|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||A Golden Dawn|
CHAPTER IV. Dene Hall was the very residence for one who studied the enjoyments of life. It was one of the prettiest homes in England. There was nothing grand or majestic about it ; but it was pic tureEque, artistic, and beautiful. There was no recognized form in its architec ture, and no two rooms resembled each other. Some had long French windows opening into the grounds, others large bay windows, from which one had a magnificent view of the surrounding country.. Some were stately and splen did, others small and rosy; there was every variety, and there was every shape; every taste could be gratified. The rooms themselves were furnished in different styles---some with splen dour, smine with simple artistic taste ; they' wero all -picturesque, many with pretty nooks where one could talk un observed by the hour, many full of gems of art., It was a home wherein
every one was happy and at ease; there were rare books for the studios, music for those who enjoyed it, out door amusement for those who preferred it, shady walks where the trees met overhead for those who loved solitude. Lady Rosedene was never alone. She did not know what solitude meant, and never intended to know. She had always a well-assorted party of visi tors at the Hall, and she quietly exulted in the fact that she had now a face to show her friends such as they had never seen before. Lady Rosedene was always in love with her last pro tege, and she was decidedly charmed with Hyacinth Vane. Hyacinth had been quite at a loss about her dress. In her dilemma she had gone to Mrs. Morley, who had helped her in the difficulty. Francis Vane looked at his daughter with some thing like a smile on his face as he gave her the sum of money which seemed to her like a little fortune. "All this for dress, papa ?" she said. " Why, it would buy books for you that would last for a lifetime I" He laughed a quiet gentle laugh that she had never heard before from his lips. "' My dear Hyacinth, dress must be your books for the present, and a very nice study it will be for you." He looked at her with admiration when she came to bid him good-bye. " I am to lose you for a month," he said. "We have never been parted before." She laid her fair hand on his shoulder, and whispered to him that she did not want to leave him then, begging him not to spend the hours of her absence in solitary watch over the green grave. It was like going from one world into another when she left the lonely study and went out into the sunlight, where Lady Rosedene's luxurious car riage awaited her. It was a novel sen sation-a drive of many miles in a splendid open carriage, through some of the most beautiful scenery in Eng land. She had been disauieted and anxious as to how she should feel nmongst strangers, but every thought of her self soon died away. The girl's soul seemed wakened to fresh life by all that she saw. The drive was like a dream of sunlight and foliage, of glancing streams and purple hills, of broad shaded roads and green fields. She was bewildered by the beauty of the park, and by the picturesque ap pearance of the Hall. The girlish untried heart sank when she saw the grandeur of everything around her ; but her innate pride and independence came to her aid. Lady Rosedene, always amiable and considerate, was in the entrance hall to greet her. The girl's heart went out to her graceful kindly hostess. Lady Rosedene would go herself to Hyacinth's room. "1I have placed you near me," she said "so that you may not feel lonely, and that my maid may attend to you, as of course you have not brought one." Hyacinth laughed at the notion, as she thought of the one old-fashioned maid at home. She felt entirely at ease with Lady Rosedene. No one re sisted Lady Rosedene for long. " You will like to understand a little about the Hall before we go down stairs," she said. "Before you dress I will give you a sketch of my chief visitors. The prima donna at present -that is, the lady who sings best, who manages our charades and private theatricals-is Miss Sant. She is one of the cleverest girls in England in her own particular role." " What is her role ?" asked Hya cinth, beginning to feel interested in her new world. " I should say, amusing others. She is clever and beautiful, and there is a tragedy attached to her that a stranger would never suspect." "What is the tragedy ?" asked Hyacinth, who associated that word only with Greek plays and the works called Shakespeare. Lady Rosedene hesitated half'a moment. " I may as well tell you," she said ; "every one here knows it, and you will be sure to hear it mentioned be fore you have