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MY QUEEN., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 345, 16 May 1881
( Continued..) The old oak-parlor at Morion Hall had never looked so well as it did when the heir of the house was the cynosure of all eyes on his birth-night, and its dark walls were ablaze with wax tapers and garlands of fragrant flowers. The hero of the day stood in the doorway to receive his guests, who then passed on to his father and mother and were soon lost in the gay crowd. He smiled with pleasure as we advanced, and, as his eyes tell on Lily, he beckoned a young and handsome man to approach. ‘ Miss Lily, permit me to introduce you to my friend, Major Campbell, with whom you kindly promised to ' dance the first minuet,’ he said, with a smile. The young officer bowed profoundly, expressed himself as honored by her , promise, and, offering her his arm, they passed on. My father led me to a seat in the nook of a bay window, where I could see all that passed, for my lameness prevented my dancing. Soon the music struck up a minuet, which was to open the ball. The young Squire’s partner was unknown to me, till my neighbor, a good-natUreSL gossiping matron, whispered— ». : u jn ‘ That’s the young Squire’s wife tnat is to be, Miss Dormer; she is a sweet pretty creature, but she can’t compare to your sister. She has jusTcpme from France, where she has been, brought up in a convent. I can’t think why the Squire could not content 1 himself with an English wife. But there’s no accounting for men’s tastes,’ she said, with a half sigh in which there may i
have been some bitterness, for her own son had married one of his mother’s milkmaids, and the subject was a sore one to the poor woman. When I looked at the object of my neighbor’s remarks, I could not wonder at Frank Morton’s choice. Mademoiselle de la Ferroniere was a perfect type of French beauty, tall and of graceful figure, slenderly formed, her small head surrounded by a crown of jet-black hair; her oval face was lighted by a pair or magnificent black eyes that now languished softly, and anon flashed like liquid gems; her manner was full of the most bewitching minauderie , an unintentional coquettishness —if one could call it so—and, as she handled her delicate jewelled fan in the mazes of the dance, she formed a striking and charming contrast to Lily, whose style of beauty gamed ‘ rather than lost by the piquant comparison, as a wild flower might when placed by a gorgeous exotic. She herself seemed struck by Lily’s beauty, and* with a Frenchwoman’s intuitive perception discerned at a glance the advantageous contrast.
Before the evening was over she had won my father’s heart with her pretty lisping English, and by the charm of her manner. He invited her to come next day to the farm to see sheepshearing, a sight unwitnessed by her hitherto. Lily meanwhile danced frequently with her handsome partner, who was, he told her, paying a long visit to the Hall, whither he had brought his cousin, Mademoiselle de la Ferroniere, the orphan child of Mrs Morton’s, only sister, who had married a French noble, and at whose death, a year after her husband’s, the young orphaned Henriette had passed into the care of her aunt, Mrs Morton. 1 Frank Morton had long loved his beautiful cousin, but he had only lately made an avowal of his attachment; and a year was to elapse before they were to be united. What was it that sent the hot blood to my cheeks, and then, departing, left them cold as ice ? Only a look of love from a stranger into the face ot my sister Lily, whose gentle glancejdrooped beneath the searching gaze. They sat next to me at the long and bountifully-spread table wbereon supper was sewed; but the dainties heaped' on my plate were as Dead Sea apples. I sat as in a trance, overwhelmed- by this new and unlooked-for possibility. Had it never occurred to my mind that Lily would one day have another heart than mine to turn to, or that another could call a brighter smile to her lips than I could ever hope to win, and own perhaps a like allegiance to ‘my Queen ’? The jealous rankling in my heart I strove to put from me, as unworthy of a totally unselfish love, but I could not quite free myself from this new and expected feeling. It was only when the first gray streaks of dawn appeared in the east that we left Morton Hall. Major Campbell carefully wrapped Lily in her scarlet-quilted cloak, and begged my father’s permission to accompany his cousin to the farm the next day. I looked at Lily’s happy face on her homeward drive, with a feeling half of pleasure and half of pain; a bright flush was on her cheeks, and her eyes shone as if a new, strange radiance from within illuminated them ; she chatted merrily of every