Page:A New England Tale.djvu/97

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
86
A NEW-ENGLAND TALE.

now, though the young lady had remonstrated against being brought forward under such circumstances, insist on the composition being read, which had been pronounced next best to Miss Wilson's; and which, he could assure the audience, was, unquestionably, original."

The curtain was once more withdrawn, and discovered Jane seated on the throne, looking like the "meek usurper," reluctant to receive the honour that was forced upon her. She presented a striking contrast to the deposed sovereign. She was dressed in a plain black silk frock, and a neatly plaited muslin Vandyke; her rich light brown hair was parted on her forehead, and put up behind in a handsome comb, around which one of her young friends had twisted an "od'rous chaplet of sweet summer buds." She advanced with so embarrassed an air, that even Mary Hull thought her triumph cost more than it was worth. As she unrolled the scroll she held in her hand, she ventured once to raise her eyes; she saw but one face among all the multitude—the approving, encouraging smile of her kind patron met her timid glance, and emboldened her to proceed, which she did, in a low and faltering voice, that certainly lent no grace, but the grace of modesty, to the composition. The subject was gratitude, and the remarks, made on the virtue, were such as could only come from one whose heart was warmed by its glow. Mr. Lloyd felt the delicate praise. Mrs. Wilson affected to appropriate it to herself. She whispered to her next neighbour, "It is easy to