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0105_001E A Lady of Quality Frances Hodgson Burnett

In which Sir John Oxon finds again a trophy he had lost

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"Oh, sister," she said, "you look like a spirit. It is as if with the earth you had naught to do--as if your eyes saw Heaven itself and Him who reigns there."

The lovely orbs of Clorinda shone more still like the great star of morning.

"Sister Anne," she said, laying her hand on her white breast, "at times I think that I must almost be a spirit, I feel such heavenly joy. It is as if He whom you believe in, and who can forgive and wipe out sins, has forgiven me, and has granted it to me, that I may begin my poor life again. Ah! I will make it better; I will try to make it as near an angel's life as a woman can; and I will do no wrong, but only good; and I will believe, and pray every day upon my knees--and all my prayers will be that I may so live that my dear lord--my Gerald--could forgive me all that I have ever done--and seeing my soul, would know me worthy of him. Oh! we are strange things, we human creatures, Anne," with a tremulous smile; "we do not believe until we want a thing, and feel that we shall die if 'tis not granted to us; and then we kneel and kneel and believe, because we MUST have somewhat to ask help from."

"But all help has been given to you," poor tender Anne said, kissing her hand again; "and I will pray, I will pray--"

"Ay, pray, Anne, pray with all thy soul," Clorinda answered; "I need thy praying--and thou didst believe always, and have asked so little that has been given thee."

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"Thou wast given me, sister," said Anne. "Thou hast given me a home and kindness such as I never dared to hope; thou hast been like a great star to me--I have had none other, and I thank Heaven on my knees each night for the brightness my star has shed on me."

"Poor Anne, dear Anne!" Clorinda said, laying her arms about her and kissing her. "Pray for thy star, good, tender Anne, that its light may not be quenched." Then with a sudden movement her hand was pressed upon her bosom again. "Ah, Anne," she cried, and in the music of her voice, agony itself was ringing--"Anne, there is but one thing on this earth God rules over--but one thing that belongs-- BELONGS to me; and 'tis Gerald Mertoun--and he is mine and SHALL not be taken from me, for he is a part of me, and I a part of him!"

"He will not be," said Anne--"he will not."

"He cannot," Clorinda answered--"he shall not! 'Twould not be human."

She drew a long breath and was calm again.

"Did it reach your ears," she said, reclasping a band of jewels on her arm, "that John Oxon had been offered a place in a foreign Court, and that 'twas said he would soon leave England?"

"I heard some rumour of it," Anne answered, her emotion getting the better of her usual discreet speech. "God grant it may be true!"

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A Lady of Quality
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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