Page images
PDF
EPUB

this time. I don't suppose she has made much of Delphine looked up. her opportunities. I expect she has been fear- “Good-looking? It depends on what people fully solemn, and has almost crushed him, if he call good-looking.” is crushable, that is, with the majesty of her | “One man's meat is another man's poison, I demeanor. Now, I should have been amiability suppose you mean. I have been considering the itself. I think the course I should have taken subject seriously of late, and on comparing us would have been to make him fall in love with with our neighbors, I have come to the conclusion me— "

that, taken all in all, we are good-looking." “You little stupid ! When he is engaged to be “Our good looks are all the good things we married already!"

have to boast of, then," said Delphine unenthu" So he is ! How disgusting it is to find all siastically, as she turned her lovely head to one one's schemes upset in that way. Well, I don't side, and contemplated her work-her sister keenly care whether he is engaged or not. I want to scrutinizing her in the meantime, see him awfully, and I think it was intensely | “Well, good looks are no mean fortune. What stupid of mamma to quarrel with him.”

was it I was reading the other day about-'As No doubt you would have acted much more much as beauty better is than gold,' or words to circumspectly, being a person of years, experience, that effect.” and great natural sagacity.

"Pooh !" said Delphine, with a little derisive “I have the sagacity at any rate, if not the laugh. experience. And after all, that is the great thing, “Well, but it is true.” because if you have experience without sagacity, “In a kind of way, perhaps—not practically." you might just as well be without it."

“In a kind of way—well, in such a way as this. I know you are marvelously clever,” said Suppose—we may suppose anything, you know, Delphine, “but you are an awful chatterbox. and for my part, while I am about it, I like to Do be quiet, and let me think."

suppose something splendid at once-suppose that “What can you possibly have to think about you were, for one occasion only, dressed up in a here ???

most beautiful ball-dress; eau de Nil and wild “All kinds of things, about which I want to roses, or the palest blue and white lace, or palecome to some sort of an understanding with gray and pale-pink, you know-ah, I see you are myself. So hold your peace, I pray you."

beginning to smile at the very idea. I believe They had finished their early dinner, and had white would suit you best, after all-a biliow of retired to that pleasant sunny parlor where Judith white, with little humming-birds all over it, or had found them, little more than a week ago, on something like that. Well-imagine yourself in her return from Irkford. Delphine, being a young this dress, with everything complete, you know, woman of high principle, had pulled out some Del” (she leaned impressively forward), “fan work, but Rhoda was doing absolutely nothing, and shoes, and gloves and wreath, and a beautiful save swaying backward and forward in a rocking- pocket-handkerchief like a bit of scented mistchair, while she glanced round with quick, restless and jewelry that no one could find any fault with; gray eyes at every object in the room, oftenest at and then suppose Philippa Danesdale popped down her sister. Not for long did she leave the latter in the same room, as splendid as you please-black in the silence she had begged for.

velvet and diamonds, or satin, or silk, and ropes “Won't you come up-stairs to the den, Del- of pearls, or anything grand, with her stupid little phine? It is quite dry and warm this afternoon, prim face and red hair- " and I want you so to finish that thing you were “Oh, for shame, Rhoda! You are quite doing."

spiteful.” "Not now, but presently, perhaps. I feel lazy “I, spiteful !" cried Rhoda, with a prolonged just now."

note of indignant surprise. “That is rich ! Who Pause, while Rhoda still looked about her, and has drawn Miss Danesdale, I wonder, in all manner at last said abruptly :

of attitudes: ‘Miss Danesdale engaged in prayer,' Delphine, should you say we were a good holding her prayer-book with the tips of her lavlooking family?''

ender kid fingers, and looking as if she were paying her Maker such a compliment in coming | “Not particularly ; I would rather be busy. I and kneeling down to Him, with an ivory-backed wish I was a great painter, that's what I should prayer-book and a gold-topped scent-bottle to like to be, with every hour of the day filled up sustain her through the operation? Miss Danes with work and engagements. Oh, I am so tired dale on hearing the Mésalliance of a Friend' — of doing nothing. I feel sometimes as if I could now, who drew that, Delphine? and many another kill myself.” as bad? My sagacity, which you were jeering at Before Rhoda had time to reply, Louisa, th just now, suggests a reason for your altered tone.maid, opened the door, remarking: But I will spare you, and proceed with my narra “Please, miss, there's Mr. Danesdale." tive. Suppose what I have described to be an The girls started a little consciously as he came accomplished fact, and then suppose a perfect in, saying, as Louisa closed the door after him : stranger-we'll imagine Mr. Danesdale to be one, “Send me away if I intrude. Your servant because I like to make my ideas very plain to said you were in, and when I asked if you were people, and there's nothing like being personal engaged, she replied, “No, sir; they are a-doing of for effecting that result-suppose him there, not nothing.' Encouraged by this report, I entered.” knowing anything about either of you, whether “We are glad to see you," said Delphine, you were rich or poor, or high or low-now, which motioning him to take a seat and still with a slight of the two do you think he would be likely to flush on her face. dance with oftenest ?".

