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A Heart-Song of To-day By Annie Gregg Savigny Characters: 8616

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

"And now, reverend sir," she had said, turning quickly and imperiously to Father Lefroy, on the exit of Vaura, and waving her hand towards sister Magdalen, "the left is your right. Ah! Sir Andrew, pardon, I did not see you, you are in great demand in the drawing rooms."

"You flatter me, Mrs. Haughton," he answered, with a shrug of shoulder as he accepted his dismissal.

Sister Magdalen now sat up, saying feebly, "Where am I; oh! yes, I remember it all, how dreadful, my poor head," and turning her pale, grief-stricken face to the priest, said sadly, "When do we leave, father?"

"I go at once, daughter, but the great London physician who has just left the room having restored you to consciousness, says positively, you must remain here until to-morrow; come George, my son, we have no more time to spare here, our duty is done."

"No, I shall not go with you," cried the boy, going over to Lionel, taking his hand.

"You must, you are under age," said the priest sternly; "your mother has given you to us."

"Then, she is my dear mother no more," and one could see that he strove manfully to swallow the lump in his throat, "and if you force me I'll cut and run."

Here Mason entered.

"Do you know whether the house-keeper has a vacant room, Mason," inquired her mistress hastily.

"No, ma'am," she said, "just now we are full ma'am."

"Very well, give orders instantly that Sir Tilton Everly's traps be taken to Miss Tompkins' appartments. Assist this lady to Sir Tilton's room, the boy also, and bid a servant drive this clergyman to the village. Admit no one to my presence."

"Yes ma'am," said the discreet maid, not moving a muscle of her face.

"I shall send for you both ere this time to-morrow," said the priest, shaking hands kindly with Lionel.

"You would make a good general officer, fair madame, where speedy dispatch was necessary," said Lionel gallantly.

"Twas easy, a man and woman sleep-double, a priest and a nun are parted; make yourself comfortable on yonder lounge, I am coming to look at and talk to you, my long lost star, my king."

"Most fellows would envy me," he thought, stretching, himself on the lounge for he was really fatigued, and if he is made prisoner, may as well rest.

"George would kill me, could he see me," thought Kate, seating herself on a pile of cushions close to his chest, "but what did he tease me about going off with a Cousin for, I know it was false, but if I can even now win the love of this man, I shall defy him and pretend to have taken him literally." And letting her lace wraps fall about her, sinking into the cushions, leaning forward, both arms folded on his chest, this recklessly, impulsive; black-browed woman looked her prisoner full in the eyes. Being a man, his face softened. She saw it, and there was a moment's silence save for the cooing of the lovebirds hanging in their gilded cage in the roseate light.

"Could I not content you my king? you have been cruel to me; cease to be so, and though I can be fierce, cruel, and vindictive to others, I shall be always gentle to you; you know by my letters that my love is unchanged, let me rest here, my king," and the head with its shining black tresses sank to his chest, "and I shall teach you so to love me that you will lose even the memory of other women. Speak, my king, but only to tell me you accept my all," and her voice sank to a whisper.

"How can I, you poor little woman?" and he smiled, but sadly, for he thought for one moment of how weak is poor humanity, with the boy Cupid's fingers on one's heartstrings; the next, he determined to heal the wounded heart at his feet-though with the lance.

"Your fancy, will pass, chere madame, and your husband is my friend," and he added in her ear, "you have a man whom you honour with especial favor."

"But why do I?" she said, almost fiercely and starting to a sitting posture, "why, I only admitted him for distraction's sake; you know full well 'twas you I loved and not the man I have married, or the lover you credit me with," she said, in an aggrieved tone, forgetting the years ere she had met him. "I hoped by so doing to drink of the waters of Lethe; but it has not been so, though losing myself at times in a whirl of excitement; your name, your face, with your wonderful

eyes, from nearly every album I handled, and I was again in subjection; perchance you had been recalled to my memory by some idle word in the moonlight when I became an iceberg to my companion, and my whole being going out to meet yours, when, for return, an aching loneliness. Listen, my king, my master," and she started to her feet powerfully agitated, every pulse throbbing, Trevalyon stood up quickly, coming to her side, taking her hand in his while one arm supported her, for she trembled.

"Calm yourself, you poor little woman, this passion will soon pass; I shall be away, other men will teach you to forget me, be kind to poor Haughton for my sake (if I may say so) and your own, and now, dear, that your passionate heart is beating slower, let me bring you to the salons ere you are missed."

"Your voice is full of music, else I would not stay so still," and again he feels her tremble for she thinks of the flying moments of her losing game, and of her fierce lover as victor. "But there is no time to be-so sweetly still," and her voice sinks to a whisper, "or else I could be forever so, see, I kneel to you; nay, you must let me be," and the words came brokenly and more passionately than any ever having passed her lips, "you, and you only, have ever had the power to subdue me." Here her face changed to a sickly pallor as of faintness, a tremor ran through her whole frame, and saying in a breathless whisper, "Great heavens! your life is in danger, follow my cue; will you take care of the boy?"

"I will, Mrs. Haughton; pray arise."

While he was speaking, crash, crash, went the plate glass in the window behind him, and black Delrose, looking like a very fiend, bounded in, taking up a bronze statue of Achilles, hurled it at Trevalyon, who only escaped from the fact of having stooped with the utmost apparent sang-froid to pick up a rose his fair companion had dropped from her corsage. Achilles, instead of his head, shattering the greater part of a costly mirrored wall, with ornaments on a Queen Anne mantel-piece.

"This will settle him," he now yelled furiously, and about to fire from, a pocket pistol.

"Hold!" cried Kate, "'twas no love scene."

"By heaven, 'tis well, or he had been a dead man," he said furiously, lowering his arm. "Explain yourself, Trevalyon, or you-"

"Beware, George," said Kate, breathlessly.

"I shall not, Kate; you have maddened me and by the stars he shall say why you knelt to him. I suppose you would like me, forsooth! to admire the nonchalante manner of his posing at the time," and turning like a madman to Trevalyon, shaking his clenched fist in his face, said fiercely, "by the stars you shall speak. Why did she kneel to you?"

"Calm yourself, Delrose," he answered quietly, for the first time pitying this passionate woman, "Mrs. Haughton is the wife of my friend!"

"Men always respect such facts," sneered Delrose; "no, that won't go down; Kate, you or he shall tell me or I shall not answer for the consequences."

Kate, fearing for Trevalyon, answered quickly:

"I was imploring him to look after your boy, and not allow the priest to spoil him for a soldier."

"You swear this?"

"You, I know, are satisfied with nothing else."

"That won't do; do you swear you asked him to do this as you knelt," he said, slowly and jealously.

"I do."

"And what says this squire des dames?" he continued sneering and turning suspiciously to Trevalyon.

"That Mrs. Haughton has condescended to explain the situation or I shouldn't, and that a gentleman never questions the word of a lady," he answered coolly, and haughtily continuing, "may I be your escort back to the salons, Mrs. Haughton."

Kate seeing the look of impatient hate settling in the eyes of her lover, said hastily,

"Thanks; no, Sir Lionel;" she would have added more but for the jealous gaze of Delrose, who said as she went to Trevalyon's assistance in opening the spring lock.

"Yes; go, Kate, to your last act in the farces of Haughton Hall, you must then come to my assistance with the drop curtain." While he speaks the hands of the man, impatient to be with the love of his life, and of the woman, sorry to let him go, meet in the folds of the hangings, the woman sighing as she presses his hand to her heart and so they part.

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