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Second Book of Tales
written by "Field, Eugene, 1850-1895"
... things he had never known before, to speak a wisdom he had never dreamed of, to breathe a sweeter music than he had ever heard, to inspire ambitions purer and better than any he had ever felt—the voice of his firstborn—you know, fathers, what that meant to Lawrence. Well, Lawrence was brave again, but there was a lump in his throat and his eyes were misty. "She's here at last," he murmured thankfully; "heaven be praised for that!" Of course you understand that Lawrence had been hoping for a girl; so had his wife. They had planned to call her Mary, after her mother, the quondam belle of the Northern Neck. Grandfather Joseph Ball, late of Epping Forest, was to be her godfather, and Colonel Bradford Custis of Jamestown had promised to grace the christening with his imposing presence. "Well, you can come in," said Miss Bettie, with much condescension, and in all humility Lawrence did go in. Dr. Parley was quite as solemn and impressive as ever. He occupied the great chair near the chimney-place, and he still held the gold head of his everlasting cane close to his nose. "Well, Mary," said Lawrence, with an inquiring, yearning glance. Mary was very pale, but she smiled sweetly. "Lawrence, it's a boy," said Mary. Oh, what a grievous disappointment that was! After all the hopes, the talk, the preparations, the plans—a boy! What would Grandfather Ball, late of Epping Forest, say? What would come of the grand christening that was to be graced by the imposing presence of Colonel Bradford Custis of Jamestown? How the Jeffersons and Randolphs and Masons and Pages and Slaughters and Carters and Ayletts and Henrys would gossip and chuckle, and how he—Lawrence—would be held up to the scorn and the derision of the facetious yeomen of Westmoreland! It was simply terrible. And just then, too, Lawrence's vexation was increased by a gloomy report from the four wo...

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