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My Lady Ludlow Elizabeth Gaskell

Chapter IX.

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"It is a sad story, your ladyship," said I, after a while.

"Yes it is. People seldom arrive at my age without having watched the beginning, middle, and end of many lives and many fortunes. We do not talk about them, perhaps; for they are often so sacred to us, from having touched into the very quick of our own hearts, as it were, or into those of others who are dead and gone, and veiled over from human sight, that we cannot tell the tale as if it was a mere story. But young people should remember that we have had this solemn experience of life, on which to base our opinions and form our judgments, so that they are not mere untried theories. I am not alluding to Mr. Horner just now, for he is nearly as old as I am-- within ten years, I dare say--but I am thinking of Mr. Gray, with his endless plans for some new thing--schools, education, Sabbaths, and what not. Now he has not seen what all this leads to."

"It is a pity he has not heard your ladyship tell the story of poor Monsieur de Crequy."

"Not at all a pity, my dear. A young man like him, who, both by position and age, must have had his experience confined to a very narrow circle, ought not to set up his opinion against mine; he ought not to require reasons from me, nor to need such explanation of my arguments (if I condescend to argue), as going into relation of the circumstances on which my arguments are based in my own mind, would be."

"But, my lady, it might convince him," I said, with perhaps injudicious perseverance.

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"And why should he be convinced?" she asked, with gentle inquiry in her tone. "He has only to acquiesce. Though he is appointed by Mr. Croxton, I am the lady of the manor, as he must know. But it is with Mr. Horner that I must have to do about this unfortunate lad Gregson. I am afraid there will be no method of making him forget his unlucky knowledge. His poor brains will be intoxicated with the sense of his powers, without any counterbalancing principles to guide him. Poor fellow! I am quite afraid it will end in his being hanged!"

The next day Mr. Horner came to apologize and explain. He was evidently--as I could tell from his voice, as he spoke to my lady in the next room--extremely annoyed at her ladyship's discovery of the education he had been giving to this boy. My lady spoke with great authority, and with reasonable grounds of complaint. Mr. Horner was well acquainted with her thoughts on the subject, and had acted in defiance of her wishes. He acknowledged as much, and should on no account have done it, in any other instance, without her leave.

"Which I could never have granted you," said my lady.

But this boy had extraordinary capabilities; would, in fact, have taught himself much that was bad, if he had not been rescued, and another direction given to his powers. And in all Mr. Horner had done, he had had her ladyship's service in view. The business was getting almost beyond his power, so many letters and so much account-keeping was required by the complicated state in which things were.

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My Lady Ludlow
Elizabeth Gaskell

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