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And yet perhaps there was another result from it that in value outweighed the added pain: it was the stubbornly resistant feeling that rose and inwardly asserted its own purity in face of foulest lie, and turning scornful face against the foe, too proud either to justify itself or to defend, said to itself in its own heart, when condemnation was loudest: "I am not what you think me, and your verdict does not change my own self.You cannot make me vile whatever you think of me, and I will never, in my own eyes, be that which you deem me to be now." And the very pride became a shield against degradation, for, however lost my public reputation, I could never bear to become sullied in my own sightand that is a thing not without its use to a woman cut off, as I was at one time, from home, and friends, and Society.For my mother has told me that when she had committed some act of childish naughtiness, her aunt would say, looking gravely over her spectacles at the small culprit, "Emily, your conduct is unworthy of the descendant of the seven kings of ." And Emily, with her sweet grey Irish eyes and her curling masses of raven black hair, would cry in penitent shame over her unworthiness, with some vague idea that those royal, and to her very real, ancestors would despise her small, sweet, rosebud self, so wholly unworthy of their disreputable majesties.Thus those shadowy forms influenced her in childhood, and exercised over her a power that made her shrink from aught that was unworthy, petty or mean.
My mother was the second daughter in a large family, in a family that grew more numerous as pounds grew fewer, and she was adopted by a maiden aunt, a quaint memory of whom came through my mother's childhood into mine, and had its moulding effect on both our characters.
This maiden aunt was, as are most Irish folk of decayed families, very proud of her family tree with its roots in the inevitable "kings." Her particular kings were the "seven kings of "the "Milesian kings"and the tree grew up a parchment, in all its impressive majesty, over the mantelpiece of their descendant's modest drawing-room.
This heraldic monster was regarded with deep respect by child Emily, a respect in no wise deserved, I venture to suppose, by the disreputable royalties of whom she was a fortunately distant twig.
And it's there you'll see the place where the blessed Saint Patrick set his foot, and his blessing be on yer." Old women as poor as she in other nations would never be as bright and as friendly and as garrulous.
And where, out of Ireland, will you see a whole town crowd into a station to say good-bye to half a dozen emigrants, till the platform is a heaving mass of men and women, struggling, climbing over each other for a last kiss, crying, keening, laughing, all in a breath, till all the air is throbbing and there's a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes as the train steams out?