Imagini ale paginilor
[merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][merged small]


Ho are they, I wonder? They are dian chapel? I saw the likeness at once;

English, evidently. What a Frank told me that he painted the face

saintly face the tall one has ! from memory, with the aid of a sketch "Hasn't she? And what a queenly air ! he made at the habitant's wedding. LeighPoor thing! she is young to be a widow. ton will make a hit with that painting; I wonder who they can be? Oh, here the face of the kneeling figure of the comes Mrs. Morris; she'll be sure to know.” widow reminds me of one of the most

“True. Good morning, Mrs. Morris, who beautiful Madonnas.” are our newcomers?»

“The Lady Isabel, eh!” observed one "Oh, I heard all about them last night, of the group addressed by Mrs. Morris. said the lady addressed, with a nod, in the “What a pretty name, and what a lovely way of morning salutation, to each of her face! No wonder your artist friend is friends. Frank Leighton knows them; he smitten by her. Someone told me that met the men of the party at the wharf as Mr. Leighton seems bewitched since he they got off the steamer, and he has just began his new picture, and he has manigone in with them to breakfast. Has n't festly thrown all his art into the face of the young widow a divine face? She's a his kneeling Madonna.” titled lady-what's this is her name? Mr. « Yes, has he not ? ” was the rejoinder. Leighton told me. Oh, yes, Lady Isabel “I should like to know her history. When Wilton.”

Leighton gets to know them better, I'll "And who is her companion? Not a sis- no doubt find out.” ter, evidently.”

“Oh, don't be too sure of that! Mr. “Oh, no! she is no relation; they are Leighton won't tell you much if, as I susmerely travelling together, though they pect, he's in love with her. In that event, are old friends. She's the wife of the Mrs. Morris, he'll give you little of his young fellow with the handsome beard, confidence.” who is, I am told, an English barrister; “We shall see, dear,” said the latter and the old gentleman is her father. He lady, who prided herself on possessing the is the Hon. Mr. Lewis, a gentleman of artist's friendship, as she moved off to property in the north of Scotland, and another knot of hotel guests on the now Leighton says that he has come out to crowded veranda. Canada to buy land in the Northwest for Such was the conversation that took his sons. His son-in-law is a Mr. King- place one bright July morning, some sumlake, who has also come out to make mers ago, among three of a group of Toinvestments in Canada. Mr. Leighton met ronto ladies assembled after breakfast on the whole party a few weeks ago at the promenade galleries of Maplehurst.” Quebec. I can't learn much about Lady That attractive Muskoka hotel, perched Isabel Wilton; but don't you recognize in on the fir-clad heights overlooking the her the kneeling figure in Leighton's pic- gleaming lake and distant village of Rosture of the interior of the French-Cana- seau, had seldom gathered a larger or more fashionable crowd than was to be self in the delineation of historic scenes seen on the morning in question. The from Canadian annals, some of his large throng of visitors consisted chiefly of the canvases finding their way to the London fair sex, the goodly matrons and muslined Academy and the Salon at Paris. Not a femininity of Toronto and the cities of little of his popularity, however, was due the south, with a bevy of children and a to his admirable social qualities, added to more than usually large proportion of his good looks and cultivated manners. budding womanhood and young girls just He had a fine mind, and a disposition so entering their teens, The morning was generous and genial that he made himself bright and warm, giving promise of a friends wherever he went. He had a typical Canadian day; and the human in- charming way with women, whom he terest in the scene was increased by the treated with pleasing deference, scrupuanimation and high spirits which were lous honor, and chivalrous courtesy. Nor depicted on every face, and were empha- was there a trace of self-consciousness or sized by a buzz of small talk and, ever affectation in anything he said or did. He and anon, by peals of light laughter. was not only kind and tender-hearted, he

Frank Leighton, who was in part the was always disinterested and unselfish; theme of the above conversation, was a and in manners no one could be more well-known figure in Muskoka watering- frank and ingenuous. Deep in his nature places, and his talent, both as an artist was implanted the love of woman; though and a littérateur, had of recent years women he admired with the intellect, not brought him prominently before the intel- with the passions. Yet in this respect he lectual portion, at least, of the Canadian was neither a pedant nor an anchorite. and American public. The young artist He had an abiding faith in the essential moved in good social circles, and he was goodness of his fellow men, and used to a general favorite with both sexes. He say that in the long run the nobler and was a Canadian only by adoption, though not the baser characteristics of humanity adoption with him — so much of a patriot would prevail. was he!- meant a good deal more thân Nothing, however, so touched Leighbirth with the mass of his political party

ton's heart and soul as contact with a good ridden fellow-countrymen. He belonged

