The Black Moth (Chapter 7, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 7

Not twenty minutes' walk from Lady Lavinia's house in Queen Square resided a certain Madam Thompson-a widow-who had lived in Bath for nearly fifteen years. With her was staying Miss Elizabeth Beauleigh and her niece, Diana. Madam Thompson had been at a seminary with Miss Elizabeth when both were girls, and they had ever afterwards kept up their friendship, occasionally visiting one another, but more often contenting themselves with the writing of lengthy epistles, full of unimportant scraps of news and much gossip, amusing only on Miss Elizabeth's side, and on the widow's uninteresting and rambling.

It was a great joy to Madam Thompson when she received a letter from Miss Beauleigh begging that she and her niece might be allowed to pay a visit to her house in Bath, and to stay at least three weeks. The good lady was delighted at having her standing invitation at last accepted, and straightway wrote back a glad assent. She prepared her very best bedchamber for Miss Beauleigh, who, she understood, was coming to Bath principally for a change of air and scene after a long and rather trying illness.

In due course the two ladies arrived, the elder very small and thin, and birdlike in her movements, the younger moderately tall, and graceful as a willow tree, with great candid brown eyes that looked fearlessly out on to the world, and a tragic mouth that belied a usually cheerful disposition, and hinted at a tendency to look on the gloomy side of life.

Madam Thompson, whose first meeting with Diana this was, remarked on the sad mouth to Miss Elizabeth, or Betty as she was more often called, as they sat over the fire on the first night, Diana herself having retired to her room.

Miss Betty shook her head darkly and prophesied that her precious Di would one day love some man as no man in her opinion deserved to be loved!

"And she'll have love badly," she said, clicking her knitting-needles energetically. "I know these temperamental children!"

"She looks so melancholy," ventured the widow.

"Well there you are wrong!" replied Miss Betty. "'Tis the sunniest-tempered child, and the sweetest-natured in the whole wide world, bless her! But I don't deny that she can be miserable. Far from it. Why, I've known her weep her pretty eyes out over a dead puppy even!

But usually she is gay enough."

"I fear this house will be dull and stupid for her," said Madam Thompson regretfully. "If only my dear son George were at home to entertain her-"

"My love, pray do not put yourself out! I assure you Diana will not at all object to a little quiet after the life she has been leading in town this winter with her friend's family."

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