


thoughtherself—beingchildenoughtothinkso—theluckiestyoungladyinthe
worldthathisblackeyeshouldhavefallenuponherwithfavour.Eachyear
since,withthebearingofeachchild,shehadlostsomeofherbeauty.Witheach
oneherlovelyhairfelloutstillmore,herwild-rosecolourfaded,andhershape
wasspoiled.Shegrewthinandyellow,onlyascantcoveringofthefairhairwas
lefther,andhereyeswerebigandsunken.Hermarriagehavingdispleasedher
family,andSirJeoffryhavingadistastefortheceremoniesofvisitingand
entertainment,savewherehisowncronieswereconcerned,shehadnofriends,
andgrewlonelierandlonelierasthesadyearswentby.Shebeingsowithout
hopeandherlifesodreary,herchildrenwereneitherstrongnorbeautiful,and
diedquickly,eachonebringingheronlytheanguishofbirthanddeath.This
wintrymorningherninthlayslumberingbyherside;thenoiseofbayingdogs
andboisterousmenhaddiedawaywiththelastsoundofthehorses’hoofs;the
littlelightwhichcameintotheroomthroughtheiviedwindowwasafaint
yellowishred;shewascold,becausethefireinthechimneywasbutascant,
failingone;shewasalone—andsheknewthatthetimehadcomeforherdeath.
Thissheknewfullwell.
Shewasalone,because,beingsodisrespectedanddesertedbyherlord,and
beingofatimidandgentlenature,shecouldnotcommandherinsufficient
retinueofservants,andnoneservedheraswastheirduty.TheoldwomanSir
JeoffryhaddubbedMotherPossethadbeenhersoleattendantatsuchtimesas
theseforthepastfiveyears,becauseshewouldcometoherforalessfeethana
betterwoman,andSirJeoffryhadswornhewouldnotpayforwenchesbeing
broughtintotheworld.Shewasaslovenly,guzzlingoldcrone,whodrank
caudlefrommorningtillnight,anddemandedgoodlivingasasupportduring
theperformanceofhertryingduties;buttheselastshecontrivedtomake
wondrouslight,knowingthattherewasnonetoreproveher.
“AfinenightIhavehad,”shehadgrumbledwhenshebroughtbackSirJeoffry’s
answertoherlady’smessage.“Myoldbonesareliketobreak,andmybackwill
notstraightenitself.Iwillgotothekitchentogetvictualsandsomewhatto
warmme;yourladyship’sownwomanshallsitwithyou.”
Herladyship’s“ownwoman”wasalsothesoleattendantofthetwolittlegirls,
BarbaraandAnne,whosenurserywasinanotherwingofthehouse,andmylady
knewfullwellshewouldnotcomeifsheweretold,andthattherewouldbeno
messagesenttoher.
Sheknew,too,thatthefirewasgoingout,but,thoughsheshiveredunderthe


bed-clothes,shewastooweaktocallthewomanbackwhenshesawherdepart
withoutputtingfreshfueluponit.
Soshelayalone,poorlady,andtherewasnosoundabouther,andherthinlittle
mouthbegantofeeblyquiver,andhergreateyes,whichstaredatthehangings,
tofillwithslowcoldtears,forinsooththeywerenotwarm,butseemedtochill
herpoorcheeksastheyrolledslowlydownthem,leavingawetstreakbehind
themwhichshewastoofargoneinweaknesstoattempttoliftherhandtowipe
away.
“Ninetimeslikethis,”shepantedfaintly,“and’tisfornaughtbutoathsandhard
wordsthatblameme.Iwasbutachildmyselfandhelovedme.When’twas
‘MyDaphne,’and‘MybeauteouslittleDaphne,’helovedmeinhisownman’s
way.Butnow—”shefaintlyrolledherheadfromsidetoside.“Womenare
poorthings”—achillsalttearslidingpastherlipssothatshetasteditsbitterness
—“onlytobekissedforanhour,andthenlikethis—onlyforthisandnothing
else.Iwouldthatthisonehadbeendead.”
Herbreathcameslowerandmorepantingly,andhereyesstaredmorewidely.
“Iwasbutachild,”shewhispered—“achild—as—asthiswillbe—ifshelives
fifteenyears.”
Despiteherweakness,anditwasgreatandwoefullyincreasingwitheach
pantingbreath,sheslowlylabouredtoturnherselftowardsthepillowonwhich
heroffspringlay,and,thisdone,shelaystaringatthechildandgasping,herthin
chestrisingandfallingconvulsively.Ah,howshepanted,andhowshestared,
theglazeofdeathstealingslowlyoverherwide-openedeyes;andyet,dimming
astheywere,theysawinthesleepinginfantastrangeandtroublousthing—
thoughitwasbutafewhoursold’twasnotasredandcrumplevisagedasnewborninfantsusuallyare,itslittleheadwascoveredwiththickblacksilk,andits
smallfeatureswereofsingulardefiniteness.Shedraggedherselfnearertogaze.
“Shelooksnotliketheothers,”shesaid.“Theyhadnobeauty—andaresafe.
She—shewillbelike—Jeoffry—andlikeme.”
Thedyingfirefelllowerwithashudderingsound.
“Ifsheis—beautiful,andhasbutherfather,andnomother!”shewhispered,the
wordsdraggedforthslowly,“onlyevilcancometoher.Fromherfirsthour—
shewillknownaughtelse,poorheart,poorheart!”


