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Competence (dear domestic angel!) sate at his board and by his fireside. Mrs. Lindsay renewed her own and her children's wardrobe ; and, as the rector's wife, looked from the rector's pew a very unchristian degree of scorn on all her upstart rivals.
Meanwhile, Gregory gave to a grand classical work the time he had been forced hitherto to bestow on stupidity and the Latin grammar. He generously shared with his brother, Edgar, the patrimony of which the entail ceased with him.
Edgar, who, having displayed no genius for the classics, had been condemned to a mercantile career, went abroad with his small capital, married, and returned some years before the opening of our tale, a very wealthy widower, with one son, Julian, then a boy of fifteen.
He found Gregory and his wife grown somewhat round and rubicund, and of all their children two fair girls alone survived — one Augusta, of the same age with Julian; the other, Ellen, a little younger than her cousin,
Of his now great wealth he would fain have conferred much on Gregory, whom Mrs. Lindsay failed not to remind of his former generosity; but Gregory was obstinate and independent. He had enough, and he was content. However, he objected not to his brother's avowed intention of giving handsome portions to his girls—was pleased at his desire, artfully instilled by the matchmaking mamma, to see one of them the choice of Julian, and suffered them to divide their time between Mossgrove Rectory and Lindsay Hall, the magnificent abode of his brother. Sometimes they accompanied their uncle to the sea-side, sometimes to town. He loved them both most fondly, his heart now deciding for the one, and now for the other. And he was looking forward with anxious curiosity to the impression they would make on Julian, their early playfellow, but who had been absent from them during those important years in which the girl glides into the woman.
Mr. Lindsay was a great observer of men and speculator on character ; but just when he was most anxious to decide to which of his nieces his own heart gave the preference, he discovered that, as we cannot judge of an object held close to the eye, so he had lived too much and too affectionately with these girls to have been able to take an extensive view of their natures. A kind and affluent relative, always ready to promote pleasure and afford shelter from sorrow, was, of course, very dear to young hearts as yet untainted by the world. Both, for his sake, bore patiently with all his pets and protégés — both submitted to the constant wheezing of the fat old spaniels, who were cherished because they were descendants of a favourite of his wife's -both patiently endured the screeching of a deafening old cockatoo who had belonged to her, and whom no petting could entirely tame - both had forgiven repeated falls caused by old Capricorn, the Cashmere buck, when at Lindsay Hall — both bore with Miss Tibby, and remained silent, if not attentive, while Mr. Grunter (at Mr. Lindsay's as well as his own desire) read aloud, in a monotonous and thundering tone, a considerable portion of Rollin's History every evening when the family were alone-both were, in short, sweetly officious to please him — both, if he was ill, were as anxiously attentive as daughters to him—both really loved him ; but which might most be relied on when any real touchstone was applied to her character - such as love, or sorrow, or adversity, he now grieved to find himself completely ignorant.
Sometimes he fancied there was more of fire than of constancy in the beautiful and impassioned Augusta, and often he wished that a little more enthusiasm lighted the mild blue eyes of his gentle Ellen; but, as yet, they were both untried, for it is easy to the happy to be amiable, and not difficult to love those who have never caused them any sensations but those of pride and pleasure.
As for Julian, as a boy, he liked Augusta best. When at a juvenile ball, his Harrow chums decided that she was the belle of the room. He was very proud to walk or ride
with a tall, handsome, and nearly grown up girl ; but, during a long illness, he liked best to see Ellen's soft face by his bedside. Ellen could read longest without being tired, and insisted on staying at home with him while Augusta went abroad.
At the age of twenty-three, he was returning perhaps to make his final selection. Both girls had received many hints and counsels from their mother, whose low birth caused her to look up to wealth and station as the grand objects of life,--who valued beauty (as all ci-devant beauties do) as the most precious of means for the noblest of results, and whose mother-heart made her very anxious that her daughters, by prudent matches, should be for ever secured from trials such as she had known in early wedded life.
Mrs. Lindsay was what the world calls “a good sort of woman” — a
a really obstinate but outwardly submissive wife, one who never disputed her husband's will by word, or conformed to it by deed. Attentive to appearances regular at church—a fond, proud mo