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A Lady of Quality Frances Hodgson Burnett

"Yes--I have marked him"

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"You are a goddess!" he cried, kneeling to her, enraptured. "And you have given yourself to a poor mortal man, who can but worship you."

"You give me all I have," she said, "and you love me nobly, and I am grateful."

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Her assemblies were the most brilliant in the town, and the most to be desired entrance to. Wits and beauties planned and intrigued that they might be bidden to her house; beaux and fine ladies fell into the spleen if she neglected them. Her lord's kinsman the Duke of Osmonde, who had been present when she first knelt to Royalty, had scarce removed his eyes from her so long as he could gaze. He went to Dunstanwolde afterwards and congratulated him with stately courtesy upon his great good fortune and happiness, speaking almost with fire of her beauty and majesty, and thanking his kinsman that through him such perfections had been given to their name and house. From that time, at all special assemblies given by his kinsman he was present, the observed of all observers. He was a man of whom 'twas said that he was the most magnificent gentleman in Europe; that there was none to compare with him in the combination of gifts given both by Nature and Fortune. His beauty both of feature and carriage was of the greatest, his mind was of the highest, and his education far beyond that of the age he lived in. It was not the fashion of the day that men of his rank should devote themselves to the cultivation of their intellects instead of to a life of pleasure; but this he had done from his earliest youth, and now, in his perfect though early maturity, he had no equal in polished knowledge and charm of bearing. He was the patron of literature and art; men of genius were not kept waiting in his ante-chamber, but were received by him with courtesy and honour. At the Court 'twas well known there was no man who stood so near the throne in favour, and that there was no union so exalted that he might not have made his suit as rather that of a superior than an equal. The Queen both loved and honoured him, and condescended to avow as much with gracious frankness. She knew no other man, she deigned to say, who was so worthy of honour and affection, and that he had not married must be because there was no woman who could meet him on ground that was equal. If there were no scandals about him--and there were none--'twas not because he was cold of heart or imagination. No man or woman could look into his deep eye and not know that when love came to him 'twould be a burning passion, and an evil fate if it went ill instead of happily.

"Being past his callow, youthful days, 'tis time he made some woman a duchess," Dunstanwolde said reflectively once to his wife. "'Twould be more fitting that he should; and it is his way to honour his house in all things, and bear himself without fault as the head of it. Methinks it strange he makes no move to do it."

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A Lady of Quality
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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