Therewasarattlinginherthroatasshebreathed,butinherglazingeyesagleam
likepassionleaped,andgasping,shedraggednearer.
“’Tisnotfair,”shecried.“IfI—ifIcouldlaymyhanduponthymouth—and
stopthybreathing—thoupoorthing,’twouldbefairer—but—Ihaveno
strength.”
Shegatheredallherdyingwillandbroughtherhanduptotheinfant’smouth.A
wildlookwasonherpoor,smallface,shepantedandfellforwardonitsbreast,
therattleinherthroatgrowinglouder.Thechildawakened,openinggreatblack
eyes,andwithherdyingweaknessitsnew-bornlifestruggled.Hercoldhand
layuponitsmouth,andherheaduponitsbody,forshewastoofargonetomove
ifshehadwilledtodoso.Butthetinycreature’sstrengthwasmarvellous.It
gasped,itfought,itslittlelimbsstruggledbeneathher,itwritheduntilthecold
handfellaway,andthen,itsbabymouthsetfree,itfella-shrieking.Itscries
werenotlikethoseofanew-bornthing,butfierceandshrill,andevenheldthe
soundofinfantpassion.’Twasnotathingtoletitslifegoeasily,’twasofthose
borntodobattle.
Itslustyscreamingpiercedherearperhaps—shedrewalong,slowbreath,and
thenanother,andanotherstill—thelastonetrembledandstoppedshort,andthe
lastcinderfelldeadfromthefire.
*****
Whenthenursecamebustlingandfrettingback,thechamberwascoldasthe
grave’sself—therewereonlydeadembersonthehearth,thenew-bornchild’s
criesfilledallthedesolateair,andmyladywaslyingstonedead,herpoorhead
restingonheroffspring’sfeet,thewhileheropenglazedeyesseemedtostareat
itasifinaskingFatesomeawfulquestion.


CHAPTERII—InwhichSirJeoffryencountershis
offspring
Inaremotewingofthehouse,inbarren,ill-keptrooms,thepoorinfantsofthe
deadladyhadstruggledthroughtheirbrieflives,andgiventhemup,oneafter
theother.SirJeoffryhadnotwishedtoseethem,norhadhedoneso,butupon
therarestoccasions,andthennearlyalwaysbysomeuntowardaccident.Thesix
whohaddied,eventheirmotherhadscarcelyweptfor;herweepinghadbeen
thattheyshouldhavebeenfatedtocomeintotheworld,andwhentheywentout
ofitsheknewsheneednotmourntheirgoingasuntimely.Thetwowhohadnot
perished,shehadregardedsadlydaybyday,seeingtheyhadnobeautyandthat
theirfacespromisednone.Naughtbutgreatbeautywouldhaveexcusedtheir
existenceintheirfather’seyes,asbeautymighthavehelpedthemtogood
matcheswhichwouldhaveridhimofthem.But’twasthesadillfortuneofthe
childrenAnneandBarbaratohavebeentreatedbyNatureinawaybut
niggardly.Theywerepaleyoungmisses,withinsignificantfacesandsnub
noses,resemblinganauntwhodiedaspinster,astheythemselvesseemedmost
likelyto.SirJeoffrycouldnotbearthesightofthem,andtheyfledatthesound
ofhisfootsteps,ifitsohappenedthatbychancetheyheardit,huddlingtogether
incorners,andslinkingbehinddoorsoranythingbigenoughtohidethem.They
hadnoplaythingsandnocompanionsandnopleasuresbutsuchastheinnocent
inventionofchildhoodcontrivesforitself.
Aftertheirmother’sdeathayouthdesolateandstrangeindeedlaybeforethem.
Aspinsterwhowasapoorrelationwastheonlypersonofrespectablebreeding
whoevercamenearthem.Tosaveherselffromgenteelstarvation,shehad
offeredherselffortheplaceofgovernesstothem,thoughshewasfittedforthe
positionneitherbyeducationnorcharacter.MistressMargeryWimpolewasa
poor,dullcreature,havingnowilfulharminher,butendowedwithneither
dignitynorwit.ShelivedinfearofSirJeoffry,andinfearoftheservants,who
knewfullwellthatshewasanhumbledependant,andtreatedherasone.She
hidawaywithherpupilsinthebareschool-roominthewestwing,andtaught
themtospellandwriteandworksamplers.Sheherselfknewnomore.


Thechildwhohadcosthermotherherlifehadnohappierprospectthanher
sisters.Herfatherfelthermoreanintruderthantheyhadbeen,hebeingofthe
mindthattohouseandfeedandclothe,howsoeverpoorly,thesethreeburdens
onhimwasadrainscarcelytobeborne.Hiswifehadbeenatoastandnota
fortune,andhisestatenotbeinggreat,hepossessednomorethanhisdrinking,
roystering,andgamblingmadefulldemandsupon.
ThechildwasbaptizedClorinda,andbred,sotospeak,fromherfirsthour,in
thegarretandtheservants’hall.Onceonlydidherfatherbeholdherduringher
infancy,whicheventwasamereaccident,ashehadexpressednowishtosee
her,andonlycameuponherinthenurse’sarmssomeweeksafterhermother’s
death.’Twasquitebychance.Thewoman,whowasyoungandbuxom,had
begunanintriguewithagroom,andhavingamindtoseehim,wascrossingthe
stable-yard,carryingherchargewithher,whenSirJeoffrycamebytovisita
horse.
Thewomancameplumpuponhim,enteringastableashecameoutofit;she
gaveafrightenedstart,andalmostletthechilddrop,atwhichitsetupastrong,
shrillcry,andthusSirJeoffrysawit,andseeingit,wasthrownatonceintoa
passionwhichexpresseditselfafterthemannerofallhisemotion,andleftthe
nursequakingwithfear.
“Thunderanddamnation!”heexclaimed,ashestrodeawayaftertheencounter;
“’tistheugliestyet.Ayellow-facedgirlbrat,witheyeslikeanowl’sinanivybush,andwithavoicelikeaverypeacocks.Anothermawking,plainslutthat
nomanwilltakeoffmyhands.”
Hedidnotseeheragainforsixyears.Butlittlewitwasneededtolearnthat
’twasbesttokeepheroutofhissight,ashersisterswerekept,andthiswasdone
withoutdifficulty,asheavoidedthewingofthehousewherethechildrenlived,
asifitwerestrickenwiththeplague.
ButthechildClorinda,itseemed,wasoflustierstockthanheroldersisters,and
thisthoseabouthersoonfoundouttotheirgrievousdisturbance.WhenMother
Possethaddrawnherfromunderherdeadmother’sbodyshehadnotleft
shriekingforanhour,buthadkeptupherfiercecriesuntiltheroofrangwith
them,andtheoldwomanhadjoggedheraboutandbeatherbackinthehopesof
stiflingher,untilshewasexhaustedanddismayed.Forthechildwouldnotbe
stilled,andseemedtohavesuchstrengthandpersistenceinherassurelyinfant
nevershowedbefore.


