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   Chapter 3 THE FATES SPIN WITH THREADS OF BLACK.

A Heart-Song of To-day By Annie Gregg Savigny Characters: 9463

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


We now return to Captain Trevalyon, as he leaves the residence of Mrs. Tompkins, No. -- Eaton Square. He quickly seats himself in his dogcart, still standing at the door. When grasping the reins from his servant drives rapidly to Park Lane and the town house of his friend, the Lady Esmondet, who loves him well, as all women do who have his friendship; and with whom, now that he has left the army, he spends (during the season) much of his time. But now his thoroughbreds, King and Prance, have sped so quickly through Belgravia that their destination is reached.

"Just as I feared, Fate is against me," he thought, glancing at the house; "nothing has delayed them, they are off, I have again missed her."

Aloud he says to his servant: "Sims, go to the door and enquire if Lady Esmondet has really gone; if so, has she left any message for me."

"Yes, sir."

Returning, he hands a letter to his master, saying:

"Her ladyship left this with the housekeeper for you, sir, and Grimes says, sir, they waited 'til the last minute for you, sir."

Not delaying to peruse the written words of his friend, he drove with all speed to the Great Northern Station, only to learn that the train had left on time at midnight, when, turning his horses' heads once more, and for his hotel, he has soon reached the "Langham." On gaining his own apartments his great dog Mars gives a whine of satisfaction at the return of his master, who, throwing himself wearily into a favourite chair, while the smoke from his cigar curls upwards, takes from his pocket the delicate epistle with the perfume of violets upon it, and which reads as follows:

"Lionel, mon cher ami, I feel it in my heart to scold you. How is it you are not with us? The Claxtons will hear of no further delay. So while they get into travelling gear, must have a one-sided leave-taking with you, as we must needs leave Park Lane without a hand-clasp. Vaura, always lovely, is more bewitching than ever tonight, as she talked earnestly to Travers Guy Cyril, you will remember him. She looked not unlike Guido's Beatrice; (I don't mean the daubs one sees, but Guido's own), the same soul-full eyes, Grecian nose, and lovely full curved lips. Guy, always melancholy, Vaura, always sympathetic, the reflection of his sad eyes lent to hers a deep tenderness; that he loves her hopelessly, poor fellow, is only too evident, he bid us adieu for a New York trip, thence, he seemed to think, no one cared. And so, lives are parted; one is inclined to quarrel with Fate at times; she bids you to the "Towers" and elsewhere; Vaura and self to the Scotch Lakes, afterwards to gay Brighton. I would you were with us, cher Lionel, but your long-deferred visit to your place is an absolute necessity, so, much as one regrets the moves of the 'miscreator circumstance,' one must submit. And now for a note from Dame Grundy, with our gay friend, Mrs. Eustace Wingfield, as mouthpiece. 'Posey Wyesdale openly affirms that when she again plumes herself in colours you will play Benedict; moreover, that 'tis for her sake you are a bachelor.' Mrs. W. laughingly commented thereon, saying, 'If astonishment could resuscitate a corpse, the Duke would be an unbidden guest.' Poor darling, I shall miss his kindly face in our Scottish tour. I should like to see you range yourself, cher ami, but your hands are too full of tricks to play a losing game. Apropos to your wish to see me again at God's altar, again to link my fate, my life, with another. Listen, for I know you will not betray me. In my youth I loved, in my prime I love the same man; my dead husband comes in between; my love does not know he has my heart; nor did he when a girl. I, at the command of stern parents; said him nay; he of whom I speak is the kind, unselfish, warm-hearted, trusting Eric, Colonel Haughton. I write this as I cannot speak of it, and so that you will understand my resolve to remain single; also, Vaura tells me that on her arrival from Paris on this afternoon, her uncle informed her that he has made an offer of marriage to the wealthy Mrs. Tompkins. Vaura is full of regrets, as from what our friends say, his choice is extremely outre. For myself I shall try and be content. And now adieu to the subject, the pain at my heart will be more keen, my smile (for a time) forced, that is all. 'Tis well that our life teaches us to wear a mask. Adieu, the bustle of departure in the hall bids me hasten. Trusting you will find your tenants more satisfied (for 'tis their comfort we must think of to-day), and I really believe under Simpson they will not grumble. Farewell. Vaura has just appeared at the door to bid me come. I asked her if she had any message for you, 'Tell him,' she said laughin

gly,' to think of me sometimes if he has time, and then perhaps he himself will travel by the same road his thought has gone before, for I should dearly love to see him again,' For myself, do not forget me, for I feel particularly lonely to-night; Eric lost, and you not here. Ah, well, the cards have been against me, that is all; join us somewhere when you can; au revoir."

