The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 454 pages of information about The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax.

Bessie went to Castlemount under escort of Mrs. Betts.  Mrs. Chiverton was rejoiced to welcome her.  “I like Miss Fairfax, because she is honest.  Her manner is a little brusque, but she has a good heart, and we knew each other at school,” was her reason given to Mr. Chiverton for desiring Bessie’s company.  They got on together capitally.  Mrs. Chiverton had found her course and object in life already, and was as deeply committed to philanthropic labors and letters as either Lady Latimer or Lady Angleby.  They were both numbered amongst her correspondents, and she promised to outvie them in originality and fertility of resource.  What she chiefly wanted at Castlemount was a good listener, and Bessie Fairfax, as yet unprovided with a vocation, showed a fine turn that way.  She reposed lazily at the end of Mrs. Chiverton’s encumbered writing-table, between the fire and the window, and heard her discourse with infinite patience.  Bessie was too moderate ever to join the sisterhood of active reformers, but she had no objection to their activity while herself safe from assaults.  But when she was invited to sign papers pledging herself to divers serious convictions she demurred.  Mrs. Chiverton said she would not urge her.  Bessie gracefully acquiesced, and Mrs. Chiverton put in a more enticing plea:  “I can scarcely expect to interest you in my occupations all at once, but they bring to me often the most gratifying returns.  Read that letter.”

Bessie read that letter.  “Very honeyed phrases,” said she with her odd twist of the mouth, so like her grandfather.  It was from a more practised philanthropist than the young lady to whom it was addressed, and was in a strain of fulsome adulation, redolent of gratitude for favors to come.  Religious and benevolent egotism is impervious to the tiny sting of sarcasm.  Mrs. Chiverton looked complacently lofty, and Bessie had not now to learn how necessary to her was the incense of praise.  Once this had provoked her contempt, but now she discerned a certain pathos in it; she had learnt what large opportunity the craving for homage gives to disappointment.  “You cannot fail to do some good because you mean well,” she said after the perusal of more letters, more papers and reports.  “But don’t call me heartless and unfeeling because I think that distance lends enchantment to the view of some of your pious and charitable objects.”

“Oh no; I see you do not understand their necessity.  I am busy at home too.  I am waging a crusade against a dreadful place called Morte, and a cottage warfare with our own steward.  These things do not interest Mr. Chiverton, but he gives me his support.  I tell him Morte must disappear from the face of the earth, but there is a greedy old agent of Mr. Gifford’s, one Blagg, who is terribly in the way.  Then I have established a nursery in connection with the school, where the mothers can leave their little children when they go to work in the fields.”

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The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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