Alex. McVeigh Miller
Guy Kenmore's Wife, and The Rose and the Lily

Guy Kenmore's Wife, and The Rose and the Lily
Alex. McVeigh Miller

Mrs. Alex McVeigh Miller

Guy Kenmore's Wife, and The Rose and the Lily

GUY KENMORE'S WIFE;

OR,

HER MOTHER'S SECRET

CHAPTER I

"The moonlight lay on the garden wall,
And bathed each path in a silver glow;
And over the towers of the grey hall
Its pearly banner was trailing low."

It was a night of nights. Moonlight—the silvery, mystical, entrancing, love-breathing, moonlight of exquisite June—fairest daughter of the year—lay over all the land. The bay—our own beautiful Chesapeake—shone gloriously in the resplendent light, and rolled its foam-capped, phosphorescent waves proudly on to the grand Atlantic.

"Ten thousand stars were in the sky,
Ten thousand in the sea.

"For every wave with dimpled crest
That leaped upon the air,
Had caught a star in its embrace,
And held it trembling there!"

A wind from the sea—cool, and salty, and delicious—came up to Bay View House, and stole in with the moonlight to the lace-draped windows of the parlor where a crumpled little figure crouched in a forlorn white heap on the wide, old-fashioned window sill, sobbing desperately through the plump little hands, in which the girlish face was hidden.

The spacious parlor with its handsome, old-fashioned furniture, and open piano, was deserted, and the weeping of the girl echoed forlornly through the room, and blended strangely with the whispers of the wind, and the sounds of the sea.

Old Faith put her grotesque, white-capped head inside the parlor door.

"Miss Irene, darling, won't you come and take your tea now?" said she, persuasively. "There's strawberry short-cake, and the reddest strawberries, and yellowest cream," added she, artfully appealing to the young lady's well-known epicurean tastes.

A sharp little voice answered back from the window seat:

"I won't take a thing, Faith; I mean to starve myself to death!"

"Oh, fie, my dearie, don't, now," cried Faith. "Come up-stairs, and let me tuck you in your little white bed, there's a love!"

"I won't, so there! Go away and leave me alone, Faith," cried the girl, through her stifled, hysterical sobs.

Exit Faith.

The wind stirred the yellow curls on the drooping head, and the moonlight touched them with fingers of light, bringing out their glints of gold. The great magnolia tree outside the window shook a gust of strong, sweet perfume from the large white waxen flowers, and the scent of June roses and lilacs came up from the old-fashioned garden. But the sweetness and beauty of the night seemed lost on little Irene, for her grieved sobs only burst forth afresh when Faith had departed. The girlish bosom heaved, the tears rained through her fingers, her smothered wail disturbed the harmony of the beautiful night.

Another step came along the hall, a hand turned the door-knob and a handsome old man came into the room.

"Irene, my pet, my darling, where are you hiding? Come to papa," he called, glancing around the dimly-lighted room.

With a scream of joy the little figure sprang down from its high perch in the window, and ran precipitately into his arms.

"Oh, papa, dear papa, you are home again!" she exclaimed, laughing and crying together, and patting his grey whiskers with her loving white hands.

"Yes, but you aren't glad to see me one bit. You're crying because I've come home. Shall I go back to the city, eh?" he inquired, softly pinching her cheek, and looking at her with kind, blue eyes full of love.

Irene hid her lovely face on his broad breast and sobbed aloud.

"Why, what ails my little girl?" he exclaimed. "Who's been teasing my pet? Where are mamma and the girls?"

With a fresh rain of tears, Irene sobbed out:

"All g—gone to the b—ball, and would not let—let—me g—go, after you'd told them all I might, papa."

The old man's genial face clouded over instantly with some intangible annoyance.

"Why wouldn't they let you go?" he inquired.

"Bertha said if I went, she wouldn't," replied Irene, hushing her sobs, and answering in a high-pitched, indignant young voice; "she said children had no business at a ball! The idea of calling me a child! I was sixteen, yesterday! Oh, papa, have you brought me a birthday present from the city?" she inquired, eagerly, forgetting for a moment her grievance.

"Yes, dear. And so Bertha wouldn't let you go to the ball?" he said, taking a seat, and drawing her down upon his knee.

"It was mamma, too. She took Bertha's part, and said I shouldn't come out until the girls were married. Two Miss Brookes were quite enough in the market at one time she said. As if I wanted to marry any of their ridiculous beauxs, with their lisps, and their eye-glasses, and their black coats. I despise them!" cried Irene, indignantly.

"That's because, as Bertha said, you're nothing but a child," laughed Mr. Brooke. "When you grow older you'll quite adore these black-coated dandies, I dare say;" then he added, in a graver tone: "Did Elaine forbid your going, too?"

"No, she didn't say one word for, or against it. She only pursed up her lips and looked out of the window. I never saw such a coward as Elaine," pursued the girl, angrily. "Bertha and mamma have everything their own way, and ride rough-shod over Elaine, and she daren't say her soul's her own!"

"Hush, Irene—you musn't talk so disrespectfully of your—sister," her father said, reprovingly.

"Well, but, papa, do you think it is right for Ellie to be ruled so by Bertha? She's older than Bert, you know," said the girl, laying her soft, round cheek against his, coaxingly.

A strange, sad look came into Mr. Brooke's face at her words.

"My dear, we won't discuss it," he said, uneasily. "Elaine is so gentle and quiet, she will not take her own part, perhaps. But about this ball, my pet. I'm sorry they wouldn't let you go. I brought you some pretty fal-lals to wear."

He handed her several parcels as he spoke, and turned up the lamps to a brighter blaze. Irene Brooke began unwrapping the parcels, with little feminine shrieks of delight.

"A baby-blue sash; oh, oh, you dear, old darling!" she cried, letting the rich lengths of wide, blue satin ribbon ripple splendidly over her white dress. "A fan! Ivory sticks, and blue and white feathers! Oh, thank you a hundred times, papa! And what is this tiny parcel? Oh, a bang-net! You ridiculous old papa, what do you think I want of a bang-net?" with a ripple of girlish laughter.

"The shop-woman recommended it. She said they were very fashionable," said Mr. Brooke, vaguely.

"I don't care! I'll never put my yellow curls under a bang-net," laughed Irene, whose tears were dried now as if they had never been. "Ellie may have it. And, oh, this little box! I had almost missed it."

She opened it with a little girlish shriek of joy and amaze.

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