“NeversawIsuchabratamongallIhavebroughtintotheworld,”oldPosset
quavered.“Shehaththevoiceofasix-monthsboy.Itcracksmyveryears.
Hushthee,then,thoulittlewildcat.”
Thiswasbutthebeginning.Fromthefirstshegrewapace,andinafewmonths
wasabouncinginfant,withastrongback,andapowertomakeherselfheard
suchashadnotbeforeappearedinthefamily.Whenshedesiredathing,she
yelledandroaredwithsuchavigourasleftnopeaceforanycreatureabouther
untilshewashumoured,andthisbeingthecase,ratherthanhavetheir
conversationandlove-makingputastopto,theservantsgaveherherway.In
thistheybutfollowedtheexampleoftheirbetters,ofwhomweknowthatitis
nottothemostvirtuoustheysubmitortothemostlearned,buttothosewho,
beingcrossed,canconductthemselvesinamannersodisagreeable,shrewishor
violent,thatlifeisaburdenuntiltheyhavetheirwill.ThisthechildClorinda
hadtheinfantwittodiscoverearly,andhavingoncediscoveredit,shenever
ceasedtotakeadvantageofherknowledge.Havingfoundinthedayswhenher
onedesirewaspap,thatshehadbuttoroarlustilyenoughtofinditbesideherin
herporringer,shetriedthegameuponallotheroccasions.Whenshehad
reachedbutatwelvemonth,shestoodstoutlyuponherlittlefeet,andbeather
sisterstogaintheirplaythings,andhernurseforwantingtochangehersmock.
Shewassoeasilythrownintofuries,andsoragedandstampedinherbabyway
thatshewasasighttobehold,andthemen-servantsfoundamusementin
badgeringher.TosetMistressClorindaintheirmidstonawinter’snightwhen
theyweredull,andtotormentheruntilherlittlefacegrewscarletwiththeblood
whichflewupintoit,andsheranfromonetotheotherbeatingthemand
screaminglikeayoungspitfire,wasamongthemafavouriteentertainment.
“Ifackens!”saidthebutleronenight,“butsheisaslikeSirJeoffryinhertemper
asonepeaislikeanother.Ay,butshegrowsbloodredjustashedoes,and
cursesinherlittlewayashedoesinman’swordsamonghishoundsintheir
kennel.”
“Andshewillbeofhisbuild,too,”saidthehousekeeper.“Whatmishap
changedhertoamaidinsteadofaboy,Iknownot.Shewouldhavemadea
strappingheir.Shehasthethighandshouldersofahandsomeman-childatthis
hour,andsheisnotthreeyearsold.”
“SirJeoffrymissedhismarkwhenhecalledheranuglybrat,”saidthewoman
whohadnursedher.“Shewillbeahandsomewoman—thoughlargeinbuild,it
maybe.Shewillbeabrownbeauty,butshewillhaveacolourinhercheeks


andlipsliketheredofChristmasholly,andherowl’seyesareasblackassloes,
andhavefringesonthemlikethecurtainsofawindow.Seehowherhairgrows
thickonherlittlehead,andhowitcurlsingreatrings.Mylady,herpoor
mother,wasonceabeauty,butshewasnosuchbeautyasthisonewillbe,for
shehasherfather’slonglimbsandfineshoulders,andthewilltomakeevery
manlookherway.”
“Yes,”saidthehousekeeper,whowasanelderlywoman,“therewillbedoings—
therewillbedoingswhensheisaripeyoungmaid.Shewilltakeherway,and
Godgrantshemayn’tbetoolikeherfatherandfollowhis.”
Itwastruethatshehadnoresemblancetoherplainsisters,andborenolikeness
tothemincharacter.Thetwoelderchildren,AnneandBarbara,weretoomeekspiritedtobetroublesome;butduringClorinda’sinfancyMistressMargery
Wimpolewatchedherrapidgrowthwithfearandqualms.Shedarenotreprove
theservantswhowereruiningherbytheirtreatment,andwhosemannerswere
formingherown.SirJeoffry’sservantswerenomoremoralthantheirmaster,
andbeingbroughtupasshewasamongthem,theiryoungmistressbecame
strangelyfamiliarwithmanysightsandsoundsitisnotthefortuneofmost
youngmissesofbreedingtoseeandhear.Thecooksandkitchen-wencheswere
flightywiththegroomsandmen-servants,andlittleMistressClorinda,havinga
passionforhorsesanddogs,spentmanyanhourinthestableswiththewomen
who,forreasonsoftheirown,werepleasedenoughtotakeherthereasan
excuseforseekingamusementforthemselves.Sheplayedinthekennelsand
amongthehorses’heels,andlearnedtouseoathsasroundlyasanyGilesorTom
whoseworkwastowieldthecurrycomb.Itwasindeedacuriousthingtohear
herredbabymouthpourforthcursesandunseemlywordsasshewouldatany
onewhocrossedher.Hertemperandhot-headednesscarriedallbeforethem,
andthegroomsandstable-boysfoundgreatsportinthelanguagemyyounglady
usedinherinnocentfuries.Butbalkherinawhim,andshewouldpourforth
theeloquenceofafish-wifeoraladyofeasyvirtueinapot-housequarrel.
Therewasnohumancreaturenearherwhohadmindorheartenoughtoseethe
awfulnessofhercondition,ortostrivetoteachhertocheckherpassions;andin
themidstoftheseperiloussurroundingsthelittleviragogrewhandsomerandof
finercarriageeveryhour,asifontherankdietthatfedhershethroveand
flourished.
Therecameadayatlastwhenshehadreachedsixyearsold,whenbyatrickof
chanceaturnwasgiventothewheelofherfate.