I called for two reasons,” said Randulf, who, “ How should I know?”.

once admitted, appeared to feel his end gained : “ Delphine, you used to be truthful once, “to ask if you arrived at home in safety after that candid and honest. The falling off is deplorable. confabulation with Miss Conisbrough, and to ask • Evil communications'--I won't finish it. You if you have any news from Mrs. Conisbrough. are shirking my question. Of course he would How is she?” dance with you, and you know he would. There's “Much better, thank you. So much better, no doubt of it, because you would look a vision of indeed, that we expect her and Judith home this beauty- ".

afternoon“Stuff and nonsense !"

“Yes,” interposed Rhoda, “ so far from doing " And Miss Danesdale would look just what she nothing, as Louisa reported, we were waiting for is, a stiff, prudish, plain creature. And so beauty mamma's return.". . is better than gold.”

"Ah, I can tell Philippa then. She has been “Yes, under certain conditions, if one could talking of calling to see Mrs. Conisbrough.” arbitrarily fix them. But we have to look at con. It was Rhoda's turn to cast down her eyes a ditions as they are, not as we could fix them if we little, overcome by the reflections called up by tried. Suppose, we'll say, that he had been this announcement. There was a pause; then dancing with me all the evening— "

Rhoda said: “Which he would like to do very much, I “How thankful Judith and mother will be to haven't a doubt."

come away from Scar Foot, and how very glad “And suddenly, some one took him aside, and Mr. Aglionby will be to get rid of them !” said, “Friend, look higher. She with whom thou “Had you just arrived at that conclusion when dancest has not a penny, while she who stands in I came ?". yonder corner neglected, lo! she hath a fortune “Oh, no! We were at what they call “a loose of fifty thousand pounds, which neither moth nor end,' if you ever heard the expression. We were rust can corrupt.' After that, I might dance as exercising our imaginations." long as I liked, but it would be alone.”.

Rhoda pursued this topic with imperturbable “I call that a very poor illustration, and I don't calm, undismayed by the somewhat alarmed know that it would be the case at all. All I know glances given her by Delphine, who feared that is, that it pleases you to pretend to be cynical, her sister might, as she often did, indiscreetly though you don't feel so in the very least. I do reveal the very subject of a conversation. so like to dream sometimes, and to think what I "Were you? How?" would do if we were rich! Delphine, don't you “We were imagining ourselves rich,said wish we were rich ?"

last.

Rhoda with emphasis. “You can never do that, Mr. Herbert Spencer has made us familiar—which you know, because you are rich already. We make it downright improper and impertinent for have the advantage of you there, and I fatter a young man to say to a young woman (or vice myself that that is a new way of looking at it.” versa), “I am rich and you are poor. You have

“I beg your pardon, Rhoda—I was not imagin talent; allow me to defray the expenses of its ing myself rich. I was imagining myself— ". cultivation, and so to put you in the way of being She stopped suddenly.

busy and happy." “Imagining yourself what ?” he asked, with “And do you paint from nature?" he asked at deep interest.

“Oh, nothing-nonsense !" said Delphine has- “Of course," replied Delphine, still not quite tily, disinclined to enter into particulars. He reconciled to being thus made a prominent subject turned to Rhoda. Delphine looked at her with a of conversation. “Why should I paint from any. look which said, “Speak if you dare !" Rhoda thing else? Only, you know, one can't do things tossed her head and said :

by instinct. Uncle Aglionby let me have some “There's no crime in what you were wishing, lessons once-a few years ago–oh, I did enjoy it! child. She was imagining herself a great painter. But he had a conversation with my painting master That's Delphine's ambition. Like Miss Thomp one day, and the latter contradicted some of his son, you know- "

theories, so he said he was an impudent scoundrel, “Oh, no!" interposed Delphine hastily—“not and he would not have me go near him again. battle-pieces."

But I managed to learn something from him. “What then?"

