Cousin Maude (Chapter 8, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 8

James and J.C. De Vere were cousins, and also cousins of Mrs.
Kelsey's husband; and hence the intimacy between that lady and
themselves, or rather between that lady and J.C., who was undeniably
the favorite, partly because he was much like herself and partly
because of his name, which she thought so exclusive--so different
from anyone's else. His romantic young mother, who liked anything
savoring at all of "Waverly," had inflicted upon him the cognomen of
Jedediah Cleishbotham, and repenting of her act when too late had
dubbed him "J.C.," by which name he was now generally known.

The ladies called him "a love of a man," and so he was, if a faultless
form, a wicked black eye, a superb set of teeth, an unexceptionable
mustache, a tiny foot, the finest of broadcloth, reported wealth,
and perfect good humor constitute the ingredients which make up "a
love of a man." Added to this, he really did possess a good share of
common sense, and with the right kind of influence would have made a
far different man from what he was.

Self-love was the bane of his life, and as he liked dearly to be flattered, so he in turn became a
most consummate flatterer; always, however, adapting his remarks to
the nature of the person with whom he was conversing. Thus to Nellie
Kennedy he said a thousand foolish things, just because he knew he
gratified her vanity by doing so. Although possessing the reputation
of a wealthy man, J.C. was far from being one, and his great object
was to secure a wife who, while not distasteful to him, still had
money enough to cover many faults, and such a one he fancied Nellie
Kennedy to be.

From Mrs. Kelsey he had received the impression that
the doctor was very rich, and as Nellie was the only daughter, her
fortune would necessarily be large. To be sure, he would rather she
had been a little more sensible, but as she was not he resolved to
make the best of it, and although claiming to be something of an
invalid in quest of health, it was really with the view of asking
her to be his wife that he had come to Laurel Hill. He had first
objected to his cousin accompanying him--not for fear of rivalry,
but because he disliked what he might say of Nellie, for if there
was a person in the world whose opinion he respected, and whose
judgment he honored, it was his Cousin James.

Wholly unlike J.C. was James, and yet he was quite as popular, for
one word from him was more highly prized by scheming mothers and
artful young girls than the most complimentary speech that J.C. ever
made. He meant what he said; and to the kindest, noblest of hearts
he added a fine commanding person, a finished education, and a
quiet, gentlemanly manner, to say nothing of his unbounded wealth,
and musical voice, whose low, deep tones had stirred the heart-
strings of more than one fair maiden in her teens, but stirred them
in vain, for James De Vere had never seen the woman he wished to
call his wife; and now, at the age of twenty-six, he was looked upon
as a confirmed old bachelor, whom almost anyone would marry, but
whom no one ever could. He had come to Laurel Hill because Mrs.
Kelsey had asked him so to do, and because he thought it would be
pleasant to spend a few weeks in that part of the country.

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