Nell of Shorne Mills (Chapter 6, page 2 of 8)


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Chapter 6

He had married for money, had got it, and had spent it, even before his
patient and long-suffering wife had expiated the mistake of her life in
the only possible way. She had left Lady Lucille behind, and the girl
had matriculated and taken honors in her father's school.

To Lady Lucille there was only one thing in life worth having--money;
and to obtain this prize she had been carefully nurtured and laboriously
taught. Long before she left the nursery she had grown to understand
that her one object and sole ambition must be a wealthy and suitable
marriage; and to this end every advantage of mind and body had been
trained and cultivated as one trains a young thoroughbred for a great
race.

She had been taught to laugh at sentiment, to regard admiration as
valueless unless it came from a millionaire; to sneer at love unless it
paced, richly clad and warmly shod, from a palace. She had graduated in
the School of Fashion, and had passed with high honors. There was no
more beautiful woman in all England than Lady Lucille; few possessed
greater charm; men sang her praises; artists fought for the honor of
hanging her picture in the Academy; the society papers humbly reported
her doings, her sayings, and her conquests; royalties smiled approvingly
on this queen of fashion, and not a single soul, Lady Lucille herself
least of all, realized that this perfection was but the hollow husk and
shell of beauty without heart or soul; that behind the lovely face,
within the graceful form, lurked as selfish and ignoble a nature as that
which stirs the blood of any drab upon the Streets.

"Drake!" she said. "Why! I'd no idea! What are you doing here?"

He motioned her to a seat with a wave of his pipe, and she sank down on
the stone slab, after a careful glance at it, and eyed him curiously but
with still a trace of her first embarrassment.

She looked a perfect picture, as she sat there, with the steep,
descending wall, the red Devon cliffs, the blue, glittering sea for her
background; a picture which might have been presented with a summer
number of one of the illustrated weeklies; and all as unreal and as
unlike life as they are. It is true that she wore a yachting costume
exquisitely made and perfectly fitting; and Drake, as he looked at it,
acknowledged its claims upon his admiration, but he knew it was all a
sham, and, half unconsciously, he compared it with the old worn skirt
and the serviceable jersey worn by Nell, who had gone up the hill--how
long ago was it? Nell's face and hands were brown with the kiss of
God's sun; Lady Lucille's face was like a piece of delicate Sèvres, and
her hands were incased in white kid gauntlets. To him, at that moment,
she looked like an actress playing in a nautical burlesque at the
Gaiety; and, for the first time since he had known her, he found himself
looking at her critically, and, notwithstanding her faultless
attire--faultless from a fashionable point of view--with disapproval.

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