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My Lady's Money

Chapter 2
ROBERT MOODY was at this time nearly forty years of age. He was a shy, quiet,
dark person, with a pale, closely-shav en face, agreeably animated by large
black eyes, set deep in their orbits. His mouth was perhaps his best feature; he
had firm, well-shaped lips, which softened on rare occasions into a particularly
winning smile. The whole look of the man, in spite of his habitual reserve,
declared him to be eminently trustworthy. His position in Lady Lydiard's
household was in no sense of the menial sort. He acted as her almoner and
secretary as well as her steward--distributed her charities, wrote her letters on
business, paid her bills, engaged her servants, stocked her wine-cellar, was
authorized to borrow books from her library, and was served with his meals in his
own room. His parentage gave him claims to these special favors; he was by
birth entitled to rank as a gentleman. His father had failed at a time of commercial
panic as a country banker, had paid a good dividend, and had died in exile
abroad a broken-hearted man. Robert had tried to hold his place in the world, but
adverse fortune kept him down. Undeserved disaster followed him from one
employment to another, until he abandoned the struggle, bade a last farewell to
the pride of other days, and accepted the position considerately and delicately
offered to him in Lady Lydiard's house. He had now no near relations living, and
he had never made many friends. In the intervals of occupation he led a lonely
life in his little room. It was a matter of secret wonder among the women in the
servants' hall, considering his personal advantages and the opportunities which
must surely have been thrown in his way, that he had never tempted fortune in
the character of a married man. Robert Moody entered into no explanations on
that subject. In his own sad and quiet way he continued to lead his own sad and
quiet life. The women all failing, from the handsome housekeeper downward, to
make the smallest impression on him, consoled themselves by prophetic visions
of his future relations with the sex, and predicted vindictively that "his time would
come."
 
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