The Rector of St. Marks (Chapter 7, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 7

Moved by a strange impulse, Thornton Hastings took himself and his
fast bays to Newport, instead of Saratoga, and thither, the first week
in August, came Mrs. Meredith, with eight large trunks, her niece and
her niece's wardrobe, which had cost the pretty sum of eighteen
hundred dollars.

Mrs. Meredith was not naturally lavish of her money except where her
own interests were concerned, as they were in Anna's case. Conscious
of having come between her niece and the man she loved, she determined
that in the procuring of a substitute for this man, no advantages
which dress could afford should be lacking. Besides, Thornton Hastings
was a perfect connoisseur in everything pertaining to a lady's toilet,
and it was with him and his preference before her mind that Mrs.
Meredith opened her purse so widely and bought so extensively. There
were sun hats and round hats, and hats _Ã la cavalier_--there were
bonnets and veils, and dresses and shawls of every color and kind,
with the lesser matters of sashes and gloves and slippers and fans,
the whole making an array such as Anna had never seen before, and from
which she at first shrank back appalled and dismayed. But she was not
now quite so much of a novice as when she first reached New York the
Saturday following the picnic at Prospect Hill. She had passed
successfully and safely through the hands of mantua-makers, milliners
and hairdressers since then. She had laid aside every article brought
from home. She wore her hair in puffs and waterfalls, and her dresses
in the latest mode. She had seen the fashionable world as represented
at Saratoga, and, sickening at the sight, had gladly acquiesced in her
aunt's proposal to go on to Newport, where the air was purer and the
hotels not so densely packed. She had been called a beauty and a
belle, but her heart was longing for the leafy woods and fresh green
fields of Hanover; and Newport, she fancied, would be more like the
country than sultry, crowded Saratoga, and never since leaving home
had she looked so bright and pretty as the evening after her arrival
at the Ocean House, when invigorated by the bath she had taken in the
morning, and gladdened by sight of the glorious sea and the soothing
tones it murmured in her ear, she came down to the parlor clad in
simple white, with only a bunch of violets in her hair, and no other
ornament than the handsome pearls her aunt had given to her. Standing
at the open window, with the drapery of the lace curtain sweeping
gracefully behind her, she did not look much like the Anna who led the
choir in Hanover and visited the Widow Hobbs, nor yet much like the
picture which Thornton Hastings had formed of the girl who he knew was
there for his inspection. He had been absent the entire day, and had
not seen Mrs. Meredith, when she arrived early in the morning, but he
found her card in his room, and a strange smile curled his lip as he
said: "And so I have not escaped her."

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