Verner's Pride eBook

Ellen Wood (author)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 762 pages of information about Verner's Pride.
busybody in that place to coin a story for us, and all the rest of the busybodies would immediately circulate it.  It was said of Mrs. Baynton that she had been left in reduced circumstances; had fallen from some high pedestal of wealth, through the death of her husband; that she lived in a perpetual state of mortification in consequence of her present poverty, and would not admit a single inhabitant of Deerham within her doors to witness it.  There may have been as little truth in it as in the greatest canard that ever flew; but Deerham promulgated it, Deerham believed in it, and the Bayntons never contradicted it.  The best of all reasons for this may have been that they never heard of it.  They lived quietly on alone, interfering with nobody, and going out rarely.  In appearance and manners they were gentlewomen, and rather haughty gentlewomen, too; but they kept no servant.  How their work was done, Deerham could not conceive:  it was next to impossible to fancy one of those ladies scrubbing a floor or making a bed.  The butcher called for orders, and took in the meat, which was nearly always mutton-chops; the baker left his bread at the door, and the laundress was admitted inside the passage once a week.

The only other person admitted inside was Dr. West.  He had been called in, on their first arrival, to the invalid daughter—­a delicate-looking lady, who, when she did walk out, leaned on her sister’s arm.  Dr. West’s visits became frequent; they had continued frequent up to within a short period of the present time.  Once or twice a week he called in professionally; he would also occasionally drop in for an hour in the evening.  Some people passing Chalk Cottage (that was what it was named) had contrived to stretch their necks over the high privet hedge which hid the lower part of the dwelling from the road, and were immensely gratified by the fact of seeing Dr. West in the parlour, seated at tea with the family.  How the doctor was questioned, especially in the earlier period of their residence, he alone could tell.  Who were they?  Were they well connected, or ill connected, or not connected at all?  Were they known to fashion?  How much was really their income?  What was the matter with the one whom he attended, the sickly daughter, and what was her name?  The questions would have gone on until now, but that the doctor stopped them.  He had not made impertinent inquiries himself, he said, and had nothing at all to tell.  The younger lady’s complaint arose from disordered liver; he had no objection to tell them that; she had been so long a sufferer from it that the malady had become chronic; and her name was Kitty.

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Verner's Pride from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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