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A Fluttered Dovecote by George Manville Fenn

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

A Fluttered Dovecote By George Manville Fenn Illustrations by Gordon Browne Published by D. Appleton and Company, New York. This edition dated 1890. A Fluttered Dovecote, by George Manville Fenn.

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________________________________________________________________________ A FLUTTERED DOVECOTE, BY GEORGE MANVILLE FENN.

CHAPTER ONE.

MEMORY THE FIRST--MAMMA MAKES A DISCOVERY.

Oh, dear!

You will excuse me for a moment? I must take another sheet of paper--I, Laura Bozerne, virgin and martyr, of Chester Square, Belgravia--for that last sheet was all spotted with tears, and when I applied my handkerchief, and then the blotting-paper, the glaze was gone and the ink ran.

_Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute_, the French say, but it is not true. However, I have made up my mind to write this history of my sufferings, so to begin.

Though what the world would call young--eighteen--I feel so old--ah! so old--and my life would fill volumes--thick volumes--with thrilling incidents; but a natural repugnance to publicity forces me to confine myself to the adventures of one single year, whose eventful hours were numbered, whose days were one chaos of excitement or rack of suspense. How are the scenes brought vividly before my mind's eye as I turn over the leaves of my poor blotted diary, and recognise a tear blister here, and recall the blistering; a smear there; or find the writing illegible from having been hastily closed when wet, on account of the prying advance of some myrmidon of tyranny when the blotting-paper was not at hand. Faces too familiar rise before me, to smile or frown, as my associations with them were grave or gay. Now I shudder--now I thrill with pleasure; now it is a frown that contracts my brow, now a smile curls my lip; while the tears, "Oh, ye tears!"--by the way, it is irrelevant, but I have the notes of a poem on tears, a subject not yet hackneyed, while it seems to me to be a theme that flows well--"tears, fears, leers, jeers," and so on.

Oh! if I had only possessed yellow hair and violet eyes, and determination, what I might have been! If I had only entered this great world as one of those delicious heroines, so masculine, so superior, that our authors vividly paint--although they might be engravings, they are so much alike. If I had but stood with flashing eyes a Lady Audley, a Mrs Armitage, the heroine of "Falkner Lyle," or any other of those charming creatures, I could have been happy in defying the whips and stings, and all that sort of thing; but now, alas! alack!--ah, what do I say?--my heart is torn, wrecked, crushed. Hope is dead and buried; while love--ah, me!

But I will not anticipate. I pen these lines solely to put forth my claims for the sympathy of my sex, which will, I am sure, with one heart, throb and bleed for my sorrows. That my readers may never need a similar expression of sympathy is the fond wish of a wrecked heart.

Yes, I am eighteen, and dwelling in a wilderness--Chester Square is where papa's residence (town residence) is situated. But it is a wilderness to me. The flowers coaxed by the gardener to grow in the square garden seem tame in colour and inodorous; the gate gives me a shudder as I pass through, when it grits with the dust in its hinges, and always loudly; while mischievous boys are constantly inserting small pebbles in the dusty lock to break the wards of the key. It is a wilderness to me; and though this heart may become crusted with bitterness, and too much hardened and callous, yet never, ah! never, will it be what it was a year ago. I am writing this with a bitter smile upon my lips, which I cannot convey to paper; but I have chosen the hardest and scratchiest pen I could find, I am using red ink, and there are again blurs and spots upon the paper where tears have removed the glaze--for I always like very highly glazed note.


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