Chapter 18939639

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter TitleWHICH IS THE MORE LOVELY
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18939639
Full Date1884-11-08
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count3421
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleArley
article text

CHAPTER II.

"WHICH IS THE MOBH LOVELY ?"

A few wordB more of Introduction'are necessary in order to make the reader understand more thoroughly wliat the main characters of our story are like.

Arley Wentworth, like the Lady Elaine, was an orphan. Her father had been a gallant captain in her majesty's army, her mother the daughter of a wealthy London physician.

Both bad died in the far East, the captain from a bullet wound received with his face to theenemj, hit gentle, idolizing wife from grief over her bus band's untimely and tragic death,

The little Arley, then not quite two years old, was thus left desolate, save for the native nurse who had had the care of her ever since her birth-and the officers in her father's company, not knowing what else to do, sent her home to England to her grand- father. The nurse, who loved her little charge most fondly, and could not endure the thought of separa- tion, was only too glaû-to ba commissioned to take

care of ker.

, But the poor little waif nearly lost her life also, [ for the vessel was wrecked during the voyage, the

nurse was drowned, and the child was picked up more dead than alive by a kind-hearted sailor, who saw har drifting helplessly about, and could not leave her to the mercy of the cruel waves, even though his own chances for being rescued were

small.

When he, with the few others who were saved, were transferred from the sinking wreck to another homeward-bound steamer, a good woman took the poor child and cared for her with all the tenderness of a mother until shs saw her safe in the care of her grandfather, Dr. Hugh McAllister, of London.

He was nearly heart-broken over the sad tidings brought to him with his grandchild, but as she grew and developed, she gradually came to take the place of his lost daughter, and he bestowed the greatest care upon her education and training.

8he was a great comfort to him at long as helived, and at hie death he left her all his property, and confided her to the guardianship of his sister, a maiden lady a number of years younger than him-

self.

So she was quite an heireia in ber own right, be- sides having expectations of more, sines Mies McAllister wes also quite wealthy.

She wat vivacious and beautiful, as well at vary intelligent, consequently she wat muoh sought after, and became the life of the company wherever she

went.

Her name, Arley, woe simply a contraction of Arietta, which everybody seemed to dislike to speak, and wondtteä that her parents should have chosen such a strange cognomen for her.

Her features were regular, with a aort of rounded symmetry that made one long to kiss the smooth, bright cheeks and the full, ripe lipa. Her eyes were large, very dark, almost black, and exceedingly ex- pressive, Her hair, of glossy nut-brown, was always arranged in some becoming style, and her smile, so bright and witching, made others smile in sym- pathy.

She was not so tall or symmetrical in figure as tho Lady Elaine, but it was a pretty form, nevertheless, and always elad in the most jaunty and tasteful of

costumes.

Her voice wat rich and full; and her laugh I who eau describe it P clear and sweet as a bell, and mus ioal as the carol of a bird.

At least to thought Philip Paxton-Ia spite of his remembrance of the Lady Elaine's-as be sat by her side during the drive from Horsham Station to Haz- elmere, and heard it ring out over the purple moors ; and when at length they reached Sir Anthony Hamil- ton's elegant residence, and be assisted his charming companion to alight from the wagonette, he hardly know whether ha preferred the stately and more deli- cate loveliness of Elaiae, or the bright, bewitching beauty of Arley Wentworth. But when ho came to learn of tho difference in their fortines, it was qaite evident whick way his preference turned;

Annie Hamilton wat a tweet, gentle girl, very quiet and tomewhat retiring, with no prétentions to beauty, but with a latent something about her-a certain charm which made everybody love her.

She was two yean younger than har brother, who wat twenty-one, and whom the loved with almost idolatront affection. She appeared rather mature for her years, but this was owing to her qviet do meaner, and to the fact, perhaps, that the had boen brought up almost aloa», there being BO compan- ions of her own ago in the neighborhood.

Fred Vane, bar betrothed, had, like Philip, etea educated for the bar, but having a handsome for* tune in prospect, ead btiag the oaly child of his parents, he had, at their request, remained, at home to assist in the management of their largetstate.

