A Secret Inheritance (Volume 1 of 3) by B L Farjeon Page 1 of 134
A SECRET INHERITANCE.
BOOK THE FIRST.
THE RECORD OF GABRIEL CAREW.
My earliest distinct remembrances are of a mean and common home in London, in which I lived with my parents and a servant named Fortress. She was a young woman, her age being twenty-four or five, but her manners were as sedate as those of a matron who had a distaste for frivolity and tittle-tattle. She performed her duties quietly and in silence, and seldom spoke unless she were first addressed.
She did not take the trouble to render herself agreeable to me, or to win my affection. This was entirely to my liking, as I was of a retired habit of mind and disposition. It was not unusual for weeks to pass without our exchanging a word.
We were surrounded by squalid thoroughfares, the residents in which were persons occupying the lowest stations of life, human bees whose hives were not over stocked with honey, being indeed, I have no doubt, frequently bare of it. This was not the result of indolence, for they toiled early and late. I saw, and observed.
Sometimes I wondered, sometimes I despised, and I always shrank from close contact with these sordid conditions of existence. If I had possessed a store of pocket-money it is not unlikely that a portion of it would have been expended in charity, but I will not affirm that I should have been impelled to liberality by motives of benevolence. We were, however, very poor, and my father seldom gave me a penny.