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clamours of applause impeded the opera ; and, during this time, Zelie having proudly bowed in return for praises which certainly were, and which she seemed to consider, her due, she stood leaning against an old oak, waiting, as it were, like the spirit of the storm, until the tumult she had called forth should subside.
Augusta now discovered that her beaux had either little taste or little sincerity, for La Zelie looked sublimely beautiful. The faults of her face were an extreme pallor of complexion—a brow somewhat too lofty, and eyes somewhat too large for the rest of her features, with an expression of melancholy, sometimes amounting to misery ; but these defects, which had perhaps shocked Sparkleton's commonplace taste, either appeared not, or, by the magic of the scene, were converted into beauties. Excitement, and the artificial bloom necessary on the stage, gave a dazzling beauty to her complexion, and lighted up her eyes with a surpassing lustre.
The lofty brow, gracefully crowned by the oak-leaves, gave nobility to the face, and all identity of the
mournful Zelie was lost in the inspiration of the priestess, and the passionate love of the woman, who had broken her vows to Heaven, and forgotten its altar to burn unholy fires at an earthly shrine. It was in the delineation of passion that Zelie surpassed herself — in that part where, jealous of the love of him who has made her false to her faith, she is about to stab him, there was an awful reality, which sent a shudder through the house, and made the actor start with real terror. All felt that that young and fragile girl had depths of passion in her own heart—all felt that her own revenge would be, if she were deceived, “ like the tiger's spring, deadly and crushing.”
Julian left the box after the first act, and the gentlemen who dropped in were full of nothing but La Zelie. No one heeded Augusta's diamond bandeau or new sleeve; and the belle felt the mighty superiority of genius over beauty, and tears of mortification filled her eyes. She heard a silly young lordling say that Lindsay — lucky dog was behind the
that he was La Zelie's grand pet; and, excited by jealousy, she resolved he should propose to her before a week was gone, or lose her for ever.
All this time she was maddened by the remarks and queries of the Douglases, and Miss Tibby, and by the criticisms of Mr. Fitzcribb, who was stringing together a few observations meant for a morning paper, and repeating them with emphasis, lest he should forget them.
Sparkleton, Dashington, and Riskwell, who considered it quite the thing to be suddenly enamoured of La Zelie, were gone in hopes of an introduction to her; and as Augusta looked round, and saw the box deserted by all but Grunter and Fitzcribb, on the very night she had marked out for triumph, she wished herself in her little white-curtained bed at Moss Grove Rectory, with the moonlit woodbines peeping in at her open casement, and the soft spring night breeze bearing on it the note of the nightingale, or the distant hoot of the owl.
Poor girl! Who, in the frequent disappointments vanity prepares for its votaries in the buzz of a glittering and selfish crowd, and amid the glare of dazzling lamps, has not regretted the quiet scene, where fancy painted so brightly what proves so dreary in reality ?
As for Ellen, the voice of the syren was enough to charm her into ecstasy. What were Sparkleton and his tribe to her ? she was with the old Druids and their hoary oaks. She shuddered at the savage rites, the wicker idols, the human sacrifices; she felt the agonies of the guilty priestess; but she knew not whether Dashington and Riskwell stayed or went; and Julian -oh! she would not think about Julian. Yet she remarked he had a beautiful bouquet in his hand, and she suspected it was one of many which were to be showered on La Zelie. De Villeneuve, too — she had not seen him at all ; but Norma appeared, and De Villeneuve was forgotten till the curtain
“And those places where the men have such long beards, and are making such a clamour, what are they called ? ” asked Grizzy.
“And a vary good place too for such a set of creatures, with beards like goats, and bray. ing like asses—they're only fit for stalls."
“ And what's that large box wi’ sa mony in it ?” asked Tibby.
“ An omnibus, madam, but without a cad," said Mr. Fitzcribb, who piqued himself on ready wit.
“ No cads, madam — all regular nobs, booked for St. James's, not the bank.”
Miss Grizzy looked at him with ineffable disdain.
Grizzy,” asked Tibby, in an under-tone, “wha' is that Heeland officer round your neck ?”
“You're of a vary inquiring turn o' mind,” said Grizzy, concealing it.
“Na,” urged Tibby, in a whisper, “but wha is it?"