The scene would have gladdened a painter's heart. An old churchyard. The church low and square-towered, with long mullioned windows, the yellow- grey stone roughened by age and tender-hued with lichens. ...
The scene would have gladdened a painter's heart. An old churchyard. The
church low and square-towered, with long mullioned windows, the yellow-
grey stone roughened by age and tender-hued with lichens. Round it
clustered many tombstones tilted in all directions. Behind the church a
line of gnarled and twisted yews.
The churchyard was full of fine trees. On one side a magnificent cedar;
on the other a great copper beech. Here and there among the tombs and
headstones many beautiful blossoming trees rose from the long green
grass. The laburnum glowed in the June afternoon sunlight; the lilac,
the hawthorn and the clustering meadowsweet which fringed the edge of the
lazy stream mingled their heavy sweetness in sleepy fragrance. The
yellow-grey crumbling walls were green in places with wrinkled
harts-tongues, and were topped with sweet-williams and spreading house-
leek and stone-crop and wild-flowers whose delicious sweetness made for
the drowsy repose of perfect summer.
But amid all that mass of glowing colour the two young figures seated on
the grey old tomb stood out conspicuously. The man was in conventional
hunting-dress: red coat, white stock, black hat, white breeches, and top-
boots. The girl was one of the richest, most glowing, and yet withal
daintiest figures the eye of man could linger on. She was in
riding-habit of hunting scarlet cloth; her black hat was tipped forward
by piled-up masses red-golden hair. Round her neck was a white lawn
scarf in the fashion of a man's hunting-stock, close fitting, and sinking
into a gold-buttoned waistcoat of snowy twill. As she sat with the long
skirt across her left arm her tiny black top-boots appeared underneath.
Her gauntleted gloves were of white buckskin; her riding-whip was plaited
of white leather, topped with ivory and banded with gold.
Even in her fourteenth year Miss Stephen Norman gave promise of striking
beauty; beauty of a rarely composite character. In her the various
elements of her race seemed to have cropped out. The firm-set jaw, with
chin broader and more square than is usual in a woman, and the wide fine
forehead and aquiline nose marked the high descent from Saxon through
Norman. The glorious mass of red hair, of the true flame colour, showed
the blood of another ancient ancestor of Northern race, and suited well
with the voluptuous curves of the full, crimson lips. The purple-black
eyes, the raven eyebrows and eyelashes, and the fine curve of the
nostrils spoke of the Eastern blood of the far-back wife of the Crusader.
Already she was tall for her age, with something of that lankiness which
marks the early development of a really fine figure. Long-legged, long-
necked, as straight as a lance, with head poised on the proud neck like a
lily on its stem.