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A Heart-Song of To-day By Annie Gregg Savigny Characters: 14565

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

Meanwhile our friends are rapidly nearing Paris, and, even as we speak, their train is at the depot.

"Ah, here we are, and our pleasant journeying pour le present a thing of the past," said Lady Esmondet.

"How long a stay do you make here?" asked Bertram, giving her his arm to a carrosse.

"The Fates only know; la belle Paris offers so many attractions, that I have decided not to make up my mind in the matter, for I always am seduced into staying a much longer time than I had previously intended; there is always so much to amuse one."

"And such a legion of people to see," said Vaura; "there is no place like Paris for enchaining one, and causing one to love one's chains."

"Look, quick," cried Lady Esmondet, hurriedly, "some one; is that Captain Trevalyon over there, evidently looking for some one, or is it his spirit?"

"It is he in the flesh; and looking anything but spirituel," said Vaura as she thought, "Yes, she would know him anywhere; her knight; so different to any other man she meets."

Yes, Vaura, so we all think when our king comes; beware, guard your heart, if you would not yield to this fascinating man who slays at will.

"Stay, foolish heart," thought on Vaura, "you are even now feeling less interest in Roland, who would die for you; fill thy whole being with a careless gaiety, and leave no room for a softer feeling to master thee; remember the 'hidden wife,' and even should she not exist, remember hearts are his game."

"Ah, the dear fellow sees us, and is pushing his way towards us," said

Lady Esmondet.

"The dear fellow," said Douglas. "that's the way all you ladies speak of Trevalyon, lucky fellow."

"And he, from what I hear, takes their homage as his right," said


"Oh! yes, as coolly as possible," said Vaura, gayly; "he's a bit of philosopher, you know; I remember I used to wonder if he had feelings like common mortals, and if all his loves were platonic; I vow I have a great notion to become a disciple of Plato myself; 'twould save one a world of heart-ache."

"Treason, treason," laughed Douglas; "better be a follower of


"What nonsense you people do talk," said Bertram, in mock reproof, "and neither of you mean a word of what you say. I now prophesy; that out of revenge, Cupid will wound your large heart, Miss Vernon, and you will give up to some thrice fortunate man; as for you, Douglas I prophesy many a bumping heart-ache."

"And how long, oh prophet, do you give us of freedom; how long before our chains are forged?" enquired Vaura, jestingly.

"Ere the chill of winter is felt in our land," Bertram answered in mock earnestness.

"And the cry of the farmer is heard, as he sees the black frost on the spring wheat," laughed Douglas.

"Delighted to see you, Lady Esmondet," said Trevalyon, taking off his hat and shaking hands; "and you also, Miss Vernon, it is more than ages since I have had any more than a glimpse at you. Allow me to welcome you all to fair Paris; Colonel Haughton assigned me the very pleasant role of attendant cavalier during your stay here, as also body guard to your royal highnesses on your journey to the Immortal city, whither I too am bound; why, Douglas, you here, and wherefore? I thought you had not yet deserted your winged loves at Atholdale; any good shooting this season?"

"Yes, pretty fair," answered Douglas, disappointed at the way things were turning out, and wishing Trevalyon at South Africa, or any where, so he was not by Vaura's side. He knew Trevalyon to be a man of cultivated intellect, with a fascination of manner all women succumbed to, with fully ten years more experience of life than his own, and with a nice knowledge of all types of women. He knew him to be the dread of all mothers with marriageable daughters, both for themselves as disturbing their calm resignation as to what husband Fate had given them, as also the sad havoc he made among their brood; of how they plumed their feathers at his coming and drooped them at his going, causing many an eligible suitor to retire from the field. Society wondered that Trevalyon did not range himself, seeing so many beautiful women his conquests. He shrugged his shoulders when chaffed by his men friends as to his flirtations and cruelty, and would say:

"A slave of the ring is not a role I have any wish to play; at all events none of the pretty women I have flirted with so far have had the power to hold me as her own. And until I meet a woman who can hold me, and keep me from a wish to rove, I shall keep my freedom."

