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A Heart-Song of To-day By Annie Gregg Savigny Characters: 8214

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

At break of day, springing from bed, and after a cold plunge bath, feeling more like himself, he went out into the half slumbering city; but the sunbeams give their roseate kiss and mists roll up the great mountain slopes, and the lazy Italian rubs his black eyes not seeing the beauties in nature that surround him-they are part of his life- but only wondering how easiest he can pass the day, while Trevalyon bending his steps to a favourite restaurant, after a pretty fair breakfast, for the fresh air of the morning has given him an appetite, hiring a horse, goes for a long ride, and turning his horse's head for the country, determines by getting away with nature to find that old self that he has lost, or by thinking out his plan to how best use the information received from Father Lefroy, recover his customary tranquility of mind, for just now he is torn by doubts and fears; he should be in England, but dreads to leave Vaura, lest the Marquis hearing of his departure would endeavour personally to press his suit. And so putting spurs to his horse he is nearer the pure lofty mountains on whose breast he hopes to find peace.

While at the villa, the woman he loves, after a somewhat sleepless night in which she is haunted by the faces of her Spanish admirer and the hero of her early girlhood, descends from her room to find Lady Esmondet not yet up, though it is luncheon hour, and Trevalyon away for the day. The afternoon is occupied until it is time to dress for dinner by visitors. With dinner comes Lady Esmondet, Trevalyon not having returned it is a tete-a-tete affair; afterwards in the salons, the conversation drifts from fair Italia, the after-luncheon visitors, and the London Times to Lionel.

"Poor fellow, one can easily see how unsettled and worried he is at times over this wretched scandal," said Lady Esmondet.

"I should treat the whole matter with perfect contempt," Vaura answered haughtily.

"In this instance it won't answer."

"Why not? if he is sure it is false."

"Vaura! Vaura, you know it is false."

"The fact is, god-mother, I know nothing about it, nor do I care to, unless he tells me himself; my life, that is my woman life as you know, has been spent a Paris, and so my ears have not been a receptacle for London scandal."

"Dear Lionel has been too independent."

"Yes, god-mother, that's just it; it's his character; had he had a town house, a French cook, and given half a dozen big dinners during the season, he might indulge in secret marriage if his fancy ran that way, and society would smile at him through rose-coloured spectacles."

"Too true, Vaura, ma chere; Madame Grundy is an odd mixture of inconsistencies; should a vulgar parvenu pay society's tolls in shape of boastful charities, balls and dinners, he is one of the pets of the season, and is allowed any latitude as to his little weaknesses. Had Lionel made atonement by marriage, all would have been forgiven; but he has dared to please himself, and so they at the first chance pelt their idol."

"Their idol, yes," said Vaura, musingly; "could this falsehood be the invention of some disappointed woman who has taken for her motto the words of Honorius, that 'there is a sweeter strain than that of grief-revenge, that drowns it.'"

As she ceased speaking, the voice of Trevalyon is heard quieting Mars, who is leaping wildly in welcome. And now he is with them; and as with smiles and warm hand-clasps he is welcomed, he feels that this is home. Vaura, who has been colouring some photographs, lets her hands fall idly to her lap, as she listens to the manly voice which, coming in and joining its music with their own, she feels makes their life complete.

"Yes, I have dined, thank you, and do feel more like myself than I have done since the weight of this scandal has been upon me; but I shall not worry myself or you with naming it. I turned my horse's head east, and always find a day with Nature so exalts and uplifts my whole being that life, again is filled with the calm, clear star of hope, and that my burden of care falls to the dust under my h

orse's feet; my spirit is again buoyant; I again live. And what have you both, my charming home angels, been about? you look yet as if a sun-warm bath would be your best medicine, Lady Alice."

"You are right, Lionel; you have had the sunbeams to-day; I must bask in them on to-morrow (D.V.) I feel fatigued even yet, though lazy enough to have kept my room until dinner hour."

"You have explored the gardens, I suppose, ma belle."

"No, that is a pleasure to come; I, too, was lazy today."

"I am selfish enough to be almost glad, as we can roam there to-morrow together," and there is a lingering emphasis on the last word as his blue eyes in a long gaze rest on her face.

"Come, Lionel, you and Vaura give me some music; draw the screen between my eyes and the firelight; I shall lie on this lounge and listen."

"Is not this an ideal music-room?" said Vaura, "opening as it does into the conservatory; and see Euterpe, standing in her niche, with flute and cornet at her feet, violin and guitar on either side, and the perfection of pianos, with this sweet-stringed harp;" and, sinking into the low chair beside it, she drew her fingers over the strings.

"I perceive," said Lionel, handling the flute, "your friend is a maker of sweet sounds."

"Awake the echo."

"To hear is to obey, ma belle."

Whereupon Lionel, looking down at the face upturned to him as her head lay on the cushioned chair-back, or droops as she draws her fingers across the harp-strings; and with the fever of love hot within him he sang in his sweet tenor the songs of Italia with the passion of a living love breathing in their every note and word.

Thus song after song was softly sung, Vaura sometimes blending her voice with his, and he was so near, and it was an intoxicating hour; and Trevalyon, bound in honour not to speak his love, forgot that one of our poets, Sterne I think, says that "talking of love is making it," and sings on, as he drinks in fresh draughts from the warmth of her eyes, and her face is pale with emotion, her lips, that "thread of scarlet," and her neck, gleams in its whiteness as her bosom heaves with her quickened heart-beats, as she feels his meaning in his warm words; and fearing for herself, she is so sympathetic, and knows it is only because of the "difficulty," that he has not spoken, starts to her feet, laying her hand gently on his arm, says softly:

"You must be tired."

"Tired! no; this hour has been so perfect, my heart yearns for many such."

"See, my god-mother has deserted us unnoticed; ah! what a spell is there in music."

"The magnetism of your dear presence; ah, Circe! Circe what spells you weave," and there is a tender light in his eyes. She lets him look so, for a second, when she says gently, giving him her hand in good-night; "it would not do to leave you all the power of witchery," and she lets him put her hand through his arm and lead her to the foot of her stairs, where, with a silent hand-clasp they part for the night.

Dismissing her maid, whom she found asleep on the rug before the fire:

"I dare say you are tired, Saunders; you may retire; give me my dressing gown; there, that will do, I shall comb out my hair."

And, arrayed in dainty dressing gown, of white embroidered flannel, the combing of the bright tresses is a lengthy affair, for thought is busy; "Yes, this intense sympathy, this earnest tenderness, this languor and sweet sense of a new joy in living, all mean that I love him; and, as 'tis so, I am not at one with the poet when he says, ''tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all;' lost! lost! what a world of loneliness it would be to me, what a world of loneliness in the very word; my love, your mesmeric eyes seem to be on me now; I wonder," and a smile comes to the dark eyes and the sweet mouth, "I wonder what you would think of me in this robe; but what nonsense I am dreaming," and the robe de nuit is on; the short, fluffy hair pushed up a little from the eyes, which close as the soft cheek presses the pillow, and Somnus, the sleepy god, claims his dues.

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