Surrey, with its old historic associations, was a fitting abode for the dreamy and poetic nature of the lovely, high-born maiden. The adjoining districts, with vale and meadow, had a pleasing effect. Long neglected parks and straggling decayed mansions, afforded ample scope for the fanciful flights of her ladyship’s fond imagination.
Sir Thomas was indeed happy in thus having his daughter once more to brighten the home so long desolate and lonely. He enjoyed the perpetual sunshine of her bright presence. He loved to caress his beautiful child and admire her sweet and bewitching charms. Lady Rosamond seemed happy when in her father’s presence. She returned his tender endearments with childish and playful gestures; she brought sunshine in her path in which the flowers of affection bloomed with luxuriant beauty. She was esteemed by the train of domestics and functionaries who performed the duties of the household. This fact somewhat conciliated the young mistress of Chesley Manor. Her grateful nature could not view these matters without feeling their import.
Wandering through the exquisitely arranged suites of spacious rooms which had been renovated with a desire to meet her approbation, Lady Rosamond could not but experience a pang of heartfelt sorrow. Parental love overcame her weakness. Sir Thomas alone possessed the key that gained access to her feelings. He alone could turn aside the channel of her resisting thoughts and mark the course for the tide of conflicting torrents as they surge madly on.
Maude Bereford is once more cheered in the daily companionship of Lady Rosamond. In their girlish and pretty ways those lovely girls form a pleasing picture to grace the interior and surroundings of Chesley Manor. Maude has a gentle and lovable disposition which wins the admiration of both sexes. Though not a beauty, she is truly beautiful—beautiful in heart, beautiful in soul. None see this mental beauty more clearly than the young mistress of the manor. The gentle nature and simple-minded heart of Maude Bereford sees in her cousin the sweetness and worth which are so fondly adored by her brother Gerald.
That Lady Rosamond sees in her future husband all that can make the heart truly happy is a source of constant delight to her loving cousin. Maude has not the keen perception of the nature of the human heart.
Lady Bereford was sanguine over the result of her diplomatic tact. There lay no obstruction in the path which she had marked out for Gerald Bereford. No rivals had given cause for offence. Lady Rosamond had readily encouraged the advances made by her suitor. It was now a settled conclusion. The fact had been communicated throughout the country. Sir Thomas had already received hearty congratulations on the brilliant prospects of his only daughter. The event was eagerly anticipated in the fashionable circles of high life. Many high-born maidens felt a tinge of jealousy as they listened to the brilliant preparations awaiting the marriage of the future Lord Bereford. His courtly manners, pleasing graces, and handsome appearance, were the comment of many. His proud privileges as peer of the realm, his princely castle and great wealth, furnished themes for eulogy.