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   Chapter 36 KNAVES ARE TRUMPS.

A Heart-Song of To-day By Annie Gregg Savigny Characters: 6509

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

Vaura spent the night of the fifth in dreamy wakefulness; Lionel's looks, caresses, and loving words seeming hers still; and to-morrow eve; the glad joy of his presence would be again felt; and her sympathy and love for him were so tender and heartfelt, that she lost herself in an intoxicating sense of languor, sweet beyond expression, and which she could scarcely rouse herself from, when her maid, on the morrow bid her arise.

Both her god-mother and self, being a good deal excited over the coming events, on meeting at breakfast, spoke either in disjointed sentences, or were buried in thought.

"In all your conjectures, ma chere, you have never made one as to your ball dress; if you will like it, and if it is due."

"It is useless, god-mother dear; I always adore Worth, and he is always on time."

"Dear me," said Lady Esmondet an hour later, as they, in travelling gear, awaited the carnage to take them to the Southern station, "how time drags, I wish we were off."

"In our eagerness, we have dressed too soon, god-mother; but still, waiting is insufferable. Poor uncle! I wonder what people are at the Hall? what a scene is on the tapis! and what a bore the expose of truth is and will be to poor Lion! But, thank heaven, here is the carriage."

At the station they meet Mr. Clayton, who has run up to town on business. He will be with them to the next station, when he takes a branch line to the Lord Elton's, where his wife is; later in the day they run down to Haughton Hall for the ball.

"You will see no end of changes at the old place, Miss Vernon; I would give something to see your face as you make your entree. I should, in that case, see as many changes as yourself. At the revels each evening, variety holds full sway."

"Tres bien," she answered carelessly (for she will not lay her heart bare), "some have it that 'variety is the spice of life;' if so, as you and I care nought for a mere existence, we must swallow the spice and smile on the caterer."

"Exactly, as the guests do. By the way some one told me Trevalyon was a good deal with you while abroad, but you may not yet have heard that there has been no end of talk about him; the papers have him; in both Truth and the Daily News I read of the scandal myself, and am shocked beyond expression, that a married man should have been running loose all these years; and to my thinking, it makes matters worse that she was the wife of a friend; it was a traitorous act: did he confide in you while abroad? did he tell you of his base act?"

"Yes, and 'tis all false as the face of society, and hollow of truth as many of her gems; but the false face will soon be torn off, and the ring of the true diamond will be heard," she said, with impulsive fervor.

"Indeed! you surprise me, Miss Vernon; but I shall be really glad if Trevalyon comes out a free man and can prove himself so to the suspicious eye of society."

"Conveniently blind, Mr. Clayton, when she chooses."

"Distended and greedy in Trevalyon's case; he has been too independent of her," he said thoughtfully; "but here is my halting place, sorry to leave you both, but only till to-night."

It was the lightning express, and there was no other stopping place until they reach th

e village of Haughton, Here they stayed just long enough to allow the Hall people to make a speedy exit. On our friends alighting they were a little surprised to see Blanche Tompkins followed by Sir Tilton Everly (who, on seeing them, looked not unlike a whipped cur), emerge from a second class coach.

"Some of the spice of variety we were to look for," said Vaura, in an undertone.

"Oui, ma chere, and I am sure we are both prepared not to be astonished at the seasoning, no matter what shape it may take."

Blanche was gaily dressed in a seal brown silk suit, trimmed with ermine, a large brown beaver flat with ostrich feathers; the wee white mouse face almost hidden, the sharp little pink eyes-for pink they looked-the rims red as usual, and a cold in the head giving them a swollen appearance. She had not forgotten her golden loves, for, from ears, throat, and wrists, dangled many yellow dollars. With a whispered, "Don't let the cat out of the bag till I bid you, or you're not worth a cent," she stepped over to Lady Esmondet and Vaura, saying: "I'm sure you're too awfully surprised for anything to see me."

"Not at all, Miss Tompkins,"' said Lady Esmondet. Here Sir Tilton came up, lifted his bat, while both ladies shook hands with him.

"You have a truant look about you, Sir Tilton," laughed Vaura; "do you foresee a fair woman's frown for your absence?"

"Don't chaff me, dear Miss Vernon; I can't stand it just now."

"Fact is," said Blanche, with cunning effrontery, "I wanted some gay fixings for the ball, so I took the rail to London, got 'em, stayed all night with the Claytons, and am bringing back to Mrs. Haughton her dear little Sir Tilton."

"Why, we met Mr. Clayton, and he says they are staying at Oak Hall at the Lord Eltons," exclaimed Vaura amusedly, and to see how Blanche would extricate herself.

"See you know too much; but don't say anything, for here is the trap, with the Colonel inside, I suppose, and he's too awfully too, I'll tell you later on; Mrs. Haughton don't do all the tricks."

"But should you have been missed, what then?"

"Oh, that's too easy, Miss Vernon; I've been too awfully busy with my maid; headache, anything that comes first."

"A pupil of Madame would naturally learn how to shuffle the cards," said Lady Esmondet, a trifle cynically, and, sotto voce, "I am too awfully sleepy to take you in, Lady Esmondet," said Blanche, yawning.

A covered carriage with two servants, drives to the steps; the Colonel is not inside; leaving one man to look after their maids and belongings, they enter, and are soon on the well known road.

"I wonder my uncle did not meet us; especially as he must have received our telegram."

"Surely he is not ill! How was he when you left the Hall, Miss

Tompkins?" inquired Lady Esmondet.

"A one, and it's too awfully funny he wasn't down. But I remember, whenever he and Mrs. Haughton have a spat, and they had one (this time hare and hounds), he clears out and takes to the lodge, so perhaps he never spotted your telegram."

Lady Esmondet and Vaura, exchanging glances, fell into deep thought, while Blanche and the small Baronet carried on a half-whispered conversation, with a yawning accompaniment from the young woman.

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