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A Lady of Quality Frances Hodgson Burnett

An heir is born

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"I used all my wit and all my tenderest words to make a picture that would fire and touch him, Gerald," her Grace said, sitting at her husband's side, in a great window, from which they often watched the sunset in the valley spread below; "and that with which I am so strong sometimes--I know not what to call it, but 'tis a power people bend to, that I know--that I used upon him to waken his dull soul and brain. Whose fault is it that they are dull? Poor lout, he was born so, as I was born strong and passionate, and as you were born noble and pure and high. I led his mind back to the past, when he had been made happy by the sight of Betty's little smiling, blushing face, and when he had kissed her and made love in the hayfields. And this I said--though 'twas not a thing I have learned from any chaplain--that when 'twas said he should make an honest woman of her, it was MY thought that she had been honest from the first, being too honest to know that the world was not so, and that even the man a woman loved with all her soul, might be a rogue, and have no honesty in him. And at last--'twas when I talked to him about the child--and that I put my whole soul's strength in--he burst out a-crying like a schoolboy, and said indeed she was a fond little thing and had loved him, and he had loved her, and 'twas a shame he had so done by her, and he had not meant it at the first, but she was so simple, and he had been a villain, but if he married her now, he would be called a fool, and laughed at for his pains. Then was I angry, Gerald, and felt my eyes flash, and I stood up tall and spoke fiercely: 'Let them dare,' I said--'let any man or woman dare, and then will they see what his Grace will say.'"

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Osmonde drew her to his breast, laughing into her lovely eyes.

"Nay, 'tis not his Grace who need be called on," he said; "'tis her Grace they love and fear, and will obey; though 'tis the sweetest, womanish thing that you should call on me when you are power itself, and can so rule all creatures you come near."

"Nay," she said, with softly pleading face, "let me not rule. Rule for me, or but help me; I so long to say your name that they may know I speak but as your wife."

"Who is myself," he answered--"my very self."

"Ay," she said, with a little nod of her head, "that I know--that I am yourself; and 'tis because of this that one of us cannot be proud with the other, for there is no other, there is only one. And I am wrong to say, 'Let me not rule,' for 'tis as if I said, 'You must not rule.' I meant surely, 'God give me strength to be as noble in ruling as our love should make me.' But just as one tree is a beech and one an oak, just as the grass stirs when the summer wind blows over it, so a woman is a woman, and 'tis her nature to find her joy in saying such words to the man who loves her, when she loves as I do. Her heart is so full that she must joy to say her husband's name as that of one she cannot think without--who is her life as is her blood and her pulses beating. 'Tis a joy to say your name, Gerald, as it will be a joy"--and she looked far out across the sun-goldened valley and plains, with a strange, heavenly sweet smile -- "as it will be a joy to say our child's--and put his little mouth to my full breast."

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A Lady of Quality
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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