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  A Lady of Quality Frances Hodgson Burnett

An heir is born

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In a fair tower whose windows looked out upon spreading woods, and rich lovely plains stretching to the freshness of the sea, Mistress Anne had her abode which her duchess sister had given to her for her own living in as she would. There she dwelt and prayed and looked on the new life which so beauteously unfolded itself before her day by day, as the leaves of a great tree unfold from buds and become noble branches, housing birds and their nests, shading the earth and those sheltering beneath them, braving centuries of storms.

To this simile her simple mind oft reverted, for indeed it seemed to her that naught more perfect and more noble in its high likeness to pure Nature and the fulfilling of God's will than the passing days of these two lives could be.

"As the first two lived--Adam and Eve in their garden of Eden--they seem to me," she used to say to her own heart; "but the Tree of Knowledge was not forbidden them, and it has taught them naught ignoble."

As she had been wont to watch her sister from behind the ivy of her chamber windows, so she often watched her now, though there was no fear in her hiding, only tenderness, it being a pleasure to her full of wonder and reverence to see this beautiful and stately pair go lovingly and in high and gentle converse side by side, up and down the terrace, through the paths, among the beds of flowers, under the thick branched trees and over the sward's softness.

"It is as if I saw Love's self, and dwelt with it--the love God's nature made," she said, with gentle sighs.

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For if these two had been great and beauteous before, it seemed in these days as if life and love glowed within them, and shone through their mere bodies as a radiant light shines through alabaster lamps. The strength of each was so the being of the other that no thought could take form in the brain of one without the other's stirring with it.

"Neither of us dare be ignoble," Osmonde said, "for 'twould make poor and base the one who was not so in truth."

"'Twas not the way of my Lady Dunstanwolde to make a man feel that he stood in church," a frivolous court wit once said, "but in sooth her Grace of Osmonde has a look in her lustrous eyes which accords not with scandalous stories and play-house jests."

And true it was that when they went to town they carried with them the illumining of the pure fire which burned within their souls, and bore it all unknowing in the midst of the trivial or designing world, which knew not what it was that glowed about them, making things bright which had seemed dull, and revealing darkness where there had been brilliant glare.

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A Lady of Quality
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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