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   Chapter 35 HEART TO HEART.

A Heart-Song of To-day By Annie Gregg Savigny Characters: 7258

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

We shall not accompany our friends on their home-bound journey. Time will fly with greater speed if we relate not the talks and incidents by the way, but simply meet them at London, whither Lady Esmondet had telegraphed Trevalyon of their arrival. Accordingly, on their coming in at the station at 9 p.m., on the evening of the 5th, Lionel, all eagerness, met them.

"So kind of you to meet us, Sir Lionel," said Lady Esmondet, for

Madame Grandy was about.

"Only a pleasure, dear Lady Esmondet. Someone told me you and Miss Vernon were due," and turning to his servant, "Here, Sims, are the checks; get the luggage stowed safely away until to-morrow morning, and send the maids on to Park Lane."

"Yes, sir; all right, sir."

"You look tired, poor fellow," said Vaura, sympathetically, as they were driven to Park Lane.

"Tired, yes, waiting for you. God only knows how I have missed you, darling."

"How about the nun you spoke of in your letter, Lionel?" inquired Lady

Esmondet, "will she aid you? What a long story you have to tell us."

"Yes, and one until lately I had will nigh forgotten, for in spite of Dame Rumour's falseness I have not been the principal actor in it. For to-night only does she triumph, ere, to-morrow's sun has set I hope to be at or very near Haughton Hall with those who will lift the veil from the past, and put in Dame Rumour's hands another version of the scandal."

"We shall have a long evening together, Lionel; you can stay with us,

I suppose."

"Only until I see you comfortably settled, dear Lady Esmondet, in still untangling the web of 'difficulty,'" and Vaura's hand is pressed. "I have a twelve-mile drive in a suburban train to the monastery of St. Sebastian."

"Nuns and monks, the denouement will be interesting," said Vaura.

"Will they win, that's the question; the other hand is full of knaves and tricks," said Lady Esmondet.

"They shall," answered Lionel, earnestly, and holding Vaura's hand, "I hold a hand that gives me strength to win."

Park Lane is now reached, the servants are in the hall to welcome their mistress, when the house-keeper says:

"If it will suit your ladyship, dinner will be served in twenty minutes or half an hour."

"Say half an hour, Grimes."

"Surely you can stay and dine with us, Lionel?" said his friend.

"You know, dear Lady Alice, how much I would wish it, but I must be off in less than half an hour."

Whereupon remembering the "Golden Rule," saying she would go and talk with the housekeeper, and so again these two who feel such completeness in each other, such fulness of satisfaction, such an ecstasy of love, are alone in the sweetest of solitude, dual solitude, and in silence, save for the deep full heart-beats.

"Let me take off your jacket, my own darling."

"I can, dear Lionel; you look too tired to do anything but rest."

But he does as he wills, the jacket of seal, and bonnet of velvet are off, the long tan gloves laid aside, the fluffy hair is caressed, a strong arm is about her, the perfect shaped head is again on his chest, and the sweet mouth and warm eyes are kissed rapturously.

"Rest; yes, love, I want rest, and can only rest so, with you in my arms; away from you I am nervous and agitated, afraid lest some one take you from me; my life, my love, oh! darling, darling, you don't know how dependent I am on you; on your love, your sympathy; you have not told me and I long to hear you say so; tell me if you love me, darling."

"Love you!" and she started to a sitting posture, "bend your face towards me, dearest, that you may read the truth in my eyes."

And now with a soft hand on each cheek, she continues.

"Love, you dearest, does the sun-flower love its god? Does the mother her first born? Then, do I love thee, my heart's dearest, with an unchanging tender love, and with all the intensity of my woman self."

For answer, she is drawn to a close embrace, and there are ecstatic moments with only throbbing eyes to the rhythm of heart-beats.

At last Vaura breaks the silence, by saying softly:

"'Tis time for you to leave me, Lionel, and yet I cannot spare you."

"I cannot go, my own, mine, mine; oh! darling, you do not know the joy, the paradise I feel as I hold you in my arms, and think that you, my beauty, you, whom men rave of, you actually love me; God be thanked," and the love-warm kisses come to the sweet flexible lips.

At this moment, Lady Esmondet considerately talking to Mars at the door, gave the lovers time to get a conventional number of inches between them, ere she entered.

"I fear it is time you were off, Lionel; it is really too bad you cannot dine with us."

Lionel standing up, and laying one hand on Vaura's head, as it rested on the cushioned back of the sofa, said:

"I feel as if I had drank of the elixir of life; you don't know how courageous I feel, now that I have you both back, when the difficulty is removed, I shall begin to live!"

"How the women will envy me!" she said, looking up lovingly at the handsome face full of grave earnestness, the tired look gone from the mesmeric eyes.

"You will both be wondrously happy, each a gainer in the other," said their friend earnestly.

"Do you think you will be able to go down with us, Lionel dear?"

"No, darling, I am sure not; I cannot say what train I shall take until I reach the monastery; there we decide."

"The plot thickens, a monk makes his entree," said Vaura gaily.

"Yes, and I shall not tell either of you more of the play, the act will be more interesting, only this, tell Col. Haughton that after dinner, on to-morrow evening three unbidden guests will appear with myself, and that we shall carry a more highly spiced dish than any they have partaken of; further, that it is my wish that the Hall guests hear of the ingredients, so that they can tell the recipe to the London world. Good-bye, till to-morrow night, dear friend; good-bye, darling."

"Good-night, Lion, we shall be on the look-out for you; so don't tire our eyes."

"I shall feel your eyes, love, and shall hasten."

"Be sure, Lionel, that you come with winning cards."

"I shall, dear Lady Esmondet; au revoir."

"How greedily the gossips will partake of the dish in preparation for them! What an exciting scene we shall have!" said Vaura, as dinner over and servants dismissed, the friends chatted over a cup of coffee before retiring.

"Yes, indeed, dear; oh! if Lionel could only find this Mrs. Clarmont, with whom they said he eloped, and that she would reveal the facts, what a triumph!"

"But, if in reality; this Major Delrose was her favoured lover, he may yet have influence enough over her to stay her tongue," said Vaura, thoughtfully.

My own fear, dear, especially as I believe there was a child."

"And you say that in the bygone he was an admirer of my uncle's wife?"

"So Dame Rumour hath it."

"So, so, we all aim at something; the Delrose ambition was to pose as king o' hearts. Strange freak of fortune, that this all comes into the Haughton life; we must now only hope that the clouds in our sky will soon disperse. But, god-mother darling, we had best follow the advice of the liege lord of the wilful Katherine, and 'to bed.'"

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