and beautiful woman. Almost indescribto a good old family in Westmoreland, and able were his emotions when he caught was born and brought up in the vicinity the first glimpse of Lady Isabel Wilton. of the English lakes. At an early age he Hers was the face of his ideal of female had the misfortune to lose his mother, and beauty. It had pathos as well as lovein his seventeenth year, his father marry- liness. Round the mouth played the ing again, he and his brother left home smiles of a sweet, sunny nature; and the and set out for British Honduras, where large lustrous eyes were lit by the flashthe two young men had relatives. There ing steel of the intellect and emitted Frank, the younger of the two, spent but sparks from the smouldering fires of love. one year, when he parted with his brother In appearance Lady Isabel was a little and came north to seek his fortune in above the medium height, though she was Canada. He had had a good education, splendidly proportioned, carried herself and nature had endowed him with a de- majestically, and yet had a step as light cided taste, if not genius, for art.

and graceful as a fawn. By the most inwhile, like most newcomers, he roughed different connoisseur of beauty, neither it on a farm; but in his twentieth year he her face nor her figure could be passed gravitated to the city, where he cultivated unobserved; while her whole person bore his talent for painting, eking out the slen- the unmistakable marks of distinction. der allowance he had from his father by When Frank Leighton first saw this giving drawing-lessons and occasionally vision of female loveliness, she had come, contributing to the English and American with her party, into the little French periodical press.

chapel in the suburbs of Quebec where a When, at Maplehurst, we make acquaint- peasant's wedding was being celebrated. ance with the young artist, ten Canadian

With what seemed to be more than a consummers had flown over his head. In the ventional respect for the place and the interval, his industry, as well as his genius, ceremony, the Lady Isabel advanced to had won for him a high place in native the group around the chancel-rail and art circles, his special faculty showing it- knelt throughout the performance of the

For a

sacred rite. When the ceremony was ing from a conversation into which he had over, she rose quickly from her knees, been drawn at the hotel porch, lit a cigar, and, retracing her steps, joined her friends and strolled over to take his evening walk at the entrance of the chapel. As she on Dufferin Terrace. Here he was shortly passed out, she noticed Leighton, who had afterwards joined by the English tourists entered silently at a side door, and now who had arrived that morning by the stood, sketch-book in hand, half concealed Liverpool steamer. Passing the group, behind a pillar. She gave a quick, con- who were evidently enjoying the superb vulsive start, as her eyes met those of the view from the promenade, the elderly genartist, blushed deeply, and let fall her tleman accosted Leighton with some incrape veil to hide evident emotion. What quiry about Point Lévis, on the opposite there was so visibly to disturb her, Leigh- shore. Leighton courteously satisfied the ton could not divine. So far as he knew, old gentleman and was about to pass on they had never previously met; and when further questions were simultaneLeighton was not vain enough to suppose ously addressed to him, this time by the that there was about his person or ap

two ladies. These referred to other obpearance anything specially attractive to jects seen from the Terrace, and, answera stranger. Her agitation, he concluded, ing the questions, the artist was drawn was due to some painful memory. His into an animated conversation with the impressions were deepened later on in the whole party, who manifested great interday, when, all having returned to the ho- est in Leighton's rapid recital of the histel at which they were staying, he found torical events connected with Quebec, the



himself more than once the object of the citadel, and the régime of French dominion beautiful stranger's furtive but wistful in the New World. gaze and indifferently hidden interest. Leighton was well read in Canadian

Before nightfall the Fates seemingly history, knew its every legend and tradidecreed that the two people who had con- tion, and had the gift of a minstrelceived so sudden an interest in each other scholar in telling a story. In the walk should come together. After dinner the back to the hotel he had in Lady Isabel an young artist excused himself in withdraw- intelligent and interested auditor; and at her request he had to recount to the take advantage of his suggestion to spend rest of the party several of the old Breton a week at the Muskoka Lakes, where, he and Norman legends which had inost in- had previously informed them, he usualterested her in the return to their night's ly spent a part of the summer. From quarters. It was far on in the evening Muskoka, whither Leighton was himself when the party broke up, and day had shortly about to proceed, he was apprised nearly dawned before Leighton could get that the party would set out for the Norththe lovely Isabel out of his head, to en- west, and, after a run through to the Paable him to snatch an hour or two's rest cific Coast, would then retrace their steps before breakfast.

