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Epilogue: (Page 9)


FIFTH EXTRACT.

"Mercy's ball dress--a present from kind Lady Janet--is finished. I was allowed to see the first trial, or preliminary rehearsal, of this work of art. I don't in the least understand the merits of silk and lace; but one thing I know--my wife will be the most beautiful woman at the ball.

"The same day I called on Lady Janet to thank her, and encountered a new revelation of the wayward and original character of my dear old aunt.

"She was on the point of tearing up a letter when I went into her room. Seeing me, she suspended her purpose and handed me the letter. It was in Mercy's handwriting. Lady Janet pointed to a passage on the last page. 'Tell your wife, with my love,' she said, 'that I am the most obstinate woman of the two. I positively refuse to read her, as I positively refuse to listen to her, whenever she attempts to return to that one subject. Now give me the letter back.' I gave it back, and saw it torn up before my face. The 'one subject' prohibited to Mercy as sternly as ever is still the subject of the personation of Grace Roseberry! Nothing could have been more naturally introduced, or more delicately managed, than my wife's brief reference to the subject. No matter. The reading of the first line was enough. Lady Janet shut her eyes and destroyed the letter--Lady Janet is determined to live and die absolutely ignorant of the true story of 'Mercy Merrick.' What unanswerable riddles we are! Is it wonderful if we perpetually fail to understand one another?"

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