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The Carbury Family
Something of herself and condition Lady Carbury has told the reader in the letters given
in the former chapter, but more must be added. She has declared she had been cruelly
slandered; but she has also shown that she was not a woman whose words about herself
could be taken with much confidence. If the reader does not understand so much from her
letters to the three editors they have been written in vain. She has been made to say that
her object in work was to provide for the need of her children, and that with that noble
purpose before her she was struggling to make for herself a career in literature.
Detestably false as had been her letters to the editors, absolutely and abominably foul as
was the entire system by which she was endeavouring to achieve success, far away from
honour and honesty as she had been carried by her ready subserviency to the dirty things
among which she had lately fallen, nevertheless her statements about herself were
substantially true. She had been ill-treated. She had been slandered. She was true to her
children especially devoted to one of them and was ready to work her nails off if by
doing so she could advance their interests.
She was the widow of one Sir Patrick Carbury, who many years since had done great
things as a soldier in India, and had been thereupon created a baronet. He had married a
young wife late in life and, having found out when too late that he had made a mistake,
had occasionally spoilt his darling and occasionally ill-used her. In doing each he had
done it abundantly. Among Lady Carbury's faults had never been that of even incipient
not even of sentimental infidelity to her husband. When as a lovely and penniless girl of
eighteen she had consented to marry a man of forty-four who had the spending of a large
income, she had made up her mind to abandon all hope of that sort of love which poets
describe and which young people generally desire to experience. Sir Patrick at the time of
his marriage was red-faced, stout, bald, very choleric, generous in money, suspicious in
temper, and intelligent. He knew how to govern men. He could read and understand a
book. There was nothing mean about him. He had his attractive qualities. He was a man
who might be loved but he was hardly a man for love. The young Lady Carbury had
understood her position and had determined to do her duty. She had resolved before she
went to the altar that she would never allow herself to flirt and she had never flirted. For
fifteen years things had gone tolerably well with her by which it is intended that the
reader should understand that they had so gone that she had been able to tolerate them.
They had been home in England for three or four years, and then Sir Patrick had returned
with some new and higher appointment. For fifteen years, though he had been passionate,
imperious, and often cruel, he had never been jealous. A boy and a girl had been born to
them, to whom both father and mother had been over indulgent but the mother, according
to her lights, had endeavoured to do her duty by them. But from the commencement of
her life she had been educated in deceit, and her married life had seemed to make the
practice of deceit necessary to her. Her mother had run away from her father, and she had
been tossed to and fro between this and that protector, sometimes being in danger of
wanting any one to care for her, till she had been made sharp, incredulous and
untrustworthy by the difficulties of her position. But she was clever, and had picked up