and go back to England. With this indiThe new day brought Leighton again cation of the movements of the tourists into close contact with his English friends, and an exchange of cards between the all of whom seemed to wish to put them- gentlemen, and with profuse thanks for selves under his guidance during their brief the young Canadian's civilities from all stay at Quebec. Lady Isabel, though the travellers, the artist took leave of the still cordial in her manner, obviously de- group, after expressing the pleasure it sired to impose some restraint upon the would give him to meet them again, either suddenly sprung-up friendship, and left at Toronto or at Maplehurst, the Ontario conversation with him pretty much to the summer resort on Lake Rosseau, about a other members of the party. Leighton hundred and fifty miles north of the prounderstood and accepted the somewhat vincial capital. changed relations; and while he regretted that he could not presume to ask that The reader already knows that all have there should be a return of the cordiality again met by the waters of Muskoka, that marked the previous evening's inter- though he may not know in what turmoil course, he was consoled by the conviction of heart poor Leighton has been since he that he had not lost favor in the lady's bid adieu at Quebec to Lady Isabel Wilton eyes. She still regarded him with marked and let his ardent glance modestly fall beinterest, and, much as she desired to do fore the spirituelle face and tear-moistened so, could not altogether conceal the fact. eyes of the beautiful English widow. Only once during the day did he find him- Leighton tried hard to disguise from himself for a few minutes alone with her, self that he was in love. It was true, during which she talked of Leighton's thanks to his own industry, and to the profession and her interest in it, and let professional reputation he had earned, he fall the remark that her husband, too, was now in a position to marry; but what had been an artist. Leighton was too did he know of her to whom his heart was well bred to do more, at this stage of their now captive, save her surface beauty; and acquaintance, than signify that he had even if she were all he sought in a wife, heard the casually dropped bit of personal why, he sternly asked himself, should he history. He went on to speak of the be the favored of all suitors ? Moreover, attractive field there was in the Old World the fair Isabel could not have been long a for the artist, and of the better rewards widow, and might not her heart be still that there wait upon art-talent and in- in the grave? Such . were some of the dustry; while she, on her part, spoke thoughts that perplexed the mind of Frank enthusiastically of the scope and variety Leighton as he walked with heightened which the New World opened to the color by the side of the beautiful gentlegenius and trained skill of American and woman among the hotel guests at MapleCanadian painters.

hurst, on the morrow after her arrival. Unluckily the conversation was here in- To a few of his intimate acquaintances terrupted by the return of Lady Isabel's the young artist introduced the English travelling companions, who informed travellers, and together for a week or Leighton that they had decided to go on more the newcomers enjoyed themselves to Montreal by the evening boat and were hugely. The weather was glorious, and sorry to have to take sudden leave of their each day there was sufficient wind for a new friend. They added, however, that sail. Every morning some little party they hoped to renew acquaintance with was made up, and in concert the group of him at Toronto, where they expected to sail-boats explored the picturesque inlets be in about three weeks, after a brief tour and gleaming stretch of waters that gem in the States, when they would most likely the prettily-wooded basin of the Lakes of

[graphic][merged small]

Muskoka. In Leighton's yacht were always to be found the Lady Isabel with Mrs. Kinglake, her bosom friend and travelling companion. In a stroll in the odorous pine woods, or in a pull up the nereidhaunted Shadow River, that empties into Lake Rosseau, you would be sure to find the same happy company. Yet, in this idle dalliance daily with the woman he greatly loved, no word escaped Leighton indicative of his feelings. He saw that he was trusted by both women who honored him with their company, and he would not betray the trust; nor was it in his nature to be likely to do so. Soon, however, was there to cur an incident which brought the two chief figures in the drama of love more closely together.

Leighton had arranged with his English friends an excursion by water, down the lake to Port Sandfield, with a break at “Eagle's Nest,” thence up Lake Joseph to Port Cockburn, and over the Parry Sound road to the island-studded shores of Georgian Bay. A week was to be consumed in the trip. Before starting out on it the two gentlemen of the English party wished to run down to Toronto to complete their arrangements for proceeding to the West. This they presently did, leaving the ladies to Leighton's care.

The day before Mr. Lewis and Mr. Kinglake were expected to return, Leighton crossed over to Rosseau village to buy an extra trolling-line for the ladies who were to join the expedition, and to fit up his boat's larder with such modest luxuries for the trip as the village afforded. He left Mrs. Kinglake and Lady Isabel cruising about in a small craft at the head of the lake, with a young lad staying at the hotel, and a boatman from the village. On his return to Maplehurst wharf, Leighton received a message left for him by the ladies, to the efiect that they had set off for Morgan's Bay, a large inlet a little way down the lake; but that they would return shortly. As he crossed over from the village, he noticed that a storm was blowing up, and he became a little anxious for the safety of his charge. His fears increased as the sky darkened and the wind rose.

Casting off from the wharf, Leighton hurried away in search of his friends. He had n't been gone many minutes when to his horror he observed the boat, with the ladies alone in it, scudding out from the inlet under the jib, and with the rudder apparently fouled. As the wind was now blowing a gale from the north, the little boat, with its panic-stricken inmates,

« ÎnapoiContinuați »