Page:Aunt Phillis's Cabin.djvu/37

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Chapter II.

"You rode too far this afternoon, Alice, you seem to be very tired," said Mr. Weston.

"No, dear uncle, I am not fatigued; the wind was cold, and it makes me feel stupid."

"Why did not Walter come in?" asked Mr. Weston. "I saw him returning with you by the old road."

"He said he had an engagement this evening," replied Alice, as she raised her head from her uncle's shoulder.

"Poor Walter!" said Cousin Janet; "with the education and habits of a gentleman, he is to be pitied that it is only as a favor he is received, among those with whom he may justly consider himself on an equality."

"But is not Walter our equal?" asked Alice. Cousin Janet held her knitting close to her eyes to look for a dropped stitch, while Mr. Weston replied for her:

"My love, you know, probably, that Walter is not an equal by right of birth to those whose parents held a fair and honorable position in society. His father, a man of rare talents, of fascinating appearance, and winning address, was the ruin of all connected with him. (Even his mother, broken-hearted by his career of extravagance and dissipation, found rest in the termination of a life that had known no rest.) His first wife, (not Walter's mother,) a most interesting woman, was divorced from him by an unjust decision of the law, for after her death circumstances transpired that clearly proved her innocence. Walter's mother was not married, as far as is known; though some believe she was, and that she concealed it in consequence of the wishes and threats of Mr. Lee, who was ashamed to own the daughter of a tradesman for his wife."