Chapter 18941008

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Chapter NumberX
Chapter TitleARLEY'S VISITOR.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18941008
Full Date1884-11-29
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count2942
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleArley
article text

CHAPTER X.

abley'svisitob.

Arley Wentworth's wedding-day was not a bright day. Thick clouds overcast the Bky, while a heavy fog-London's customary wet blanket-made every- thing dismal and gloomy enough,

Ab already intimated, the wedding was to be a very quiet affair, for the orphaned girl had no near relatives who were able to take the burden and care of a large merry-making.

Tuere were only her aged aunt -a lady of between fifty and sixty-and two or three distant cousins on her father's side whom she could claim as kindred, so only her intimate friends, and a few of her ac- quaintances .were bidden to the feast,

She was, however, to to be married in St. George's Church, Hanover Square, and with all the pretty paraphernalia which a young and lovely bride should have, This.Miss McAllister, who herself was quite wealthy, had insisted upon, and it was also ia accordance with Arley'e own ideas and wishes.

" What makes you so quiet and sad, Arley, dear ?" Lady Elaine asked of her, as she was helping her dress for her marriage.

Arley bad whimsically insited that she would have no maid about her that morning, her own hands, with the assistance of this, her dearest friend, should perform all the necessary offices for the occasion.

" This is your bridal-morn," she continued, " and your face should be bright even if the day is not."

" Do I look sad, Elaine P I did not mean to," Arley replied, with a forced smile, but Lady Elaine, look- ing into her eyes, saw that they were full of tears.

" What is it, dear what troubles you ?" she asked twining her arms around her waist, and drawing the troubled girl cloee to her

I don't know ; perhaps it is a sort of reaction after all the excitement and labor of preparation, but I feel strangely depressed this morning ; instead of looking forward to this event which should only bring me happinees and bright anticipations, I feel as if something dreadful was about to happen to me," Arley responded, as with a weary sigh, Bhe dropped her head upon the shoulder of her friend.

A cloud passed over Lady Elaine's face,

She had regarded her marriage with Philip Paxton, from the very first, with feelings skin to these.

She could not believe that he was true.

Soon after his engagement to Arley, she had learned through Wil, who beard of it while he was in London at one time, of his unfortunate speculations, and the thought had forced itself upon her, that be bad made his proposals to her merely to build up his fallen fortunes, and failing in tbat, he had then turned to Arley, as offering the next most temptiog bait with which to replenish his empty coffers.

But, of course, she could not breathe anything of this to her friend ; shs must not allow her to become any more despondent, so she said, as cheerfully as

she could:

TbeBe are nervous fears, I am afraid, darling, and you must not carry that pale, sad face to St, George's. What would Mr. Paxton think to behold such a de- pressed-looking bride I If this is the way all brides feel on their wedding-day I am afraid I shall be tempted to put off the evil hour ob long as possible,"

"Wheo are you to be married, Elaine?" Arley asked, her thoughts for the moment drawn away from herself.

" I do not know, dear ; no time has been set as yet, Wil told me lost evening that he had received his ap> ointment."

" What appointment P '

" Sure enough ; I forgot that you did not know, but be d<d not wish to tell any one until the matter was settled, He has been appointed to go with Powell's exploring expedition to Colorado in the United States, and so, of course, we do not think of a wedding until he returns.".

"This is news, indeed," Arley exclaimed, greatly surprised. " When did he apply for this appoint-

ment ?"

"Sit down here and let me brush out your hair while I tell you about it ; we must not waste any time, you know," Lady Elaine said, pushing a low chair before a full-length mirror, .and glad to find that any subject would interrupt her friend's sad thoughts. " He made bis application more than six months ago, and some time before my return from Behool, or," she said, with a little tremulous smile,' " he would never have made it at all, since the thought of separation is very painful to us both,"

" I should think so," Arley said, thoughtfully.

" But his sense of honor," Lady Elaine resumed, " will not allow bim"to throw up the appointment, now that it has been awarded him. It is quite a ' feather in his cap,' so to speak, for the American Congress have authorised Professor Power to explore the Colorado river and make a scientific survey of the region drained by it and its tributaries, together with a topographical survey by triangulation-its geology, zoology, botany, and ethnology. I hope you under- stand it all, dear," the young countess said, laughing at Arley's puzzled expression. I don't, and I had to get W11 to write it down for me, and then I had to' study hard in order to be able to rattle off that much. But Wil is very anxious to become a professor of geology and botany, and this expedition offers a great deal in the way of instruction, as. well as of reputa- tion, and he really cannot afford to lose the oppor

tunity."

