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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 11
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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 11 Post by :MarkoJevtic Category :Long Stories Author :Elinor Glyn Date :May 2012 Read :1682

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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 11


Augustus was not able to leave his room for four or five days after this. I left him almost entirely to himself, only going to see him once a day, to hear if he required anything.

At the end of the time his penitence was complete, and he promised me to change his ways for the future. He was horribly affectionate to me, but peace was restored.

I cannot say that I felt any happier, but it seemed a lull and calm after a storm. I tried to be more gentle and sympathetic to him and to take more interest in the house.

And so, at last, the 30th arrived, and our visit to Myrlton Castle.

We had to pass through London on our way there, and Augustus left me for an hour or two, while he went to his tailor's, he said.

I had no money to shop with. I had spent all my first quarter's allowance on books and a late wedding-present to Hephzibah, and I foolishly could not bring myself to ask Augustus for more.

So I sat in the hotel hall after lunch and watched the people passing by.

What had seemed a great sum of money to me in my days of poverty now appeared a very meagre allowance, as I had begun to realize what things cost. In making the settlement I had not been consulted. Grandmamma and the Marquis had arranged matters with my future husband, and I remember her words: "We have only been able to secure for your personal use a very mediocre sum, but your jointure in case of widowhood is quite magnificent."

Augustus had promised her I should have everything I wanted in the world--"as much money as she likes to ask for, once she is my wife."

It was the "asking for" that kept me penniless. I would not be so foolish as to spend it all at once the next time it came in. Meanwhile the knowledge that a sovereign or two is all one possesses in one's pocket has a depressing effect upon the spirits.

"Run up what bills you like for your clothes," Augustus has often said to me. "I don't care, as long as they show the money that has been put into them and you make a good dash."

So I sat on the sofa in the hotel hall musing all by myself.

Suddenly a desire came over me to take Augustus at his word. I, too, would go to my tailor's.

I do not know London very well; but Lady Tilchester had given me the address of the latest and most fashionable dressmaker, and I got into a hansom and drove there.

The garments were pretty, and I ordered several tea-gowns and things they had ready, and, as I was leaving, gave Augustus's name and address for the account to be sent to. He should receive the bill, as he wished.

I spoke distinctly, and perhaps more loudly than usual, as I find shop-people so stupid with names. A young _vendeuse_, who heard me as she entered the room, now came up.

"Oh, this is Madam Henriette's order, Madam Green," she said to the elder woman who had been attending upon me. "Madam Henriette is engaged just now"--and she turned to me--"but she asked me to tell your ladyship if you should call again to-day that the things will be sent off to-night to join you at Myrlton Castle as you wished. Mr. Gurrage has just been in and left a message that he was sorry to miss your ladyship, but would be at the station." Then, struck by some look in my face, she said, "The Viscountess Grenellen, is it not?"

The elder _vendeuse_, who probably knew Lady Grenellen by sight, was green with apprehension that some shocking gaff had been committed.

For one second I hesitated, then:

"The things I have ordered are for Lady Grenellen," I said, calmly. Mercifully we are about the same height. "You can send them with the others to Myrlton Castle."

And with a few casual words of admiration about a set of lingerie that was lying on the table, I sauntered out into the street.

I do not know exactly what I felt--a sense of insult, principally.

I did not hate Lady Grenellen, and I did not feel jealous about Augustus. But it all seemed so terribly low.

She, a gentlewoman who must have been brought up with every surrounding that could foster the sentiment of self-respect--she, the Duke of Myrlshire's cousin, not a _parvenue_--beautiful, charming, and young--to accept clothes from Augustus!

Oh! To take a lover for love, that one could understand and perhaps pardon. The Marquis was grandmamma's lover, but--but not a common person like Augustus--for clothes!

"Back to the Carlton, miss?" said the hansom man, breaking in upon my thoughts. Perhaps I looked undecided as I stood in the street.

I glanced at my watch. There would be just time to catch the train.

