The Project Gutenberg eBook, Miss Crespigny, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
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Title: Miss Crespigny
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Release Date: May 6, 2018 [eBook #57099]
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***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MISS CRESPIGNY***
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FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT.
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT.
|LINDSAY’S LUCK,||Price, 30 cts.|
|KATHLEEN,||Price, 40 cts.|
|PRETTY POLLY PEMBERTON,||Price, 40 cts.|
|THEO,||Price, 30 cts.|
|MISS CRESPIGNY,||Price, 30 cts.|
⁂ For sale by all booksellers, or will be sent, post paid,upon receipt of the price by the publishers,
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS,
FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT,
Author of “Haworth’s,” “That Lass o’ Lowrie’s,” “Surly Tim
and other Stories.”
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS,
743 & 745 Broadway.
By Charles Scribner’s Sons.
New York: J. J. Little & Co., Printers,
10 to 20 Astor Place.
These love stories were written for andprinted in “Peterson’s Ladies’ Magazine.”Owing to the fact that this magazine wasnot copyrighted, a number of them havebeen issued in book-form without my consent,and representing the sketches to bemy latest work.
If these youthful stories are to beread in book form, it is my desire thatmy friends should see the present edition,which I have revised for the purpose, andwhich is brought out by my own publishers.
“Another party?” said Mrs. Despard.
“Oh yes!” said Lisbeth. “And, of course,a little music, and then a little supper, and alittle dancing, and all that sort of thing.” Andshe frowned impatiently.
Mrs. Despard looked at her in some displeasure.
“You are in one of your humors, again, Lisbeth,”she said, sharply.
“Why shouldn’t I be?” answered MissCrespigny, not a whit awed by her patroness.“People’s humors are their privileges. I wouldnot help mine if I could. I like them becausethey are my own private property, and no oneelse can claim them.”
“I should hardly think any one would wantto claim yours,” said Mrs. Despard, dryly, but8at the same time regarding the girl with a sortof curiosity.
Lisbeth Crespigny shrugged her shoulders—thoseexpressive shoulders of hers. A “peculiargirl,” even the mildest of people calledher, and as to her enemies, what did they notsay of her? And her enemies were not in theminority. But “peculiar” was not an unnaturalterm to apply to her. She was “peculiar.”Seeing her kneeling close before the fender thiswinter evening, one’s first thought would havebeen that she stood apart from other girls. Hervery type was her own, and no one had everbeen heard to say of any other woman, “she islike Lisbeth Crespigny.” She was rather smallof figure, she had magnificent hair; her blackbrows and lashes were a wonder of beauty;her eyes were dark, mysterious, supercilious.She often frightened people. She frightenedmodest people with her nerve and coolness,bold people with her savage sarcasms, quietpeople with her moods. She had alarmed Mrs.Despard, occasionally, when she had first cometo live with her; but after three years, Mrs.Despard, who was strong of nerve herself, hadbecome used to her caprices, though she hadnot got over being curious and interested inspite of herself.9
She was a widow, this Mrs. Despard. Shehad been an ambitious nobody in her youth,and having had the luck to marry a reasonablyrich man, her ambition had increased with hergood fortune. She was keen, like Lisbeth,quick-witted and restless. She had no children,no cares, and thus having no particular objectin life, formed one for herself in makingherself pleasingly conspicuous in society.
It was her whim to be conspicuous; not in avulgar way, however; she was far too cleverfor that. She wished to have a little socialcourt of her own, and to reign supreme in it.It was not rich people she wanted at her entertainments,nor powerful people; it was talentedpeople—people, shall it be said, who would admireher æsthetic soirées, and talk about her alittle afterward, and feel the distinction of beinginvited to her house. And it was becauseLisbeth Crespigny was “peculiar” that she hadpicked her up.
During a summer visit to a quaint, picturesque,village on the Welsh coast, she hadmade the acquaintance of the owners of acottage, whose picturesqueness had taken herfancy. Three elderly maiden ladies were theMisses Tregarthyn, and Lisbeth was theirniece, and the apple of each gentle spinster’s10eye. “Poor, dear Philip’s daughter,” andpoor, dear Philip, who had been their half-brother,and the idol of their house, had goneabroad, and “seen the world,” and, after marryinga French girl, who died young, had diedhimself, and left Lisbeth to them as a legacy.And then they had transferred their adorationand allegiance to Lisbeth, and Lisbeth, as hermanner was, had accepted it as her right, andtaken it rather coolly. Mrs. Despard had foundher, at seventeen years old, a restless, lawless,ambitious young woman, a young woman whenany other girl would have been almost a child.She found her shrewd, well-read, daring, andindifferent to audacity; tired of the picturesquelittle village, secretly a trifle tired of beingidolized by the three spinsters, inwardlylonging for the chance to try her mettle in thegreat world. Then, too, she had another reasonfor wanting to escape from the tame oldlife. In the dearth of excitement, she had beenguilty of the weakness of drifting into what shenow called an “absurd” flirtation, which hadactually ended in an equally absurd engagement,and of which she now, not absurdly, asshe thought, was tired.
“I scarcely know how it happened,” shesaid, with cool scorn, to Mrs. Despard, when11they knew each other well enough to be confidential.“It was my fault, I suppose. If Ihad let him alone, he would have let me alone.I think I am possessed of a sort of devil, sometimes,when I have nothing to do. And he issuch a boy,” with a shrug, “though he is actuallytwenty-three. And then my aunts knewhis mother when she was a girl. And so whenhe came to Pen’yllan, he must come here andstay with them, and they must encourage himto admire me. And I should like to knowwhat woman is going to stand that.” (“Woman,indeed!” thought Mrs. Despard.) “Andthen, of course, he has some sense of his own,or at least he has what will be sense some day.And he began to be rather entertaining after awhile; and we boated, and walked, and talked,and read, and at last I was actually such a littlefool as to let it end in a sort of promise, forwhich I was sorry the minute it was half made.If he had kept it to himself, it would not havebeen so bad; but, of course, being such a boyishanimal, he must confide in Aunt Millicent,and Aunt Millicent must tell the others; andthen they must all gush, and cry, and kiss me,as if everything was settled, and I was to bemarried in ten minutes, and bid them all aneverlasting farewell in fifteen. So I began to12snub him that instant, and have snubbed himever since, in hopes he would get as tired ofme as I am of him. But he