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his own account. A younger son of a family that was far more illustrious by blood than famous for wealth, he could hardly bear not to be housed as became his name; and his ideas of what was fitting grew quite as rapidly as his own immediate family, though his income did not. Four times he changed his house, and never could he live in one for which he would have to pay rent: each move involved a purchase, and each house was larger and more suitable to his inherited rank than the last. He had, too, a charming taste, and never entered on occupation till his new home had been altered and improved out of all recognition. These things must be paid for, and they were; but they ended by taking all he had. The last move of all was the most costly; it was to a house with land enough to make it a "place"; but the house was only a house, and Mr. Desmond was determined it should be almost a castle. Towers and turrets were added wherever he could put one, and very pretty they were; if they were useless, that was the fault of the nineteenth century; that they were extremely costly, was the misfortune of Mr. Desmond's children.
Meanwhile he had many other tastes-for
old armour and plate, for fine pictures and beautiful-most beautiful-old china and such a house as his seemed to demand the presence of such things. He bought them and he paid for them, but, then, they swallowed up all his money.
It was while he was clapping towers on to every available bit of the house that was to become almost a castle that Mr. Desmond heard of his daughter Sheila's widowed state, with three tiny sons, and nothing to live on. He had washed his hands of the marriage without in the least quarrelling with the culprits, and he found the present reminder extremely annoying. Even Mrs. Burscough, had he been her pupil for fifty years, could scarcely have taught him to save, and he had never met that redoubtable lady, or wished to. He certainly did not stop building his towers, nor did he abate the dimensions of one of them-why should he, when he had always wished Sheila to marry that other man with an ample income?
Mrs. Desmond appealed, almost in vain, to his former special pride in Sheila; she herself had no command of money, her personal income was small, and her frequent visits to
Bath used it all up; she really did what she could and promised more than she could ever regularly fulfil-even the promise was only of about thirty pounds a year. Had Sheila been on the spot her father might have given her one of his towers to live in, and provided in some precarious fashion for her and her sons; but she was far away in England, and the sight of poverty and dependence was not so alluring to Mr. Desmond that he ever dreamt of sending word to her to come
Her husband's parents were not fond of her; and, when her own family seemed disposed to do so little, they were not inclined to do more than they could help. One of her children they took off her hands— the only one who had no Desmond Christian name; and, though it was the form in which help was least welcome to the child's mother, she could not decline it or refuse to part from her son by letting him go she secured his comfort, and would have so much more chance of securing it for her other two boys. That chance seemed meagre enough. That any lady, even fifty years ago, could keep herself and two children on about three pounds a month may seem impossible; yet it was
all her regular income, if that can be called regular which was often most irregular. All the same she did live, and no one that met her, of her own class or of any other, ever failed to recognise that she was a lady, or to respect as well as admire her. Her poverty never made her squalid, nor could her sorrows and anxieties ever make her sour, gloomy or discontented. Her great loneliness in the world gave her a Friend whom otherwise she might never have known so well, and her quiet and sweet trust in Him, when she might have felt friendless altogether, He rewarded by sending her many other friends.
At her first coming into England it was rather from strangers than from her husband's parents that she met with pleasant treatment and gracious courtesies, and it was a type of what was to be her future state. The Drumshambos, indeed, she saw no more of; and of her hard lot they may scarcely have heard; but wherever she went she and her sons found kind and generous friends among strangers on whom she had no claim. No doctor would ever let her pay him for healing the childish maladies of her boysand I think few people realise how generous doctors are in these ways: they seem to me
to have a more discerning charity than most for the poverty of poor gentlefolk who cannot dig and are ashamed to beg.
And, somehow, though she never went armed in all the pomp of introductions, wherever she made her home richer people found her out, people often of her own class, and often, too, much less well-born than she was, but prosperous and with hearts not hardened with prosperity. I rather guess than know in how many ways they helped her; never in such a fashion as would wound, but with a thoughtfulness and ingenuity as generous as the richest gift could be. For many years she taught her little boys herself, and taught them very well, giving them the love of books and of much knowledge that is not found in books. Her talk to them was a constant education and a far better one than many children ever get. And perhaps the most wonderful thing she taught them, without saying a word about it, was to find nothing hard or dismal in their poverty. I suppose they knew that they were poor, but I cannot remember knowing it; certainly they never confounded riches with happiness, for she made their childhood so happy that nothing would have seemed more absurd