Chapter 18941009

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Chapter NumberIX
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18941009
Full Date1884-11-29
Page Number20
Corrections0
Word Count2874
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleArley
article text

CHAPTER IX.

THE PIttST WEDDING.

"Do yon love him, Arley 1"

" Why, my darling Lily of Mordaunt; how can you ask suoh a question P Do you suppose I should bave accepted him if I had not P"

"I hope not-I trust opt ; yet I-it is very unex« \mected to sie-it seems very strange," sighed the \entle Elaine, a perplexed expression clouding her \ \ely face.

\\ Nktrad bsen perfectly amazed when Philip Pax

\ >ï!a known the fact of the engagement to

\\ ^d\as soon as she could catch her by herself

\\ai^. her with the above question, while \Vffí\¿iied with a strange foreboding on her

ititi;*^\

NB o\>ne, except Wil, of Philip's pro

\ N\ifould not reconcile it with her

vN N>Hgbtnese. that a man pro«

feeeins love for. one woman ehould so suddenly transfer his offer of marriage to another. Barely something must be wrong somewhere.

She remembered bow ardently he had pleaded for her love ; he had told her that he loved her with his whole soul-that he would move the whole world to become worthy of her, it there might be hope to win her;

She remembered, too, that other interview, when he bad told her that she had made a bad man of him -that it his future career was marked by reckless deeds and heartless acts, she might know to what to

attribute them.

These things troubled her greatly, for she feared that in his anger and disappointment over her re-

fusal he might have set himself to win the affect- ions of Arley Wentworth out of pure bravado and antagonism, and this might be one of those heartless acts for which he charged her accountable.

She had grown to feel a deep and abiding love for the bright and interesting girl, who, though nearly two years older than herself, appeared to be that much younger; and Arley seemed to reciprocate this affection, notwithstanding that until very re- cently they had been utter strangers to each other

One day she, impulsively threw her arms around Lady Elaine's neck, and exclaimed :.

" How I wish you were my sister I You have no idea how I have always longed for a Bister, and if the fates had only given you to me I should be supremely happy."

" Why, how singular 11 have often wished the same thing since I became Acquainted with you," returned the Lily of Mordaunt, with a look of surprise,

" Perhaps the fact that we are both orphans has caused it," he added, after a moment : " but I must confess, Arley, that I bave never seen anyone who has won her way so securely into my heart as you

have done."

" That oughft to make me very happy, and it does, dear," Arley returned, kiesirjg her with tears in her

eyes.

" I should have had a sister if she had lived," Lady Elaine resumed, "and she would have been just about your age too. It has been a source of great corrow to me that she could not have been spared,"

" How old was she when she died P" Arley asked. " A mere baby, not two years old, and I never saw her, because sbe^died before I was born ; but I was never weary of hearing mamma talk about her. She was entirely different from me, too, resembling mamma, who had dark hair and eyes, while I am a thorough Mordaunt in form, and feature, and com- plexion,"

" What was this little one's name ?" Arley asked much interested in Lady Elaine's story.

Alice, and she was exceedingly bright for her age. I can remember how papa used to talk about the smart thiBgs shs would say and do in her baby way ; and of course, being their first baby, they were very proud of her, I bad a brother, too, who was younger than I ;'but he was taken also, and mamma ne Ter re I covered from the shock of his death-she could not

i she would not be reconciled to the loss of the only i heir of Mordaunt," Lady Elaine concluded, with a

sigh.

" What a strange world this is 1" Arley remarked, reflectively ; some people have so many to love them and others so few. But, dear Elaine, I am happy to bave won your affection, and I hope that this friend- ship, which amounts almost to sisterhood, will last throughout our whole life."

" I know of nothing that would cause me greater pain than to have it broken;" Lady Elaine said, with

a little sigh of apprehension, as she thought of Philip 1 and wondered how his marriage with Arley would affect it in the future.

" Lst us put a seal upon it," she added eacerly af- ter a moment; " let us exchange rings, Arley, You have a queer twisted ring on your third fincer that I have admired ever since I first saw it; let me have it, and I will givo you this in return," and she drew off a lovely emerald surrounded by tiny pearls as she epoke.

"No, indeed, Elaine ; that would not be a fair ex- change at all," Arley opposed, " That is « very costly ring, while mine, though exceedingly odd, is only a Bimple affair, which I bought us a guard to this dia- mond that grandpapa gave me two years ago,"

" Never mind, I want it," persisted Lady Elaine, "and I want you to have this; so, if there areno precious associations connected with it, put it here on this finger, and let me put mine upon yours,"

She held out her slender band as she ceased speak- ing, and Arley obediently slipped the twisted ring upon the third finger. '

Then taking Arley's hand, she put the emerald

above the diamond.

