Heartsease or Brother's Wife
And Maidens call them Love in Idleness.
Midsummer Night's Dream
There are none of England's daughters that bear a prouder presence.
And a kingly blood sends glances up, her princely eye to trouble,
And the shadow of a monarch's crown is softened in her hair.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
The sun shone slanting over a spacious park, the undulating ground here turning
a broad lawn towards the beams that silvered every blade of grass; there,
curving away in banks of velvet green; shadowed by the trees; gnarled old thorns
in the holiday suit whence they take their name, giant's nosegays of horse-
chestnuts, mighty elms and stalwart oaks, singly or in groups, the aristocracy of
the place; while in the background rose wooded coverts, where every tint of early
green blended in rich masses of varied foliage.
An avenue, nearly half a mile in length, consisted of a quadruple range of
splendid lime trees of uniform growth, the side arcades vaulted over by the
meeting branches, and the central road, where the same lights and shadows
were again and again repeated, conducting the eye in diminishing perspective to
a mansion on a broad base of stone steps. Herds of cattle, horses, and deer,
gave animation to the scene, and near the avenue were a party of village
children running about gathering cowslips, or seated on the grass, devouring
substantial plum buns.
Under a lordly elm sat a maiden of about nineteen years; at her feet a Skye
terrier, like a walking door-mat, with a fierce and droll countenance, and by her
side a girl and boy, the one sickly and poorly clad, the other with bright inquiring
eyes, striving to compensate for the want of other faculties. She was teaching
them to form that delight of childhood, a cowslip ball, the other children supplying
her with handfuls of the gold-coated flowers, and returning a pull of the forelock
or a bobbed curtsey to her smiling thanks.
Her dress was of a plain brown-holland looking material, the bonnet she had
thrown off was of the coarsest straw, but her whole air declared her the daughter
of that lordly house; and had gold and rubies been laid before her instead of
cowslips with fairy favours, they would well have become her princely port, long
neck, and stately head, crowned with a braid of her profuse black hair. That regal
look was more remarkable in her than beauty; her brow was too high, her
features not quite regular, her complexion of gypsy darkness, but with a glow of
eyes very large, black, and deeply set, naturally grave in expression, but just now
beaming and dancing in accordance with the encouraging smiles on her fresh,
healthy, red lips, as her hands, very soft and delicate, though of large and strong
make, completed the ball, threw it in the little boy's face, and laughed to see his
ecstasy over the delicious prize; teaching him to play with it, tossing it backwards