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The Two Destinies

5. My Story
WHEN YOU last saw me, I was a boy of thirteen. You now see me a man of twenty-
three.
The story of my life, in the interval between these two ages, is a story that can be soon
told.
Speaking of my father first, I have to record that the end of his career did indeed come as
Dame Dermody had foretold it. Before we had been a year in America, the total collapse
of his land speculation was followed by his death. The catastrophe was complete. But for
my mother's little income (settled on her at her marriage) we should both have been left
helpless at the mercy of the world.
We made some kind friends among the hearty and hospitable people of the United States,
whom we were unaffectedly sorry to leave. But there were reasons which inclined us to
return to our own country after my father's death; and we did return accordingly.
Besides her brother-in-law (already mentioned in the earlier pages of my narrative), my
mother had another relative--a cousin named Germaine--on whose assistance she mainly
relied for starting me, when the time came, in a professional career. I remember it as a
family rumor, that Mr. Germaine had been an unsuccessful suitor for my mother's hand in
the days when they were young people together. He was still a bachelor at the later period
when his eldest brother's death without issue placed him in possession of a handsome
fortune. The accession of wealth made no difference in his habits of life: he was a lonely
old man, estranged from his other relatives, when my mother and I returned to England.
If I could only succeed in pleasing Mr. Germaine, I might consider my prospects (in
some degree, at least) as being prospects assured.
This was one consideration that influenced us in leaving America. There was another--in
which I was especially interested--that drew me back to the lonely shores of Greenwater
Broad.
My only hope of recovering a trace of Mary was to make inquiries among the cottagers in
the neighborhood of my old home. The good bailiff had been heartily liked and respected
in his little sphere. It seemed at least possible that some among his many friends in
Suffolk might have discovered traces of him, in the year that had passed since I had left
England. In my dreams of Mary--and I dreamed of her constantly--the lake and its woody
banks formed a frequent background in the visionary picture of my lost companion. To
the lake shores I looked, with a natural superstition, as to my way back to the one life that
had its promise of happiness for me--my life with Mary.
On our arrival in London, I started for Suffolk alone--at my mother's request. At her age
she naturally shrank from revisiting the home scenes now occupied by the strangers to
whom our house had been let.
 
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