He, like Annie, was very quiet ia his tattes, and they were a couple of very matter-of-fact lovers, who bade fair to enjoy a life full of peace and

comfort.

Wil Hamiltea wat a noble son of a noble father

His clear, honest blue eyes never faltered before the* gaze of any one; his face was as frank and opean« day ; his manner posseiied a heartiness which went straight to everybody's heart, while his own ' was as toDdtr and generous at that of a woman. He was one to win everywhere. "Truth aid hotter" were the watchwords of his life, and every one who knew him respected aad loved him, while at Hszel mtre he was the idol of the household.

When the company wore all assembled around the hospitable board of Sir Anthony, it would hate been hard to fiad a more charming group ia all England, and the genial face of the baronet fairly thone with pleaiure and conttat as be looked around upon hit guests,

Between Arley Wentworth and Lady Elaine a strong and almost unaccountable attachment had seemed to spring up during their short acquaintance of only two weeks.

Both were extremely beautiful, yet neither, as is often the COBS, appeared to have the slightest feeling of jealousy toward the other. Their style was en- tirely different, and they were excellent foils for 6BCh other ; yet their hearts seemed to be in perfect harmony, and to-day, as they sat side by side, it was a joy to look upon them ; Lady Elaine, in her robe of delicate blue silk, with its rich and dainty laces, a bunch of blush roses in her bait, and a single lovely bud nestling In the coils of her Bhining hair, seemed almost too perfect a piece of humanity for this world ; while Arley, with her charming color, her bright, gleaming eyes and coral Ups, her dress of pale rose ander black Spanish net, and a cluster of snow-balls on her bosom, was absolutely radiant,

"Ideclare) I do not know weich is the more lovely," exclaimed Philip Paxton, mentally, as he sat opposite and compared the two. " Little Miss Wentworth is positively charming ; she ripplea, and sparkles, and fairly dazzles me ; while Lady Blaine -the name seemed to grow sweeter to him every time he uttered it, partaking, no doubt, of the nature of its owner-"is like some beautiful Baint; and"-a gleam that was not altogether pleasant shot into his eyes as they rested upon the object of his thoughts " and, with her title and lortune, is, of course, the most tempting bait ; I rather think the scales will tip in her favour"

Now Philip Paxton was not, naturally, a bad man nor a mercenary man.

He had been brought up well, taught to be honor able in all his dealings, to reverence truth, and to despise all meanness.

But bo had rsaehtd a stage on life's jeurney, as al- most every one does, where hit future career was balanced on a pivot, as it were, when it would take but very little to turn it either way-toward honor and fidelity on the one hand, or toward dishonor, selfishness, and perhaps crime, on the other.

It wat the stage of temptation,

Would ha stand or fall F Would he ruin his life for a woman and her gold, or would be prove true to a Christian mother's teaching, and-himself.

Had he met Arley Wentworth alone, had there been no other temptation near, doubtless he would have loved her, married her, and continued to adore her all his life, making her the tenderest and best of husbands ; for there was something about her bright waya, her ready wit and repartee, which fascinated him, and stirred his heart with a warmer, deeper sen- timent than the more calm and stately manner of Lady Elaine teemed to do.

But here was the daughter of a duke, with her long line of noted ancestors, with her immense fortune, the handling al which a prince might delight in, not to mention her exceeding beauty and grace.

It was a test, and no light one either, especially, as, until this hour, be had been " heart whole and fancy free ;" while at the same time a spirit of an- tagonism had been aroused within him by Wil's letter, which had told him that he must not so much as lift his eyes to her ; that Bhe was to be appropri- ated by him, and he would tolerate no trespassing upon bis ground.

This of itself was sufficient to touch his pride and hurt his vanity, and as he sat there opposite the lovely girl and thought of it, he said within himself ¡

" We will see if Wil's influence is all powerful ; it might do bim good to have a little of the conceit taken out of him,"

So, half in the spirit of mischief, half in earnest Philip Paxton resolved to " cut him out" if he could.

When dinner was over, and the gentlemen had re- joined the ladies, Lady Hamilton called her son aside,

to arrange for the next day's amusement, and Phillip,, seizing the opportunity, sought Lady Elaine, and engaged her in conversation.