Then he would laugh and say: "After all, mon ami, I am not as cruel, cold, or flirting as yourself. Your motto after as well as before marriage is: Si l'amour a des ailes n'est-ce pas pour voltiger. Better to act on that principle prior to (as you say I do), than after marriage, as I know you all do; better not put the shackles on until one meets a woman who will cause one not to feel them. As to your charge of heartlessness against me, trust me; you say I know them; under the amiable exterior of some of the most gentle-voiced and loveliest, there throbs a cruel heartlessness.

"After all there is a good deal of the feline in woman, witness the many marriages, ninety-nine out of every hundred are made by our fashionable women, for money or position? Yes, they like the warm corner, it matters not who gives it; and the man who loves them, and whom they love-in a way, may eat his heart out alone; for no, they will not listen to his pleadings, he has no gold. And they marry a man to whom they are perfectly indifferent, not so to his belongings, these they love with all the love of their feline hearts. No, I am not cruel, I only amuse myself as you do, and in the way each likes best."

He acknowledges there must be women who are heroines, and perhaps he may yet meet them, but as yet, he "only knows in God's world there must be women men might worship."

"Sans doute," he says: "When petticoat does remain tender and true, it is hard upon her that her lord should prove false and fickle, given the warm corner our fair 'sisters, cousins, and our aunts,' are content to purr; they shine in society, and have gained what is the very end and aim of their existence, a wealthy marriage."

It is no wonder that poor Douglas, knowing the manner of man Trevalyon was, dreaded his companionship for Vaura; what if she should charm, as she certainly could if she would, the game would all be up for him; and even should Vaura, knowing his reputation as a successful male flirt, be on her guard. If Trevalyon determined to win her, the many fascinations of manner he was master of, he having made woman a study, would cause her, he feared, to succumb at the last. He felt unmanned, and decided to leave them and go at once for Isabel, and proceed back to England. For of one thing he felt sure, and that was that Trevalyon would be attracted by Vaura, if it were only for her originality, the freshness of her thoughts, her gay droll cynicism with no malice in it, merely showing she went through life with open eyes; her sunny temperament and gay conversation, to say nothing of her dear loveable self, and as he turned to look at her, her laughing grey eyes looking like stars, and a smile on

her perfect lips, as she chatted gayly, he inwardly moaned at what he might never call his own.

"Come, Roland," Vaura cried, "there's room for thee, most grave and reverend seigneur; for you do look as grave as an owl this moment. Is thy favourite pipe missing, or hast lost thy pet brand of that panacea for thy every ill, tobacco?"

"No, I am not bereft of my old friend, my meerschaum pipe; but, being only a mere sham," he added with a forced laugh, "I don't expect it to develop qualities that will console me at parting with you and Lady Esmondet, whose remembrance of me, I hope, will prove more than a sham."

"A pretty speech, Roland," said Vaura, stepping from the carriage to speak to him; "but I protest against this parting."

"You forget, Vaura, what my mission, at least my avowed mission, was," he said, in an undertone, "incoming to Paris; I shall now go for Isabel. And away, you have a man with you now who never thinks or cares for the hunger and thirst of the men near him; he drinks the cup of sweets to the dregs himself. Good-bye; think of me sometimes, for you must know you are always in my thoughts."

And stepping forward with Vaura, he placed her in the carriage, and wishing all good-bye and much enjoyment, saying to Vaura and Lady Esmondet: "Don't fail to make the Hall blithe and gay at Christmas by your presence;" lifted his hat and was gone. Trevalyon was not slow to see this little by-play, and his mental conclusion was:

"Another fellow gone, stricken by a fair woman face, well I don't wonder, by Jove; for the beautiful little girl has developed into a lovelier woman, a man need not be ashamed to be the conquest of a face figure, and I've heard men say, mind, like Vaura Vernon possesses; heaven be praised for the retreat of the Douglas, though had the Douglas been wise he'd have kept the field, or tried to, but now I, while guarding my heart, shall talk to her; it will be a pleasant way to kill time, and her vivacity, merry banter, chit-chat, or grave to gay, or who knows, tender humours, will be a pleasant study in Rome for the next month or two."

"Well, here we are snug at last," said Lady Esmondet, as they rolled along to their hotel in a comfortable carriage; "and I am not sorry, for je suis tres fatiguee. But I am really sorry Roland has gone; you will have to exert yourself, Lionel, if you don't want us to miss him, for we shall be altogether at your tender mercy."

