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fresh and bright as they were before that stormy interview in her father's study in the June of fifty-six.

The county families came to the wedding at Beckenham church, and were fain to confess that Miss Floyd looked wondrously handsome in her virginal crown of orange-buds and flowers, and her voluminous Mechlin veil; she had pleaded hard to be married in a bonnet, but had been overruled by a posse of female cousins. Mr. Richard Gunter provided the marriage-feast, and sent a man down to Felden to superintend the arrangements, who was more dasbing and splendid to look upon than any of the Kentish guests. John Mellish alternately laughed and cried throughout that eventful morning. Heaven knows how many times he shook hands with Archibald Floyd, carrying the banker off into solitary corners, and swearing, with the tears running down his broad cheeks, to be a good husband to the old man's daughter; so that it must have been a relief to the white-haired old Scotcbman when Aurora descended the staircase, rustling in violet moiré antique, and surrounded by her bridesmaids, to take leave of this dear father before the prancing steeds carried Mr. and Mrs. Mellish to that most prosaic of Hymenial stages, the London Bridge Station.

Mrs. Mellish! Yes, she was Mrs. Mellish now. Talbot Bulstrode read of her marriage in that very column of the newspaper in which he had thought perhaps to see her death. How flatly the romance ended! With what a dull cadence the storm died out, and what a commonplace, gray, every-day sky succeeded the terrors of the lightning! Less than a year since, the globe had seemed to him to collapse, and creation to come to a standstill because of his trouble ; and he was now in Parliament, legislating for the Cornish miners, and getting stout, his ill-natured friends said ; and she---she who ought, in accordance with all dramatic propriety, to have died out of hand long before this, she had married a Yorkshire landowner, and would no doubt take her place in the county and play My Lady Bountiful in the village, and be chief patroness at the race-balls, and live happily ever afterwards. He crumpled the Times newspaper, and flung it from him in his rage and mortification.

“ And I once thought that she loved me,” he cried.

And she did love you, Talbot Bulstrode; loved you as she can never love this honest, generous, devoted John Mellish, though she may by and by bestow upon him an affection which is a great deal better worth having. She loved you with the girl's romantic fancy and reverent admiration; and tried humbly to fashion her very nature anew, that she might be worthy of your sublime excellence. She loved you as women only love in their first youth, and as they rarely love the men they ultimately marry. The tree is perhaps all the stronger when these first frail branches are lopped away to give place to strong and spreading arms, beneath which a husband and children may shelter.

But Talbot could not see all this. He saw nothing but that brief

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announcement in the Times: “Aurora, only daughter of Archibald Floyd, Banker, of Felden Woods, Kent, to John Mellish, Esq., of Mellish Park, near Doncaster.” He was angry with his sometime love, and more angry with himself for feeling that anger; and he plunged furiously into blue-books, to prepare himself for the coming session; and again he took his gun and went out upon the “barren, barren moorland,” as he had done in the first violence of his grief, and wandered down to the dreary sea-shore, where he raved about his “ Amy, shallow-hearted,” and tried the pitch of his voice against the ides of February should come round, and the bill for the Cornish miners be laid before the Speaker.

Towards the close of January, the servants at Mellish Park prepared for the advent of Master John and his bride. It was a work of love in that disorderly household, for it pleased them that master would have some one to keep him at home, and that the county would be entertained, and festivals held in the roomy, rambling mansion. Architects, upholsterers, and decorators had been busy through the short winter days preparing a suite of apartments for Mrs. Mellish; and the western, or as it was called the Gothic, wing of the house had been restored and remodeled for Aurora, until the oak-roofed chambers blazed with rosecolour and gold, like a medieval chapel. If John could have expended half his fortune in the purchase of a roc's egg to hang in these apartments, he would have gladly done so. He was so proud of his Cleopatra-like bride, his jewel beyond all parallel amid all gems, that he fancied he could not build a shrine rich enough for his treasure. So the house in which honest country squires and their sensible motherly wives had lived contentedly for nearly three centuries was almost pulled to pieces, before John thought it worthy of the banker's daughter. The trainers and grooms and stable-boys shrugged their shoulders superciliously, and spat fragments of straw disdainfully upon the paved stable-yard, as they heard the clatter of the tools of stonemasons and glaizers busy about the façade of the restored apartments. The stable would be naught now, they supposed, and Muster Mellish would be always tied to his wife's apron-string. It was a relief to them to bear that Mrs. Mellish was fond of riding and hunting, and would no doubt take to horse-racing in due time, as the legitimate taste of a lady of position and fortune.

