The Golden Woman A Story of the Montana Hills

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
ISBN: N/A
Language: English
Published: 5 days ago
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AUNT MERCY

An elderly woman looked up from the crystal globe before her. The sound of horse’s hoofs, clattering up to the veranda, had caught her attention. But the hard, gray eyes had not yet recovered their normal frigidity of expression. There were still traces in them of the groping mind, searching on, amidst the chaos of a world unseen. Nor was Mercy Lascelles posing at the trade which yielded her something more than her daily bread. She had no reason for pose. She was an ardent and proficient student of that remote science which has for its field of research the border-land between earthly life and the ultimate.

For some moments she gazed half-vacantly through the window. Then alertness and interest came back to her eyes, and her look resumed its normal hardness. It was an unlovely face, but its unloveliness lay in its expression. There was something so unyielding in the keen, aquiline nose and pointed chin. The gray eyes were so cold. The pronounced brows were almost threatening in their marking and depression. There was not a feature in her face that was not handsome, and yet, collectively, they gave her a look at once forbidding, and even cruel.

There was no softening, there never was any softening in Mercy Lascelles’ attitude toward the world now. Years ago she may have given signs of the gentler emotions of her woman’s heart. It is only reasonable to suppose that at some time or other she possessed them. But now no one was ever permitted beyond the harsh exterior. Perhaps she owed the world a grudge. Perhaps she hoped, by closing the doors of her soul, her attitude would be accepted as the rebuff she intended to convey.

“Is that you, Joan?” she demanded in a sharp, masterful tone.

“It certainly is, auntie,” came the gentle, girlish response from the veranda.

The next moment the door of the little morning-room opened, and a tall girl stood framed in its white setting.

Joan Stanmore possessed nothing whatever in common with her aunt. She was of that healthy type of American girl that treats athletics as a large part of her education. She was tall and fair, with a mass of red-gold hair tucked away under the mannish hat which was part of her dark green, tightly-fitting riding habit. Her brow was broad, and her face, a perfect oval, was open and starred with a pair of fearless blue eyes of so deep a hue as to be almost violet. Her nose and mouth were delicately moulded, but her greatest beauty lay in the exquisite peach-bloom of her soft, fair skin.

Joan Stanmore was probably the handsomest girl in St. Ellis City, in a suburb of which she and her aunt lived. She was certainly one of the most popular girls, in spite of the overshadowing threat of an aunt whom everybody disliked and whom most people feared. Her disposition was one of serene gentleness, yet as fearless and open as her beautiful eyes suggested. She was of a strongly independent spirit too, but, even so, the woman in her was never for a moment jeopardized by it; she was never anything but a delightful femininity, rejoicing wholesomely in the companionship of the opposite sex....