“I was little more than nineteen years of age when I left Harvard College and went abroad with my only brother, the John or Jack of whom you have so often heard. Both himself and wife were in delicate health, and it was hoped a voyage across the sea would do them good. For nearly a year we were in various parts of England, stopping for two months at Brighton, where, among the visitors, was a widow from the vicinity of Alnwick, and with her an orphan niece whom I often met, and whose dazzling beauty attracted my youthful fancy. She was not happy with her aunt, upon whom she was wholly dependent, and my sympathies were all enlisted, when, with the tears shining in her lustrous eyes, she one day accidentally stumbled upon her trouble and told me how wretched she was, asking if in America there was not something for her to do.
“It was at this time that Jamie was born and Mary, the girl who went out with us, was married to an Englishman, making it necessary for Hatty to find some one to take her place. Hearing of this, Genevra came one day, and to my secret delight offered herself as half companion, half waiting-maid to Hatty. Anything was preferable to the life she led, she said, pleading so hard that Hatty, after an interview with the old aunt—a purse-proud, vulgar woman, who seemed glad to be rid of her charge—consented to receive her, and Genevra became one of our family, an equal rather than a menial, whom Hatty treated with as much consideration as if she had been a sister. I wish I could tell you how beautiful Genevra Lambert was at that period of her life. I have her picture, which I will show you by and by, but it will not convey an adequate idea of her as she was then, with her brilliant English complexion, her eyes so full of poetry and passion, her perfect features, and, more than all, the wondrous smile, which would have made a plain face handsome. She was full of life and spirits, with enough of coquetry about her to fascinate and turn older heads than mine.
“Of course I came to love her, and loved her all the more for the opposition I knew my family would throw in the way of my marrying the daughter of an English apothecary, and one who was voluntarily filling a servant’s place. But with my mother across the sea, I could do anything; and when Genevra told me of a base fellow, as she termed him, who, since she was a child, had sought her for his wife, and still pursued her with his letters, my passions all were roused, and I offered myself at once. I do not think she anticipated this when she told me of the letters, as it might seem to you. She was neither designing nor artful, but, on the contrary, wholly open-hearted and truthful, telling me the contents of the letter because I found her weeping over it and insisted upon knowing the cause. Her answer to my offer was a decided refusal. She knew her position, she said, and she knew mine, just as she knew the nature of the feeling which prompted me to act thus toward her. Although just my age, she was older in judgment and experience, and she seemed to understand the difference between our relative positions. I was not indifferent to her, she said, and were she my equal her answer might be otherwise than the decided no.