Shehadnotreachedthreewhenagroomfirstsetheronahorse’sbackandled
heraboutthestable-yard,andshehadsodelightedinherexaltedposition,and
hadsoshoutedforpleasureandclutchedhersteed’sreinandcluckedathim,that
heraudiencehadlookedonwithroarsoflaughter.Fromthattimeshewouldbe
putupeveryday,andastimewentonshowedsuchunchildishcourageandspirit
thatshefurnishedtoherservantcompanionsanewpastime.Soonshewould
notbeheldon,butridingastridelikeaboy,wouldsitupasstraightasamanand
swearatherhorse,beatinghimwithherheelsandlittlefistsifhispacedidnot
suither.Sheknewnofear,andwouldhaveusedawhipsoreadilythatthemen
didnotdaretotrustherwithone,andknewtheymustnotmountheronasteed
toomettlesome.Bythetimeshepassedhersixthbirthdayshecouldrideaswell
asagrownman,andwasasfamiliarwithherfather’shorsesashehimself,
thoughheknewnothingofthematter,itbeingalwayscontrivedthatsheshould
beoutofsightwhenhevisitedhishunters.
Itsochancedthatthehorseherodetheoftenestwasherfavourite,andmany
werethetempestsofrageshefellintowhenshewenttothestabletoplaywith
theanimalanddidnotfindhiminhisstall,becausehismasterhadorderedhim
out.Atsuchtimesshewouldstormatthemeninthestable-yardandcallthem
illnamesfortheirimpudenceinlettingthebeastgo,whichwouldcausethem
greatmerriment,assheknewnothingofwhothemanwaswhohadbalkedher,
sinceshewas,intruth,notsomuchasconsciousofherfather’sexistence,never
havingseenorevenheardmoreofhimthanhisname,whichsheinnomanner
connectedwithherself.
“CouldSirJeoffryhimselfbutonceseeandhearherwhenshestormsatusand
him,becausehedarestoridehisownbeast,”oneoftheoldermensaidonce,in
themidstoftheirlaughter,“Iswearhewouldburstforthlaughingandbetaken
withherimpudentspirit,hertemperissolikehisown.Sheishisownfleshand
blood,andasfullofhell-fireashe.”
Uponthismorningwhichprovedeventfultoher,shehadgonetothestables,as
washerdailycustom,andgoingintothestallwherethebigblackhorsewas
wonttostand,shefounditempty.Herspiritrosehotwithinherinthemoment.
Sheclenchedherfists,andbegantostampandswearinsuchamannerasit
wouldbescarcefittingtorecord.
“Whereishenow?”shecried.“Heismyownhorse,andshallnotberidden.
Whoisthemanwhotakeshim?Who?Who?”


“’Tisafellowwhohathnomanners,”saidthemanshestormedat,grinningand
thrustinghistongueinhischeek.“Hesays’tishisbeast,andnotyours,andhe
willhavehimwhenhechooses.”
“’Tisnothis—’tismine!”shriekedMiss,herlittlefaceinflamedwithpassion.“I
willkillhim!’Tismyhorse.Heshallbemine!”
Forawhilethementormentedher,tohearherraveandseeherpassion,for,in
truth,thegreatertempestshewasin,thebettershewasworthbeholding,having
acoloursorich,andeyessogreatandblackandflaming.Atsuchtimesthere
wasnaughtofthefeminineinher,andindeedalwaysshelookedmorelikea
handsomeboythanagirl,hergrowthbeingforherageextraordinary.Atlength
aladwhowasahelpersaidtomockher—
“Themanhathhimatthedoorbeforethegreatstepsnow.Isawhimstandthere
waitingbutamomentago.Themanhathgoneinthehouse.”
Sheturnedandrantofindhim.Thefrontpartofthehouseshebarelyknewthe
outsideof,asshewaskeptsafelyinthewestwingandbelowstairs,andwhen
takenoutfortheairwasalwaysledprivatelybyasideway—neverpassing
throughthegreathall,whereherfathermightchancetoencounterher.
Sheknewbestthisside-entrance,andmadeherwaytoit,meaningtosearch
untilshefoundthefront.Shegotintothehouse,andherspiritbeingroused,
marchedboldlythroughcorridorsandintoroomsshehadneverseenbefore,and
beingsomereachild,notwithstandingherstrangewilfulnessanddaring,the
noveltyofthethingsshesawsofardistractedhermindfromthecauseofher
angerthatshestoppedmorethanoncetostareupataportraitonawall,orto
takeinherhandsomethingshewascuriousconcerning.
Whensheatlastreachedtheentrance-hall,comingintoitthroughadoorshe
pushedopen,usingallherchildishstrength,shestoodinthemidstofitand
gazedaboutherwithanewcuriosityandpleasure.Itwasafineplace,with
antlers,andarms,andfoxes’brusheshunguponthewalls,andwithcarved
panelsofblackoak,andoakenfloorandfurnishings.Allinitwasdisorderly
andshowedroughusage;butonceithadbeenanotablefeatureofthehouse,and
wellworthbettercarethanhadbeenbestoweduponit.Shediscoveredonthe
wallsmanytrophiesthatattractedher,buttheseshecouldnotreach,andcould
onlygazeandwonderat;butonanoldoakensettleshefoundsomethingsshe
couldlayhandson,andforthwithseizedandsatdownuponthefloortoplay
withthem.Oneofthemwasahunting-crop,whichshebrandishedgrandly,until


