|Chapter Title||A PERFECT BEAUTY. HAZELMERE, JUNE 30, l8-.|
|Newspaper Title||The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)|
(Fram Enillita, Aoicrlenn, nod «(liar Perlodlcnl«.)
A ÍEHTJiOT BEAUTY.
..J3AZXLMOBE, JTJNE 30, l8-.
"DEAH FHTL-I promised when we were all at home that I would send for you. We are a gay party I can tell you-Ive constitute our number, and we Heed only your own jolly self to complete the nexett, There is pretty Arley Wentworth, my sis. ter's especial friend and chum ; Fred Vane, Annie's fiancee, and lost bnt not least, aside from your hum- ble servant, my father's charmiag ward, the Lady Elaine Warburton, What shall I say of her P-how give you an idea of her surpassing loveliness f I will say nothing; I cm only quote from our poet laureate/ ' Elaine the fair, Elaine the lovable I Ela- ine the lily-maid,' not of ' As toi at,' but of the honse et Mordaunt, and the daughter not ' of a hundred earls' like the ' Lady Clare,' but of the Duke of Mor- daunt, who died abroad about five years ago, having first committed his only child to the care of my re- spected paternal, who was his dearest and moat trusted friend. She Ins been at a convent in France most of the time since her father's death, and I have scarcely seen her since she was a little maid in short clothes ; consequently I was wholly unprepared for the vision of loveliness which burst upon say sight, When, on my return fron Oxford, I waa presented to the peerless Eluine.
" You perceive, old fellow, how it ia with me ; I lia ve '.gone clean daft'. I see nothing, think of nothing, save a fair creamy face, with the faintest flush, like that ef a sea-shell, en its rounded cheeks, while shining bands of gold span the pure white brow, beneath which eyes of purple-blue seem to be looking at one through a golden mist, Then those dainty lips ! se sweet, BO red that they never part with smile or word but they set my heart on fire' She has a form of faultless symmetry, a hand like a piece of fairest sculptured marble, and a foot which a fairy might envy.
"I said I would not say anything about her, but I've written all this nonsense almost before I knew it. I'm gotting decidedly Bpooney, I'll «wa, but you Will not wonder when you see my 'lily-maid.' Come down right away and we will have gay times for the next month. You will like Atley Wentworth, whe, by the way, is quite an heiress, end just your stylo dark, brilliant, bewitching;.
" You shall be her cavalier on all eccisions. You perceive that I have done the pairing-ofl j for I Tram you beforehand that I shall brook no rival for the affections of my peerless Lily of Mordaunt. I can imagine the curl of amusement, pirbaps mingled with something of scorn, on your handsome lipa as you read this, mon ami. You will remember how indifferent I have always been to the charms of the gentle sex-you will recall my rank scepticism re- garding my ever losing my heart to any woman, however lovely ; but I can't help it-It's all up with tte now, thought I doubt if the rack weuld ever have made me confess as nuoh to any ona else, Telegraph when you will be here and I will meet you at the Btatian, " Yours ever, WIL "
Philip Paxton, a young and rising barrister, sat in his chamber, in Grey's Inn, one hot dusty day when all London seemed gasping for breath, so to spaak, and read the above effusion ; while his lips aid indeed curl, but with decided "scorn" rather
than " amusement."
"I should say he was* olean daft'," he muttered, "poor, foolish Will"
" And he will ' brook no rival for the affections of the far Elaine' !" he added, a flash of something like defiance for a moment lighting np his dark eyes,
"Bah 1" he continuod " the name is enough for me -I never could endure that love-sick tale, where that poor little fool, Elaine, died fer love of Lance- lot, and the very sound of it is a synonym to me ef a sort of milk-and-water beauty, and a weuk-minded, Billy little girl. Now Arley Wentworth," he went on, referring to his friend's letter again, " sounds some- thing like-there is character in it, and, at all events, .originality. Let me see, this ia Wednesday ; I imag-
ine that I can arrange mattery and things so that I Can run down to Hazelmere on Satutday. I think Fve earned a rest," he concluded, with a sign, while bia eyes roved with something of pride over the piles of papers and documents filed so neatly away in the pigeon-hole of his great desk, and telling of long days of hard work and well-earned gold.
He took up his pea, and, drawing a sheet of paper toward him, at once wrote a letter of acceptance to the invitation of his friend, and mentioned Saturday, afternoon ae the time set for his arrival at Hazel- mere, the magnificent country-oast of Sir Anthony Hamilton, a wealthy baronet, who owned half the township of Horsham, Bosses, England.
