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A Heart-Song of To-day By Annie Gregg Savigny Characters: 7169

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

"And how glad I am you did, dear old friend," said Trevalyon warmly, as they took the dog-cart for home, talking by the way long and earnestly as they drove slowly and absently. After dinner they stretched their limbs on rugs on the lawn under the peaceful June sky; they had not been here many minutes when their mutual friend the rector, Mr. Douglas, strolled across the park to smoke his pipe with them.

"You see it did not take me long to hear of your advent," he said taking the easiest of attitudes on a garden seat.

"And I need not say I am glad of it, Douglas; I am only sorry you did not come over and dine with us; had Trevalyon not been with me I should have found you out ere this."

Leaving Haughton and Douglas to talk of old times and the new, Trevalyon lay perfectly still, alternately dreaming and smoking, now there is a lull, and he says:

"Neither of you have the remotest idea of how I enjoy this rest; I have been a good deal bothered lately and have had an unsettled feeling," here he noticed the rector give him a searching look, "and this is paradise; in fact I doubt if we earn Elysian Fields by comparison; we shall find the restful peace more enchanting we only long for (I suppose as long as one is mortal one longs for a something), a few charming women, then we would have a realm for Epicurus himself. Evening, and pure, soft tints everywhere, the long shadows blending to disappear in the dark, like the last waves of unrest, the young moon languidly rising to lighten loving faces of those in this haven of peace, the fragrance of yonder blossoms as they sip the dew, the graceful forms from the sculptor's hand standing in their whiteness amid the green grass, and the soft sighing leaflets stirred by the air above them, seeming to breathe to them their evening song of love. Haughton dear fellow, you have a magnificent place here, and God grant," he added with fervor, "you may be full of content and happiness."

"God grant it," said his friend earnestly.

"Amen," said the rector: "then the gossips are right, you are about to come to God's altar, to join yourself in matrimony with a wealthy American."

"I am; do you think I am right; tell me as an old and trusty friend,' he said gravely.

"Every man should marry, you should know whom to choose, being a cosmopolitan as you are; the Hall should be occupied; you are a good and faithful steward, giving to the poor with no niggard hand, and out of your present small income; yes, you should decidedly marry and you should as decidedly have an heir," he added smiling.

"As you think it wise, I wish I had put on the shackles before, especially as a home for my darling Vaura is my strongest motive, and now she will marry and I might have had her with me all these years; as for an heir I bother myself very little about it; in my early manhood I loved, and had I been loved in return," he said bitterly; "heirs would now, I expect, have been numerous, and now it is all her fault," he said weakly, "if my venture does not bring me happiness."

"Never mind the past, my dear fellow, we have done with it," said the rector kindly, "be true to the wife you are taking; 'Loyal unto death' (your own motto), or dishonour, which, God save us all from, we have nothing to do with; the man who is loyal to his wife has a right to expect equal devotion on her part."

"Your own wedded life has been very happy," said Trevalyon earnestly.

"It has; heaven grant you both the same! Trevalyon, you will pardon an old friend (and a friend of your father's also); you have said

you have been a 'good deal bothered lately,' is it anything you can confide in me-it lightens care to share it?"

"I thank you, Douglas; you are very kind. I have a visit to my place on the tapis, and when this is the case my heart is full of sad memories; my tenants, too, under my late steward's regime, have been extremely disaffected; so I take the Great Northern at sunrise on to-morrow for Northumberland. I have been feeling very much lately the burden of my lonely life, the outcome as it is, of my dear father's blighted hopes; grief-stricken; desertion."

"Pardon me, you are under some promise of celibacy to your father, I believe."

"I am."

"It was no oath?"

"No, I was glad by a promise to relieve his poor troubled mind, and my knowledge of women made it easy."

"Grant me still another question. I am not, I need scarcely say, actuated by mere idle curiosity?"

"Any question you like, Douglas."

"Have you never met a woman who has caused you to regret your promise."


But a new and strange feeling stirred his heart-strings, that perhaps, had he met the child Vaura, now the woman, he could not answer so. There was a pause on his answering Douglas, with the single word-"Never."

"It is due to you, that I should give a reason for my questions. My son, Roland, writes me, that the story of your elopement with Fanny Clarmont, has been revived, and with a good deal of vim and sensation as to her being your hidden wife thrown in."

"Indeed," said Trevalyon, carelessly, "what a dearth of scandal there must be in Dame Rumour's budget, that she must needs revive one of a dozen years ago."

"Ah," thought the rector, "what a pity it is true." But not so

Haughton, who, starting to a sitting posture, said excitedly:

"You take it too coolly, Trevalyon, stamp it out at once, and for ever! you know, you never married her."

"Dame Rumour says I did," he answered with the utmost sang-froid.

"Nonsense; saddle it on the right man, my dear fellow; mark me, 'tis his doing; whatever may be his present reason, he is now, as, then, thoroughly unprincipled, and always your foe."

"Tis true, Haughton; but the weather is too warm for a brawl," he said, lazily.

"Eleven! o'clock," exclaimed the rector, "I must bid you both good-night; Haughton, you have my best wishes; we shall be more glad than I can say to have you among us again, and the other dear ones, Lady Esmondet and our sweet Vaura; good-bye, Trevalyon, I am full of regrets, that in giving you Dame Rumour's words, I have lent an unpleasant tone to your thoughts.

"You have nothing to regret, Douglas, I am too well accustomed to Dame Rumour's pleasantries; she only serves poor Fanny Clarmont up in a new dress; as 'hidden wife,' she has never been presented before. Good-bye; I wish I could remain at the dear old place all night, then we would both stroll across the park with you."

"That would have been pleasant; hoping soon to meet again; good- night, and fare you both well."

The rector gone, the dog-cart is again in requisition; at the station,

Haughton says heartily-

"Good-bye, dear old friend; I am sorry you will not be with me to the last, but I shall look forward to your spending a couple of months with me in the autumn, ere going up for the season; good-night, I feel all the better since our talk."

"Good-bye, Eric, good-bye; my heart is to full for many words. God bless you! Farewell."

And with a long, firm pressure of the hand and look from the eyes, the friends, with the friendship of Orestes and Pylades, part.

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