Inez, A Tale of the Alamo (Chapter 1, page 1 of 3)

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Chapter 1

"But O, th' important budget!
Who can say what are its tidings?"


"There is the bell for prayers, Florry; are you ready?" said Mary Irving, hastily entering her cousin's room at the large boarding-school of Madame ----.

"Yes; I rose earlier than usual this morning, have solved two problems, and translated nearly half a page of Telemaque."

"I congratulate you on your increased industry and application, though you were always more studious than myself. I wish, dear Florry, you could imbue me with some of your fondness for metaphysics and mathematics," Mary replied, with a low sigh.

A momentary flush passed over the face of her companion, and they descended the stairs in silence. The room in which the pupils were accustomed to assemble for devotion was not so spacious as the class-room, yet sufficiently so to look gloomy enough in the gray light of a drizzling morn. The floor was covered with a faded carpet, in which the indistinct vine seemed struggling to reach the wall, but failed by several feet on either side. As if to conceal this deficiency, a wide seat was affixed the entire length of the room, so high "That the feet hung dangling down, Anxious in vain to find the distant floor."

There were no curtains to the windows, and the rain pattered drearily down the panes.

The teacher who officiated as chaplain was seated before a large desk, on which lay an open Bible. He seemed about twenty-four, his countenance noble rather than handsome, if I may make so delicate a distinction. Intelligence of the first order was stamped upon it, yet the characteristic expression was pride which sat enthroned on his prominent brow; still, hours of care had left their impress, and the face was very grave, though by no means stern. His eye was fixed on the door as the pupils came in, one by one, for prayers, and when Florence and Mary entered, it sunk upon his book, In a few moments he rose, and, standing with one arm folded across his bosom, read in a deep, distinct tone, that beautiful Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd." He had only reached the fourth verse, when he was interrupted by two girls of twelve or fourteen, who had been conversing from the moment of their entrance. The tones grew louder and louder, and now the words were very audible: "My father did not send me here to come to prayers, and Madame has no right to make us get up before day to hear him read his Bible!"

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