Title: The Inheritance.
Author: Louisa May Alcott.
Genre: Literature, fiction, romance.
Publication Date: 1849 (unpublished until 1997).
Summary: Written when Alcott was just 17, the story is set in an English country manor, and is the story of Edith Adelon, an Italian orphan brought to England by Lord Hamilton as a companion for his children. Alcott's plot sets love and courtesy against depravity and dishonor, and with the help of a secret inheritance, allows virtue to prevail.
My rating: 4/10
♥ "Lord Percy, there they are," cried Lord Hamilton as they drew near the lofty pile of rocks they were to visit. "We pride ourselves upon our crags and think no view in England half so beautiful as that we see when standing on their highest peak. Perhaps," he added with a laugh, "it is because the broad lands lying just beneath belong to us, and who does not like to look upon his wealth, however small it be."
♥ "You are poor and humble, Miss Adelon, but rich in woman's trust virtues and rendered noble by a warm and sinless heart. 'Lord Percy' is but a name and, casting that aside, I am one who finds his greatest happiness in simple things and cares little for the rank and riches of the world, for these are nothing to a noble human heart. Then can you not forget the difference of years and let me learn of one whose pure and self-denying life I reverence so deeply, and accept my friendship freely and as frankly as I offer it?"
"I will," she answered with a happy, trusting smile, and in simple, earnest words she thanked him for the kindness he had shown her. And when he left her in the hall with the hope that through his carelessness she would not suffer, she watched with tearful eyes till he was gone and then stole softly to her room to treasure up the gentle words he had spoke and pray that she might deserve so noble and so kind a friend. And in her dreams she was floating still beside him on the moonlit lake.
♥ Amid the trials she so silently was bearing still grew the gratitude and love she bore to those around her and still lay the deep, longing wish for tenderness and true affection, which none ever guessed and none ever sought to give.
Yet he who was daily near her and who so often found a place within her thoughts now became her friend, seeking by unseen acts of silent kindness to make life more pleasant for her. While thus employed, the friendship and the generous pity were fast deepening into the trust reverence and most holy love for one who bore so meekly all the sorrows that must try a gentle heart and so rich in pure and sinless feelings and so beautiful in all a woman's noblest gifts.
♥ Because poor and humble as I am, I should be ill-fitted to perform the duties of my high state. Miss Grey was wise in acting as she did, for Lord Hungerford, young and thoughtless as he was and blinded by his love, could not foresee the trials that would come when his humble bride should mingle with high-born friends. He could not know how bitter a grief would be his when he should see her whom he loves so fondly sneered at for her poverty and looked coldly on because of humble birth. She knew all this and nobly refused his hand, and by this seeming cruelty has saves his generous heart from sorrows that he cannot dream of now. To wed one so far beneath him in wealth and rank would be considered a stain upon his name and, with a woman's purest love, she has refused to win her own joy by the sacrifice of his hereafter. Is she not right, and will he now, when love's first disappointment shall be over, thank her truly and honor her more deeply for the wise, self-sacrificing friendship she has shown?
♥ "I should wrong the friendship she so frankly gave me if I could pain her by vain offers of a love she never could return and by rank and riches that cannot buy a noble woman's heart. No, Arlington, a true and faithful friend to serve and honor her I shall ever strive to be, but nothing dearer." In the changed voice and the heavy sigh, Lord Arlington read the secret of the pure and deep affection that lay untold within that noble heart. With a self-reproach he never felt before, he stood beside the friend who had unconsciously taught him the beauty of a true, unselfish love.