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A CATHEDRAL COURTSHIP (2)

2006-09-08 20:01

    HE

    WINCHESTER, May ,  The White Swan.

    As sure as my name is Jack Copley, I saw the prettiest girl in the world to-day,——an American, too, or I'm greatly mistaken. It was in the cathedral, where I have been sketching for several days. I was sitting in the end of a seat, at afternoon service, when two ladies entered by the side door. The ancient maiden, evidently the head of the family, settled herself devoutly, and the young one stole off by herself to one of the old carved seats back of the choir. She was worse than pretty! I took a sketch of her during service, as she sat under the dark carved-oak canopy, with this Latin inscription over her head:

    CARLTON CUM DOLBY LETANIA IX SOLIDORUM SUPER FLUMINA CONFITEBOR TIBI DUC PROBATI

    There ought to be a law against a woman's making a picture of herself, unless she is willing to sit and be sketched.

    A black and white sketch doesn't give any definite idea of this charmer's charms, but some time I'll fill it in,——hair, sweet little hat, gown, and eyes, all in golden brown, a cape of tawny sable slipping off her arm, a knot of yellow primroses in her girdle, carved-oak background, and the afternoon sun coming through a stained-glass window. Great Jove! She had a most curious effect on me, that girl! I can't explain it,——very curious, altogether new, and rather pleasant! When one of the choir boys sang, "Oh for the wings of a dove!" a tear rolled out of one of her lovely eyes and down her smooth brown cheek. I would have given a large portion of my modest monthly income for the felicity of wiping away that teardrop with one of my new handkerchiefs, marked with a tremendous "C" by my pretty sister.

    An hour or two later they appeared again,——the dragon, who answers to the name of "aunt Celia," and the "nut-brown mayde," who comes when you call her "Katharine." I was sketching a ruined arch. The dragon dropped her unmistakably Boston bag. I expected to see encyclopaedias and Russian tracts fall from it, but was disappointed. The nut-brown mayde (who has been brought up rigidly) hastened to pick up the bag, for fear that I should serve her by doing it. She was punished by turning it inside out, and I was rewarded by helping her pick up the articles, which were many and ill assorted. My little romance received the first blow when I found that she reads the Duchess novels. I think, however, she has the grace to be ashamed of it, for she blushed scarlet when I handed her "A Modern Circe." I could have told her that such a blush on such a cheek would atone for reading Mrs. Southworth, but I refrained. After she had gone I discovered a slip of paper which had blown under some stones. It proved to be an itinerary. I didn't return it. I thought they must know which way they were going; and as this was precisely what I wanted to know, I kept it for my own use. She is doing the cathedral towns. I am doing the cathedral towns. Happy thought! Why shouldn't we do them together,——we and aunt Celia?

    I had only ten minutes——to catch my train for Salisbury, but I concluded to run in and glance at the registers of the principal hotels. Found my nut-brown mayde at once on the pages of the Royal Garden Inn register: "Miss Celia Van Tyck, Beverly, Mass.; Miss Katharine Schuyler, New York." I concluded to stay over another train, ordered dinner, and took an altogether indefensible and inconsistent pleasure in writing "John Quincy Copley, Cambridge, Mass.," directly beneath the charmer's autograph.

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