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   Chapter 15 HEART-STIRS.

A Heart-Song of To-day By Annie Gregg Savigny Characters: 10357

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

As our friends followed the servant, a child's cry proceeded from one of the salons as they passed; the page had a comedy face, and Vaura thinking his reply might amuse, asked:

"Do the babies take care of each other?"

With a farcical expression, the man answered unlocking the doors:

"Oui, Mademoiselle."

"Women crow everywhere, for men are no where, and babies anywhere." The maids seeing to bath and toilette, their mistresses met in the comfortable salon which was entered on either side from each sleeping chamber and small boudoir; soon in pleasant converse, or pauses of quiet, as friends who know and love each other can indulge in; Lady Esmondet and Vaura passed the time until the entree of Trevalyon to escort them to the salle a manger and table d'hote; as he sees them he thinks, "how charming they look refreshed and re-robed, each wearing gown and neck-gear, artistic in draping and colour. How is it that some women have (Vaura always had it), some innate gift in robing, causing one's eyes to rest on them and not tire, again both possess a subtle charm of manner; Vaura has as veil a voice that woos one as she speaks. Haughton shall have my warmest thanks for giving me such companionship; dear old fellow, he did not forget my request." And stepping to Vaura, he hands her a bouquet of sweet tea-roses, saying:

"You see, Miss Vernon, your Knight of the Lion Heart, as in days of yore you dubbed me, has not forgotten the button-hole bouquets you used to make as child hostess; it is not aesthetic, as from your fingers; this is only from the basket of one of the people."

"Merci; as your unfashionably retentive memory bring me so much of sweetness, then am I happy in your being unfashionable." And as she fastened a few to her corsage, placing the remainder in a vase, she continued: "See, god-mother dear, my sweet tea-roses with their perfumed voice will remind us of our usual excursion on to-morrow."

"And may I know what this usual excursion is?" asked Trevalyon, as he seated himself between his companions at table.

"Surely, yes," said Vaura; "one we almost invariably make on coming abroad, should we be located at an hotel for many days, where they don't as a rule, cater to one's olfactory nerves, we journey to some of the conservatories and rob them of many odorous blossoms, to brighten our temporary home; this time we carry a large order for Haughton Hall, so large indeed, that I should not wonder; did the vendors take us for market gardeners; robbing sweet sunny Paris to brighten and perfume our London fog."

"Or perhaps," said Lady Esmondet, "as there is so much discussion is Canadian newspapers over Free Trade versus Protection; the great unread may mix us so up that we buy before duty is laid."

"Take my word for it, Lady Alice, did the Frenchman look upon you as despoilers, in the long run, he would not even try to resist making your purse as trash for to-day."

"Were I a flower vendor," said Vaura, "I should be a follower of Bastiat, and gather my roses while I may, by selling cheap as I could and buying cheap."

"Are you feeling better, Lady Alice, though to my eyes you are looking much as when last I saw you; Haughton tells me you are going to Italy for change," he said kindly.

"Yes, I don't feel quite myself, Lionel; and Italy will be sun-warm, what I require, my physician tells me; but the air on the water has given me such an apetite, I feel better already."

"The very scene we are in is enough to cure one; so bright, so gay, chic in every way," said Vaura.

"Yes, 'tis brimful of animation," said Trevalyon; and the salle a manger is preferable to privacy; when one travels, 'tis more of a change to live its life, the continuous noise, bustle and excitement take one out of oneself."

"Which is a panacea for all one's ills," said Vaura.

"You have not yet told us your experience in the office; was the major-domo very peremptory?" asked Lady Esmondet.

"No; on the whole she bore her high seat meekly enough."

"Now to me," said Vaura, "it is more preferable to, as women did in days of yore, buckle on the armour for some brave Knight, see that helmet and breast-plate are secure, and send him forth into the world's turmoil; yes, I am content to live my woman life."

"Because you know your power and feel it sweet, is why you are content," he said in low tones, letting his mesmeric eyes rest on her beautiful face.

"But is it true, Lionel," said Lady Esmondet, (as they left the table, followed by many eyes), "is it true that at Bordeaux, Lyons, Marseilles, &c., women fill manly offices?"

"True, 'tis true, and I must tell you a funny incident bearing on this question. My friend, Ross Halton, was over at New York immediately after their recent monster elections; a friend of his was defeated; his agent telling him there was foul play somewhere, for numerous votes promised him were eventually polled for the other side; passing the house of a party man, out of curiosity he went in to ascertain if he had been true to his colours; on asking him, the man looking sheepish, hanging his head, said: 'The wife's democrat, sir,' while a quick det

ermined, little woman stepped forward, saying: 'he,' pointing to her husband, 'sees you or your agent once a year, when you come to buy his vote; he lives with me!'"