event of the evening, and spoke of every person there save Major Campbell, till my father laughingly asked her if she admired her partner in the dance, adding, with a glance of fond pride—‘He seemed to like to dance with thee, my little lass ’ The flush on Lily’s cheeks deepened as she carefully replied—- ‘ Yes, father, he danced even better than the young Squire ;’ and then she said no more. The next morning Lily was on the tiptoe of expectation, for she said Mademoiselle Henriette would come at mid-day, before the sheep-shearing was over. It was almost noon when we saw Mademoiselle de la Ferroniere standing at the wicket-gate which opened on to the terraced flower garden in front of the house, and by her side were her betrothed and his friend Leonard Campbell. Henriette hastened to meet me, and then turned to Lily, and, saluting her on both cheeks in her pretty foreign fashion, lisped in her broken English—- * Ah, Mees Lily, we are de bonne heure, and are come to see the cutting of the flocks 1’ And with a few words to my father she took his proffered arm, and they led the way to the fields where the shearing was going on. Lily followed with Mr Morton and his friend; they had promised to return to dinner, so I remained at home to make due preparations for our unwonted guests. They stayed all the afternoon and far into the evening, when we sat, in the
vJPi .. 11 '.'U-LI -U_i!i soft twilight, on the terraced \\..i front of the house and converged on every imaginable subject. Major Cambell telling of his travels and ad< < mu-i in foreign lands, ever and anon glancing up ac Lily, at whose feet he sat, for a look and a smile. The still air was heavy with the rich perfume of the flowers which bloomed in profusion on every side; and a young moon was rising over the hill tops when our guests took their leave. Major Campbell brought a rare plant the next day for Lily, which he said she would admire when it blossomed; and the next day he brought her flowers for her garden, and persuaded her to join the riding party at the Hall. From those rides she always returned radiant with health and spirits, while I, with an indefinable weight pressing at my heart, tried to feel glad at her happiness—a happiness I felt, for the first time in my life, that I had not been the means of procuring her. I was sitting one evening, as in days gone by, in my old favorite seat in our little room, facing the tree-tops, which were now once again a mass of pink and white, loveliness, when Lily came in with a strange air of shyness, and, coming slowly up to me, threw her arms round my 1 and, hiding her face on my shoulder*'faltered out the tale of her happiness.!-/ . *He has asked me to be his wife, May; but I toldhim I could not leave you, for you wenfa mother to me.’ * Yes, darling,’ I murmured ; ‘ but a mother must leam to part with her children.’ ‘ That is what he said, May—thajt, if you liked him, you would not keep me from him; but he would ask you and our father himself.’ As she became calmer we talked more connectedly of the future, and she told me that Major Campbell’s regiment was just ordered to Ireland for a short time, but that on his return he intended to leave the Army and settle on his own estate, a small property about ten miles from our home, and then he hoped to make her his wife. Before night my father had given his consent to their betrothal, and I wished Leonard Campbell joy for the treasure he had won.
Leonard came to the farm every day, and every day only confirmed the favorable impression he had made, and the golden opinions he had won. Lily’s cup of happiness seemed full, and I, more accustomed to her new found joy, grew contented at her future, which seemed so fair.
But the sunny present came to an end at last, when the ordeis arrived for Major Campbell to join his regiment. It was a sad parting for the lovers, though they were cheered by the thought of meeting within a few months, when their marriage was arranged to take place. As he turned to depart Leonard placed weeping Lily in ipy arms. ‘You will take care of her, May, lor my sake as well as for her own,’ and after another embrace of his betrothed wife he was gone. Next day there came from the port where he had embarked a packet for Lily; it contained a long and closelywritjtcn letter, and a beautiful minature of Leonard set in valuable brilliants, while at the back was a lock of his curly black hair. That minature was the joy and'Coriifort of Lily’s life, and it never left her night or day, as she wore it suspended from her neck by a gold chain which Leonard had sent with it. ,( To be continufd.)
MY QUEEN., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 345, 16 May 1881
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