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A Widow's Tale and Other Stories

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The Bamptons were expecting a visitor that very afternoon: which made it all the more indiscreet that young Fitzroy should stay so long practising those duets with May. It was a summer afternoon, warm and bright, and the drawing-room was one of those pretty rooms which are as English as the landscape surrounding them-carefully carpeted, curtained, and cushioned against all the eccentricities of an English winter, yet with all the windows open, all the curtains put back, the soft air streaming in, the sunshine not too carefully shut out, the green lawn outside forming a sort of velvety extension of the mossy soft carpet in which the foot sank within. This combination is not common in other countries, where the sun is so hot that it has to be shut out in summer, and coolness is procured by the partial dismantling of the house. From the large open windows the trees on the lawn appeared like members of the party, only a little withdrawn from those more mobile figures which were presently coming to seat themselves round the pretty table shining with silver and china which was arranged under the acacia. Miss Bampton, who had been watching its arrangement, cast now and then an impatient glance at the piano where May sat, with Mr Fitzroy standing over her. He was not one of the county neighbours, but a young man from town, a visitor, who had somehow fallen into habits of intimacy it could scarcely be told why. And though he was visiting the Spencer-Jacksons, who were well known and sufficiently creditable people, nobody knew much about Mr Fitzroy. It is a good name: but then it is too good a name to belong to a person of whom it can be said that nobody knows who he is. A Fitzroy ought to be so very easily identified: it ought to be known at once to which of the families of that name he belongs-very distantly perhaps-as distantly as you please; but yet he must somehow belong to one of them.

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