» * * * , # * «
Saturday afternoon when the 4.30 express from London stopped for a moment at the station of Hors" ham, a tall, well-proportioned young man of about twenty-five, sprang upon the platform and looked about him as if expecting to as» ooma one whom he
knew awaiting him,
There was a stately air about t him which at once attracted attention, a certain poise of the handsome bead, a look of character and decision about his at- tractive face, a certain gravity and dignity of man« tier, and a fire ia his dark blue eye, which impressed the beholder at once with an tdoa of superiority and
And yet, a closer scrutiny of that face by those who were skilful in reading human nature, always engendered a feeling of distrust, ae if underneath all that ability, power, and culture there wes an element which was liable, under certain circumstance«, to work mischief for both himself and others,
His clothing was of finest texture and most fash- ionable make, yet there was not the least suspicion of tire dandy about him ; everything was immaeu« " .late, yet in psrfeqt tasto.
" Aba I kera you are, old boy, and now I am happy,' .cried a genial voice near by, and the next moment
bis band was eagerly taken and heartily shaken by a young man about his own height, but of slighter build, with a frank, laughing face, clear, boneat blue eyes, waving auburn hair, and a voice whose heartiness and cordiality rang out like a rich strain
of music on the summer air.
This was Wilton, or, as he was more familiarly called, Wil Hamilton, only eon of Sir Anthony, and heir to his title and larfce estates.
"If you bad disappointed me," he ran on, in a gay tone,and still shaking the hand that he held,"I should have given j ou the ' cut direct' the next time we met. We are all here after you-the three graces attended by Fred and myself. Come this way and I'll introduce you; but, beware I"-with a mock tragic air-" don't you dare to lift covetous eyes to the fair Elaine, or I shall throw my gauntlet at your, leeton the spot. Arley Wentworth, by the way, is on tiptoe to see you ; thinks you must be some- thing extra; rather above the common run, yon know ; for I've rung your praiseB unceasingly in her ears-of course I had an object in view-during the last few days,"
" Thank you," returned Philip Paxton, in a slightly sarcastic tone, which caused his light-hearted friend to laugh outright,
" There 1 none of your grandiloquent airs, Phil, if you please. Yo a know they never did disturb me in the least, so they will do no good now. We are all bound for a good time, and if your backbone gets too stiff, it will be uncomfortable, not only for your- self, but for the reat of us."
" Here we are," ha added, as they came aronnd to OB* ond ol tit» ototion, where there stood a hand- some pair of bays attached to a waggonette, in which two ladite and a gentleman were seated.
" Annie," he asia, leading his friend toward them, and addressing a pretty girl with a fair complexion ead hazel eyes, " you do not need to be introduced to Phil, but you shall give him a grip of welcome before I present the others. Mr. Vane, this is my friend, Mr. Paxton ; Miss Wentworth, Mr. Paxton/
Mr. Paxton, after greeting Annie Hamilton, shook hands with Mr. Vane and lifted his hat to Miss Wentworth, and was instantly impressed that she wai a" mighty pretty girl,"
Then he glanced about bim with some curiosity, wondering where the "fair Elaine" could be.
Wil Hamilton noticed it, and colored slightly,
" Corns this way a momsnt, Phil, and I'll finish all the introductions at once," ha said; and slipping his arm within .that of his friend, be turned him about and lod him toward an elegant phaeton, to which two pretty gray ponies were attached, and in which a slight, graceful girl was seated,
" I could not drive any nearer, for the ponies ara a trifle skittish," Wil explained, as he led him for-
" Good heavens t how beautiful she is 1" the young man said to himielf when at last they stood beside the phaeton; and he never could remember after- ward how he conducted himself during the cere- mony of introduction.
" The Lily of Mordaunt," he repeated to himself, as he gazed upon her exquisite loveliness, and, for the momsnt, was oblivious of everything else.
He was conscious only of looking into eyes of liquid blue-eyes which seemed to him to have fathomless depths, and through which some sweet spirit was gazing up at him» thrilling his very soul with a strange delight. -
He saw a fair, low brow, over which ringa of Bunny bair lay In careless grace ; a delicate month, proud, yet sweet, sensitive, yet strong. He noticed the dainty fairness of her skin, upon which there was not the slighest blemish ; the small ears, which seemed like moulded wax, and the rich, heavy coils of golden hair, which shone like banda of smoothed satin. He saw, too, <the slight, perfect, yet stately figure, with ita beautifully fitting dress ef rueset brown; the small hand so daintily gloved ; the soft ruching encircling her white throat, and which was fastsned beaoath ber faultlessly rounded chin with some costly and curiously c»t7ed stone.
