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My Lady Ludlow Elizabeth Gaskell

Chapter IV.

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"'But you would tear your legs.'

"'My race do not care for pain,' said the boy, drawing himself from Urian's arm, and walking a few steps away, with a becoming pride and reserve; for he was hurt at being spoken to as if he were afraid, and annoyed at having to confess the true reason for declining the feat. But Urian was not to be thus baffled. He went up to Clement, and put his arm once more about his neck, and I could see the two lads as they walked down the terrace away from the hotel windows: first Urian spoke eagerly, looking with imploring fondness into Clement's face, which sought the ground, till at last the French boy spoke, and by-and-by his arm was round Urian too, and they paced backwards and forwards in deep talk, but gravely, as became men, rather than boys.

"All at once, from the little chapel at the corner of the large garden belonging to the Missions Etrangeres, I heard the tinkle of the little bell, announcing the elevation of the host. Down on his knees went Clement, hands crossed, eyes bent down: while Urian stood looking on in respectful thought.

"What a friendship that might have been! I never dream of Urian without seeing Clement too--Urian speaks to me, or does something,-- but Clement only flits round Urian, and never seems to see any one else!"

"But I must not forget to tell you, that the next morning, before he was out of his room, a footman of Madame de Crequy's brought Urian the starling's nest."

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"Well! we came back to England, and the boys were to correspond; and Madame de Crequy and I exchanged civilities; and Urian went to sea."

"After that, all seemed to drop away. I cannot tell you all. However, to confine myself to the De Crequys. I had a letter from Clement; I knew he felt his friend's death deeply; but I should never have learnt it from the letter he sent. It was formal, and seemed like chaff to my hungering heart. Poor fellow! I dare say he had found it hard to write. What could he--or any one--say to a mother who has lost her child? The world does not think so, and, in general, one must conform to the customs of the world; but, judging from my own experience, I should say that reverent silence at such times is the tenderest balm. Madame de Crequy wrote too. But I knew she could not feel my loss so much as Clement, and therefore her letter was not such a disappointment. She and I went on being civil and polite in the way of commissions, and occasionally introducing friends to each other, for a year or two, and then we ceased to have any intercourse. Then the terrible Revolution came. No one who did not live at those times can imagine the daily expectation of news-- the hourly terror of rumours affecting the fortunes and lives of those whom most of us had known as pleasant hosts, receiving us with peaceful welcome in their magnificent houses. Of course, there was sin enough and suffering enough behind the scenes; but we English visitors to Paris had seen little or nothing of that,--and I had sometimes thought, indeed, how even death seemed loth to choose his victims out of that brilliant throng whom I had known. Madame de Crequy's one boy lived; while three out of my six were gone since we had met! I do not think all lots are equal, even now that I know the end of her hopes; but I do say that whatever our individual lot is, it is our duty to accept it, without comparing it with that of others.

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My Lady Ludlow
Elizabeth Gaskell

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