" With this ring I wed tbee, dear," she said, with a fond smile, but with a little tremulousnesa in her tones; "so remember that you are my especial friend for all time, in sickness or in health, for better or for worse, it will be all the same-be sure that you never forget it, Arley."

Arley Wentworth kissed her with trembling lips.

" You would compel any one to love you almost against their will," she said, " but. I certainly never -shall ferget."

I 'But we have wandered far from the question under

discussion.

We have said that Lady Blaine wbb deeply trou- bled over Ar ley's engagement; indeed she seemed almost to have a presentiment that unhapplness would result from her marriage with this talented but, Bhe feared, .unprincipled young barrister from

London,

41 Why does it seem ' strange' to you t" Arley asked,, referring to her remark regarding it.

Lady Elaine colored vividly and waa for a moment confused by the question.

She had spoken unguardedly, for Bhe had been thinking of Philip Faxton's proposal of marriage to herself. But she quickly recovered,

" Well, for one thing, you have avoided bim so persistently of late," ehe said.

Arley flushed.

"I know," she said, "but I couldn't beep op the farce that I had been playing any longer; though I never once imagined that Philip cared anything for me, I thought that he meant to win you if he could, and I was determined that he shouldn't if I could help it, for I knew that it was right for Wil to have you. But when your engagement was announced, of course there was no longer any seed of my playing the decoy in the enemy's country« so I dropped out of sight as quickly as I could, and then, it seems, he ' came to his senses, and found out that he cared for

me. I've told him the whole story."

?* Arley, you haven't 1" interrupted Lady Elaine,

in dismay.

" Yes, I have, too," the independent giri retorted, with a comical little shrug of her shoulders. "You don't suppose I was going to drop directly into his arms, and meekly say : ' yes, sir ; if you please,' with all that on my conscience, do you ?"

" But what dtd he think of it?"

" 1 do not care what he thought, I imagined at first that he was so disappointed over the frustration ot all his hopes regarding you, he had turned to me

in a fit of anger and pique, and you may be sure I , was'raving mad,'as the boys say, for awhile over it. But a straightforward course is always the best, no matter how deep it cuts, so I accused him of it

on ibu Bpat, and told him the whole (story ot my strategy."

"Well, well," exclaimed Lady Elaine, almost breathlessly, more nnd more astonished, and wonder- ing what her quondam would-be lover had thought of this eh*rp thrust from the spirited girl.

" Well," Atley resumed, " he confessed that at first he believed himself to D6 in love with you, for he had never met anyone bo lovely before ; but when I suddenly grew so cold, and began to avoid him withdrawing all my artillery, you know, because it was no longer needed"-she interrupted with a bright laugh-" he awoke to the fact that something very necessary to his happiness had dropped out of dib life, and realized that he had lost his heart to me. I actually told bim, point-blank, that I did not believe bim when he said that he loved me. I had no idea of falling at his feet like an over-ripe apple.; and, really, at first I did not more than half believe bim-I couldn't forget how he had dawdled around you, But I had to succumb at last ; and-I will confess it to you, dear-I believe I am very happy."

The btuah which suffused her face, and the happy light in her eyes testified most eloquently to this

fact.

Lady Elaine bent down and kissed her, but a sigh escaped her in the act.

She was very anxious and uneasy, although she

strove to hide it,

She was not sure but that she ought to tell her of what had passed between Philip and herself, but she reasoned that it was too late for that now:

The mischief had been done-Arley, had given her promise, and she might make enemies of them both if she should exposs his double-dealing ; while it might be as he had said- that he did not realize his feelings ton ard her until she appeared to withdraw,

her tavor from him.

" Heaven grant that yon may be very, very happy," shs said, twining her arms about the fair girl's waist; " you surely deserve to be, Arley, for you are true and honest to your heart's core, and I csuld not bear that you should be deceived or wronged by any

one."

" Deceived or wronged !" repeated Arley, while with gr.ive, earnest eyes she searched ber friend's face. " Surely you do not think that Philip is de- ceiving me P What object could he have ?"

" None, I hope, dear ; but, you see, I am very fond of you, and I want you to be very sure that you love him, and will be perfectly happy if you marry him,"

" Did you argue like this with yourself before you accepted Wil P" Arley asked, mischievously.

