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Simon’s Hour
by [?]

As Played at Stornoway Crag, March 25, 1750

“You’re a woman–one to whom Heaven gave beauty, when it grafted roses on a briar. You are the reflection of Heaven in a pond, and he that leaps at you is sunk. You were all white, a sheet of lovely spotless paper, when you first were born; but you are to be scrawled and blotted by every goose’s quill.”


LORD ROKESLE, a loose-living, Impoverished nobleman, and loves Lady Allonby.

SIMON ORTS, Vicar of Heriz Magna, a debauched fellow, and Rokesle’s creature.

PUNSHON, servant to Rokesle.

LADY ALLONBY, a pleasure-loving, luxurious woman, a widow, and rich.

The Mancini Chamber at Stornoway Crag, on Usk.


PROEM:–The Age and a Product of It

We begin at a time when George the Second was permitting Ormskirk and the Pelhams to govern England, and the Jacobites had not yet ceased to hope for another Stuart Restoration, and Mr. Washington was a promising young surveyor in the most loyal colony of Virginia; when abroad the Marquise de Pompadour ruled France and all its appurtenances, and the King of Prussia and the Empress Maria Theresa had, between them, set entire Europe by the ears; when at home the ladies, if rumor may be credited, were less unapproachable than their hoop-petticoats caused them to appear, [Footnote: “Oft have we known that sevenfold fence to fail, Though stiff with hoops, and armed with ribs of whale.”] and gentlemen wore swords, and some of the more reckless bloods were daringly beginning to discard the Ramillie-tie and the pigtail for their own hair; when politeness was obligatory, and morality a matter of taste, and when well-bred people went about the day’s work with an ample leisure and very few scruples. In fine, we begin toward the end of March, in the year 1750, when Lady Allonby and her brother, Mr. Henry Heleigh, of Trevor’s Folly, were the guests of Lord Rokesle, at Stornoway Crag, on Usk.

As any person of ton could have informed you, Anastasia Allonby was the widow (by his second marriage) of Lord Stephen Allonby, the Marquis of Falmouth’s younger brother; and it was conceded by the most sedate that Lord Stephen’s widow, in consideration of her liberal jointure, possessed inordinate comeliness.

She was tall for a woman. Her hair, to-night unpowdered, had the color of amber and something, too, of its glow; her eyes, though not profound, were large and in hue varied, as the light fell or her emotions shifted, through a wide gamut of blue shades. But it was her mouth you remembered: the fulness and brevity of it, the deep indentation of its upper lip, the curves of it and its vivid crimson–these roused you to wildish speculation as to its probable softness when Lady Allonby and Fate were beyond ordinary lenient. Pink was the color most favorable to her complexion, and this she wore to-night; the gown was voluminous, with a profusion of lace, and afforded everybody an ample opportunity to appraise her neck and bosom. Lady Allonby had no reason to be ashamed of either, and the last mode in these matters was not prudish.

To such a person, enters Simon Orts, chaplain in ordinary to Lord Rokesle, and Vicar of Heriz Magna, one of Lord Rokesle’s livings.


“Now of a truth,” said Simon Orts, “that is curious–undeniably that is curious.”

He stayed at the door for a moment staring back into the ill-lit corridor. Presently he shut the door, and came forward toward the fireplace.

Lady Allonby, half-hidden in the depths of the big chair beside the chimney-piece, a book in her lap, looked up inquiringly. “What is curious, Mr. Orts?”

The clergyman stood upon the hearth, warming his hands, and diffusing an odor of tobacco and stale alcohol. “Faith, that damned rascal–I beg your pardon, Anastasia; our life upon Usk is not conducive to a mincing nicety of speech. That rascal Punshon made some difficulty over admitting me; you might have taken him for a sentinel, with Stornoway in a state of siege. He ruffled me,–and I don’t like it,” Simon Orts said, reflectively, looking down upon her. “No, I don’t like it. Where’s your brother?” he demanded on a sudden.