Behind a Mask (Chapter 1, page 1 of 14)

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Chapter 1

"Has she come?"

"No, Mamma, not yet."

"I wish it were well over. The thought of it worries and excites me. A
cushion for my back, Bella."

And poor, peevish Mrs. Coventry sank into an easy chair with a nervous
sigh and the air of a martyr, while her pretty daughter hovered about
her with affectionate solicitude.

"Who are they talking of, Lucia?" asked the languid young man lounging
on a couch near his cousin, who bent over her tapestry work with a happy
smile on her usually haughty face.

"The new governess, Miss Muir. Shall I tell you about her?"

"No, thank you. I have an inveterate aversion to the whole tribe. I've
often thanked heaven that I had but one sister, and she a spoiled child,
so that I have escaped the infliction of a governess so long."

"How will you bear it now?" asked Lucia.

"Leave the house while she is in it."

"No, you won't. You're too lazy, Gerald," called out a younger and more
energetic man, from the recess where he stood teasing his dogs.

"I'll give her a three days' trial; if she proves endurable I shall not
disturb myself; if, as I am sure, she is a bore, I'm off anywhere,
anywhere out of her way."

"I beg you won't talk in that depressing manner, boys. I dread the
coming of a stranger more than you possibly can, but Bella must not be
neglected; so I have nerved myself to endure this woman, and Lucia is
good enough to say she will attend to her after tonight."

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