Lady Elaine laughed, and blushed rosily.

" I must confess, Arley, that I did not," she enid ; but then, I had known Wil-or about him-all my life, while Mr. Paxton is almost a stranger to us all."

"That is so; but then, the heart is a stubborn thing, my dear, and I'm afraid mine is lost beyond

recovery," Arley replied, with a gay laugh,

" If I could only have known," Lady Elaine mur- mured, with a sigh of foreboding, after Arley had left her, " that he was meditating this thing, I would have-told her before about both of those interviewst and then she would have been on her guard. She ie very bright and keen-witted, but I am sadly afraid that she has made a mistake for once. .My heart has been strangely drawn toward her, and it would be a great trial to me if her future should be an un- happy one."

But the next two weeks passed so pleasantly and harmoniously, the three pairs of lovers were so de- voted and apparently eo happy in each other, that an observer would undoubtedly have augured a life of uninterrupted bliss for them all.

At the end of that time Philip Paxton said he must return to London, for his business required his atten- tion, but at Wil'e request he promised to run down to Hazelmere every Saturday and spend the Sabbath na lung as Arley remained a guest there.

Annie Hamilton would not consent to spare her friend until after the wedding, which was to occur now in about a month, although Arley protested that she "had already remained long enough to wear her welcome out a dozen times."

." How can you tell such a an awful story ?" Annie playfully demanded in reply to this assertion. "You are the life of the house. Papa remarked it only yesterday, and added that you were the only one of us all who was not so bound up in le grande passion as to lose your identity and become stupid."

"X «hall surely tender my prettiest courtseyand thanks to Sir Anthony for bia compliment the very next time I see him," laughed Arley, gayly, yet blushing as she realised how very much she was bound up in le grande patston just then, in spite of

her host's assertion.

" Well, then," pursued Annie, decidedly, " you are not to say another word about going away until after the important event. I have arranged for both you and Elaine to be my bride-maids, and I want you at hand to help me about a hundred little things ; and you, with your exquisite taste in matters of I dress, dear Arley, will be indispensable to me."

This argument was unanswerable ; and as there

¡ was really nothing to call Arley away, she waa only

too glad to remain with these friendB who made everything so enjoyable, while it must be confessed she was often very lonely in her own home, with only her aged aunt, Miss McAllister, for company.

The four weeks before the wedding, however, seemed actually to meit away, and were gone almost before they realised it, and the important day dawned bright and fair.

The bride was, of course, lovely in white satin with the usual accompaniments-the mist-like veil and pure, fragrant orango blossoms ; while the two bride-maids-Lady Elaine in her rich, cream-white Bilk, garnished with wreaths of forget-me-nots and pearls, and Arley in pale pink, with great Maréchal Heil rosea drooping gracefully here and there amid folds of frost-like lace-wera almost, if not quite, as attractive as the gentle bride herself.

Wil Hamilton and Philip Paxton were, of course, the " best men," and both made a fine, manly ap-

pearance.

The wedding breakfast was pronounced" elegant," and everything passed off in the smoothest and most approved manner.

The gifts were numerous and costly, and, alto- gether, pretty Annie Hamilton seemed to begin life with every prospect of future happinesB and pros

parity.

Then carne the farewells and confusion of depar- ture, and the happy pair left Hazelmere for a tour of a month, after which they were to take up their resi- dence in their own home, which was not far from Sir Anthony's estate.

Three days later Arley bade her friends "good bye," and returned to London, where she was to make immediate preparations for her own marri

[ age, since Philip Paxton insisted that there was no

reason why it should be delayed, and bad fixed the

event for the 24th of October.

" I shall expect you both to act as my bride« maids." Arley had said, when talking it over with

her friends. ' I , " But that won't do at all dear," Annie said, laugh« I ing. "I shall ba a stately (?) matron, you know, I and I'm afraid Mrs. Grundy would boil over at euch j en unheard of thing," I

" I do not care anything about Mrs. Grundy, nor any other madam who is supposed to exercise a con- trolling voice in fashion or etiquette. I never did anything like anybody else yet, unless I wanted to, and I'm not going to begin to run into other people's ruts now. I'm only going to have those whom I love around me when I am married," returned the inde- pendent girl, who, as she asserted, had never yet sacrificed her identity for the sake of custom.

So that matter was arranged as she wished. Lady Elaine also promised to go up to London to spend the last fortnight with her, and all the Hamiltons were to be present at the very quiet wedding. ?