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- Marguerite Verne - 3/71 -
circle, and seemed happy in her devotedness to brother Fred, and his chum, silently engaged over a game of chess. Mrs. Verne smiled, chatted and listened to each as opportunity served, and looked with fond delight upon the imperious Evelyn, who, by a series of coquettish manoeuvres, held her admirer in chains apparently ready to be put to any test for her sake.
"This new beau of Eve's is in earnest, and there is no chance for my dear Urania. Well, well! men do not appreciate a girl of such heavenly ideas as my celestial-minded daughter, and they throw themselves away upon a pretty face without an ounce of brains." Poor Mrs. Lister had murmured these sentences after the events of the evening had transpired and she was enjoying the privacy of her own room. She always expressed her thoughts to herself, as she judged best never to let her dear girls know that she felt anxious for their settlement in life.
A few mornings later while the family lingered over the late breakfast in the handsomely-furnished morning-room, with its delicate tints of mauve and gold, the conversation turned upon the gossip of the preceding days. Miss Verne had not sufficiently recruited from the dissipation attendant upon a large assemblage, given by a lady friend in honor of some relative who had arrived from Ottawa. She was inclined to be resentful and petulant, and found fault with everything, from the delicious hot coffee and tempting rolls to the generous sunbeam that danced in at the opposite window, and it increased her anger so that she could scarcely restrain herself in the presence of her guests.
"You are somewhat uncharitable this morning, my dear," was the only reproof of Mrs. Verne, while she sought to cover her annoyance in a marked attention towards the others at the table.
"Indeed, Miss Marguerite; it will be a long time before I shall tell as many lies for you again. I was really ashamed, for they all knew that they were broad falsehoods," exclaimed Miss Verne, casting an angry glance at her sister, who sat between her mother and Mrs. Lister, looking the very picture of contentment and good nature.
"I am sorry, Eve, that you committed any grievous sins on my account, for it was a very unnecessary thing to do."
"Unnecessary! Be careful, my dear little Madge, or I will out with the whole truth; and if I do not bring the blushes to your cheek my name is not Evelyn Verne."
"Come, come, girls--never mind more talk now," said Mrs. Verne, rising from her seat, and motioning them to withdraw, at the same time trying to conceal a look of displeasure that had contracted into a dark frown.
Mrs. Verne was a woman not to be trifled with. She had a look of one born to command, and well each member of her family was aware of the fact. She was a handsome woman, of proud and dignified presence, high-tempered, and in many instances unreasonable, her opinions being strengthened by the force of circumstances, and very seldom on the side of right. On this morning in question she was inclined to feel somewhat ruffled at Marguerite, rather than the aggressor. Miss Verne had thrown out a hint that was more effective than a well-timed speech of polished oratory, and well she knew it.
"Such a ridiculous thing to think of," repeated the haughty mistress with emphasis, as she swept from room to room giving orders to each domestic, and arranging and rearranging matters to meet her own taste and convenience. The pretty crimson cashmere morning robe, with relief of creamy lace, hung in graceful folds and set off Mrs. Verne's form to advantage; and as you looked upon her then and thought how she must have looked more than twenty years in the past, you could not blame Mr. Verne for seeking her to grace his luxurious and beautiful home.
Evelyn Verne has picked up a very sensational novel and is languishing on a divan of crimson velvet and old gold plush, with a drapery of beautiful design which she had thrown aside. One arm is gracefully curved around her head, while the other clasps the book, and in contrast with the rich hue of oriental costume resembles that of polished ivory.
The passage being read is certainly pleasing--yes, rapturous--for a current of an electrifying nature suffuses the slightly-pale cheeks and delicate lips, and again Evelyn Verne wears a beauty that is fatal in its effects. While the latter is engaged in this selfish manner we hasten to a somewhat odd-looking apartment, which, from its confused array of books, playthings, fishing-tackle, hammocks, old guns, powder-horns, costumes that had assisted in personating pages and courtiers, and also many other articles of less pretensions, might be taken for a veritable curiosity-shop. A central figure gives interest to the surroundings and prompts our curiosity to watch the proceedings.
The mischievous smile upon Marguerite Verne's face is of sufficient proof that she is engaged in a pleasant occupation. She has pressed two of the Misses Lister into willing service, and they are a happy group.
