MISS SILVER BREAKS THE NEWS.
The Grange, the jointure house of the Dowager Lady Kingsland, stood, like all such places, isolated and alone, at the furthest extremity of the village. It was a dreary old building enough, weather-beaten and brown, with primly laid-out grounds, and row upon row of stiff poplars waving in the wintery wind. A lonely, forlorn old place—a vivid contrast to the beauty and brightness of Kingsland Court; and from the first day of her entrance, Lady Kingsland, senior, hated her daughter-in-law with double hatred and rancor.
“For the pauper half-pay officer’s bold-faced daughter we must drag out our lives in this horrible place!” she burst out, bitterly. “While Harriet Hunsden reigns en princesse amid the splendors of our ancestral home, we must vegetate in this rambling, dingy old barn. I’ll never forgive your brother, Mildred—I’ll never forgive him as long as I live for marrying that creature!”
“Dear mamma,” the gentle voice of Milly pleaded, “you must not blame Everard. He loves her, and she is as beautiful as an angel. It would have been all the same if he had married Lady Louise, you know. We would still have had to quit Kingsland Court.”
“Kingsland Court would have had an earl’s daughter for its mistress in that case. But to think that this odious, fox-hunting, steeple-chase-riding, baggage-cart-following fille du regiment should rule there, while we—Oh, it sets me wild only to think of it!”
“Don’t think of it, then, mamma,” coaxed Mildred. “We will make this wilderness ‘blossom as the rose’ next summer. As for Harrie, you don’t know her yet—you will like her better when you do!”
“I shall never like her!” Lady Kingsland replied, with bitterness. “I don’t want to like her! She is a proud upstart, and I sincerely hope she may make Everard see his folly in throwing himself away before the honey-moon is ended.”
It was quite useless for Mildred to try to combat her mother’s fierce resentment. Day after day she wandered through the desolate, draughty rooms, bewailing her hard lot, regretting the lost glories of Kingsland, and nursing her resentment toward her odious daughter-in-law; and when the bridal pair returned, and Milly timidly suggested the propriety of calling, my lady flatly refused.
“I never will!” she said, spitefully. “I’ll never call on Captain Hunsden’s daughter. I never countenanced the match before he made it. I shall not countenance it now when she has usurped my place. She should never have been received in society—a person whose mother was no better than she ought, to be.”
“Hold your tongue, Milly! You always were a little fool! I tell you I will not call on my son’s wife, and no more shall you. Let her come here.”
My lady adhered to her resolution with iron force, and received her son, when the day after his return he rode over, with freezing formality. But with all that, she was none the less deeply displeased when he called and came to dinner and left his bride at home.