Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/54

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DEVONSHIRE CHARACTERS

herself into the society of the other; and in Plymouth, her good humour, fascinating manner, long silken hair, and white hat and feather made havoc among the young bloods. The husband was too apathetic to care who hovered about his wife, with whom she flirted; and she, without being vicious, finding herself slighted causelessly, became indifferent to the world's opinion. Her elderly husband, seeing that she was not visited, began himself to neglect her.

The produce of this ill-assorted union was Maria Foote, ushered into the world without a friend on the maternal, and very few on the paternal side, who took any interest in her welfare, and she was brought up amid scenes little calculated to give her self-respect, sense of propriety, or any idea of domestic love and happiness.

From the disappointment and weariness of mind that weighed on the slighted wife, Mrs. Foote sought relief in attending the theatre nightly and acting on the stage. Daily and hourly seeing, hearing, and talking of little else but the stage, as might be expected, a wish to become an actress took possession of the child's mind at an early age.

When Maria was twelve years of age, her mother was so far lost to all delicacy of feeling, and her father so insensible to the duties of a father, that he suffered his only daughter to act Juliet to the Romeo of his wife.

Plymouth was disgusted, thoroughly disgusted, and whatever claims Mr. Foote had before to the notice of some private friends, they now considered these as forfeited for ever. From this moment a sort of reckless indifference seemed to possess the whole family. Nothing came amiss, so that money could be obtained; and Foote, who had been brought up as a gentleman,