shewasmoretakenwithapowder-flaskwhichitsohappenedherfather,Sir
Jeoffry,hadlaindownbutafewminutesbefore,inpassingthrough.Hewas
goingforthcoursing,andhadsteppedintothedining-halltotossoffabumperof
brandy.
Whenhehadhelpedhimselffromthebuffet,andcamebackinhaste,thefirst
thingheclappedeyesonwashisoffspringpouringforththepowderfromhis
flaskupontheoakenfloor.Hehadneverseenhersincethatfirstoccasionafter
theunfortunateincidentofherbirth,andbeholdingachildwastinghisgood
powderatthemomenthemostwanteditandhadnotimetospare,andalsonot
havinghaditrecalledtohismindforyearsthathewasaparent,exceptwhenhe
foundhimselfforcedreluctantlytopayforsomesmallneed,hebeheldinthe
youngoffenderonlysomeimpudentservant’sbrat,whohadstrayedintohis
domainandapplieditselfatoncetomischief.
Hespranguponher,andseizingherbythearm,whirledhertoherfeetwithno
littleviolence,snatchingthepowder-flaskfromher,anddealingherasoundbox
ontheear.
“Bloodanddamnationonthee,thouimpudentlittlebaggage!”heshouted.“I’ll
breakthyneckforthee,littlescurvybeast;”andpulledthebellashewereliketo
breakthewire.
Buthehadreckonedfalselyonwhathedealtwith.Missutteredashriekofrage
whichrangthroughtherooflikeaclarion.Shesnatchedthecropfromthefloor,
rushedathim,andfelluponhimlikeathousandlittledevils,beatinghisbiglegs
withallthestrengthofherpassion,andpouringforthoathssuchaswouldhave
donecredittoDollLightfootherself.
“Damnthee!—damnthee!”—sheroaredandscreamed,flogginghim.“I’lltear
thyeyesout!I’llcutthyliverfromthee!Damnthysoultohell!”
Andthischoicevolleywaswithsuchspiritandfurypouredforth,thatSir
Jeoffrylethishanddropfromthebell,fellintoagreatburstoflaughter,and
stoodthusroaringwhileshebeathimandshriekedandstormed.
Theservants,hearingthejangledbell,attractedbythetumult,andofasudden
missingMistressClorinda,raninconsternationtothehall,andtherebeheldthis
trulyprettysight—Missbeatingherfather’slegs,andtearingathimtoothand
nail,whilehestoodshoutingwithlaughterasifhewouldsplithissides.


“Whoisthelittlecockatrice?”hecried,thetearsstreamingdownhisflorid
cheeks.“Whoistheyoungshe-devil?Odsbodikins,whoisshe?”
Forasecondorsotheservantsstaredateachotheraghast,notknowingwhatto
say,orventuringtoutteraword;andthenthenurse,whohadcomeuppanting,
daredtogaspforththetruth.
“’TisMistressClorinda,SirJeoffry,”shestammered—“mylady’slastinfant—
theoneofwhomshediedinchildbed.”
Hisbiglaughbrokeintwo,asonemightsay.Helookeddownattheyoungfury
andstared.Shewasoutofbreathwithbeatinghim,andhadceasedandfallen
backapace,andwasstaringupathimalso,breathingdefianceandhatred.Her
bigblackeyeswereflames,herheadwasthrownupandback,hercheekswere
bloodscarlet,andhergreatcropofcrow-blackhairstoodoutabouther
beauteous,wickedlittleviragoface,asifitmightchangeintoMedusa’ssnakes.
“Damnthee!”sheshriekedathimagain.“I’llkillthee,devil!”
SirJeoffrybrokeintohisbiglaughafresh.
“Clorindadotheycallthee,wench?”hesaid.“Jeoffrythoushouldsthavebeen
butforthymother’sfolly.AfiercerlittledevilforthysizeIneversaw—nora
handsomerone.”
Andheseizedherfromwhereshestood,andheldherathisbigarms’length,
gazingatheruncannybeautywithlooksthattookherinfromheadtofoot.


CHAPTERIII—WhereinSirJeoffry’sboon
companionsdrinkatoast
Herbeautyofface,herfinebody,herstrengthoflimb,andgreatgrowthforher
age,wouldhavepleasedhimifshehadpossessednootherattraction,butthe
daringofherfuryandherstable-boybreedingsoamusedhimandsuitedhis
roysteringtastesthathetooktoherasthefinestplaythingintheworld.
Hesetheronthefloor,forgettinghiscoursing,andwouldhavemadefriends
withher,butatfirstshewouldhavenoneofhim,andscowledathiminspiteof
allhedid.Thebrandybythistimehadmountedtohisheadandputhiminthe
moodforfrolic,liquoroftenestmakinghimgamesome.Hefeltasifhewere
playingwithayoungdogormarkingthespiritofalittlefightingcock.He
orderedtheservantsbacktotheirkitchen,whostoleaway,thewomenamazed,
andthemenconcealinggrinswhichburstforthintoguffawsoflaughterwhen
theycameintotheirhallbelow.
“’Tisaswesaid,”theychuckled.“Hehadbuttoseeherbeautyandfindhera
biggerdevilthanhe,and’twasdone.Themettleofher—damningandflogging
him!Neverwasthereafinersight!Shefearedhimnomorethanifhehadbeen
aspaniel—andheroaringandlaughingtillhewasliketoburst.”
“DostknowwhoIam?”SirJeoffrywasaskingthechild,grinninghimselfashe
stoodbeforeherwhereshesatontheoakensettleonwhichhehadliftedher.
“No,”quothlittleMistress,herblackbrowsdrawndown,herhandsomeowl’s
eyesverilyseemingtolookhimthroughandthroughinsearchofsomewhat;for,
insooth,herrageabatingbeforehisjovialhumour,thebigburlylaugher
attractedherattention,thoughshewasnotdisposedtoshowhimthatsheleaned
towardsanyfavouroryielding.
“IamthyDad,”hesaid.“’TwasthyDadthougavestsuchatrouncing.And
thouhastanarm,too.Let’scastaneyeonit.”
Hetookherwristandpusheduphersleeve,butshedraggedback.


