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   Chapter 20 QUICKENED HEART-BEATS.

A Heart-Song of To-day By Annie Gregg Savigny Characters: 6715

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


On the morning of the de Hauteville ball, Trevalyon broke his fast somewhat earlier than usual, purposing to indulge in a long ride. In passing the salon of Lady Esmondet and Vaura, the door of which had been pushed open by his dog Mars half an hour previously. Trevalyon made a momentary pause, he could not see Lady Esmondet through the opening, only our sweet Vaura, who listening to her godmother, idly ate of some fresh fruit, while the other fair hand caressed Mars. She looked a very child of the morning, so charmingly bright, in a pale blue quilted satin dressing gown, with low turned down collar; not wishing to interrupt her godmother who read aloud an English letter she spoke to Trevalyon silently, standing in the opening door-way, only with the eyes and her own syren smile; the temptation to linger was too much for him, and he was about to enter when turning, as he heard a step coming quickly along the corridor from the visitors grand elevator, saw Sir Tilton coming towards him carrying a huge bouquet. And knowing for whom it was intended, preferring not to be a witness to the presentation with a "Bonjour, Everly," and "How do, Trevalyon;" they went their different ways, the one into the light of woman's eyes, the other into the lights of the streets of Paris.

Sir Tilton, with a laughing "Any admittance to a devoted subject," and a gay entrez from Vaura was in the boudoir.

"I thought I heard Captain Trevalyon's voice; was he not with you?" enquired Lady Esmondet as she shook hands with Everly.

"Yes, Lady Esmondet, he was outside and lingered a moment, but was able to resist the temptation to enter to which I had to succumb," with an admiring glance at Vaura.

After half an hour spent in gay chit-chat, Lady Esmondet, consulting her watch, reminded Vaura of their purposed drive; and with a promise asked by Sir Tilton, and given by Vaura, that she would wear one of his flowers on that evening, they parted.

In a short time Lady Esmondet and Vaura were seen driving along the fashionable parks and streets of Paris, and no carriage attracted more attention than the one in which they were seated. They met many friends and acquaintances among whom were Mr. and Mrs. Eustace Wingfield.

"One does not often see them together," said Lady Esmondet. "Still, I am sure, they suit each other better than most married people."

"What a queer world it is," remarked Vaura; "even ma chere godmother is rather cynical as regards the happiness of most married lives. What is the reason of it all? Is it that man who, as Charles Reade says, is 'born to hunt something,' is no longer happy when the chase is over. And woman, what of her? Is it that 'tis only the excitement of the hunt we care for, that our heart has no part in the matter."

"You know the world, Vaura, and you know you are right-still you will marry, and be happy; for your heart will go with your hand, and you know your power to make the man you will love happy."

"Sympathy, soul-felt and earnest, is more than love which sometimes changes, or passion and fancy which always evaporate," answered Vaura, seriously; "but," she added, "who, among the butterflies of to-day, cares for all this: A. marries B., because he can give her a title; B. marries A., because she brings him money-it's all a debit and credit system."

"Yes, Vaura, dear,

Tennyson says truly, 'we men are a little breed.'"

But a warmer light deepens in Vaura's eyes as a vision of a handsome face, wearing at times a weary look, flashes across her memory, and she thinks some men are worth loving, and are not of the "little breed."

"What a bold-looking woman; I wonder who she is," said Lady Esmondet. "She's passed us several times; that was an aristocratic man beside her, and quite a youth. She wears her rouge too extravagantly."

"She has yet to come to the knowledge that she's anybody," answered Vaura, contemptously; "looks to me like greed and vice, and man is not the worse animal of the two."

"Thanks, Miss Vernon," said the voice of Trevalyon, riding up beside the carriages as he lifted his hat.

"Thanks, though it is rather a doubtful compliment, for I am all at sea as to what animal you are so kind as to give us the preference to."

"I don't know that I shall tell you, Captain Trevalyon, for you men make it your boast, that we only are curious."

Here the same smart turn-out, with its pair of beautiful bays come again towards them, and to the surprise of Lady Esmondet and Vaura, the woman smiled and nodded to Trevalyon. Vaura turning quickly towards him, saw that he took no notice of the recognition and that his face wore a stern look.

Everly driving with a friend, passed them at the moment, saw the nod and smile and of how they were received. "That little smile from Ninon Tournette, puts a spoke into your wheel, my fine fellow," he thought; "no matter though your face did look as though hewn out of stone." Aloud he said, "Miss Vernon will see he is donning the garb of modesty in her honour."

"So Vernon is Mademoiselle's name," said his friend de Vesey; "I saw her at the theatre the other night, and by the lilies of France, she is lovely enough to make a man play the saint for one look from her eyes."

There was a second or two of rather an awkward pause which Lady

Esmondet broke by saying-

"The bays are lovely, but I'd rather keep the woman at bay, Lionel; or perhaps she thought you an acquaintance."

"Yes and no, chere Lady Esmondet; a dozen years or so ago, I was going through my stage fever, which most men take to in a natural sort of way, though I scorn to make it any excuse for my folly; for you, dear Lady Esmondet," he added with a weary sigh, "are aware I, above all men, should have given way to no such weakness, it was not that it bore any fascination for me, on the contrary, I was as one who never lays his opera glass aside; but, Old Time was leaning on his staff just then and everything went slow; so to make things more lively, I was persuaded by some men to go in with them into a new scheme, viz., lease a theatre; the woman who has just past then, a handsome young woman, was one of the actresses; I sold out at the close of one season, since, going very occasionally I have seen this woman, la Tournette, act a few times. She has severed her connection or rather the management did with her some six or seven years ago. I know nothing of her life now; she is outree in style and presuming to bow to me, especially in your company."

"Her bow was a feeler to find out where she is, in society, or out," said Lady Esmondet; "and," she continued, "we are to blame; we show her every day that the mighty god society accepts gold."

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