The bells of the village-church rang loudly and joyously in the clear winter air as the carriage-and-four, which had met John and his bride at Doncaster, dashed into the gates of Mellish Park and up the long avenue to the semi-Gothic, semi-barbaric portico of the great door. Hearty Yorkshire voices rang out in loud cheers of welcome as Aurora stepped from the carriage, and passed under the shadow of the porch and into the old oak-hall, which had been hung with evergreens and adorned with floral devices; amongst which figured the legend, “WELLCOME TO Mellish!” and other such friendly inscriptions, more conspicuous for their kindly meaning than their strict orthography. The servants were enraptured with their master's choice. She was so brightly handsome, that the simple-hearted creatures accepted her beauty as we accept the sunlight, and felt a genial warmth in that radiant loveliness, which the most classical perfection could never have inspired. Indeed, a Grecian outline might have been thrown away upon the Yorkshire servants, whose uncultivated tastes were a great deal more disposed to recognise splendour of colour than purity of form. They could not choose but admire Aurora's eyes, which they unanimously declared to be "regular shiners ;” and the fash of her white teeth, glancing between the full crimson lips; and the bright flush which lighted up her pale olive skin; and the purple lustre of her massive coronal of plaited hair. Her beauty was of that luxuriant and splendid order which has always most effect upon the masses, and the fascination of her manner was almost akin to sorcery in its power over simple people. I lose myself when I try to describe the feminine intoxications, the wonderful fascination exercised by this dark-eyed siren. Surely the secret of her power to charm must have been the wonderful vitality of her nature, by virtue of which she carried life and animal spirits about with her as an atmosphere, till dull people grew merry by reason of her contagious presence; or perhaps the true charm of her manner was that childlike and exquisite unconsciousness of self which made her for ever a new creature; for ever impulsive and sympathetic, acutely sensible of all sorrow in others, though of a nature originally joyous in the extreme.

Mrs. Walter Powell had been transferred from Felden Woods to Mellish Park, and was comfortably installed in her prim apartments when the bride and bridegroom arrived. The Yorkshire housekeeper was to abandon the executive power to the ensign’s widow, who was to take all trouble of administration off Aurora's hands.

“ Heaven help your friends if they ever had to eat a dinner of my ordering, John,” Mrs. Mellish said, making free confession of her ignorance; “I am glad, too, that we have no occasion to turn the poor soul out upon the world once more. Those long columns of advertisements in the Times give me a sick pain at my heart when I think of what a governess must have to encounter. I cannot loll back in my carriage and be grateful for my advantages,' as Mrs. Alexander says, when I remember the sufferings of others. I am rather inclined to be discontented with my lot, and to think it a poor thing, after all, to be rich and happy in a world where so many must suffer; so I am glad we can give Mrs. Powell something to do at Mellish Park."

The ensign's widow rejoiced very much in that she was to be retained in such comfortable quarters; but she did not thank Aurora for the benefits received from the open hands of the banker's daughter. She did not thank her, because—she bated her. Why did she hate her? She hated her for the very benefits she received, or rather because she, Aurora, had power to bestow such benefits. She hated her as such slow, sluggish, narrow-minded creatures always hate the frank and generous; hated her as envy will for ever hate prosperity; as Haman hated Mordecai from the height of his throne, and as the man of Haman nature would hate were he supreme in the universe. If Mrs. Walter Powell had been a duchess, and Aurora a crossing-sweeper, she would still have envied her; she would have envied her glorious eyes and flashing teeth, her imperial carriage and generous soul. This pale, whity-brown haired woman felt herself contemptible in the presence of Aurora, and she resented the bounteons vitality of this nature which made her conscious of the sluggishness of her own. She detested Mrs. Mellish for the possession of attributes which she felt were richer gifts than all the wealth of the house of Floyd, Floyd, and Floyd melted into one mountain of ore. But it is not for a dependent to hate, except in a decorous and gentlewomanly manner-secretly, in the dim recesses of her soul; while she dresses her face with an unvarying smile—a smile which she puts on every morning with her clean collar, and takes off at night when she goes to bed.

