Cousin Maude (Chapter 9, page 1 of 11)

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Chapter 9

Mr. De Vere had been gone four weeks. Louis had entirely recovered
from his illness, and had made the acquaintance of J.C., with whom
he was on the best of terms. Almost every bright day did the young
man draw the little covered wagon through the village, and away to
some lovely spot, where the boy artist could indulge in his favorite
occupation--that of sketching the familiar objects around him.

At first Nellie accompanied them in these excursions; but when one day
her aunt, who still remained at Laurel Hill, pointed out to her a
patch of sunburn and a dozen freckles, the result of her outdoor
exercise, she declared her intention of remaining at home
thereafter--a resolution not altogether unpleasant to J.C., as by
this means Maude was more frequently his companion.

If our readers suppose that to a man of J.C.'s nature there was
anything particularly agreeable in thus devoting himself to a
cripple boy they are mistaken, for Louis Kennedy might have remained
indoors forever had it not been for the sunny smile and look of
gratitude which Maude Remington always gave to J.C. De Vere when he
came for or returned with her darling brother. Insensibly the
domestic virtues and quiet ways of the black-haired Maude were
winning a strong hold upon J.C.'s affections, and still he had never
seriously thought of making her his wife.

He only, knew that he liked her, that he felt very comfortable where she was, and very
uncomfortable where she was not; that the sound of her voice singing
in the choir was the only music he heard on the Sabbath day, and
though Nellie in her character of soprano ofttimes warbled like a
bird, filling the old church with melody, he did not heed it, so
intent was he in listening to the deeper, richer notes of her who
sang the alto, and whose fingers swept the organ keys with so much
grace and beauty.

And Maude! within her bosom was there no interest awakened for one
who thought so much of her? Yes, but it was an interest of a
different nature from his. She liked him, because he was so much
more polite to her than she had expected him to be, and more than
all, she liked him for his kindness to her brother, never dreaming
that for her sake alone those kindly acts were done.

Of James De Vere she often thought, repeating sometimes to herself the name of
Cousin Maude, which had sounded so sweetly to her ear when he had
spoken it. His promise she remembered, too, and as often as the mail
came in, bringing her no letter, she sighed involuntarily to think
she was forgotten. Not forgotten, Maude, no, not forgotten, and when
one afternoon, five weeks after James' departure J.C. stood at her
side, he had good reason for turning his eyes away from her truthful
glance, for he knew of a secret wrong done to her that day. There
had come to him that morning a letter from James, containing a note
for Maude, and the request that he would hand it to her.

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