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Mistress Dorothy's Ghost

Mistress Dorothy's Ghost image
Parent Issue
Day
5
Month
September
Year
1889
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

WASnever so m u c h addioted to school girl f riends hip as most girls are; but, for all that, I took a n immense liking on the spot to 1 1 e fair haired M-aud Drasdale. "Little English Daisy" we used to cali lier in the dull old French pensionnat de jeunes d e ni o i - selles to which, very much against my will, I had been sent to "finish off." Papa, who was good natured and easy going to a fault, and a kee to the backbone, and who had no gi-eat faith in "French polish," as lie called it, bravely seconded my opposition to the French school project; but mamma, who was the daughter of a southcrn gentleman, and who had been a great beauty and a still greater heiress in her youth - despite the fact that a full share of family pride, a set of diamonds and a precious heirloom in the shape of some yellow oíd point lace were about all that the chances of war and the death of her father, who was killed in the earlier part of the rebellion, had left to her of her former grandeur - had been herself educated in Paris; and her one maternal anxiety on my account appeared to be that I too 6hould enjoy that inestimable advantage. In vain I wept, scolded, entreated. Mamma, indolent and careless in most things, was flrm as a rock here. She had set her mind on my going to France; and to Franceaccordingly, without appeal, I must go. "In any circumstances, my dearest Sydney," she languidly remarked one evening f rom tho depths of her favorite lounge, as we came to the close of a rather stormy discussion of that most vexatious of all vexed questions: "I should have desired a Parisian education for you above all things. But your own behavior, my dear, your blunt manners and your dreadf ui predilection for the unladylike, slangy phraseology of this vulgarly fast New York more than ever convinco me of the necessity of your going. It is not so very unnatural, I think, that I should desire to see my only daughter a lady; and the French school is my only hope." "And do you really believe, my dear, that two years' imprisonment in some dreary old French convent is going to improve Syd very materially?" inquired papa, lifting his bushy gray brows and looking at her with a comical expression over the top of his paper, behind which it was his habit to retire whenever the domestic battle sbowed sign3 of going against him. "Might as well expect the what-do-you-call-him tochange the color of his spots! The child is a truo born Yankee, every inch of her - and Syd's inches are none so few either," he added, glancing mischievously at my abominably long limbs, which, as everybody well knew, were the great trial of my life. I doted upon little women; and here was I growing away up into ridiculous altitudes. "A born Yankee, every inch of her," he added - "all the way up frorn those preposterous little high heeled boots she persists in wriggling about on to the top of that eparkling new thirty dollar braid she has gone and twisted up on the top of her poor little empty cranium! And it's my private opinión, my dear, that all the French schools in the world are not going to make anything else of her. Better let the girl alone. For my part, I don't see amrthing so much the matter with her; but, for heaven's sake, if she isn't fashionable enough to Buit, can't you find a place nearer home, where you might have lier taught all that is deemed necessary?" Poor dear old papa- ho stood up for me bravely; but, alas, it was of no avail! Mamma was obstinate as a mulé; and the end of it all was that I was packed off to Europe, whence I was expëcted to return with all the graces and accomplishments under the sun. But it is not so much about myself that I am going to write. I am not the heroine of this story, that important post being much better filled by Daisy, or rather Maud Drasdale, bet ween whom and myself a fast friendship grew up from the first hour of our meeting, a friendship that excited considerable surprise , ainong our teachers and schoolmates, I remember, for never were two girls more entirely unlike - Daisy so quiet, so shy and retiring, and - well, I am afraic I am not qualifled to describe myself very accurately - so few of us see ourselves as others see us, you know. But, considering my nationality, it is perhaps hardly necessary to observe that I was not at all shy or retiring. Whoever heard teil of an American girl who was? But that may be tho fault of the climate. Very few people, I believe, find tho air of America particularly conducivo to shamefacedness. But it may be that liking goes by opposites. At all events, nothing ever disturbed the bond of good fellowship between me and Daisy, whose blue eyes, blonde hair, and tiny plump figure contrasted so strikingly with my dusky locks, brown skin, and long limbs, which, as papa used to say, were chiefly remarliable for getting as much in my own way as in other people's. Not that I had tho misfortune to be exactly a fright. On tho contrary, many people pronouticed me "a fine girl," and talked admiringly of my gay spirits and good style. But, whatever my deluded admirers uiight say, in my opinión I was nowhere bylhoside of Daisy Drasdale in point of beauty. Towards the middle of my first winter in Paris a separation canae. Daisy, who had been ailing for several weeks with a slight cough and cold, suddonly developed symptoms that tlirew our teachers into a little panic of alarm. A doctor was called in who shook his head and prescribed total cessation of study and immediate removal to a mudar chínate. Miss Drasdale was an orpliao; but her uncle and guardián, Sir George Drasdale, the representative of the fine old Derbyshire family to which she belonged, wás instantly communicated with; and in the course of a few days the old gentleman carne over in a terrible fright from England to whisk his darling away to Italy. Of course I rnissed