Wives and Daughters: An Every-Day Story (Chapter 2, page 1 of 23)


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Chapter 2

At ten o'clock on the eventful Thursday the Towers' carriage began
its work. Molly was ready long before it made its first appearance,
although it had been settled that she and the Miss Brownings were not
to go until the last, or fourth, time of its coming. Her face had
been soaped, scrubbed, and shone brilliantly clean; her frills, her
frock, her ribbons were all snow-white. She had on a black mode cloak
that had been her mother's; it was trimmed round with rich lace, and
looked quaint and old-fashioned on the child. For the first time in
her life she wore kid gloves; hitherto she had only had cotton ones.
Her gloves were far too large for the little dimpled fingers, but as
Betty had told her they were to last her for years, it was all very
well. She trembled many a time, and almost turned faint once with the
long expectation of the morning. Betty might say what she liked about
a watched pot never boiling; Molly never ceased to watch the approach
through the winding street, and after two hours the carriage came
for her at last. She had to sit very forward to avoid crushing the
Miss Brownings' new dresses; and yet not too forward, for fear of
incommoding fat Mrs. Goodenough and her niece, who occupied the
front seat of the carriage; so that altogether the fact of sitting
down at all was rather doubtful, and to add to her discomfort, Molly
felt herself to be very conspicuously placed in the centre of the
carriage, a mark for all the observation of Hollingford. It was far
too much of a gala day for the work of the little town to go forward
with its usual regularity. Maid-servants gazed out of upper windows;
shopkeepers' wives stood on the door-steps; cottagers ran out, with
babies in their arms; and little children, too young to know how
to behave respectfully at the sight of an earl's carriage, huzzaed
merrily as it bowled along. The woman at the lodge held the gate
open, and dropped a low curtsey to the liveries. And now they were
in the Park; and now they were in sight of the Towers, and silence
fell upon the carriage-full of ladies, only broken by one faint
remark from Mrs. Goodenough's niece, a stranger to the town, as they
drew up before the double semicircle flight of steps which led to the
door of the mansion.

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