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Malbone: An Oldport Romance Thomas Wentworth Higginson

X. Remonstrances

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"How very improperly you are talking, dear!" said Kate. "She is not more than forty, and you are--"

"Fifty-four," interrupted the other.

"Then she has not seen nearly so many days as you."

"But they are such long days! That is what I must have meant. One of her days is as long as three of mine. She is so tiresome!"

"She does not tire you very often," said Kate.

"She comes once a year," said Aunt Jane. "And then it is not to see me. She comes out of respect to the memory of my great-aunt, with whom Talleyrand fell in love, when he was in America, before Mrs. Meredith was born. Yes, Emilia may as well go."

So Emilia went. To provide her with companionship, Mrs. Meredith kindly had Blanche Ingleside to stay there also. Blanche stayed at different houses a good deal. To do her justice, she was very good company, when put upon her best behavior, and beyond the reach of her demure mamma. She was always in spirits, often good-natured, and kept everything in lively motion, you may be sure. She found it not unpleasant, in rich houses, to escape some of those little domestic parsimonies which the world saw not in her own; and to secure this felicity she could sometimes lay great restraints upon herself, for as much as twenty-four hours. She seemed a little out of place, certainly, amid the precise proprieties of Mrs. Meredith's establishment. But Blanche and her mother still held their place in society, and it was nothing to Mrs. Meredith who came to her doors, but only from what other doors they came.

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She would have liked to see all "the best houses" connected by secret galleries or underground passages, of which she and a few others should hold the keys. A guest properly presented could then go the rounds of all unerringly, leaving his card at each, while improper acquaintances in vain howled for admission at the outer wall. For the rest, her ideal of social happiness was a series of perfectly ordered entertainments, at each of which there should be precisely the same guests, the same topics, the same supper, and the same ennui.

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Malbone: An Oldport Romance
Thomas Wentworth Higginson

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