Inez by Augusta J. Evans


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Page 2




CHAPTER II.

"Calm on the bosom of thy God,
Fair spirit! rest thee now!
Ev'n while with us thy footsteps trod,
His seal was on thy brow."

HEMANS.


Florence Hamilton had but attained her fourth year when she was left
the only solace of her widowed father. Even after the lapse of long
years, faint, yet sweet recollections of her lost parent stole, in
saddened hours, over her spirit, and often, in dreams, a face of
angelic beauty hovered around, and smiled upon her.

Unfortunately, Florence proved totally unlike her sainted mother, both
in personal appearance and cast of character. Mr. Hamilton was a
cold, proud man of the world; one who, having lived from his birth in
affluence, regarded with a haughty eye all who, without the advantages
of rank or wealth, strove to attain a position equal to his own.
Intelligence, nobility of soul, unsullied character, weighed not an
atom against the counterpoise of birth and family. He enjoyed in youth
advantages rare for the unsettled times in which he lived; he tasted

twenty-seven to his home in one of the Southern States. Attracted by
the brilliant fortune of an orphan heiress, he won and married her;
but love, such as her pure, gentle spirit sought, dwelt not in his
stern, selfish heart. All of affection he had to bestow was lavished
on his only sister, who had married during his absence.

His angel wife drooped in the sterile soil to which she was
transplanted, and, when Florence was about four years old, sunk into a
quiet grave.

Perhaps when he stood with his infant daughter beside the newly-raised
mound, and missed the gentle being who had endeavored so strenuously
to make his home happy, and to win for herself a place in his heart,
one tear might have moistened the cold, searching eyes that for
years had known no such softening tendency. "Perhaps," I say; but to
conjecture of thee, oh Man! is fruitless indeed.

As well as such a nature could, he loved his child, and considered
himself extremely magnanimous in casting aside all thought of a second
marriage, and devoting his leisure moments to the formation of her
character, and direction of her education.

Florence inherited her father's haughty temperament without his sordid
selfishness, and what may seem incompatible with the former, a glowing
imagination in connection with fine mental powers. To all but Mr.
Hamilton she appeared as cold and impenetrable as himself; but the
flashing eye and curling lip with which she listened to a tale of
injustice, or viewed a dishonorable act, indicated a nature truly
noble. Two master passions ruled her heart--love for her parent, and
fondness for books. Idolized by the household, it was not strange that
she soon learned to consider herself the most important member of it.
Mr. Hamilton found that it was essential for the proper regulation
of his establishment that some lady should preside over its various
departments, and accordingly invited the maiden sister of his late
wife to make his house her home, and take charge of his numerous
domestics.

Of his daughter he said nothing. Aunt Lizzy, as she was called, was an
amiable, good woman, but not sufficiently intellectual to superintend
Florry's education. That little individual looked at first with
distrustful eyes on one who, she supposed, might abridge her numerous
privileges; but the affectionate manner of the kind-hearted aunt
removed all fear, and she soon spoke and moved with the freedom which
had characterized her solitude.

One day, when Florence was about nine years old, her father entered
the library, where she sat intently reading, and said,

"Florence, come here, I have something to tell you."

"Something to tell me! I hope it is pleasant;" and she laid her hand
on his knee, and looked inquiringly in his face.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Mon 16th Dec 2019, 10:22