Endymion, by Benjamin Disraeli

Chapter 10

In consequence of the registration under the Reform Act it was not possible for parliament to be dissolved, and an appeal made to the new constituency, until the end of the year. This was advantageous to Mr. Ferrars, and afforded him six months of personal security to arrange his affairs. Both husband and wife were proud, and were anxious to quit the world with dignity. All were so busy about themselves at that period, and the vicissitudes of life between continental revolutions and English reform so various and extensive, that it was not difficult to avoid the scrutiny of society. Mrs. Ferrars broke to Zenobia that, as her husband was no longer to be in parliament, they had resolved to retire for some time to a country life, though, as Mr. Ferrars had at length succeeded in impressing on his wife that their future income was to be counted by hundreds, rather than thousands, it was difficult for her to realise a rural establishment that should combine dignity and economy. Without, however, absolutely alleging the cause, she contrived to baffle the various propositions of this kind which the energetic Zenobia made to her, and while she listened with apparent interest to accounts of deer parks, and extensive shooting, and delightful neighbourhoods, would just exclaim, “Charming! but rather more, I fancy, than we require, for we mean to be very quiet till my girl is presented.”

That young lady was now thirteen, and though her parents were careful to say nothing in her presence which would materially reveal their real situation, for which they intended very gradually to prepare her, the scrutinising powers with which nature had prodigally invested their daughter were not easily baffled. She asked no questions, but nothing seemed to escape the penetrative glance of that large dark blue eye, calm amid all the mystery, and tolerating rather than sharing the frequent embrace of her parents. After a while her brother came home from Eton, to which he was never to return. A few days before this event she became unusually restless, and even agitated. When he arrived, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Ferrars was at home. He knocked gaily at the door, a schoolboy’s knock, and was hardly in the hall when his name was called, and he caught the face of his sister, leaning over the balustrade of the landing-place. He ran upstairs with wondrous speed, and was in an instant locked in her arms. She kissed him and kissed him again, and when he tried to speak, she stopped his mouth with kisses. And then she said, “Something has happened. What it is I cannot make out, but we are to have no more ponies.”


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