An Ambitious Man (Chapter 6, page 1 of 3)

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Chapter 6

Whatever hope of escape from his self-imposed bondage Preston Cheney
had entertained when he began the note to his fiancee which the
Baroness had read, completely vanished during the weeks which
followed the death of Mrs Lawrence.

Mabel's nervous condition was alarming, and her father seemed to rely
wholly upon his future son-in-law for courage and moral support
during the trying ordeal. Like most large men of strong physique,
Judge Lawrence was as helpless as an infant in the presence of an
ailing woman; and his experience as the husband of a wife whose
nerves were the only notable thing about her, had given him an
absolute terror of feminine invalids.

Mabel had never been very fond of her mother; she had not been a
loving or a dutiful daughter. A petulant child and an irritable,
fault-finding young woman, who had often been devoid of sympathy for
her parents, she now exhibited such an excess of grief over the death
of her mother that her reason seemed to be threatened.

It was, in fact, quite as much anger as grief which caused her
nervous paroxysms. Mabel Lawrence had never since her infancy known
what it was to be thwarted in a wish. Both parents had been slaves
to her slightest caprice and she had ruled the household with a look
or a word. Death had suddenly deprived her of a mother who was
necessary to her comfort and to whose presence she was accustomed,
and her heart was full of angry resentment at the fate which had
dared to take away a member of her household. It had never entered
her thoughts that death could devastate HER home.

Other people lost fathers and mothers, of course; but that Mabel
Lawrence could be deprived of a parent seemed incredible. Anger is a
strong ingredient in the excessive grief of every selfish nature.

Preston Cheney became more and more disheartened with the prospect of
his future, as he studied the character and temperament of his
fiancee during her first weeks of loss.

But the net which he had woven was closing closer and closer about
him, and every day he became more hopelessly entangled in its meshes.

At the end of one month, the family physician decided that travel and
change of air and scene was an imperative necessity for Miss
Lawrence. Judge Lawrence was engaged in some important legal matters
which rendered an extended journey impossible for him. To trust
Mabel in the hands of hired nurses alone, was not advisable. It was
her father who suggested an early marriage and a European trip for
bride and groom, as the wisest expedient under the circumstances.

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