“Willnotbemauled,”shecried.“Getawayfromme!”
Heshoutedwithlaughteragain.Hehadseenthatthelittlearmwasaswhiteand
hardasmarble,andhadsuchmusclesasagreatboymighthavebeenabraggart
about.
“ByGad!”hesaid,elated.“Whatawenchofsixyearsold.Wilthavemycrop
andtrouncethyDadagain!”
Hepickedupthecropfromtheplacewhereshehadthrownit,andforthwith
gaveitinherhand.Shetookit,butwasnomoreinthehumourtobeathim,and
asshelookedstillfrowningfromhimtothewhip,thelatterbroughtbacktoher
mindthehorseshehadsetoutinsearchof.
“Whereismyhorse?”shesaid,and’twasinthetoneofanimperialdemand.
“Whereishe?”
“Thyhorse!”heechoed.“Whichisthyhorsethen?”
“Rakeismyhorse,”sheanswered—“thebigblackone.Themantookhim
again;”andsherippedoutafewmoreoathsandunchasteexpressions,
threateningwhatshewoulddoforthemaninquestion;thewhichdelightedhim
morethanever.“Rakeismyhorse,”sheended.“Noneelseshallridehim.”
“Noneelse?”criedhe.“Thoucanstnotridehim,baggage!”
Shelookedathimwithscornfulmajesty.
“Whereishe?”shedemanded.Andthenextinstanthearingthebeast’srestless
feetgrindingintothegraveloutsideashefrettedathavingbeenkeptwaitingso
long,sherememberedwhatthestable-boyhadsaidofhavingseenherfavourite
standingbeforethedoor,andstrugglinganddroppingfromthesettle,sheranto
lookout;whereuponhavingdoneso,sheshoutedintriumph.
“Heishere!”shesaid.“Iseehim;”andwentpell-melldownthestonestepsto
hisside.
SirJeoffryfollowedherinhaste.’Twouldnothavebeentohishumournowto
haveherbrainskickedout.
“Hey!”hecalled,ashehurried.“Keepawayfromhisheels,thoulittledevil.”
Butshehadruntothebigbeast’sheadwithanothershout,andcaughthimround


hisforeleg,laughing,andRakebenthisheaddownandnosedherinafumbling
caress,onwhich,thebridlecomingwithinherreach,sheseizeditandheldhis
headthatshemightpathim,towhichfamiliaritythebeastwasplainlywell
accustomed.
“Heismyhorse,”quothshegrandlywhenherfatherreachedher.“Hewillnot
letGilesplayso.”
SirJeoffrygazedandswelledwithpleasureinher.
“Wouldhavesaid’twasalieifIhadnotseenit,”hesaidtohimself.“’Tisno
girlthis,Iswear.Ithought’twasmyhorse,”hesaidtoher,“but’tisplain
enoughheisthine.”
“Putmeup!”saidhisnew-foundoffspring.
“Hastridhimbefore?”SirJeoffryasked,withsomelingeringmisgiving.“Tell
thyDadifthouhastridhim.”
Shegavehimalookaskanceunderherlongfringedlids—asurlyyethalf-slyly
relentinglook,becauseshewantedtogetherwayofhim,andhadthecunning
witandshrewdnessofachildwitch.
“Ay!”quothshe.“Putmeup—Dad!”
Hewasnotamanofquickmind,hisbrainhavingbeentoomanyyears
bemuddledwithdrink,buthehadaroughinstinctwhichshowedhimallthe
wondrousshrewdnessofhercastingthatlastwordathimtowheedlehim,even
thoughshelookedsulleninthesayingit.Itmadehimroaragainforvery
exultation.
“Putmeup,Dad!”hecried.“ThatwillI—andseewhatthouwiltdo.”
Heliftedher,shespringingashesethishandsbeneathherarms,andflingingher
legsoverastrideacrossthesaddlewhenshereachedit.Shewasallfireand
excitement,andcaughtthereinslikeanoldhuntsman,andwithsuchagraspas
wasamazing.Shesatupwithastraight,strongback,herwholefaceglowing
andsparklingwithexultantjoy.Rakeseemedtoanswertoherexcitedlittle
laughalmostasmuchastoherhand.Itseemedtowakehisspiritandputhimin
good-humour.Hestartedoffwithherdowntheavenueatalight,spiritedtrot,
whileshe,clingingwithherlittlelegsandsittingfirmandfearless,madehim
changeintocanterandgallop,havingactuallylearnedallhispaceslikealesson,


