Mr. Walraven’s wedding.
Mollie Dane made herself very much at home at once in the magnificent Walraven mansion. The dazzle of its glories scarcely lasted beyond the first day, or, if it did, nobody saw it. Why, indeed, should she be dazzled? She, who had been Lady Macbeth, and received the Thane of Cawdor at her own gates; who had been Juliet, the heiress of all the Capulets; who had seen dukes and nobles snubbed unmercifully every night of her life by virtuous poverty, on the stage. Before the end of the first week Mollie had become the light of the house, perfectly indispensable to the happiness of its inmates.
Miss Dane was launched into society at a dinner-party given for the express purpose by “grandmamma”. Wondrously pretty looked the youthful débutante, in silvery silk and misty lace and pearls, her eyes like blue stars, her cheeks like June roses.
In the wintery dusk of the short December days, Mrs. Walraven received her guests in the library, an imposing room, oak-paneled, crimson-draped, and filled from floor to ceiling with a noble collection of books. Great snow-flakes fluttered against the plate glass, and an icy blast howled up the avenue, but in the glittering dining-room flowers bloomed, and birds sung, and tropical fruits perfumed the air; and radiant under the gas-light, beautiful Miss Dane flashed the light of her blue eyes, and looked like some lovely little sprite from fairy-land.
Miss Blanche Oleander, darkly majestic in maize silk and jewels, sat at Miss Dane’s right hand, and eyed her coldly with jealous dislike. Mollie read her through at the first glance.
“She hates me already,” thought Mr. Walraven’s ward; “and your tall women, with flashing black eyes and blue-black hair, are apt to be good haters. Very well, Miss Oleander; it shall be just as you like.”
A gentleman sat on her other hand—a handsome young artist—Mr. Hugh Ingelow, and he listened with an attentive face, while she held her own with the sarcastic Blanche, and rather got the best of the battle.
“The little beauty is no dunce,” thought Mr. Hugh Ingelow. “Miss Blanche has found a foe worthy of her best steel.”
And coming to this conclusion, Mr. Ingelow immediately began making himself agreeable to his fair neighbor. Miss Oleander was a pet aversion of his own, and this bond of union drew him and her saucy little antagonist together at once.
“Rather a sharp set-to, Miss Dane,” the artist remarked, in his lazy voice. “Miss Oleander is a clever woman, but she is matched at last. I wonder why it is? You two ought to be good friends.”
He glanced significantly at Mr. Walraven, devoting himself to Miss Oleander, and Mollie gave her white shoulders a little shrug.
“If we ought, we never will be. Coming events cast their shadows before, and I know I shall detest a guardianess. Who is that brigandish-looking gentleman over there, Mr. Ingelow? He has been staring at me steadily for the last ten minutes.”