"It is such seductive happiness the knowing you are leaning upon me, that I, Trevalyon, warn you both I shall do all I can to cause you not to regret the Douglas."

"You forget, ma chere godmother," said Vaura, "that we also have Mr. Bertram; he is a man of weight," she added laughingly, "and can surely share the weighty matter of our amusement with Captain Trevalyon."

Mr. Bertram has his weighty agency on his mind, you know; he is one of the agents sent by government to attend to our interests at the coming exposition, and as the Prince of Wales, heaven bless him, has personally interested himself to make the huge show one great success, they will all vie with each other in their different departments; indeed, I expect Mr. Bertram will only now have time to fly in occasionally to have a look at us. How about your lazy club life, Mr. Bertram?"

"Yes, Bertram, your luxurious go-as-you-please existence is at London; you a Paris," said Trevalyon gayly.

"I fully expect my gossips at the club won't know me on my return; I shall be a skeleton frame, rack and bones, and my aldermanic rotundity will be in the streets and audience chambers of Paris."

"A man of your size, Bertram, won't regret a few pounds of flesh weighed in the balance as against the success of our exhibits," said Trevalyon.

"Not while I remember," answered Bertram, "Gladstone's remarks in the Fortnightly Review, his almost prediction (unless we bestir ourselves): That England's daughter, the Great United States of America, may yet in the near future wrest from us our position in manufacturing of Head servant to the household of the world. Many of we British want a rough reminder like that."

"Yes," said Vaura, "some of our manufacturers forget that younger nations are wide-awake and eager to pass us by at a hand-galop, while we go dozing through time with our night-caps on."

"We are England, that's enough, and we cannot realize that the world moves. We plume ourselves upon the time when we handed from our docks everything to poor indolent Europe, or only for the ignorant colonies," said Lady Esmondet, ironically.

"N'importe, chere Lady Esmondet," answered Trevalyon, merrily. "Our manufacturers will wake with a start in 1878, and forego both night- caps; they won't have time to brew the one or don the other in surprise at exhibits from the poor colonies and the ingenious Americans."

"I have no doubt our manufacturers with myself will not be off with our old loves, while we can keep them; my comforts are safe, for I seduced one of the cooks from the club to come here with me; so night or day caps are to the fore," said Bertram.

"I thought," replied Trevalyon, "for a man of your taste, you had a most contentedly jolly look; no wonder, when we know the way to the aldermanic heart is through the aldermanic stomach."

"Capt. Trevalyon," laughingly said Vaura, "besides the recherche little dinner Mr. Bertram has bid us to, I want you to cater to- another sense and let us see the immense Hotel Continental!"

"Consider the Continental on the programme, my dear Miss Vernon; Mr.

Bertram's chef de cuisine will cater to the inner man," answered


"Women sometimes eat," said Vaura, demurely.

"How gay the streets look," remarked Lady Esmondet, "it is always a fete day a Paris."

"A month or two ago the bands in the parks filled the air with music," said Vaura; "now it is filled with the murmur of many voices, see the little chesnut-seller doing his part."

"Here we are, Hotel Liberte le Soleil," said Trevalyon, as the carriage stopped.

"And here we part," said Bertram, "not, in the language of the poet, 'to meet no more,' but to meet on to-morrow eve at my appartments, and I shall inform my cook that three of England's epicures honour me, and to get up something better than frogs' legs."

"We shall expect ambrosia," laughed Lady Esmondet.

"Tres bien, I shall not forget," said Bertram, as he made his adieux.

"Au revoir, Bertram," cried Trevalyon. "And for your life don't forget a dish of turtle's liver from Voisin's.

"We have teased him enough at all events," said Lady Esmondet; "but as for turtle's liver, I am rather chary of it as yet. But do my eyes deceive me, or is it petticoat government here?"

"Yes, feminine rule is the order of the day," replied Trevalyon.

"How important we look in possession of office, desk and stool; I was not aware we had mounted so high anywhere outside the United States," said Lady Esmondet.

Here a man in neat livery stepped forward to show them to their suite of apartments, which Trevalyon, at the written request of his friend, had secured, who now seeing his companions en route for their rooms, bent his steps in the direction of the office to complete the necessary business arrangements.

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