been in the house many days. Miss Sant was engag3d to be married, and a few days before the one fixed for her wedding her lover ran away with her dearest friend." Hyacinth, to whom all the sin and falsity of the world was as unknown as its pleasures, grew pale at the words; and the only kind of love that she either knew or understood was such as her father had for her mother. "How dreadful !" she cried, and her eyes opened wide in wonder. Lady Rosedene smiled at her earnest ness. It was plain that love's perfi dies were unknown to her. She went on "Miss Sant did not break her heart after the usual style of heart-breaking. She laughed as she owned how com pletely she had been deceived ; but she has never been the same girl since. There is something hard, cynical, and satirical about her now that no one ever saw in her before. She has refused many offers of marriage-and she is, to my thinking, one of the most bril liant women in English society." "I should have thought her one of the most miserable," said simple Hyacintb. Lady Rosedene laughed. "You will find," she said, "when you know society better, that women have two lives, and that the outer and inner life differ considerably. Women often laugh their brightest when their hearts are breaking ; but that is a doleful doctrine to teach you." "I could never smile while my heart ached," remarked Hyacinth. "I hope your heart will never ache," was Lady Rosedene's answer. "I must not linger so long over all my visitors, or the dinner bell will ring before you know one-half of them. You will like the Count and Countess de Soldano ; he is Spanish, she is Italian, and they are,. without excep tion, the nicest pair I know." "That is a high character," said Hyacinth.; "for I should think in this bright world there are many people very nice and happy." ,c iet us hope so," responded Lady Rosedene. "You will admire Miii
Letchfred. She is a perfect brunette, sparkling, imperious, very much ad mired, yet with a certain pride that keeps most people at a distance from her." "I like that description," said Hya cinth impulsively ; "I shall like her." "We shall see. Then comes a cousin of my own, Major Tarne-a hero in every sense of the word-an invalided officer who nearly died of jungle fever in India-a man who is honest in thought and deed." "I shall like him," said Hyacinth, with a candour that delighted Lady Rosedene. "I hope you will," she replied. "Then there is Kate Hulton ; every one likes her; she is one of the most frank, candid, outspoken girls in Christendom. Brave, high-spirited, and fearless, she has never said an un generous word or done a mean action in her life, I am sure ; and withal she is very pretty, bright, and intelligent, if not beautiful. Our only other visitor at present is Sir Harry Beau voir, and there is nothing extraordinary about him." Hyacinth laughed the happy sunny laugh Lady Rosedene loved to hear. " I should say then that he is cut of place here, where every one has some extraordinary quality or other." " Sir Harry helps to cement all the. extraordinary qualities in my well selected party. There must be one or two inanities, just to serve as a foil for the others. Now, shall I send my maid to help you to dress ?" Hyacinth looked at her shyly. "I think I can manage best with out her," she answered; "I have never been accustomed to a maid." . "You shall do just as you like, my dear; but, remember, a first appear ance is everything, and I have made up my mind that you shall produce a cer tain effect-and I shall be disappointed if my wish is not realized." She laid her hand caressingly on the wealth of golden hair. "It would require an artist to do justice to this. You had better let my maid come ; she is a true Parisienne ; she knows exactly to the shade of a leaf or the tying of a ribbon what suits every one. I want you to be a belle of belles." Lady Rosdene, as usual, had her own way. Hortense came, and was de lighted with the exquisite beauty of the young visitor. For the first time Hyacinth began to realize that she was gifted with unusual beauty, and that beauty was of itself a power. Hortense talked the whole time. She was one of Lady Rosedene's privi leged dependants, one who never went one inch beyond the line marked for intercourse between lady and maid. She took the greateat pains with Hya cinth. She dressed the golden hair in such a beautiful and -artistic fashion that Hyacinth could hardly believe it was her own. The simple white dinner dress lay on the bed ; the Frenchwoman made it elegant and picturesque by means of trailing sprays of green leaves; she made a pretty head-dress of green leaves and white shining blossoms. To be continuedl.