Fairies from all parts of the island assembled to do honour to their Elfin monarch and his beauteous queen. Even the arch and naughty bugganes had to be upon their good behaviour, and for the time leave off their mischief and their pranks.
The feast, which was of the most récherché description, did credit to the fairy Gunters, whose successful endeavours elicited the praise of every elfin bon vivant. Unfortunately, the menu was transcribed with humming-bird quill upon a rose-leaf, which withered and curled up before the next day's sun had reached its meridian, so that no permanent record was left of the various plats and entrées placed before the guests; but we may be sure that on so auspicious an occasion, like a Mansion House or Guildhall banquet,
[paragraph continues] "every delicacy in season" was provided, together with wines of the "rarest vintages."
The sparkling wine-cup passed busily and merrily round the board, well attended by jest and song. Many were the tales told that night of tricks and exploits, played by mischief-loving sprites and bugganes on such sinning mortals as had offended them, either by coming unbidden across their path, or neglecting one of the many customs and offerings which old usage had sanctified, and the wee folk considered to be their due, and in consequence had drawn down the fairy wrath upon their unlucky heads.
When the elfin party had done full justice to all the good things before them, and before adjourning for the festive dance, the royal healths were proposed and drank with all the honours, and the old Glen of Rushen rang again as the little voices shouted forth their homage to the toast. Seated next to Uddereek was a beauteous being who would, if seen by mortal man, have captivated him at once and completely turned his brain. Could any modern photographer but have obtained a negative of her fairy form and figure, the market for professional beauties' cartes de visites would have simply declined to far below zero, and the happy man would have realized a fortune.
This fairy beauty flirted--oh, flirting is but too mild a term to apply to her attacks upon our little Uddereek. In spite, however, of her blandishments most lavishly bestowed, and the many little wilful, winning ways, so well--ah too well--known to all the sex who are on conquest bent, whether they be fairies or no, denizens in Ellan Vannin or Belgravia--Uddereek was true to his mortal love of Glen Aldyn, and remained proof against them all, confining himself only to such attentions as no gentleman, elfin or mortal, could refuse to a lady seated beside him, and especially so fair as she.
Had the lovely Estella been born in Mayfair she could not have displayed more perfect ton, and no young lady in her second season, placed by a judicious and worldly-wise mamma beside the most eligible parti in the room, could have been more scientific in her attacks upon him. Her most
bewitching smiles, her most love-inspiring glances, darted adroitly over the rim of her fan, composed of a single leaf from a magnificent dark purple pansy, and all the arts of the most accomplished coquetry were launched forth with a ravishing abandon, but all in vain. The heart of the elfin Uddereek was true as steel.
The powerful battery of her expressive eyes seemed utterly to fail in
Click to enlarge
UDDEREEK AND ESTELLA.
obtaining the proper range and elevation. Every shot, every dart, well directed as it was, fell short of its mark, and Uddereek was unscathed. He was cool, composed, gentlemanly, and aggravatingly polite.
Knowing full well her own powers, she felt stung to the quick at such a failure as she had never experienced before. She was simply astonished, almost stupefied, at such a result. At first she thought she must be seated beside a fool, one of those unimpressionable dolts too frequently met with in all societies, even of the best, who have no soul, no appreciation for anything. A second glance convinced her of the folly of such a thought.
[paragraph continues] Besides, was not the elfin next to her, Uddereek, the wittiest, the most accomplished, and most gallant little gentleman in the elfin court?
Estella looked jealously around to see if there was any other fairy maid at whom she could detect him gazing. She sought in vain for any one there, she would condescend to admit for one moment to herself, could possibly be regarded as a rival. She knew full well her own transcendent beauty, and that all acknowledged her the belle of the fête. Still she was far--very far--from being satisfied, and felt confident that no heart not already bestowed upon another could resist such charms and withstand such advances as hers. Her pride was piqued, her vanity deeply wounded, her curiosity excited, and she determined to fathom the mystery.
The feast over, the ball began. They one and all stood up. The king and queen led off the lively reel. Uddereek handed the fair Estella through the mazes of the dance, during which, far from desisting, she renewed with, if possible, redoubled energy her attacks, tried afresh all her arts to bring him to her feet, took skilful advantage of every little incident of the dance to bewitch him, but all in vain.
The dance ended--even a country dance, a true Roger de Coverley, must, some time or other, come to a finish--he led her to a seat upon a moss-grown bank, shadowed over with ferns of the daintiest kind, and making some excuse, slipped hurriedly away from the glen, to meet his Kitty at the blue rowan tree, where he knew so well she would be waiting his arrival. Uddereek, hoping he had left the elfin throng unnoticed and unmissed, hied him quick as the lightning flash, upon the swift wings of hot young love, from Rushen Glen to Aldyn.
Estella felt mortified by her failure, and insulted by the nonchalant behaviour and indifference of Uddereek to her charms and beauty, which even her attentions to him had not prevented her from seeing had been admiringly gazed upon by many another elfin swain who had envied Uddereek his great good fortune in sitting next to her, and would have given anything, even the tips of their tiny moustaches, to have had half the sweet blandishments bestowed upon them that had been thrown away
upon his unsympathizing heart. She was deeply hurt and thirsted for revenge. That there was a mystery somewhere she was certain, and that a rival who had already full possession of his heart existed, she was fully convinced, or he never could have so withstood such sweet sorcery as she had tried upon him. To discover that rival was now the work before her. She watched his every movement, and his departure, stealthy though it was, did not escape her eye. Prompted by her natural womanly curiosity, and instigated by all the jealous feelings of a revengeful heart, she swiftly followed on his trail.