He was an entertaining talker, and soon succeeded in fastening her attention wholly upon himself, and when at length Wil returned to the drawing-room, he found that his friend had coaxed his "lady foil'' out through one of the long windows, and there the handsome couple wer? pacing back and forth on the ivy-covered porcb, which ran along the end of the drawing-room and the library, and were apparently oblivious of everybody and everything save them- selves and the subject they were discussing.

A qnick, hot flush mounted to the young man's brow, and a pained, anxious look stole into his eyes, for he had surrended himself entirely, and with a devotion rarely equalled, to his father's young and beautiful ward, and he had begun to hope from seve- ral little signs, that she was not indifferent to him.

" My peerless lily, I do not like this sudden mono- poly at all," he murmured, with unsteady lips. " I love yon-how I love youl and unless I win you my

whole life will bs ruined."

Fred Vane and his sister were sitting in a deep window having a cozy after-dinner chat, and had not even heeded hit entrance. Sir Anthony was reading his newspaper, and Arley was nowhere visible. '

Wil thought he would look her up, and stole softly out of the room, feeling very wretched, and with the first bitterness which ho had ever experienced for his old chum rising ia his heart,

He found Arley in the library writing a letter, and sitting just where she could seo that distinguished looking couple outside, pacing ap and down in the shadow of the ivy vines.

Her eyee were unusually bright and her color con* slderably heightened, but she looked up with her own charming emile ai Wil entered.

He begged pardon for intruding when he saw

that tbo was writng, but she said : j

" Come in do ; I am only just scribbling a little

note to auntie. I am all through except writing the J

address ; and then if you are agreeable, wo'll take a stroll down to tho lake; you know that is my favor- ite resort, for"-with a droll look-" I found mysslf dicidtdly d* tr»p In tho drawing-room. Perhaps, however, the others will like to come with ut, if they are not too deeply engaged," the concluded with a slight shrug other pretty shoulders andan inclina- tion of her bright head toward the porch.

Wil assented to har proposal, and having waited for ker te address and seal her latter, they sauntered

out,

Al they »shed through the ball Alf ey caught up a filmy white scarf and twisted it carelessly about her head, and the coatrast with her bright complexion aadher rich dress nade the loveliest picture imagin-

able.

" Come Aaaio," sha sang out, gaily, peeping ia at /the drawiafi-room door ; we are going dowa to the lake far a row." Then with a glance at her com« »onion, the added: " Will you aik Mr. Paxton and Lady Elaine te come with UB F"

Wil started and flushed hotly at the qaostion, and she read his heart in an instant.

" He loves her, as I suspected, and he is afraid of losing her," the thought.

Bht bint her head ia reflation a moment, thon lifting It with a haughty, resolute guttue, she said.

" I'll ask them," and darted away to suit tho ac- tion to the word,

" I don't care what Mr. Paxton thinks of me," the mummed, at she weat, " be shall not spoil Wil's life with bit arts ; ho lovat Lady Elaine, ead he shall witt ber if I osa Kelp bim to do it, for they were just «ade for each other.

She stole softly up the stairs of the porch, which at the end was beautifully arched above with mass- ive carved pillara on each side.

Philip Paxton and his companion were pacing the other way, and their backs were toward her-they were not even conscious of the approach ol any

one.

" Ihe Lily oi Mordaunt is wanted," she called out, gally. " Come, Mr. Paxton-we are all going for a row on the lake, and if you have never seen that charming sheet of water, you do not know what a treat is in store for you."

they turned at the sound of her voice, and Philip canght his breath as he looked down the length of the porch and saw the lovely vision standing in the« arch ; it was as if the young girl had been painted there by some master-hand and then framed within that massive carving.

" Heaven! ! I never saw any one so beautiful," he thought ;] and the fairer beauty of the girl at his side seemed to pale before the bright vision before

him. j

Lady Elaine came forward at Arley's call OB if i glad to be released from her tetc-a-Utc.

