Cousin Maude (Chapter 4, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 4

It is just one year since the summer morning when Matty Kennedy took
upon herself a second time the duties of a wife, and now she lies in
a darkened room, her face white as the winter snow, and her breath
scarcely perceptible to the touch, as it comes faintly from her
parted lips. In dignified silence the doctor sits by, counting her
feeble pulse, while an expression of pride and almost perfect
happiness breaks over his face as he glances toward the cradle which
Hannah has brought from the garret, and where now slept the child
born to him that day.

His oft-repeated maxim that if the first were
not a boy the second ought to be, had prevailed at last, and Dombey
had a son. It was a puny thing, but the father said it looked as
Nellie did when she first rested there, and Nellie, holding back her
breath and pushing aside her curls, bent down to see the red-faced
infant.

"I was never as ugly as that, and I don't love him a bit!" she
exclaimed, turning away in disgust; while Maude approached on tip-
toe, and kneeling by the cradle side kissed the unconscious sleeper,
whispering as she did so, "I love you, poor little brother."

Darling Maude--blessed Maude--in all your after life you proved the
truth of those low spoken words, "I love you, poor little brother."

For many days did Mrs. Kennedy hover between life and death, never
asking for her baby, and seldom noticing her husband, who, while
declaring there was no danger, still deemed it necessary, in case
anything should happen, to send for his sister, Mrs. Kelsey, who had
not visited him since his last marriage. She was a proud,
fashionable woman, who saw nothing attractive in the desolate old
house, and who had conceived an idea that her brother's second wife
was a sort of nobody whom he had picked up among the New England
hills. But the news of her illness softened her feelings in a
measure, and she started for Laurel Hill, thinking that if Matty
died she hoped a certain dashing, brilliant woman, called Maude
Glendower, might go there, and govern the tyrannical doctor, even as
he had governed others.

It was late in the afternoon when she reached her brother's house,
from which Nellie came running out to meet her, accompanied by
Maude. From the latter the lady at first turned disdainfully away,
but ere long stole another look at the brown-faced girl, about whom
there was something very attractive.

"Curtains, as I live!" she exclaimed, as she entered the parlor. "A
piano, and marble table, too. Where did these come from?"

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