The Claverings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 783 pages of information about The Claverings.

“I have one advantage, Harry—­one advantage over her and some others.  I am free.  The chains have, hurt me sorely during my slavery; but I am free, and the price of my servitude remains.  He had written home-would you believe that? while I was living with him he had written home to say that evidence should be collected for getting rid of me.  And yet he would sometimes be civil, hoping to cheat me into inadvertencies.  He would ask that man to dine, and then of a sudden would be absent; and during this he was ordering that evidence should be collected!  Evidence, indeed!  The same servants have lived with me through it all If I could now bring forward evidence I could make it all clear as the day.  But there needs no care for a woman’s honor, though a man may have to guard his by collecting evidence!”

“But what he did cannot injure you.”

“Yes, Harry, it has injured me; it has all but destroyed me.  Have not reports reached even you?  Speak out like a man, and say whether it is not so!”

“I have heard something.”

“Yes, you have heard something!  If you heard something of your sister where would you be?  All the world would be a chaos to you till you had pulled out somebody’s tongue by the roots.  Not injured me!  For two years your cousin Hugh’s house was my home.  I met Lord Ongar in his house.  I was married from his house.  He is my brother-in-law, and it so happens that of all men he is the nearest to me.  He stands well before the world, and at this time could have done me real service.  How is it that he did not welcome me home; that I am not now at his house with my sister; that he did not meet me so that the world might know that I was received back among my own people?  Why is it, Harry, that I am telling this to you—­to you, who are nothing to me; my sister’s husband’s cousin; a young man, from your position, not fit to be my confidant?  Why am I telling this to you, Harry?”

“Because we are old friends,” said he, wondering again at this moment whether she knew of his engagement with Florence Burton.

“Yes, we are old friends, and we have always liked each other; but you must know that, as the world judges, I am wrong to tell all this to you.  I should be wrong, only that the world has cast me out, so that I am no longer bound to regard it.  I am Lady Ongar, and I have my share of that man’s money.  They have given me up Ongar Park, having satisfied themselves that it is mine by right, and must be mine by law.  But he has robbed me of every friend I had in the world, and yet you tell me he has not injured me!”

“Not every friend.”

“No, Harry, I will not forget you, though I spoke so slightingly of you just now.  But your vanity need not be hurt.  It is only the world—­Mrs. Grundy, you know, that would deny me such friendship as yours; not my own taste or choice.  Mrs. Grundy always denies us exactly those things which we ourselves like best.  You are clever enough to understand that.”

Project Gutenberg
The Claverings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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