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MARYLID COLLEGE LIBRARY

CUT CF
SAW EVT HVAISON

Sept 27, 1927

w THE INHERITANCE.

CHAPTER I.

" Strange is it, that our bloods
Of colour, weight, and heat, pour'd all together,
Would quite confound distinction, yet stand off
In differences so mighty.”

All's Well that Ends Well.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that there is no passion so deeply rooted in human nature as that of pride. Whether of self or family, of deeds done in our own bodies, or deeds done in the bodies of those who lived hundreds of years before us-all find some foundation on which to build their Tower of Babel. Even the dark uncertain future becomes a bright field of promise to the eye of pride, which, like Banquo's bloody ghost, can smile even upon the dim perspective of posthmuous greatness.

As the noblest attribute of man, family pride had been cherished time immemorial by the noble race of Rossville. Deep and incurable, therefore, was the wound inflicted on all its members by the marriage of the honourable Thomas St. Clair, youngest son of the Earl of Rossville, with the humble Miss Sarah Black, a beautiful girl of obscure origin and no fortune. In such an union there was every thing to exasperate, nothing to mollify the outraged feelings of the Rossville family, for youth and beauty were all that Mrs. St. Clair had to oppose to pride and ambition. The usual consequences, therefore, were such as always have, and probably always will accompany unequal alliances, viz. the displeasure of friends, the

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want of fortune, the world's dread laugh, and, in short, all the thousand natural ills that flesh is heir to when it fails in its allegiance to blood. Yet there are minds fitted to encounter and to overcome even these -minds possessed of that inherent nobility which regard honour as something more than a mere hereditary name, and which seek the nobler distinction, open to all, in the career of some honourable profes

But Mr. St. Clair's mind was endowed with no such

powers; for he was a man of weak intellects and indolent habits, with just enough of feeling to wish to screen himself from the poverty and contempt his marriage had brought upon him. After hanging on for some time in hopes of a reconciliation with his family, and finding all attempts in vain, he at length consented to banish himself, and the object of their contumely, to some remote quarter of the world, upon condition of receiving a suitable allowance so long as they should remain abroad. The unfortunate pair, thus doomed to unwilling exile, therefore retired to France, where Mr. St. Clair's mind soon settled into that state which acquires its name from the character of its possessor, and, according to that, is called fortitude, resignation, contentment, or stupidity. There, too, they soon sunk into that oblivion which is sometimes the portion of the living as well as the dead. His father's death, which happened some years after, made no alteration in his circum. stances. The patrimony to which he expected to succeed was settled on his children, should he have any, and a slender life annuity was his only portion.

The natural wish of every human being, the weakest as well as the wisest, seems to be, to leave some memorial of themselves to posterity-something, if but to tell how their fathers thought or fought, at least to show how they talked or walked. This wish Mr. and Mrs. St. Clair possessed in common with others; but year after year passed away, and it still remained ungratified, while every year it became a still stronger sentiment, as death seemed gradually clear

ing the way to the succession. At the time of his marriage Mr. St. Clair had been the youngest of five sons ; but three of his brothers had fallen victims to war or pestilence, and there now only remained the present Earl and himself, both alike childless.

At length, when hope was almost extinct, Mrs. St. Clair announced herself to be in the way of becoming a mother, and the emigrants resolved upon returning to their native land, that their child might there first see the light. Previous to taking this step, however, the important intelligence was communicated to Lord Rossville, and also their intention of immediately proceeding to Scotland, if agreeable to him ; at the same time expressing a wish, that he would favour them with his advice and opinion, as they would be entirely guided by him in their plans.

Lord Rossville was a man who liked to be consulted, and to overturn every plan which he himself had not arranged ; and as Mr. St. Clair had spoke of taking shipping from Bourdeaux, where they then were, and so going by sea to Scotland, Lord Rossville, in his answer, expressed his decided disapprobation of such a scheme, in Mrs. St. Clair's situation, and in stormy winter weather. But he enclosed a route by way of Paris, which he had made out for them with his own hand, and directed them, upon their arrival there, to signify the same to him, and there to remain until he had resolved upon what was next to be done, as he had by no means made his mind as to the propriety, or at least the necessity, of their returning to Scotland. The packet also contained an order for a sum of money, and letters to some friends of his own at Paris, who would be of service to Mrs. St. Clair. So far all was kind and conciliating, and the exiles, after much delay, set forth upon their journe

their

journey, according to the rules prescribed by the Earl-but, within a day's journey of Paris, Mrs. St. Clair was taken prematurely ill, and there, at an obscure village, gave birth to a daughter, which, as Mr. St. Clair sensibly remarked, though not

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