"Whither are we drifting?" said Lady Esmondet, sinking into a chair.

"Whither are we drifting," echoed Vaura, with animation, "as sure as Fate, into the 'Gy' and 'An' of Bulwer's New Utopia; but talking of woman's rights, reminds me of the rights of man. Did you say dear uncle gave you your charter to meet us so opportunely, and locate us so pleasantly.".

"I did, ma belle; but you scarcely heard, as at the time you were listening to the adieux of the Douglas."

"Ah, yes, poor Roland," and Trevalyon saw that a little sigh was given, but there is no sadness in the dark eyes turned again to him, as she says, "and poor uncle; I wonder what the county people will think of Madame."

"She can make herself popular if she will; she at all events has the wherewithal to buy their vote," said Lady Esmondet, as she buried herself in London Truth.

"Yes, that's true, I suppose she will take," said Vaura, musingly.

"You don't know how delightful I find the being again with you, Miss Vernon," said Trevalyon, earnestly. "Such a lapse of time since the old life at Haughton."

"Yes, I remember well," and the rose deepened in her soft cheek, "so well the last time I saw you there."

"Do you; I am glad you do not forget what I never shall," and he leaned forward, looking at her almost gravely.

Vaura too, in her long look backward, had a tremulous softness in her expression, with a far-away look in the eyes, vividly recalling the lovely child-woman to his memory. Rousing herself, she says: "Lady Esmondet, ma chere, you should bury yourself in your couch instead of Truth, it grows late; and I am to take care of you."

"In a few moments, dear, I am on something that interests me," she said, without raising her eyes from the paper.

"And I," said Trevalyon, "am forgetting a friend in my apartments; lonely and alone in a strange place."

"Your friend," said Vaura, with a swift thought to the hidden wife, "must think you the extreme of fashionable to receive at the witching hour of midnight."

"My friend does not care whether I be fashionable, but worships me, and would be with me morning, noon and night."

"You speak as if you believe," she said, veiling her eyes, and idly picking off the leaves of the roses.

"Yes, past doubting; not being a Christian, I am the only god my friend worships."

"Women have spoiled you, Capt. Trevalyon; you boast of our idolatry." For the first time he partly reads her latent thought; and saying, hurriedly, "Stay here five minutes," rising quickly, left the boudoir.

"What has he gone away so hastily for?" enquired Lady Esmondet, turning from the newspaper. "Lionel, dear fellow, is usually so easy in his gait."

"To see some one who worships at his shrine; said he would return in five minutes;" she answered, carelessly.

"Oh! he did not say who?"

"No, it might have been awkward."

"Why? what do you mean, ma chere?"

"It might relate to the hidden wife story."

"Nonsense, Vaura; mark my words, he has no more a hidden wife than you have a hidden husband."

"Yes, yes, I know, and should not be hasty, for errare est humanum," she said quickly, brushing something very like a tear from her bright eyes.

"I am so glad, dear," said Lady Esmondet, apparently not noticing her emotion, "that your uncle hit upon this plan of Lionel being our travelling companion, there is so much adaptability in him, he gives one quite a restful feeling."

"Own at once," she answered, recovering herself, "that 'tis pleasant to have a man about one, and that we have not drawn a blank in our present squire des dames."

"Just my thought, dear; but he is coming, or it may be they, for

Lionel is talking to some one."

"The deity and his votary; now do you forgive my faith and credulity,

Miss Vernon," he said, sauntering in with a noble dog at his heels.

"Splendid fellow," cried Vaura, impulsively, drawing his head to her knee, laying her cheek against it; looking up at his master she said: "Forgive me, I misunderstood you; remembering you only as my old-time Knight of the Lion Heart, I feared the world of women had spoiled you."

"You know how to heal when you wound," he answered gently.

"Is he not a Leonberg?" said Lady Esmondet, as the dog went to her side to be caressed.

"Yes, and they are the best dogs in existence; dear old Mars, it would be strange indeed were I not attached to him, he never tires; in all my wanderings is always faithful."

"And 'man is the god of the dog,' which a moment ago I did not remember; you will not have to remind us of the old adage, 'love me, love my dog,' for we shall love the dear old fellow for his own sake," said Vaura.

"Yes, indeed, Lionel," said Lady Esmondet; "you need have no fear of banishment on his account."

"Thank you," he said, receiving and giving to both a warm hand-clasp. "Depend upon it, if Mars has any battles to fight for you, he will not put to shame his name; and now we leave you to woo the god of slumber."

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