An Ambitious Man (Chapter 2, page 1 of 4)


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Chapter 2

"Baroness Brown" was a distinctive figure in Beryngford. She came to
the place from foreign parts some three years before the arrival of
Preston Cheney, and brought servants, carriages and horses, and
established herself in a very handsome house which she rented for a
term of years. Her arrival in this quiet village town was of course
the sensation of the hour, or rather of the year. She was known as
Baroness Le Fevre--an American widow of a French baron. Large,
voluptuous, blonde, and handsome according to the popular idea of
beauty, distinctly amiable, affable and very charitable, she became
at once the fashion.

Invitations to her house were eagerly sought after, and her
entertainments were described in column articles by the press.

This state of things continued only six months, however. Then it
began to be whispered about that the Baroness was in arrears for her
rent. Several of her servants had gone away in a high state of
temper at the titled mistress who had failed to pay them a cent of
wages since they came to the country with her; and one day the
neighbours saw her fine carriage horses led away by the sheriff.

A week later society was electrified by the announcement of the
marriage of Baroness Le Fevre to Mr Brown, a wealthy widower who
owned the best shoe store in Beryngford.

Mr Brown owned ten children also, but the youngest was a boy of
sixteen, absent in college. The other nine were married and settled
in comfortable homes.

Mr Brown died at the expiration of a year. This one year had taught
him more of womankind than he had learned in all his sixty and nine
years before; and, feeling that it is never too late to profit by
learning, Mr Brown discreetly made his will, leaving all his property
save the widow's "thirds" equally divided among his ten children.

The Baroness made a futile effort to break the will, on the ground
that he was not of sound mind when it was drawn up; but the effort
cost her several hundred of her few thousand dollars and the
increased enmity of the ten Brown children, and availed her nothing.
An important part of the widow's third was the Brown mansion, a
large, commodious house built many years before, when the village was
but a country town. Everybody supposed the Baroness, as she was
still called, half in derision and half from the American love of
mouthing a title, would offer this house for sale, and depart for
fresh fields and pastures new. But the Baroness never did what she
was expected to do.

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