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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 249, 22 January 1881
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
MY MEMORANDUM BOOK. PART I.— Continued. I must now pass over a space of five years. The child of 15 had grown into a beautiful girl of 20 —and a sweeter and kinder never breathed. Now, John, if you won’t laugh at an old man getting enthusiastic about a girl young enough to be his grandchild, I will describe her to you. She had a clear, frank, open face —a lace that, to look at once was sufficient to read truth and trust written upon it. Her fair golden hair sometimes seemed like a glory round it, as the rays of the sun danced on its luxuriant folds ; and the pleasant smiles that she greeted one with made you feel that, if the term angel could bef applied to ‘mortal it might be Ito her. Her nose was straight and small, and her eyes—l never saw such colored’ eyes 'on a fair person— they were dark violet, with long lashes. You’reiatighing;at me. I shalbtell you no more about her, except to say she was as good as she was beautiful. To do Gibdem justice, he dealt very fairly with her as far as education went. No expense was spared ; she had the best masters for everything. But she was never permitted to go into society. T 6' i< be ,s 'S i ulrei he vised to have some! female '■relatives’ of his own of df Mrs. Dibden’s from time..to time to stay in his little villa at Braxton; but as neither he nor his wife were very well connected, it is doubtful whether their society was any advantage to his ward. One of the few young men she ever saw was Dibden’s son, now about thirty years of age, and as ill-favored a fellow as one might meet between Charing Cross and the Bank, and as rude and coarse in manner as he was unpleasant in countenance; Nor had he even the cleverness of his father to riiake up for his moral and personal deficiencies. When T say he was about the only acquaintance of the male sex that she had, I mean he was the only one openly acknowledged; for she had — wonderful how nature asserts her
prerogative —another that no one knew of but herself and him, to, whom she had surrendered all the affection of a pure,and loving heart —and no shame to her, poor girl. As she grew from childhood to womanhood, she began to feel the irksomeness of her position, and she naturally enough attached herself to the first friend she met who had tastes and feelings in common with her. .
Year after year she felt a growing dislike to her guardian and his family, who continually reminded her of the legal authority he possessed. However, she remained very passive until 'the twenty-first anniversary of her birthday, when she surprised her guardian by demanding to hear the contents of her father’s will. At first
he refused, but she insisted. “I am of age. to-day, Mr. Dibden,” she said, “ and my own mistress. You are now only guardian of my money. I require to hear the contents of my father’s will. ,1 know you have a copy.” ’ Off hearing it she drily said, “ Four years more,” gnd walked out of the room. •
About this’time young Dibden com
'inem-ca ttiuiuyiv*s Lor -w*tL hlo ctu.cntions, proving to her what she had already suspected, that to secure hei hand and fortune for Stephen had been the plot of the worthy pair. She did hot, however feel any uneasiness, but •from time to time she was subjected to much that was trying and vexatious, until at last matters were brought to a crisis by Stephen Dibden offering mar-riage-telling her at the same time that he hoped to be able to get his father’s consent. She stared at him some seconds before she replied, and then said, “ Marry you ! Get, your father’s consent! Are you mad, Mr. Dibden ? You forget your place,” and she walked calmly out of the room. At this time, she had not actually engaged herself, but doubtless the circumstance precipitated matters, for the
first time after this that she met George Hamilton she told him of her annoyance, and then burst into tears. Now, John, if a nice girl to whom you had paid a little regular attention, but of whose •mind, you were not quite certain, suddenly bursts into tears as she tells you of her troubles, and, so to speak, throws herself on your protection, what do you think you would do ? Why, ten to one, I’ll be bound, you would do exactly what George Hamilton did—offer your hand and heart on the spot, and the same odds that, like him, you would be accepted. So George Hamilton went back to his lodgings that evening as happy as a king, the affianced husband of Clara Brierl}’, But I have not told you who George Hamilton was. Well, he was Dibden’s head clerk ; and a first-rate one he was. He had been bound as an articled pupil in another house, but just as his apr prenticeship was up his father died, and he had not the means to prosecute his profession, and was indeed thrown on his own resources. London is not, as you 'know, a place for an honest man to live without the means- of paying his way,! and so Hamilton found; and accordingly he took the first clerkship that offered, which was in the office of Dibden, Knollys & Dibden, at the munificent salary of L9O a-year. However, they soon found out that they had a man above the common, and in order that they might not lose him they gave him a progressive salary, which at this time had reached Lx 20 a-year. George Hamilton was a gentleman in every sense of the word—the son of a retired officer, who had nothing to leave him but gentle blood, an honorable name, and his blessing. At the time of his engagement he was about 25 years of age, and a fine, handsome young fellow. It was by the merest chance that he ever met Clara Brierly, as the Dibdens naturally took good care that such a formidable rival to Stephen should be kept out of the way. However, his introduction to the girl happened in this wise : One day old Dibden was unwell, and Stephen had gone‘out of the tovyn, when a. letter was, brought to tile office requiring immediate attention the contents of which Hamilton did not feel justified in dealing with, without seeing his principal, and for this purpose he retired to Dibden’s private residence. He was about to ring the bell when the door was opened by Miss Brierly, who was just going out. Hamilton drew back to let her pass,
at first supposing she was a visitor: leaving the house, wondering at the, same time that the Dibdens should have an acquaintance of so elegant and aristocratic an appearance. He was not, therefore, a little surprised when he was asked by a soft sweet voice if he was being attended to, which was in no wise abated when she asked him in and said she would send a servant to attend to him. “ Charming girl!” he said to himself as she went away. And then a sudden thought struck him. The Ward ! (To he continued.)
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 249, 22 January 1881
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