A Group of Noble Dames - Thomas Hardy - ebook

A Group of Noble Dames ebook

Thomas Hardy

0,0

Opis

A group of "local historians" of men comes together and tells each other stories about women from the past. All stories are connected with love, marriage to the wrong person and illegitimate children. This says a lot about how women looked at that time. Even those in abundance had very little influence and were often convicted of using it when they had a chance.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 345

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

PREFACE

DAME THE FIRST—THE FIRST COUNTESS OF WESSEX By the Local Historian

DAME THE SECOND—BARBARA OF THE HOUSE OF GREBE By the Old Surgeon

DAME THE THIRD—THE MARCHIONESS OF STONEHENGE By the Rural Dean

DAME THE FOURTH—LADY MOTTISFONT By the Sentimental Member

DAME THE FIFTH—THE LADY ICENWAY By the Churchwarden

DAME THE SIXTH—SQUIRE PETRICK’S LADY By the Crimson Maltster

DAME THE SEVENTH—ANNA, LADY BAXBY By the Colonel

DAME THE EIGHTH—THE LADY PENELOPE By the Man of Family

DAME THE NINTH—THE DUCHESS OF HAMPTONSHIRE By the Quiet Gentleman

DAME THE TENTH—THE HONOURABLE LAURA By the Spark

PREFACE

The pedigrees of our county families, arranged in diagrams on the pages of county histories, mostly appear at first sight to be as barren of any touch of nature as a table of logarithms. But given a clue–the faintest tradition of what went on behind the scenes, and this dryness as of dust may be transformed into a palpitating drama. More, the careful comparison of dates alone–that of birth with marriage, of marriage with death, of one marriage, birth, or death with a kindred marriage, birth, or death–will often effect the same transformation, and anybody practised in raising images from such genealogies finds himself unconsciously filling into the framework the motives, passions, and personal qualities which would appear to be the single explanation possible of some extraordinary conjunction in times, events, and personages that occasionally marks these reticent family records.

Out of such pedigrees and supplementary material most of the following stories have arisen and taken shape.

I would make this preface an opportunity of expressing my sense of the courtesy and kindness of several bright-eyed Noble Dames yet in the flesh, who, since the first publication of these tales in periodicals, six or seven years ago, have given me interesting comments and conjectures on such of the narratives as they have recognized to be connected with their own families, residences, or traditions; in which they have shown a truly philosophic absence of prejudice in their regard of those incidents whose relation has tended more distinctly to dramatize than to eulogize their ancestors. The outlines they have also given of other singular events in their family histories for use in a second “Group of Noble Dames,” will, I fear, never reach the printing-press through me; but I shall store them up in memory of my informants’ good nature.

T. H.

June 1896.

DAME THE FIRST–THE FIRST COUNTESS OF WESSEX

By the Local Historian

King’s-Hintock Court (said the narrator, turning over his memoranda for reference)–King’s-Hintock Court is, as we know, one of the most imposing of the mansions that overlook our beautiful Blackmoor or Blakemore Vale. On the particular occasion of which I have to speak this building stood, as it had often stood before, in the perfect silence of a calm clear night, lighted only by the cold shine of the stars. The season was winter, in days long ago, the last century having run but little more than a third of its length. North, south, and west, not a casement was unfastened, not a curtain undrawn; eastward, one window on the upper floor was open, and a girl of twelve or thirteen was leaning over the sill. That she had not taken up the position for purposes of observation was apparent at a glance, for she kept her eyes covered with her hands.

The room occupied by the girl was an inner one of a suite, to be reached only by passing through a large bedchamber adjoining. From this apartment voices in altercation were audible, everything else in the building being so still. It was to avoid listening to these voices that the girl had left her little cot, thrown a cloak round her head and shoulders, and stretched into the night air.

But she could not escape the conversation, try as she would. The words reached her in all their painfulness, one sentence in masculine tones, those of her father, being repeated many times.

“I tell ‘ee there shall be no such betrothal! I tell ‘ee there sha’n’t! A child like her!’

She knew the subject of dispute to be herself. A cool feminine voice, her mother’s, replied:

“Have done with you, and be wise. He is willing to wait a good five or six years before the marriage takes place, and there’s not a man in the county to compare with him.’

“It shall not be! He is over thirty. It is wickedness.’

“He is just thirty, and the best and finest man alive–a perfect match for her.’

“He is poor!’

“But his father and elder brothers are made much of at Court–none so constantly at the palace as they; and with her fortune, who knows? He may be able to get a barony.’

“I believe you are in love with en yourself!’

“How can you insult me so, Thomas! And is it not monstrous for you to talk of my wickedness when you have a like scheme in your own head? You know you have. Some bumpkin of your own choosing–some petty gentleman who lives down at that outlandish place of yours, Falls-Park–one of your pot-companions’ sons–’

There was an outburst of imprecation on the part of her husband in lieu of further argument. As soon as he could utter a connected sentence he said: “You crow and you domineer, mistress, because you are heiress-general here. You are in your own house; you are on your own land. But let me tell ‘ee that if I did come here to you instead of taking you to me, it was done at the dictates of convenience merely. H–! I’m no beggar! Ha’n’t I a place of my own? Ha’n’t I an avenue as long as thine? Ha’n’t I beeches that will more than match thy oaks? I should have lived in my own quiet house and land, contented, if you had not called me off with your airs and graces. Faith, I’ll go back there; I’ll not stay with thee longer! If it had not been for our Betty I should have gone long ago!’

After this there were no more words; but presently, hearing the sound of a door opening and shutting below, the girl again looked from the window. Footsteps crunched on the gravel-walk, and a shape in a drab greatcoat, easily distinguishable as her father, withdrew from the house. He moved to the left, and she watched him diminish down the long east front till he had turned the corner and vanished. He must have gone round to the stables.

She closed the window and shrank into bed, where she cried herself to sleep. This child, their only one, Betty, beloved ambitiously by her mother, and with uncalculating passionateness by her father, was frequently made wretched by such episodes as this; though she was too young to care very deeply, for her own sake, whether her mother betrothed her to the gentleman discussed or not.

The Squire had often gone out of the house in this manner, declaring that he would never return, but he had always reappeared in the morning. The present occasion, however, was different in the issue: next day she was told that her father had ridden to his estate at Falls-Park early in the morning on business with his agent, and might not come back for some days.

*     *

*

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.