Allen started up in admiration and delight. Even Mr. Morgan was roused to make an admiring inspection of the curious ornaments and devices; and Elvira, with her perfect features, rich complexion, dark blue eyes, Titian coloured hair, fine figure, and Oriental air, formed a splendid study.
Lord Fordham begged her to stand while he sketched her; and Babie, with Sydney, was summoned to try on the bridesmaids’ apparel.
The three girls, Elvira, Sydney, and Barbara acted as bridesmaids the next day, when, in the English chapel, Mr. Ogilvie gave his sister to his old friend, to begin her new life as a clergyman’s wife.
What could be called Elvira de Menella’s character? Those who knew her best, such as Barbara Brownlow, would almost have soon have thought of ascribing a personal character to a cloud as to her. She smiled into glorious loveliness when the sun shone; she was gloomy and thunderous when displeased, and though she had a passionate temper, and could be violent, she had no fixed purpose, but drifted with the external impulse of the moment. She had not much mind or power of learning, and was entirely inattentive to anything intellectual, so that education had not been able at the utmost to do more than fit her to pass in the crowd, and could get no deeper; and what principles she had it was not easy to tell. Not that she did or said objectionable things, since she had outgrown her childish outbreaks; but she seemed to have no substance, and to be kept right by force of circumstances. She had the selfishness of any little child, and though she had never been known to be untruthful, this might be because there was not the slightest temptation to deceive. She was just as much the spoilt child, to all intents and purposes, as if she had been the heiress; perhaps more so, for Mrs. Brownlow had always been so remorseful for the usurpation as to be extra indulgent-lenient to her foibles, and lavish in gifts and pleasures, even inconveniencing herself for her fancies; whilst Allen had, from the first, treated her with the devotion of a lover. No stranger had ever supposed that she was not the equal in all respects of the rest of the family, nor had she realised it herself.
But still the lady shook her head,
And swore by yea and nay
My whole was all that he had said,
And all that he could say.
W. M. Praed.
Mrs. Brownlow had intended to go at once to London on her return to England, but the joint entreaties of Armine and Barbara prevailed on her to give them one week at Belforest, now in that early spring beauty in which they had first seen it.
How delightful the arrival was! Easter had been very late, so it was the last week of the vacation, and dear old Friar John’s handsome face was the first thing they saw at the station, and then his father’s portly form, with a tall pretty creature on each side of him, causing Babie to fall back with a cry of glad amazement, “Oh! Essie and Ellie! Such women!”