" Please do not call me by that sentimental name, Arley," she said, with a smile, bat with a rising

flush,

" Why not, dear ? Wil gave you the name, and it just suits you," she replied, linking her arm in bert and drawing her down the steps. " You always make I me think of a lily whenever I look at you,"

« But you make me feel foolish, you bright Boss of Wentworth," Lady Elaine returned, with an arch

emile.

Arley's laugh pealed out rich and clear.

" Now that ia just delightful of you, my lady ; no- body ever called me anything so pretty before, Do

I make you think of a roBe ?"

" Indeed you do-the brightest rosa that ever grew; iBn'tlt true, Mr. Paxton?" Lady Elaine in- quired, appealing to him.

" Yes, indeed ; it was a happy Inspiration, and I think we must adopt it in the future," he replied, with a look in his handsome eyes that made Arley's heart beat quickly in spite of her previous Irrita- tion, and the little piece of treachery which ehe bad been plotting to thwart his plans regarding the great

heiress and her fortune.

When they came up with the others, Wil appeared thoughtful, and his usually frank eyes were clouded

with a look of pain.

" We have found a new name for Miis Wentworth,'' Philip said, pretending not to notice the change in his friend, al though his conscience gave him a twinge; " we are going to call her the ' Wentworth ROBO.' What do you think of it ?"

" That it is very appropriate," Wil tried to BBy with

bia usual beatty manner.

" Then henceforth we will fight for the Wentworth Rose; her champions we will be," Philip said, gally, and making a low obeisance before Arley.

" Thank you, Mr. Paxton ; but I am afraid I shall bo spoiled, for I have not been in the habit of having such pretty things said to me," she returned, de* murely, but with very mischievous eyes, "How- ever," she added, " if you take such rash vows upon yourself, you must abide by the consequences ; I Bhall require you to wear my coloure."

She plucked a crimson rose from a bush near which they were standing, and held it out to bim.

"A serious requirement indeed," he answered, Bmiling ; " but I shall be most happy to accede to it, if your own fair fingers will piece it where it ought to go," and he touched the left lapel of his coat.

Arley began to look for a pin ; then, as if suddenly remembering the object of their stroll, she shot a quick glance ever her shoulder at Wil, saying :

" I supposa I must comply with Mr. Paxton's re- quest ; go on, Wil, and get the boat ready, and wo will be there by the time you want to start,"

Wil Hamilton's eyes, lighted, for he understood the manoeuvre of the bright girl, and stepping to Lady Elaine's side, they all passed on, somewhat to Philip Paxton's chagrin, for he had intended to monopolize the helms of Mordaunt during the remainder of the

evening

But there was no help for it, since he had bound his own hands, so to speak, and he was obliged to I Btand there and allow Miss Wentworth to amuse her-

self at his expense. She appeared to ba in no burry either, and it took some time to Bettie that rose to s uit ker capricious fancy.

"I tr ust you have a generous supply of patience, Mr. Paxton," she- said, with provoking coolness, as> for the fourth time, she removed the refractory pin, to " try [again."

"There!" she added; "I think that will de this time; and now I am afraid that we have kept the others waiting. But I always like to have every- thing just right," she concluded, with a double mean- ing to her words, but looking so sweetly innocent that he never suspected how she had contrived to spoil his little game, although he inwardly rebelled againBt being separated from Lady Elaine,

When they arrived at the lake, they found the rest of the party sentedin the boat, waiting for them.

Annie Hamilton was sitting in the prow, Wil and Lady Elaine in the next seat, looking as contented as possible with each other's society, while Fred Vane was in the middle of the boat, with an oar in each hand; thus the two seats at the stern were re served for the loiterers,

" I am going to row, Paxton, and you will oblige me if you will take the tiller," Fred Vane said, and Philip, after assisting Alley to her seat, could only comply with his request.

But he did not have a very unsocial time of it, in tpite of his disappointment, for the " Wentworth Kose," waa in the best of spirits, for some reason, and kept his attention so perfectly/ occupied with her mirth and chatter, that be almost forgot that ho bad been balked in any of his dtsigns, while Wil was as grateful to the quick-witted girl as ever a forlorn

lover could be.