He took in every detail of her toilet-all her ex qnitite loveliness in those few brief moments, during whioh he stood bowing before her, and exchanged polite greetings.
"She is like the matchles Calla lily," he said, to himself, " aa pure, as stately, as perfect. I do not wondtt now at Wil's laphsodies, or that ho lost his heart when ho saw bar. But I wish her name was not Elaine-I never liked it; though if the lily-maid of Astolat was one-half as fair, I doubt if Queen Guinevere, even though she was called the 'pearl of beauty/ could ' hold a caadle to her'-to quote a common phrase: and Lancelot, that flower of bravery, made the greatest mistake of his life when he turned the cold shoulder to her pleading. Who could look upon such beauty unmoved P It is not in human nature." *
But ho was suddenly recalled from his musings by
the twtetest voice in the world,
" Mr, Paxton will make our circle complete," Lady Elaine said, taming with a smile, and a slight blush, from his admiring eyes to speak te Wil.
That smile disclosed the prettiest teeth-small, white, even ; end in vivid contrast to the sweet, ?carlet lips.
! Philip Paxton bowed his appreciation of this com- pliment, and a dieper colour tinged his own cheek.
! "Yss," Wil Hamilton answered, " wa shall make I a capital party, and now Phil, it you'll take a stat ia
the wagaaette with Miss Wentworth, I'll swing your portmanteau ia forward under the driver's seat ana then wa'll bo off for Hazelmere, where we shall doubtless find dinner waiting."
Philip lifted bit hat to Lady Elaine, and turned away to comply to with friend's request.
But ho was loth to go ; whoa his eyes lingered enviously upon the vacant seat by her side.
How like a poem it would have been to bo able to drive those spirited ponies over the two miles to Hazlemere, with that peerless face so sear, and that ?watt voico making music ia his ears.
But ho wat, of course, obliged to submit to the ar- rangements already made ; and, springing to Us pott by Miss Wentworths sids, they were sooa trotting along at a spanking rata over the beautiful moors, While before they had accomplished half the distance to Hazelmere, his admiration was turned into a new Channel, and he was compelled! to confess that Wil had ctrtaialy given him no "milk-and-water"beauty for a comaamioa, for Miss Arley Wentworth proved herself to be both briliant and interesting.
Half an hour's drive brought them to Hazelmere's hospitable doors, where a cordial reception was ac- corda* to the new-comers by Sir Anthony Hamilton and hit genial, motherly wife, and the gay party
separated to drest for dinner, ñhich would toon be
" I will give you just twenty minutes, young ladies, to bestir yourselves," Lady Hamilton said, playfully, as the three girls esme trooping into the hall ; " if sou cannot make yourselves pretty enough in that time you will have to suffer the csasef um
"What do you think of my 'Lily of Mordaunt,' " Wil asked of Philip, as ko went to show him the, room whiöh had been prepared for him.
" Your Lily of Mordaunt !" he repeated with a keen glano» Into the young man's face ; " do yon claim possession already f
Wil flushed. ,
" Well," he said, with a Isugb, " I auppose I have no right to do that, but, between you and me, I hope it will come to that before long. Is she not
> " Very ; and your name for her is very appropri- ate; but Miss Wentworth is exceedingly beautiful, teo, Philip answered.
" Yes, Arley is very brilliant, and a fascinating little thing;, beaides.sbe has twenty thousand pounds n her own right."
" That is a snug little sum, to be sure ; but, I sup* pose, Lody Elaine is very wealthy, also," Philip re- marked, with a side glance at his friend.
" Yes, the Duke of Mordaunt left an immense property-the1"income, I believe, is about as muchas Arley's whole fortune."
" Indeed !" Mr. Paxton said, with a peculiar em- phasis, " You will be a lucky fellow, Wil, if you suc- ceed in winning her peerless ladyship and her im-
mense fortune also."
"I hf.ve tcaicäly though of the money," Wi^ Hamilton replied, eagerly, and flushing hotly. "She, would be just the same to me if she hadn't a penny/
"Nevertheless a plethoric purse ia a very conveni- ent thing to possess in the long run, quoth Philip Paxton, dryly.
" Twenty thousand pounds a year I" be repeated meditatively to himself, after Wil had gone below, " How would a man feel, I wonder, to have the hand- ling of that amount, to say nothing of the privilege of sitting vis-a-vis three or four times a day with such a beauty as Lady Elaine Warburton."