" Well I should consider it a great trial to have him go," Arley returned, " for there must be many dangers attending such on expedition. Just think of his going into that wilderness, with all its ravenous beasts and Indians, and then-those horrid Mormons are out there somewhere aren't they P"

"Yes," Lady Elaine said, with a clear,silvery laugh, " but I have no fear that the far-famed Brig- ham Young will ever make a convert of him. It m a great trial, however," she added, tears springing to her eyes, " but if it is for the best, I am willing

to submit to it,"

" When does he go Ï*

"Not until next April."

" And how long will he be gone P"

« About six months, I believe ; the weather will not admit of a longer tour than that."

" You will be very lonely while he is gone, Elaine ?" Arley said, in a sympathetic tone.

" Yes ; but, I must make the beat of that, teo," waa the smiling reply, though tears hung trembling on the long golden lashes.

" What u it, to ' make the best' of anything ?"Arley asked, thoughtfully.

" I believe it is to accept whatever is sent to us as sent by an " All-wise Father for some good-to bear

all ills patiently,1 and be reverently grateful for what- j ever of joy may fall to our lot; three words, in fact, I express it all-trust in God." I

" Can j ou live out your life like that, Elaine P" Arley demanded almost sharply, while she turned to look into those sweetly serious eyes behind her.

" I do not know wbBt is before me, dear," was the low, grave reply, " but I mean to try to live out my lifd like that, At all events, I know there is no real happiness in this world without faith in God."

Arley sighed.

" I do not know much about it, I fear, and I have always felt that there was something in your life which I do not possess, for you are so happy, so lov- able. But I will try to remember what you have said-how I wish you could be with me always," Arley Baid, wistfully. " Elaine," ehe added, " I be- lieve the hardest part of to-day will be the parting from you-perhaps that is why I am so depressed. I wonder why is it that I love you so ?"

" Because of my love for you, no doubt, for love iB begotten of love, you know," and Lady Elaine bent down and touched her lips to the fragrant bairEthot she was plaiting, i

" When I return from my tour you will come and stay with me until Wil returns to claim you ?" Arley

asked.

" Yes, dear, I shall be very glad to come. It will help to pass the time away until he gets back, and then, I suppose, you will come to Hazelmere again to perform these bridal duties for me. There," as she put the last pin into the heavy braids of nut-brown hair, " this is done, and I do not believe a French hair-dresser could have done any better ; now let me help you on with your dress. How perfectly lovely

it iel"

She lifted an exquisite robe of silk and lace from the bed as she spoke, and regarded it admiringly.

" As Annie says," she added, " your taste is simply perfect, and you will make a most charming bride

Arley shivered as ehe slipped the drees over her head, and began to help her fasten it.

" Are you cold P" Lady Elaine asked, observing it.

" No. I know the dress is lovely, but I do not like it. I believe I shall never put it on again, and I would not wear it to-day if I had anything else that would do," Arley sala, almost passionately.

" Why P What a strange freak !" the young countess said, while she regarded the clouded face of the young bride-elect with a wistful glance.

Arley did not offer to explain it, but there weis a reason for this sudden dislike of her wedding dreBS.

It had arrived from Worth's only a day or two previous, and she had thought it the prettiest thing that she had ever Been, and when Philip came in the evening she had coaxed him into her boudoir to look

at it.

It hung upon a form to keep it from being crushed, the lovely trail of rich lace and gleaming silk float- ing out behind in the most graceful folds. .The cor- sage was cut low, and from thiB there extended a covering for the neck made of a net-work of seed pearls, a fringe of the same finishing it where it joined the body, and also the small, short Bleeve.

Do you care for such pretty things ?" she had asked bim with a shy, yet happy glance, bb she re- membered when she was to wear it. " It is all my .wn idea," she added. " I planned and ordered it

myself."

He stood looking at it a moment, not a ray of plea- sure lighting up his handsome face,

" It muBt have coat a great deal of money," was all be said, then he had turned abruptly away from it, as if the sight annoyed him.

Arley's face flushed a vivid, angry scarlet,

" Yes," she answered, proudly lifting her pretty head, " one's wedding-dress is expected to cost a great deal of money."

But it had been spoiled for her from that moment, and that was why she had shivered when she had pnt

it on.

