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My Lady Ludlow Elizabeth Gaskell

Chapter X.

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"I do not think of character: I think of souls. I must get some hold upon these children, or what will become of them in the next world? I must be found to have some power beyond what they have, and which they are rendered capable of appreciating, before they will listen to me. At present physical force is all they look up to; and I have none."

"Nay, Mr. Gray, by your own admission, they look up to me."

"They would not do anything your ladyship disliked if it was likely to come to your knowledge; but if they could conceal it from you, the knowledge of your dislike to a particular line of conduct would never make them cease from pursuing it."

"Mr. Gray"--surprise in her air, and some little indignation--"they and their fathers have lived on the Hanbury lands for generations!"

"I cannot help it, madam. I am telling you the truth, whether you believe me or not." There was a pause; my lady looked perplexed, and somewhat ruffled; Mr. Gray as though hopeless and wearied out. "Then, my lady," said he, at last, rising as he spoke, "you can suggest nothing to ameliorate the state of things which, I do assure you, does exist on your lands, and among your tenants. Surely, you will not object to my using Farmer Hale's great barn every Sabbath? He will allow me the use of it, if your ladyship will grant your permission."

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"You are not fit for any extra work at present," (and indeed he had been coughing very much all through the conversation). "Give me time to consider of it. Tell me what you wish to teach. You will be able to take care of your health, and grow stronger while I consider. It shall not be the worse for you, if you leave it in my hands for a time."

My lady spoke very kindly; but he was in too excited a state to recognize the kindness, while the idea of delay was evidently a sore irritation. I heard him say: "And I have so little time in which to do my work. Lord! lay not this sin to my charge."

But my lady was speaking to the old butler, for whom, at her sign, I had rung the bell some little time before. Now she turned round.

"Mr. Gray, I find I have some bottles of Malmsey, of the vintage of seventeen hundred and seventy-eight, yet left. Malmsey, as perhaps you know, used to be considered a specific for coughs arising from weakness. You must permit me to send you half-a-dozen bottles, and, depend upon it, you will take a more cheerful view of life and its duties before you have finished them, especially if you will be so kind as to see Dr. Trevor, who is coming to see me in the course of the week. By the time you are strong enough to work, I will try and find some means of preventing the children from using such bad language, and otherwise annoying you."

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My Lady Ludlow
Elizabeth Gaskell

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