Dear Faustina

Dear Faustina

by Rhoda Broughton

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An excerpt from the beginning:


CHAPTER I.


'TEARS!'

The accent with which this monosyllable is uttered, though tempered with leniency, is undoubtedly one of reproach. The person to whom it is addressed recognizes it as such, and, though it has not at once a quite drying effect upon her, yet it is in a voice of indistinct apology that she proffers her excuse.

' I do not think I am much of a cryer ; you have never seen me cry before.'

' Why do I see you cry now ?'

The reproacher and reproached are both feminine, the superiority in years lying with the former, in comeliness with the latter.

' Is not it allowable, or at least excusable, at such a crisis in my life ?'

But her tone is deferential, and her moist square of cambric—she has very nice pocket-handkerchiefs—slides back into her pocket.

' I could not bear you to spoil your eyes by crying, even if there were cause ; and there is none.'

The elder girl has sat down by her young friend, and is speaking in that tone of passionate caressingness which used to belong to Love, but which female friendship has lately stolen from his quiver.

' It is very dear of you to mind about my eyes '—gratefully.

' As Mme. de Sevigne said to Mme. de Grignan 'J'ai mal à votre poitrine," so I can say, "J'ai mal à vos yeux." '

' Thank you very much.'

' And you are dimming and reddening them '—with a fond inspection—' for absolutely no reason.'

' Ah, there we must differ.'

' In my opinion, so far from having cause for tears, you have every reason for doing the other thing.'

' For laughing ?'

' Yes.'

' For laughing because my dear, kind old father is dead ?'

' The edge of that loss is blunted by six months. You are not crying for him.'

' Because my home is broken up, then ?' Because I see my sister drifting away from me ? Because my future is chaotic ? No, dear Faustina'—wiping furtively away one more water-drop—' it is only your loving wish to comfort me that could make you support such a paradox.'

' I would perjure myself pretty freely with that object, I own ; but in this case there is no need—the break-up of your home is indispensable to your mental development. As long as your father's regime lasted you were like an oak in a flower-pot ; sooner or later the pot must have cracked.'

Althea—for that is her name—shakes her head.

' He had the limitations, and perhaps a few of the prejudices, of his date ; but'—her voice slightly quivering—' I was very, very happy with him.'

At the small break in her speech, indicating the depth and sincerity of her regret for the departed Philistine, Faustina feelingly presses her hand, and deems it judicious to pass on to a branch of the subject on which she may feel herself on firmer ground.

' As to your sister drifting away from you, it was in the nature of things that she should. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed ?" as your fine old Book says.'

It is needless to state that Miss Faustina is an Agnostic, but, considerable as are the strides made under her auspices by her pupil in the new path, she can never hear without a wince her Mentor's condescending patronage, ' as an interesting collection of archaic literary documents,' of the Holy Scriptures.

' We used to agree as well as most sisters in the old days,' she rejoins regretfully. ' Since my father's death—since Clare's engagement—subjects of difference seem to have sprung up between us. There are some topics on which there is no use pretending that we think alike.'

' Your humble servant, for instance ?'—with a smile.

Althea's silence may perhaps be taken for an assent to this query, or perhaps may be due merely to the preoccupation with which her own memory is pursuing the history of the family dissensions.

' Though we were not alike in our natures, we were very much at one in many of our opinions, in our complete want of sympathy with all my mother's methods, in our indignation at the way in which she tried to ride roughshod over my father's wishes.'

' She did not succeed '—rather dryly.

' No, because his nature was too strong a one ; but now that the check of his firm hand is removed, I dread to think what eccentricities she may run into !'

She breaks off as if the subject were too painful a one to bear further pursuing.

There is a silence.

' We agreed so perfectly in our dislike of the type of mother's friends—I mean Clare and I did. It seems incredible now, but how I dreaded your coming !'

Faustina smiles.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014873086
Publisher: OGB
Publication date: 08/13/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 276 KB

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