"ALICE ESMONDET,

"Park Lane, 15th June, 1877.

"CAPT. TREVALYON,

"The Langham, London City."

"Jove! how sorry I am" he exclaimed thoughtfully as he finished reading, then puffing his cigar, now vigorously then allowing it to die out, he thought silently. "Detained on this afternoon by Simpson, my new steward. Then my club dinner having guests I could not go to Park lane, afterwards the crush at the Delamere's when I missed them in the crowd, then the preremptory summons to Eaton Square when I went, thinking it would be to Haughton's interest. Yes, the Fates are decidedly against me, and that gay little message from Vaura Vernon. I shall conquer destiny and meet them somewhere next autumn. And Alice Esmondet! confessing a tender passion for Haughton. She would have been just the woman for him. How dull of him not to see it; but for a soldier and a society man he knows less of the women than any man of my acquaintance. Now for a man who has, I may say, forsworn matrimony, I take pride in my knowledge of the sex, the sweetest bit of humanity we have. I wonder what manner of remembrance Vaura has of me, if merely as an old-time friend of her uncle and herself. I have not seen her, I may say, since, as a young officer, I went to the Hall as to my home, a returned 'hero of Delhi,' in newspaper parlance. She was the loveliest little child-woman at that time, I had ever seen. Jove! how fast one's thoughts travel backward eight years. I remember Haughton Hall was heavily mortgaged and my friend at Baden-Baden getting deeper in debt; the life of a country squire palled upon him, when at his father's death he returned at his mother's wish as heir; pity he was obliged to leave the army. The outcome is this marriage for gold to redeem the place from the Jews, lost for distraction's, sake. However, a-something occurred on my yielding to dear little Vaura's wish to go and induce him to return, and he has been a saved man ever since, giving up the dice from the time of his hurried return in consequence of a telegram he received before I reached him; I don't know what the motive power was, as he did not confide and, as a matter of course, I did not force his confidence. The Hall is still in debt but he manages to keep the Jews quiet and to make a decent living out of a few tenants. The lovely Vaura has her mother's portion. 'Tis an ill wind that blows nobody good, and his becoming a slave of the ring will be for my good as the old place will again be open and Vaura Vernon, the woman now, will again grace it by her presence, and until she marries, lend a new brightness, a new distraction to my life. Jove! now I come to think of it she will surely marry next season, and I shall not have her long; with her face, form, colouring, eyes and the sweet syren voice that the men are raving of, some one of them will make her say him yea; then the spice of originality about her is refreshing, also having had so much of the companionship of Lady Esmondet, she is a woman of common-sense and of the world, no mere conventional doll. Had Haughton not been blind and have married my friend what a paradise the Hall would have been to me? Until Vaura married I must always remember that contingency. 'Tis absurd of dear Lady Esmondet wishing me to range myself, she knows my resolve not to wed is as earnest as though I was in the garb of a monk. I feel bothered and unsettled; how I wish I had been at Park Lane to-night; a trip to the Highlands would have been the very tonic I require. Sir Andrew Clarke could not prescribe better, but it is too late now, its a horrible bore to go up to Northumberland and the 'Towers' alone, though when one has had as much trouble with one's tenants as I, one must victimise oneself, I suppose. 'Tis a grand old place, picturing as it does the feudal times, if only it were not so desolate. I wonder what Lady Esmondet or Vaura would think of it, how lovely she would look standing in the Tower windows with the fresh air blowing her beautiful hair and her gown close about her; but I forget it is late, and I am dreaming, her hair will be confined in some womanly fashion and she is not for me, no, Mars, you and I are lonely wanderers," and the dog is patted, the lights are out while the weary man throws himself on his couch to pass a restless night with heavy sleep at sunrise.

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