A Lady of Quality eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about A Lady of Quality.
himself from bestowing upon her.  But when he bowed before her, and she greeted him with all courtesy, he saw in her great, splendid eye that had Fate willed it so, she would have understood all his thoughts, shared all his ambitions, and aided him to uphold his high ideals.  Nay, he knew she understood him even now, and was stirred by what stirred him also, even though they met but rarely, and when they encountered each other, spoke but as kinsman and kinswoman who would show each other all gracious respect and honour.  It was because of this pang which struck his great heart at times that he was not a frequent visitor at my Lord Dunstanwolde’s mansion, but appeared there only at such assemblies as were matters of ceremony, his absence from which would have been a noted thing.  His kinsman was fond of him, and though himself of so much riper age, honoured him greatly.  At times he strove to lure him into visits of greater familiarity; but though his kindness was never met coldly or repulsed, a further intimacy was in some gracious way avoided.

“My lady must beguile you to be less formal with us,” said Dunstanwolde.  And later her ladyship spoke as her husband had privately desired:  “My lord would be made greatly happy if your Grace would honour our house oftener,” she said one night, when at the end of a great ball he was bidding her adieu.

Osmonde’s deep eye met hers gently and held it.  “My Lord Dunstanwolde is always gracious and warm of heart to his kinsman,” he replied.  “Do not let him think me discourteous or ungrateful.  In truth, your ladyship, I am neither the one nor the other.”

The eyes of each gazed into the other’s steadfastly and gravely.  The Duke of Osmonde thought of Juno’s as he looked at hers; they were of such velvet, and held such fathomless deeps.

“Your Grace is not so free as lesser men,” Clorinda said.  “You cannot come and go as you would.”

“No,” he answered gravely, “I cannot, as I would.”

And this was all.

It having been known by all the world that, despite her beauty and her conquests, Mistress Clorinda Wildairs had not smiled with great favour upon Sir John Oxon in the country, it was not wondered at or made any matter of gossip that the Countess of Dunstanwolde was but little familiar with him and saw him but rarely at her house in town.

Once or twice he had appeared there, it is true, at my Lord Dunstanwolde’s instance, but my lady herself scarce seemed to see him after her first courtesies as hostess were over.

“You never smiled on him, my love,” Dunstanwolde said to his wife.  “You bore yourself towards him but cavalierly, as was your ladyship’s way—­with all but one poor servant,” tenderly; “but he was one of the many who followed in your train, and if these gay young fellows stay away, ’twill be said that I keep them at a distance because I am afraid of their youth and gallantry.  I would not have it fancied that I was so ungrateful as to presume upon your goodness and not leave to you your freedom.”

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A Lady of Quality from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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