andknowinghismouthasdidhisgroom,whowasherfamiliarandslave.Had
shebeenofthebuildordinarywithchildrenofherage,shecouldnothave
stayeduponhisback;butshesathimlikeachildjockey,andSirJeoffry,
watchingandfollowingher,clappedhishandsboisterouslyandhallooedforjoy.
“Lord,Lord!”hesaid.“There’snotamanintheshirehassuchanotherlittle
devil—andRake,‘herhorse,’”grinning—“andshetoridehimso.Ilovethee,
wench—hangmeifIdonot!”
ShemadehimplaywithherandwithRakeforagoodhour,andthentookhim
backtothestables,andthereorderedhimaboutfinelyamongthedogsand
horses,perceivingthatsomehowthisgreatmanshehadgotholdofwasa
creaturewhowasinpowerandcouldbemadeuseof.
Whentheyreturnedtothehouse,hehadhertoeathermid-daymealwithhim,
whenshecalledforale,anddrankit,anddidgoodtrencherduty,makinghimthe
whileroarwithlaughteratherimpudentchild-talk.
“NeverhaveIsosplitmysidessinceIwastwenty,”hesaid.“Itmakesme
youngagaintoroarso.Sheshallnotleavemysight,sincebychanceIhave
foundher.’Tistoogoodajoketolose,whentimesaredull,astheygettobeas
aman’syearsgoon.”
Hesentforherwomanandlaidstrangenewcommandsonher.
“Wherehathshehithertobeenkept?”heasked.
“Inthewestwing,wherearethenurseries,andwhereMistressWimpoleabides
withMistressBarbaraandMistressAnne,”thewomananswered,witha
frightenedcurtsey.
“HenceforthsheshallliveinthispartofthehousewhereIdo,”hesaid.“Make
readythechambersthatweremylady’s,andpreparetostaytherewithher.”
Fromthathourthechild’sfatewassealed.Hemadehimselfherplayfellow,and
rompedwithandindulgedheruntilshebecamefonderofhimthanofanygroom
orstable-boyshehadbeencompanionswithbefore.But,indeed,shehadnever
beengiventobestowingmuchaffectiononthosearoundher,seemingtofeel
herselftoohighapersonagetoshowsoftness.Theonessheshowedmostfavour
towerethosewhoservedherbest;andeventothemitwasalwaysfavourshe
showed,nottenderness.Certaindogsandhorsesshewasfondof,Rakecoming
nearesttoherheart,andtheplaceherfatherwoninheraffectionswassomewhat


liketoRake’s.Shemadehimherservantandtyrannisedoverhim,butatthe
sametimefollowedandimitatedhimasifshehadbeenayoungspanielhewas
training.Thelifethechildled,itwouldhavebrokenamotherlywoman’sheart
tohearabout;buttherewasnogoodwomannearher,hermother’srelatives,and
evenSirJeoffry’sown,havingcutthemselvesoffearlyfromthem—Wildairs
Hallanditsmasterbeingnogreatcredittothosehavingthemisfortunetobe
connectedwiththem.Theneighbouringgentryhadgraduallyceasedtovisitthe
familysometimebeforeherladyship’sdeath,andsincethentheonlyguestswho
frequentedtheplacewereacircleofhunting,drinking,andguzzlingboon
companionsofSirJeoffry’sown,whojoinedhiminallhiscarousalsand
debaucheries.
Totheseheannouncedhisdiscoveryofhisdaughterwithtumultuousdelight.
Hetoldthem,amidstormsoflaughter,ofhisfirstencounterwithher;ofher
flogginghimwithhisowncrop,andcursinghimlikeatrooper;ofherclaiming
Rakeasherownhorse,andswearingatthemanwhohaddaredtotakehimfrom
thestabletoride;andofhersittinghimlikeaninfantjockey,andseeming,by
somestrangepower,tohavemasteredhimasnootherhadbeenableheretofore
todo.Thenhehadherbroughtintothedining-room,wheretheysatovertheir
bottlesdrinkingdeep,andsettingheronthetable,heexhibitedhertothem,
boastingofherbeauty,showingthemhersplendidarmandlegandthigh,
measuringherheight,andexcitinghertotestthestrengthofthegripofherhand
andthepowerofherlittlefist.
“Sawyoueverawenchlikeher?”hecried,astheyallshoutedwithlaughterand
madejokesnottoopolite,butsuchaswereofthesolekindtheyweregivento.
“Hasanymanamongyoubegotaboyasbigandhandsome?Hangme!ifshe
wouldnotknockdownanyladoftenifshewereinafury.”
“Wewilddogsareoutoffavourwiththewomen,”criedoneofthebestpleased
amongthem,acertainLordEldershawe,whoseseatwasafewmilesfrom
WildairsHall—“womenlikenincompoopsandchaplains.Letustakethisone
forourtoast,andbringherupasgirlsshouldbebroughtuptobecompanions
formen.Igiveyou,MistressClorindaWildairs—MistressClorinda,the
enslaverofsixyearsold—bumpers,lads!—bumpers!”
Andtheysetherintheverymidstofthebigtableanddrankherhealth,standing,
burstingintoajovial,ribaldsong;andthechild,excitedbythenoiseand
laughter,actuallybrokeforthandjoinedtheminahigh,strongtreble,thesong
beingoneshewasquitefamiliarwith,havinghearditoftenenoughinthestable


tohavelearnedthewordspat.
*****
Twoweeksafterhismeetingwithher,SirJeoffrywasseizedwiththewhimto
gouptoLondonandsetherforthwithfinery.’Twasbutrarelyhewentupto
town,havingneithermoneytowaste,norfindinggreatattractioninthemore
civilisedquartersoftheworld.Hebroughtherbacksuchclothesasforrichness
andodd,unsuitablefashionchildneverworebefore.Therewerebrocadesthat
stoodalonewithsplendouroffabric,therewasrichlace,finelinen,ribbands,
farthingales,swansdowntippets,andlittleslipperswithhighredheels.Hehada
wardrobemadeforhersuchasthefinestladyoffashioncouldscarcelyboast,
andthetinycreaturewasdeckedoutinit,andongreatoccasionsevenstrung
withherdeadmother’sjewels.
Amongthesestrangethings,hehadthefantasticalnotiontohavemadeforher
severalsuitsofboy’sclothes:pinkandbluesatincoats,littlewhite,oramber,or
bluesatinbreeches,rufflesoflace,andwaistcoatsembroideredwithcoloursand
silverorgold.Therewasalsoasmallscarlet-coatedhuntingcostumeandallthe
paraphernaliaofthechase.ItwasSirJeoffry’sfinestjoketobidherwoman
dressherasaboy,andthenhewouldhaveherbroughttothetablewhereheand
hisfellowswerediningtogether,andshewouldtossoffherlittlebumperwith
thebestofthem,andripoutchildishoaths,andsingthem,totheirdelight,songs
shehadlearnedfromthestable-boys.Shecaredmorefordogsandhorsesthan
forfinery,andwhenshewasnotinthehumourtobemadeapuppetof,neither
tirewomannordevilcouldputherintoherbrocades;butshelikedthe
excitementofthedining-room,and,astimewenton,wouldbedressedinher
floweredpetticoatsinapassionofeagernesstogoandshowherself,andcoquet
inherlaceandgewgawswithmenoldenoughtobeherfather,andlooseenough
tofindherprematureairsandgracesafinejokeindeed.Sheruledthemallwith
hertemperandhershrewishwill.Shewouldhaveherwayinallthings,orthere
shouldbenosportwithher,andshewouldsingnosongsforthem,butwould
floutthembitterly,andsitinagreatchairwithherblackbrowsdrawndown,and
herwholesmallpersonbreathingrancouranddisdain.
SirJeoffry,whohadbulliedhiswife,hadnowthepleasurableexperienceof
beinghenpeckedbyhisdaughter;forso,indeed,hewas.Missruledhimwitha
rodofiron,andwieldedherweaponwithsuchskillthatbeforeayearhad
elapsedheobeyedherastheservantsbelowstairshaddoneinherinfancy.She
hadnofearofhisgreatoaths,forshepossessedastrangelyvariedstockofher


