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A Lady of Quality Frances Hodgson Burnett

"In One who will do justice, and demands that it shall be done to each thing He has made, by each who bears His image"

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Her Grace, entering the house, went with her woman straight to her chamber, and shortly emerged therefrom, stripped of her rich apparel, and clad in a gown of strong blue linen, her hair wound close, her white hands bare of any ornament, save the band of gold which was her wedding-ring. A serving-woman might have been clad so; but the plainness of her garb but made her height, and strength, so reveal themselves, that the mere sight of her woke somewhat that was like to awe in the eyes of the servants who beheld her as she passed.

She needed not to be led, but straightway followed the awful sounds, until she reached the chamber behind whose door they were shut. Upon the huge disordered bed, Sir Jeoffry writhed, and tried to tear himself, his great sinewy and hairy body almost stark. Two of the stable men were striving to hold him.

The duchess went to his bedside and stood there, laying her strong white hand upon his shuddering shoulder.

"Father," she said, in a voice so clear, and with such a ring of steady command, as, the men said later, might have reached a dead man's ear. "Father, 'tis Clo!"

Sir Jeoffry writhed his head round and glared at her, with starting eyes and foaming mouth.

"Who says 'tis Clo?" he shouted. "'Tis a lie! She was ever a bigger devil than any other, though she was but a handsome wench. Jack himself could not manage her. She beat him, and would beat him now. 'Tis a lie!"

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All through that day and night the power of her Grace's white arm was the thing which saved him from dashing out his brains. The two men could not have held him, and at his greatest frenzy they observed that now and then his blood-shot eye would glance aside at the beauteous face above him. The sound of the word "Clo" had struck upon his brain and wakened an echo.

She sent away the men to rest, calling for others in their places; but leave the bedside herself she would not. 'Twas a strange thing to see her strength and bravery, which could not be beaten down. When the doctor came again he found her there, and changed his surly and reluctant manner in the presence of a duchess, and one who in her close linen gown wore such a mien.

"You should not have left him," she said to him unbendingly, "even though I myself can see there is little help that can be given. Thought you his Grace and I would brook that he should die alone if we could not have reached him?"

Those words "his Grace and I" put a new face upon the matter, and all was done that lay within the man's skill; but most was he disturbed concerning the lady, who would not be sent to rest, and whose noble consort would be justly angered if she were allowed to injure her superb health.

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A Lady of Quality
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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