Now as, by an all-wise dispensation of providence, it is not possible for one person so to bate another without that other having a vague consciousness of the deadly sentiment, Aurora felt that Mrs. Powell's attachment to her was of no very profound a nature.

But the reckless girl did not seek to fathom the depth of any inimical feeling which might lurk in her dependent's breast. “She is not very fond of me, poor soul,” she said ; " and I dare say

I torment and annoy her with my careless follies. If I were like that dear considerate little Lucy, now_” And with a shrug of her shoulders, and an unfinished sentence such as this, Mrs. Mellish dismissed the insignificant subject from her mind.

You cannot expect these grand, courageous creatures to be frightened of quiet people. And yet, in the great dramas of life, it is the quiet people who do the mischief. Iago was not a noisy person, though, thank Heaven! it is no longer the fashion to represent him an oily sneak, whom even the most foolish of Moors could not have trusted. Aurora was at peace.

The storms that had so nearly shipwrecked her young life had passed away, leaving her upon a fair and fertile shore. Whatever griefs she had inflicted upon her father's devoted heart had not been mortal; and the old banker seemed a very happy man when he came, in the bright April weather, to see the young couple at Mellish Park. Amongst all the hangers-on of that large establishment there was only one person who did not join in the general voice when Mrs. Mellish was spoken of, and that one person was so very insignificant that his fellow-servants scarcely cared to ascertain his opinion. He was a man of about forty, who had been born at Mellish Park, and had pottered about the stables from his babyhood, doing odd jobs for the grooms, and being reckoned, although a little“ fond” upon common matters, a very acute judge of horse-flesh. This man was called Stephen, or, more commonly, Steeve Hargraves. He was a squat, broad-shouldered fellow, with a big


head, a pale haggard face,--a face whose ghastly pallor seemed almost unnatural, -reddish-brown eyes, and bushy, sandy eyebrows, which formed

, a species of penthouse over those sinister-looking eyes. He was the sort of man who is generally called repulsive,-a man from whom you recoil with a feeling of instinctive dislike, which is, no doubt, both wicked and unjust; for we have no right to take objection to a man because he has an ugly glitter in his eyes, and shaggy tufts of red hair meeting on the bridge of his nose, and big splay feet, which seem made to crush and destroy whatever comes in their way; and this was what Aurora Mellish thought when, a few days after her arrival at the Park, she saw Steeve Hargraves for the first time, coming out of the harness-room with a bridle across his arm. She was angry with herself for the involuntary shudder with which she drew back at the sight of this man, who stood at a little distance polishing the brass ornaments upon a set of harness, and furtively regarding Mrs. Mellish as she leaned on her husband's arm, talking to the trainer about the foals at grass in the meadows outside the Park.

Aurora asked who the man was.

“ Why, his name is Hargraves, ma'am," answered the trainer ; " but we call him Steeve. He's a little bit touched in the upper story,—a little bit' fond,' as we call it here; but he's useful about the stables when he pleases, for he's rather a queer temper, and there's none of us has ever been able to get the upper hand of him, as master knows.”

John Mellish laughed. “No,” he said ; “Steeve has pretty much his own way in the stables,

He was a favourite groom of my father's twenty years ago; but he got a fall in the hunting-field, which did him some injury about the head, and he's never been quite right since. Of course this, with my poor father's regard for him, gives him a claim upon us, and we put up with his queer ways, don't we, Langley ?

“Well, we do, sir," said the trainer; "though, upon my honour, I'm sometimes half afraid of him, and think he'll get up in the middle of the night and murder some of us.”

“Not till some of you have won a hatful of money, Langley. Steeve's a little too fond of the brass to murder



for nothing. You shall see his face light up presently, Aurora,” said John, beckoning to the stable-man. “Come here, Steeve. Mrs. Mellish wishes you to drink her health.”

He dropped a sovereign into the man's broad muscular palm,—the hand of a gladiator, with horny flesh and sinews of iron. Steeve's red eyes glistened as his fingers closed upon the money. .

" Thank you kindly, my lady,” he said, touching his cap.

He spoke in a low subdued voice, which contrasted so strangely with the physical power manifest in his appearance that Aurora drew back with a start.

Unhappily for this poor “ fond” creature, whose person was in itself repulsive, there was something in this inward, semi-whispering voice which

I fancy.

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