"What will this make, Madge?" yelled Charlie, with as much as his lungs had capacity, holding up an old green velvet tunic with enormous supply of tinsel.
"I'll go as Coeur de Lion, and wear it," exclaimed little Ned Bertram, snatching the precious article from the other.
"Nonsense, children!" cried Marguerite, who, with her companions, laughed long and heartily at the ludicrous representation of the "knight of the black plume."
Considerable time had been spent in bringing these would-be heroes to any decision as to their respective characters. Ned wished to be Richard the Third, and Charlie that of Richmond and repeat the triumphs of Bosworth; but meeting such obstinate opposition from their council, turned their attention to "something commoner," as Ned expressed himself. After several hours intermingled with side-splitting laughter and grave discussion, a fair representation of Robinson Crusoe and his man Friday was produced, while Marguerite and her friends received more compliments from the young aspirants than the most gallant cavalier of the sixteenth century ever paid to the queen of love and beauty. But the last remark was a deep thrust from the innocent and unconscious boy.
"You darling old Madge! I am going to tell Mr. Lawson you got us up, and I am sure we will get the prize. And I bet you I'll not forget to put a word in for you too, Miss Marguerite, and mind you Mr. Lawson don't consider me no small account."
The manner in which this twelve-year-old urchin got off the speech had a telling effect. His air of importance brought a burst of laughter, but it could scarcely hide the blushes that played hide-and-seek on the girl's face--which fact fortunately escaped the notice of the Listers.
The long-looked-for hour has arrived, and Crusoe and Friday emerge from their "den," as Miss Verne contemptuously designated the curiosity-shop. On this occasion Marguerite remains at home. Her constitution is rather delicate, and owing to a slight cold and throat irritation it is deemed advisable to exercise caution.
"I am sorry that you will not have your papa's company this evening. There is to be a meeting of the Board. There is always something going on."
"Don't mind me, mamma. Please bear in mind I am good company for myself. I remember once reading a passage in some book which said that all the pleasure we derived had its source in ourselves, and not in external objects. I often think of it and believe it to be true."
"What a sensible, but conceited girl!" exclaimed the proud matron as she kissed Marguerite, and sallied forth to chaperone the Misses Lister and their loquacious mamma.
"You dear old room, I'm with you once again," said the girl in half dramatic tones, as she drew her favorite arm-chair near the grate and sat down, not to read but to weave bright, golden dreams--fit task for a sweet maiden of eighteen summers--with a quaint simplicity of manner that is more captivating than all the wily manoeuvres that coquetry can devise. Were there any pretty pictures in those dreams? Yes. But those that gave the most pleasure she tried hard to shut out from her sight and with a gentle sigh murmured "it can never be."
Sweet Marguerite! Has she her "concealments" too?
A NOBLE CHARACTER.
In Phillip Lawson, a young lawyer of more than average ability, is realized Pope's definition of an honest man--"the noblest work of God." Those who think that all lawyers are a set of unscrupulous and unprincipled men are sadly mistaken. There are in our midst men of the legal profession who follow the paths of high-souled honor and integrity with as unerring coarse as the magnet the north pole.
But it is in a special sense we wish to speak.
Phillip Lawson is sitting at his desk in one of the upstair apartments of a large building not many rods from "the Chambers." His office is not inviting in its appearance--no luxurious leather-upholstered arm-chairs, Brussels carpeting--nothing to suggest ease or even comfort. Stamped upon every inch of space enclosed within those four bare walls we fancy we can almost see the words "up-hill work! up-hill work"!--and look toward the young aspirant to see if he is in the least disheartened thereby. But our friend receives us with a gracious smile and extends his hand in a manner that is hearty and genuine. Even the tone of his voice is assuring, and we listen, wrapt in admiration, forgetful that we are trespassing upon his generosity. But we must first introduce you personally to the subject of our remarks, that you may form your own impression:
Phillip Lawson is not handsome. His large irregular features are not in keeping with the proportions we call classic, nor is the sallow complexion any improvement; but despite these facts, there is indeed much that is attractive in Mr. Lawson's face. His gray eyes have a tender sympathetic look--tender as that of a woman; his brows have the reflection of genius as they are being knitted over some
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