Still, I don't understand the laws of my art-at “Landscapes', I think, and animals,” said Del- least,” she added hastily, crimsoning with confuphine, still in some embarrassment.

sion, “I don't mean to call my attempts art at all. “ Del draws beautiful animals," said Rhoda Mamma thinks it great waste of time, and they turning to him, and speaking very seriously and are but daubs, I fear," earnestly. Randulf was charmed to perceive that “I wish you would show me some of them. the youngest Miss Conisbrough had quite taken Where do you keep them ? Mayn't I look at him into her confidence, and he trusted that a them?" little judiciously employed tact would bring Del “Oh, I could not think of exposing them to phine to the same point.

| your criticism ! you, who have seen every cele“Oh, not beautiful, Rhoda! Only— " She brated picture that exists, and who know all about turned to Randulf, losing some of the shyness all the schools,' and who make such fun of things which with her was a graceful hesitation and not that I used to think so clever-you must not ask it the ugly awkward thing it generally is. “Not indeed! Please don't." beautiful at all, Mr. Danesdale, but it is simply Delphine was quite agitated, and appealed to that I cannot help, when I see animals and beau- him, as if he could compel her to show them, tiful landscapes—I absolutely can't help trying to even against her will. copy them.”

- You cannot suppose that I would be severe “ That shows that you have a talent for it,” | upon anything of yours !" he exclaimed, with said Mr. Danesdale promptly. “You should have warmth. “How can you do me such injustice." lessons."

“If you did not say it, you would think it," He could have bitten his tongue off with vexa- replied Delphine, "and that would be worse. I tion the next moment, as it flashed into his mind can imagine nothing more unpleasant than for a that most likely she could not afford to have person to praise one's things out of politeness, lessons.

while thinking them very bad the whole time.” “ That would be most delightful," said Del “I never heard such unutterable nonsense," phine composedly, “but we can't afford to have cried Rhoda, who had been watching her opporlessons, you know, so I try not to think about it.” tunity of cutting in. “To hear you talk, one

Randulf was silent, his mind in a turmoil, feel would imagine your pictures were not fit to be ing a heroic anger at those “ceremonial institu looked at. Mr. Danesdale, I should like you to tions" not altogether unallied to those with which see them, because I know they are good. Delphine does so like to run herself down. You should see no power of pushing his pupils on; while paints, her dogs and horses, I am sure they are splendid, easel, canvas, and maulstick were relegated to a far better than some of the things you see in grand cockloft in disgust. Delphine's apparatus was of magazines. And I think her little landscapes— " the most meagre and simple kind-in fact, it was

“Rhoda, I shall have to go away, and lock my absolutely deficient. Two cane-bottomed chairs, self up alone, if you will talk in this wild, exagger- sadly in need of repairs, and a rickety deal table, ated way,” said Delphine, in quiet despair. covered with rags and oil tubes, brushes, and other

“But you can't refuse, after this, to let me judge impedimenta, constituted the only furniture of the between you,” said Randulf persuasively. An place. old friend like me—and after rousing my curiosity “It's very bare," cried Rhoda's clear, shrill in this manner-Miss Conisbrough, you cannot young voice, as she marched onward, not in the refuse !"

least ashamed of the said bareness. “And in win“1-I really— "

ter it's so cold that she can never paint more than “Let us take Mr. Danesdale to your den !" cried an hour a day, because fires are out of the quesRhoda, bounding off her chair in a sudden fit of tion. With one servant, you can't expect coals to inspiration. “Come, Mr. Danesdale, it is up a be carried, and grates cleaned, four stories up the thousand stairs, at the very top of the house, but house. Now see, Mr. Danesdale. I'll be showyou are young and fond of exercise, as we know, woman. I know everything she has done. You so you won't mind that."

sit there, in that chair. We'll have the animals She had Aung open the door, and led the way, first. Most of them are in water-colors or crayons. running lightly up the stairs, and he had fol. Here's a good one, in water-colors, of Uncle lowed her, unheeding Delphine's imploring remon- Aglionby on his old •Cossack,' with Friend lookstrances, and thinking:

ing at him, to know which way he shall go. Isn't “By Jove, they are nice girls! No jealousy of it capital ?". one another. I'll swear to the pictures, whatever Despite his heartfelt admiration for all the they may turn out to be.”

Misses Conisbrough, and for Delphine in particular, Delphine slowly followed, wringing her hands Randulf fully expected to find, as he had often in a way she had when she was distressed or hur found before with the artistic productions of ried, and with her white forehead puckered up in young lady amateurs, that their " capital” sketches embarrassed lines. Rhoda flew ahead, and Ran were so only in the fond eyes of partial sisters, dulf followed her, up countless stairs, along great parents, and friends. Accordingly, he surveyed broad, light passages, and even in his haste the the sketch held up by Rhoda's little brown hand young man had time to notice-or rather, the fact with judicial aspect, and some distrust. But in a was forced upon his notice-how bare the place moment his expression changed ; a smile of looked, and how empty. He felt suddenly, more pleasure broke out; he could with a light heart than he had done before, how narrow and restricted cry, “Excellent !" a life these ladies must be forced to lead.

