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A TIGER LILY : A GOLDEN ROD., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 303, 26 March 1881
A TIGER LILY : A GOLDEN ROD.
CHAPTER I.—The Two Groups. “Come here, Lauderdale, and see the miserable creature.” “ A pitiful object, Gregory.” “ She is sending him back to fetch her dog—a dog to fetch a dog.” “He does look as if he had been whipped and bidden keep to heel.” “ There go.es the taunting tyraany-of woman.” “ There goes the abject, loathsome mammon-worship of man.” The two speakers were brother- and sister ; though at the first glance' of the heads and the shoulders thrust fqrward at the gable tof a high-pitched glass house, which commanded the'dale of the Roan and the road to the ! mineralspring of St. Boville’s, situated where Scotland merges into England, it would have been a little hard to distinguish the brother from the sister. The upper garments —linen blouses) consideaably stained and splashed—of the couple, were the same, and the faces were at once very peculiar and very like. They were quaintly ugly, with the physicalugliness which sometimes exists along with higly intelligent and benevolent expressions ; and which, unique and characteristic in itself, when irradiated by gleams of genius and melted and remoulded for moments by sudden touches of tenderness, becomes often as good as beauty of form and color; nay, beats beauty ignominiously in its own walk.
The personal speciality of the Wainrights was a loose-limbed, ill-jointed - speciality—shambling in the man, ungainly in the woman. The family complexion was almost picturesque and pictorial—it was of so warm an orange sallowness —if it had been anywhere save in the human face, where it bad a flavor, false in this instance, of jaundice and yellow fever, ; ‘ The features were of that happy bumpy order, which must have something intrinsically gifted and benign in them ; for it does not need the' recollection of the face of Tom Pincll in mentioning them to remind the, world; of half the most manlike, womanlike, | childlike people they know. The fbre- . head was a very prominent bump, indeed, like a large Sweedish turnip, so heavy that had it not been for the cordial twinkle of the eye-r-which it is scarcely necessary to say, under such a penthouse, were contracted by short sight—and the pacific character of the full mouth, it would have been lower- ; ing. The nose was another knob, much smaller but almost equally round, honest, innocent, and comical among noses. The chin formed a third knob in due proportion. The hair was the great point of difference between the man and the woman; while it was the plainest evidence in both how ill time f had dealt with them. Originally th e hair had been of a muddy buff color, trying even to a complexion of lilies J and roses; but though neither brother nor sister had reached middle life, in the man it had fallen off, save in .fluffy tufts at the sides, giving him another , huge bump as a climax, by leaving the main body of his head to the cuff of hi neck in unvarnished—or rather literally 8 - highly varnished—baldness ;in the, woman, it was still a full crop, but so profusely sprinkled with grey, as to have i paled from buff to straw color. - ’ Only a peculiar nurture and culture ■ could have developed such unity in disparity with its gains and losses; and 1 : Lauderdale and Gregory Waiuright had I been reared and disciplined peculiarly r to their mutual wealth and mutual poverty. ■ - They were two welt born, Well educated photographic artists on; equal . terms; not that Gregory took the photographs and Lauderdale printed them ; but that they were partners as ’ well as brother and sister, who had | reached considerable eminence in their profession, were somewhat eccentric " i from protracted combined isolation ati d . knocking about in the world, and had ' ; inherited a right to occupy rooms in old St. Boville’s House grounds, and the St. Boville’s House servants fumTrig, and turning up their noses _at the degenerate scions of the ancient family of Wainwright. ' ' : Lauderdale and Gregory’s trade had : not been without its effect in making/ them arrant gossips. From their post in their itinerant castle, pitched in the shadow of the borrowed dignity of St. Boville’s, with their three-legged apparatus and their long boxes like Punch I properties among the crags, woods, and r waters, Lauderdale and Gregory soon knew every face of the company frequenting St. Boville’s this summer, . quite as well as the woman at the well- . spring knew it. They picked up the * nrmes and fragments of the owners* histories, discussing the last with as much zest as the most accomplished spinster who attended church for the good of her soul on Sundays, and solaced her taste and fancy by accompanying friends to the weekly concerts given by Ludovic Sutcliffe, Miss Lucy Hyndford, and Miss Clara Mortimer,. pretty regularly every Saturday evening, and by taking out the fastest novels in the circulating library to which she subscribed, on the plea, “ They are all nonsense and not at all improving, my s / dear ; but a sojourn at a watering place is an idle interval, and if I am to be excused for indulging in a little. light reading to pass the time, I may as .well stretch my tether to its utmost extent, and induldge in what I feel to be improbable, improper, and exciting in the highest degree.” r ' Lauderdale and Gregory knew all' all about the rich young widow who ' flaunted her youthful bloom and sprightliness, and was at the same time:■ overgrown and lazy; who would allow ' no one to contradict her desperate ; heathens of children, yet led an openly cat and dog life with them herself; who kept a tame young man hanging about her, a poor, drowned-in-debt, sunk'with-dissipation, wreck of a handsome, frivolous, good-for-nothing, good natured, ci-devant gentleman/ whom she would neither marry nbr : let go, O whom.she baited and played with for her own convenience and delectation, with the false fugitive attraction, of some day soon marrying him and so relieving him from his mountain load of debt, and providing for his helpless, dreary future. And she cared nothing, though the world of St. Boville’s, and the great World beyond the .little watering place between its heathery hills, commented in strong seans. =.A the liberty—censured her, cut her.
Was she not a rich ytung widow who was beyond control, and answerable to nobody; who could ride rampant over all the unfortunates in her power, tyrannise over them, abuse them, grind and defraud them, while she indulged herself in a coarsely sensual life, without scruple and without concealment? Lauderdale and Gregory were watch- , ing the bold, fussy progress of the widow, with her coerced, hard-driven captive in her train, climbing the path among the mountain ashes and broom bushes, rapidly changing into waving and nodding ling, to the well. They were incongruous wayfarers on such a road, as incongruous as the nauseous, sulphureous fumes of the clear sparkling water at the spring, or as the crowd of ; omnibuses and cabs, jaded conductors arid cabbies, pompous, jaunty, chattering men, women, and children, for the most part showing off their airs, and gabbling flippantly, when they met in the fresh mornings, in that lovely, ■and, by nature, lonely dell, where a " fountain of health was supposed to play for the public’s benefit. (To be continued.')
A TIGER LILY : A GOLDEN ROD., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 303, 26 March 1881
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