ownuponwhichshecouldalwaysdraw,andhervoicebeingmoreshrillthan
his,ifnotofsuchbigness,herear-piercingshrieksandindomitableperseverance
alwaysprovedtoomuchforhimintheend.Itmustbeadmittedlikewisethat
herviolenceoftemperandpowerofwillweresomewhatbeyondhisown,
notwithstandinghertenderyearsandhisreputation.Infact,hefoundhimself
obligedtoobservethis,andfinallymadesomethingofameritandjokeofit.
“Thereisnomanagingofthelittleshrew,”hewouldsay.“Neithermannordevil
canbendorbreakher.IfIsmashedeveryboneinhercarcass,shewoulddie
shriekinghellatmeanddefiance.”
Ifoneadmitsthetruth,itmustbeownedthatifshehadnothadbestowedupon
herbynaturegiftsofbeautyandvivacitysoextraordinary,andhadbeencursed
withathousandthpartofthevixenishnessshedisplayedeverydayofherlife,he
wouldhavebrokeneveryboneinhercarcasswithoutascrupleoraqualm.But
herbeautyseemedbuttogrowwitheveryhourthatpassed,anditwasby
exceedinggoodfortuneexactlythefashionofbeautywhichheadmiredthe
most.Whensheattainedhertenthyearshewasastallasafineboyoftwelve,
andofsuchashapeandcarriageasyoungDianaherselfmighthaveenvied.Her
limbswerelong,andmostdivinelymoulded,andofastrengththatcaused
admirationandamazementinallbeholders.Herfathertaughthertofollowhim
inthehunting-field,andwhensheappeareduponherhorse,cladinherlittle
breechesandtop-bootsandscarletcoat,childthoughshewas,shesetthefield
onfire.Shelearnedfullearlyhowtocoquetandrollherfineeyes;butitisalso
truethatshewasnotmuchofalanguisher,asallheroglingwasofadestructive
orproudly-attackingkind.Itwasherhabittoleaveotherstolanguish,and
herselftoleadthemwithdisdainfulvivacitytodoingso.Shewasthetalk,and,
itmustbeadmitted,thescandal,ofthecountybythedayshewasfifteen.The
partwhereinshelivedwasaboisteroushuntingshirewheretherewerewide
ditchesandhighhedgestoleap,androughhillsandmoorstogallopover,and
withintheregionneitherpolitelifenorpoliteeducationweremuchthoughtof;
butevenintheworstportionsofittherewereoccasionalvirtuousmatronswho
shooktheirheadswithmuchgravityandwonderoverthebeautifulMistress
Clorinda.


CHAPTERIV—LordTwemlow’schaplainvisitshis
patron’skinsman,andMistressClorindashineson
herbirthdaynight
Uncivilisedandalmostsavageashergirlishlifewas,andunregulatedbyany
outwardtrainingaswashermind,therewerenonewhocameincontactwithher
whocouldbeblindtoacertainstrong,clearwit,andunconquerablenessof
purpose,forwhichshewasremarkable.Sheeverknewfullwellwhatshe
desiredtogainortoavoid,andoncehavingfixedherminduponanyobject,she
showedanadroitnessandbrilliancyofresource,acontrolofherselfandothers,
thewhichtherewasnocircumventing.Shenevermadeablunderbecauseshe
couldnotcontroltheexpressionofheremotions;andwhenshegavewaytoa
passion,’twasbecauseshechosetodoso,havingnaughttolose,andinthe
midstofalltheirriotousjestingwithherthebooncompanionsofSirJeoffry
knewthis.
“Hadsheasecrettokeep,childthoughsheis,”saidEldershawe,“thereisnone
—manorwoman—whocouldscareorsurpriseitfromher;and’tisastrange
qualitytonotesoearlyinafemalecreature.”
Shespentherdayswithherfatherandhisdissolutefriends,treatedhalflikea
boy,halfafantasticalqueen,untilshewasfourteen.Shehuntedandcoursed,
shotbirds,leapedhedgesandditches,reignedattheriotousfeastings,and
coquettedwiththesemature,andinsomecaseselderly,men,asifshelooked
forwardtodoingnaughtelseallherlife.
Butoneday,aftershehadgoneouthuntingwithherfather,ridingRake,who
hadbeengiventoher,andwearingherscarletcoat,breeches,andtop-boots,one
ofthefewremainingmembersofhermother’sfamilysenthischaplainto
remonstrateandadviseherfathertocommandhertoforbearfromappearingin
suchimpudentattire.
Therewas,indeed,astirringscenewhenthismessagewasdeliveredbyits
bearer.Thechaplainwasanawkward,timidcreature,whohadheardstories


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