It was excellent, without any flattery. It had Rhoda threw open the door of a large, light naturally the faults of a drawing executed by one room, with a cold, clear northern aspect. It was who had enjoyed very little instruction; there was bare, indeed; no luxurious atelier of a pampered crudeness in it — roughness, a little ignorant student. Even the easel was a clumsy-looking handling; but it was replete with other things thing, made very badly by a native joiner of Yore which the most admirable instruction cannot give : sett, who had never seen such a thing in his life. there was in it a spirit, a character, an individuand who had not carried out the young lady's in ality which charmed him, and which, in its hardy structions very intelligently.

roughness, was the more remarkable and piquant, Randulf, looking round, thought of the expen coming from such a delicate-looking creature as sive paraphernalia which his sister had some years Delphine Conisbrough. The old squire's hard, ago purchased, when the whim seized her to paint yet characteristic features; the grand contours in oils; a whim which lasted six months, and of old Cossack, the rarest hunter in all the which had for sole result, bitter complaints against country-side; and above all, the aspect of the her master, as having no faculty for teaching, and dog; its inquiring ears and inquisitive nose, its tail on the very point, one could almost have a pile of drawings with her back to them. Mr. said in the very action, of wagging an active Danesdale accompanied his exclamation with a consent, one paw upraised, and bent, ready for a long look of reproach, and surely of something start the instant the word should be given—all else. Delphine pushed her golden hair back from these details were as spirited as they were true her forehead, and stammered out: and correct.

“Then pray keep it, but don't show it to any "It is admirable !'' said Randulf emphatically. one !" If she has many more like that, she ought to Keep it, but keep it dark,' you mean. You make a fortune with them some time. I congrat- shall be obeyed. At least no one shall know who ulate you, Miss Conisbrough''-to Delphine, who did it. That shall be a delightful secret which I had just come in, with the same embarrassed and shall keep for myself alone.” perplexed expression_“I can somehow hardly Here Delphine, perhaps fearful of further revegrasp the idea that that slender little hand has lations, advanced and, depriving Rhoda of the made this strong, spirited picture. It shows the portfolio, said she hoped she might be mistress in makings of a first-rate artist—but it is the very her own den, and she would decide herself which last thing I should have imagined you doing.” drawings were fit to show to Mr. Danesdale. Then

“Ah, you haven't seen her sentimental draw- she took them into her own possession and doled ings yet,” said Rhoda, vigorously hunting about them out with what both the spectators declared for more. “Oh, here's one of her last. I've not to be a very niggard hand. seen this. Why-why-oh, what fun! Do you Randulf, apart from his admiration of the Miss know it?"

Conisbroughs, really cared for art, and knew some“Rhoda, you little-oh, do put it down !" thing about pictures. He gave his best attention cried the harassed artist, in a tone of sudden to the drawings which were now shown to him, dismay, as she made a dart forward.

and the more he studied them the more convinced But Rhoda, with eyes in which mischief incar he became that this was a real talent, which ought nate was dancing a tarantella, receded from before not to be left uncultivated, and which, if carefully her, holding up a spirited sketch of a young man, attended to, would certainly produce something a pointer, a retriever, a whip, an apple-tree, and worthy. She showed him chiefly landscapes, and in the tree a cat, apparently in the last stage of each and all had in it a spirit, an originality, and fury and indignation.

a wild grace peculiar to the vicinity, as well as 10 “Do you know it, Mr. Danesdale? Do you the artist. There were sketches of Shennamere know it?"' cried the delighted girl, dancing up from all points of view, at all hours and at all and down, her face alight with mirth.

seasons : by bright sunlight, under storm-clouds, “Know it-I should think I do!" he cried, by sentimental moonlight. There was a bold pursuing her laughingly. Give it to me, and let drawing of Addlebrough, admirable as a compome look at it. 'Tis I and my dogs, of course. sition. The coloring was crude and often incorCapital ! Miss Conisbrough, you must really rect, but displayed evident power and capacity tor cement our friendship by presenting it to me fine ultimate development. Now and then came will you ?"

some little touch, some delicate suggestion, some He had succeeded in capturing it, and was bit of keen, appreciative observation, which again studying it laughingly, while Delphire wrung her and again called forth his admiration. Some of hands and exclaimed, “Oh, dear !"

the smaller bits were, as Rhoda had said, sentimen

tal-full of a delicate, subtle poetry impossible to be called “Randulf Danesdale and Eyeglass.' define. These were chiefly autumn picturesma And how very much wiser the dogs look than lonely dank pool, in a circle of fading foliage; a their master. Oh, this is a malicious sketch, view of his own father's home seen on a gusty Miss Conisbrough! But, malicious or not, I September afternoon struck him much. He gradushall annex it, and you must not grudge it me." ally became graver and quieter, as he looked at

“If you are not offended— " began Delphine the pictures. At last, after contemplating for confusedly.

some time a larger and more ambitious attempt, “I offended ?"' Rhoda was rummaging among in oils,-a view of the splendid rolling hills, the

« PreviousContinue »