her dreadfully, wandering about the dreary old pensionnat lonely and inconsolable, and equally of course we exchanged an unlimited number of crossed and closely written epistles, in which I kept her fully apprised of all that was goingon in our prosaic little school world, and in which Daisy excited my longings by profuse description of her wanderings amid the sunny scènes and wondrous art glories of Hilan, Venice, Florence and Rome - descriptions that were presently varied by mysterious hints concerning a certain tender little romance that was growing up in her life. Daisy had won a lover; and at last, with a thrill of mingled delight and awe, I learned that my friend was actually engaged, and was to be married in a year. From that time her letters, though less frequent, grew more interesting than ever, filled almost entirely though they wero with glowing descriptions of the manifold virtues and perfections of Prince Charming, whose earthly name of Edward Pomfret was usually abbreviated into 'dearest Teddy." Sir George and his niece spent the spring in Italy, and the following summer in Switzerland; but towards the f all I received a letter with an English postmark. They had been in London for a week ort wo, but were just now on the point of returning to Drasdale Abbey, Sir George's place in Derbyshire; and, with regard to herself, Daisy informed me that sho was quite well and strong again and the one thing necessary to render her happiness complete was the presenoe of her dearest friend Sydney. And then followed a pressing invitation, seconded by a kindly message from Sir George himself, to come and pay them a visit. Good little Daisy! It was like her, I thought, to remember mo in the midst of her own happiness and of course I was wild to go. I had hêard so much about Drasdale Abbey, which, according tomy lively fancy, must be a perfect fairy palace of splendor and delight, or, what was very much the same thing to me, one of those fine old ancestral mansions with oriel windows, long corridors, a ml haunted chambers, standing in the midst of stately parks, with sunny glades, oaken clumps and startled deer, about which we read so much in English novels. And I wrote immediately to mamma, begging and praying for permission togo. Never to my impatient imagination had the wide Atlantic seemed so wide, or the coming of the mails so tediously delayed; but finally, to my intense relief, a letter bearing the familiar New York post mark arrived, which contained not only the longed for permission, couched in mamma's choicest phraseology, but also a check for three hundred dollars. " A small sum with which to rnake any little addition to your wardrobe, iny love," she wrote; "and need I teil you, my dearest Sydney, how deeply I am gratified by Sir George Drasdale's very polite invitation, and the chance it aff ords you of seeing a little really good English society? And, as I am naturally anxious that you should make a suitable appearance, I have forwarded the enclosed, together with a set of pearls from Tiffany's, which your papa had intended sending you next month as a littlo birthday surprise." Poor mamma! Knowing her weak point as I did, I might havo been confident that she would have been too much flattered by an invitation from a man of Sir George Drasdale's family and rank to raise any objection to my visit. I kissed and cried over her letter in a little rapture of delight and gratification; and, having communicated my success to my friend, in a few days Daisy's maid, Mrs. Porter, a respectable middle aged woman who had lived in the family for years, arrived at the pensionnat to chaperon me back to England. It was a fine rnorning on which I sat out on my journey, bright with bluo skiea and the golden October sunlight; and, Btiapping my trunk and donning my tusteful new traveling rolt, I ran down Btairs, with a delicious little sensation of freedom and importance, to bestow good-by kisses on my schoolmates, who, gathered in littlo envious groups, were waiting about the hall to see me step into the fiacre in which Porter, looking eminently dignifïed and respectable, was impatiently awaiting me. We made the channel passage in safety, in spite of the fact that it was rather rough, and that Porter, who was a martyr to mal de mer, and who lay limp and helpless about the cabin, confidently expected to go to the bottom about every five minutes, and became firmly impressed with the conviction that she hadsounded the depths of human woe in the transit; and, haring epent one night in London, we start cd by an early train on the following morning for Derbyshire. Tho great city was still enough as we drovo through it on our v;iy to the station, Üio tallfrontsof thosilent houses with their closed blinds gleaming stately and cold in the saffrou light; and, beforo I had thoroughly realized tho i.ict that I was actually breathing the air of tho London of my dreams - that weird romance of splendid wealth and abject poverty which the pen of a Dickens or the pencil of a Doro can alone portray - we wen out among the bright warm meadows, the russet tinted woods, and the urple hilis. wliere the sunlight lay in patches, and over whicli the soft sweet wind carne at Intervals fragrant and delicious. I had laken the precaution of fortifying uiyself with a box of bonbons and the last new novel against the ennui of the journey, but I did not need tliem. The pleasant changeful scenery and the people coming and going at the inany stopping places along the route gave occupation for the forenoon, and a few hours -af ter midday we reached our destination. "The next station will be ours, miss," Porter reuiarked, rousing up f rom a long nap to make the announcement as the train began to slacken speed. "And there is one of Sir George's servants waiting for us," she added, catching sightof a tall young man in livery as the train carne alongside the platform of the quiet little country station at which we were to alight. But I had no eyes for the tall young man in livery; for drawn up before the