Nell of Shorne Mills (Chapter 6, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 6

The girl who, with changing color, stood gazing at Lord Drake Selbie
might have stepped out of one of Marcus Stone's pictures. She was as
fair as a piece of biscuit china. Her hair was golden, and, strange to
say in these latter days, naturally so. It was, indeed, like the fleece
of gold itself under her fashionable yachting hat. Her eyes, widely
opened, with that curious look of surprise and fear, were hazel--a deep
hazel, which men, until they knew her, accepted as an indication of Lady
Lucille's depth of feeling. She was slightly built, but graceful, with
the grace of the fashionable modiste.

She was the product of the marriage of Art and Fashion of this
fin-de-siècle age. Other ages have given us wit, beauty allied with
esprit, dignity of demeanor, and a nobility of principle; this end of
the nineteenth century has bestowed upon us--Lady Lucille Turfleigh.

It is in its way a marvelous product. It is very beautiful, with the
delicate beauty of excessive culture and effete luxury. It has the
subtle charm of the exotic, of the tall and graceful arum, whose
spotless whiteness cannot bear a single breath of the keen east wind.

It is charming, bewitching; it looks all purity and spirituality; it
seems to breathe poetry and a Higher Culture. It goes through life like
a rose leaf floating upon a placid stream. It is precious to look at,
pleasant to live with, and it has only one defect--it has no heart.

We have cast off the old creeds like so many shackles; we are so finely
educated, so cultivated, that we have learned to do more than laugh at
sentiment; we regard it with a contemptuous pity.

There is only one thing which we value, and that is Pleasure. Some
persons labor under the mistaken notion that Money is the universal
quest; but it is not so. The Golden God is set up in every market place,
it stands at every street corner; but it is not for himself that the
crowd worship at the feet of the brazen image, but because he can buy so
much.

It is Money which nowadays holds the magician's rod. With a wave he can
give us rank, luxury, power, place, influence, and beauty. This is the
creed, the religion, which we teach our children, which is continually
in our hearts if not on our lips; and it is the creed, the religion, in
which Lady Lucille was reared.

Her history is a public one. It is the story of how many fashionable
women? Her father, Lord Turfleigh, was an Irish peer. He had inherited a
historic title, and thousands of acres which he had scarcely seen, but
which he had helped to incumber. All the Turfleighs from time immemorial
had been fast and reckless, but this Turfleigh had outpaced them all,
and had easily romped in first in the race of dissipation. As a young
man his name had been synonymous with every kind of picturesque
profligacy. Every pound he could screw out of the land, or obtain at
ruinous interest from the Jews, had been spent in what he and his kind
call pleasure.

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