Her lover had thought more of the cost than of the beauty of the robe in which she was to wed him ; all the thought of pleasing bim, all the pleasure and happy fancies which she had woven in with it, for his sake alone, went for nothing with him. But she told no one of it, she kept it a secret in her own heart, and it had rankled there like a poisoned

arrow.

She was as lovely ob a dream, however, when she went down to meet bim, and she saw hi» eyes brighten with a pride which half made up for the pain she hud suffered over his former indifference.

She would not have a single orange blossom in

her wreath,

" Let the poor things have a rest," she had said, when discussing the subject. " There will be one bride whe will not load the air with their perfume,''

And so she had chosen instead a beautiful garland of pure white heath with which to fasten her veil I and delicate vines depending from it trailed down

the whole length of her lovely dress,

She wore no ornaments save the net-work of pearls over her neck, and the fringe which finished it, and fell also over the tops of the long gloves which came up on her arms to meet the tiny sleeves of her dress,

Save the delicate fluBh on her cheeks, and her scarlet lips, with her dark brows and hair, she was as "pure.and chaste as snow," from the crown of her bead to the sole of her white slippered feet,

"I am very proud of my love to-day," Philip said, as he met her at the foot of the stnirs, and led her out to the coach which was to convey her to the

church.

Lady Elaine, who had followdd her, heard the whispered worde, and prayed most fervently that he might always love and be "very proud" of her.

Arley's heart bounded and thrilled over the fond sentence, little dreaming how soon, alas lit was to be pierced with a cruel wound, the sear of which would never disappear.

Arriving at the church, they were rejoined by Philip and Wil, also by Annie Vane and her husband, and the cortege swept up the aisle to the altar, where a few brief moments were all that were necessary for the words to be spoken which bound Arley Went- worth to Philip Paxton for life.

The wedding breakfast was much like other breakfasts on similar occasions; the congratulations, good wishes, and toasts were numerous and hearty ; the bridal presents were properly inspected and ad- mired, and finally the fair bride stole away to pre- pare for her journey.

Sho was nearly ready to return to her guests when there came a tap npon her door and a servant entered bearing a note upon a silver tray..

" What is this ?" Arley asked, as she took it up and began to unfold it.

"A young person, madam, called a few moments ago and asked for you," the servant replied. " I told her that you could not be disturbed to-day, but she insisted that she must see you, and finally asked me if I would bring you this note."

Alley now gave her attention to the note and read these few words very hastily written :

" Will you please grant me just a few moments as I have something ef the greatest importance to tell you before you go away ! I would not have troubled you only that it is exceedingly important,"

There was no name signed to this strange request which was written in a delicate, lady-like hand.

" How singular murmured Arley, while a nervous tremor ran over her like a hot flame.

" Where is the lady P" she asked, feeling instinc- tively that it was a lady who had written the note,

" In the crimson ante-room, and there is a gentle-1 man with her, mies-madam." I

Arley Bmiled at the girl's correction in addressing'

her, then Bhe said i

" You may ask her to come up here. I think I can* spare her ten minutes as well as not," she added to herself, " and I am really quite curious to know what her important communication ig."

The servant withdrew, and Arley stood looking out of the window, softly humming a little air ta herself, and tapping out the time to it with her pret- ty boot, while she waited for her visitor

Never as long as she lived did she forget those few moments while she tarried for the stranger.

Her attitude, the room with all its rich appoint« ments, the graceful sweep of the curtains near which she WBB standing, the foggy street without, the leaden sky above, were all indelibly stamped upon

her mind.

She remembered, too, how happy she was-for her depression had all vanished as if by magic-with what joy she looked forward to her journey with her husband-her husband I How the words thrilled her as she said them over to herself, with not a thought of the misery that was rushing to overtake her like a swift destroyer.

Then the door opened, and she turned to see a fair young girl of about her own age enter the room and come forward to meet her* /

She was slight and graceful in form ; she had a fair complexion, with great, dark-blue eyes, sunny brown hair that waved prettily about her forehead,., a delicate, clear-cut face, and small, beautifully shaped hands and feet,

How quickly and keenly Arley noted and took in all these details of her person.

How quickly her eye ran over every article of her dress, marking everything, from the tasteful, becom- ing hat, to the tiny, perfectly-fitting boot, and yet there was nothing about the engaging stranger to be- tray that she had come on an errand that was to dash the cup of happiness from her lips, and rob her of everything that she prized most in life.