entrance stood a dainty little "turn out" in the shape of a tiny basket pony carriage, in which sat a golden haired, exquisitely dressed young lady, in whom with one glance I recognized Daisy. The recognitipn was mutual. I saw her lift her whip, the sweet, fair face lighting up with the oíd familiar smile; and, leaving the satchels and traveling rugs to the care of Porter and the young man in livery, I sprang from the train, and, darting towards her, caught her in my arrns, kissing and huggkig her with an amount of energy and efïusion tliat evidently took two or threo impassive looking Englishmen, who put up their eyeglasses to survey me, by surprise. "Dear, darling old Syd, how good it is to see you again!" Daisy exclaimed, holding me at arm's length to get a better look at me, and evidently as oblivious of the proprieties and the astonished looksof the by standers as I was. "Why, how pretty - how perfectly charming you are looking 1 Icamo on purpose to have the felicity of driving you home, and of getting you all to myself for an hour or two. Turner will see to Porter and the trunks - the wagonette is waiting for them. And now teil me, Syd, did you have a smooth passage across; and did Porter take good care of you?" "Splendid! There were some good sized waves, but I've seen bigger, and Porter is an incomparable companion for a sea voyage," I laughed, thinking of that estimable woman's woe begone expression as we rolled about at the mercy of the little short chopping Channel waves. "But, Daisy dear, would you mind giving me a good shake or a pinch, just to convince me that I am actually awake, and that ifs all real, you know? I'm af raid that my being here is too good to be true, and that I shall wake up presently to find myself in the dreary old class room, with the bell ringing for lessons or prayers!" ".It's as real as anything else in this world." sho began, with a smile that somehow died away into a sigh. "Thero are people, you know, who say that life is itself but a dream- a painful, feverish one." During the drivo to Drasdalo Abbey- and such a delightful drive as it was too, along a broad ssnooth road that lay like a line of white between tall hedgerows bright in patches with the coral berries of the wild rose and hawthorn, from which cloudlike flocks of birds flew up as wo passed, to circle in dark drifts over the green fields and the purple hills beyond - I carne to the conclusión that some vague, intangible change had taken place in Daisy sinco the day I had seen her ast, a 'hange that becanie more than ever apparent when, on our arrival at the abbey, we sat talking over old times in the warm glowof the library fire; and, now that tho ttush lent to her cheeks by excitement and exerciso had died out, I was 6hocked to see with what painful distinctness the blue veins showed up through the pale transparent skin, and what a worried, anxious, almost hunted expression she had acquired. What could have happened to her, what could have so changed my bright, sunshiny little Daisy? I wondered, glancing around at the splendid evidences of wealth and taste with which she was every where surrounded. Something was wrong; I was sure of it. Could it be that Mr. Teddy Pomfret had anything todo with it? But, from the way in which her face lit up whenever she spoke of him and his expected arrival on the morrow, when I was to see that inasculine miracle for myself, I could hardly think it. "Daisy dear, " I ventured at last, seeing how painfully nervous and preoccupied her nianner was, and how, at the opening of a door or the passing of a shadow, sho would start and tremble, "do you think you have quite recovered from your last winter's illness? I am afraid you have returned too soon; you are scarcely looking so strong and well as your letters led me to expect." she started, and turning away her iclaimed: I "Now, Sy.l dear, if you are going to croak, I sliall run away and have you to go into tlio dismals alone, líut come, cherie - U-t us go up stairs and drcss for dinner," .slic added, (pringing to her feet :ind glancing at her wntoli. "We dina at 7, and your trunks wil] have arrived by this time. Besides, I want to show you your room. Ah, üicic is Madeline!" she broke off as the clatter of hoofs drew niv attention to tlio window, from whicli I saw a lady splendidly mounted, and followed by a groom in livery, dash Dp the avenue towards the front entrance. Did I teil you that tny cousin Madeline Amhurst is staying with U3, Sydney" "Cousin? Why, Daisy, I had no idea you had a cousin I lamsure you never mentioned her to me before," I returned, staring in surprise after the graceful, swaying figuro in the perfectly fitting habit as it swept past, with just the faintest possible tinge of envy. Ah, those Englishwomenl Wliy is it tliat, with all their graces and fascinations, my country wonaen have never yet been able to equal them in that most graceful accomplishment of horsemanshipV "Well, dear, properly speaking, Madeline Anihurst is not my cousin, though I have always been in the habit of calling her so. She is the daughter of Sir George's half sister, who, very much against the. wishes of her fainily, married a disreputablo adventurer, who not only spent lier fortune, but ill treated and finally deserted her. Not that she ever wanted for anything, for Uncle George, who is good to every one, provided for her until she died, and has taken caro of her daughter ever since; although, since my return to England on the death of papa, who died in India, you know, Madeline has chosen to reside with an aunt in London," Daisy explained, as, linking her arm in mine, she led me up to the room prepared for me, through the grand hall, with its tessellated Hoor, its stained glass windows and somber walls of polished oak, hung with pictures, weapons and armor, which, like the broad staircase, looked, to my American eyes, altogether too grand and statelv for real home comfort. [CONCLUDKD NEXT TVEIK.]

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Old News
Ann Arbor Register