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CHAPTER I You told a LIE You confess it--you actually confess it--you told a lie CHAPTER II The family consisted of four persons Margaret Lester widow aged thirty six Helen Lester her daughter aged sixteen Mrs Lesters maiden aunts Hannah and Hester Gray twins aged sixty-seven Waking and sleeping the three women spent their days and night in adoring the young girl in watching the movements of her sweet spirit in the mirror of her face in refreshing their souls with the vision of her bloom and beauty in listening to the music of her voice in gratefully recognizing how rich and fair for them was the world with this presence in it in shuddering to think how desolate it would be with this light gone out of it By nature--and inside--the aged aunts were utterly dear and lovable and good but in the matter of morals and conduct their training had been so uncompromisingly strict that it had made them exteriorly austere not to say stern Their influence was effective in the house so effective that the mother and the daughter conformed to its moral and religious requirements cheerfully contentedly happily unquestionably To do this was become second nature to them And so in this peaceful heaven there were no clashings no irritations no fault-finding no heart-burnings In it a lie had no place In it a lie was unthinkable In it speech was restricted to absolute truth iron-bound truth implacable and uncompromising truth let the resulting consequences be what they might At last one day under stress of circumstances the darling of the house sullied her lips with a lie--and confessed it with tears and self-upbraidings There are not any words that can paint the consternation of the aunts It was as if the sky had crumpled up and collapsed and the earth had tumbled to ruin with a crash They sat side by side white and stern
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