"Euston," I said, and I swung to the doors. Then, as I sat there, I realized that my knees were trembling.

At the station Augustus had already arrived, and, under pretence of seeing whether the servants and luggage were all there, he was scanning the platform anxiously for Lady Grenellen.

His face fell when he saw me. Perhaps he hoped she would have arrived first.

I could not prevent myself from speaking in a voice of extra coldness, although I tried hard to be natural. This was not the moment for recriminations. Augustus noticed it, and, as usual, began to bluster.

"What's up?" he asked, irritably. "You look as white as a ghost."

"I will get into the carriage," I said, "I am cold." And Atkinson and McGreggor arranged my cushion and rugs for me, Augustus uneasily watching the platform meanwhile.

Two of the men who had been at Harley passed, and, seeing me, came up and spoke. They were going to Myrlton, too, I found.

"Why don't you get in here?" I said, graciously, to the funny one they had called "Billy," and whose other name I had never grasped. "It is so dull to travel alone with one's husband."

He got in and sat opposite me. We talked merrily.

"Why don't you get in, Gurrage?" he said, "It is horribly cold with the door open."

Augustus is not clever under these circumstances. He has no _sang-froid_, and is inclined to become ill-tempered.

At the last moment, before the train started, Lady Grenellen tore down the platform. Augustus rushed to meet her, and the guard slammed our door.

Whether they had got in somewhere else we should not know until we arrived at Rugby Junction, where we were to change onto a branch line. I used the whole force of my will to put the matter out of my head. I told myself the doings of Augustus were nothing to me, and henceforth should not concern me in any way.

At last I succeeded in being quite able to enjoy my companion's conversation.

At Rugby we had a quarter of an hour to wait. Nothing of the other couple was to be seen. Apparently they must have missed the train, after all.

A few moments before the branch train started a special dashed into the station, and out got Lady Grenellen and Augustus. She was looking most radiant and lovely, but Augustus had an expression of unease and self-consciousness as he greeted us.

"Was it not too provoking, just missing the train," Lady Grenellen said, laughing. "Mr. Gurrage insisted upon having a special. Such a mercy he was there, as I could not possibly have afforded one."

This was the first time she had acknowledged my existence. Mr. Billy chaffed Augustus, and we all got into a saloon carriage together. It had been engaged by the Duke, and four or five people were already seated in it. They appeared all to be friends of Lady Grenellen's, and she was soon the soul of the party, laughing and telling of her mishap about the train, her white teeth gleaming and her rouge-pink cheeks glowing like a peach. No one could be more attractive, and I ceased to blame Augustus, I could understand a man, if this lovely creature looked at him with eyes of favor, giving up any one, or committing any folly, for her sake.

Apparently, for the moment, she had finished with Augustus, for she snubbed him sharply once or twice, and finally retired with a beautiful young man into the compartment beyond, kissing her hand to the rest as she went through the door.

"I am going to talk business with Luffy till we get to Myrlton," she said.

A savage look stamped itself upon Augustus's face. Would he vent his anger on her, presently, or should I be the recipient of it? Time would show.

Myrlton is a glorious place, hundreds and hundreds of years old, and full of traditions and ghosts, with a real draw-bridge and huge baronial hall, with the raised part, where they eat above the salt in by-gone days. Everything is rather shabby and stiffly arranged, and, except in the Duke's own special rooms, it looks as if no woman had been there for years.

The Duke is a perfect host. He seemed delighted to see me, and soon let me know that his only interest in the party was on account of my presence among them. I felt soothed and flattered.

Lady Grenellen was in tearing spirits.

"Berty, I have got her," she laughed, as she deliberately drew a chair, and divided the Duke and me, who were sitting a little apart.

"She isn't at all bad, and I have asked her and her aunt to come here to-morrow," she continued. "I told them I was giving the party, and that they should be my guests. The aunt knows what for, and I expect the girl, too. She has at least fifty thousand a year. But she is American. There was nothing in the English market rich enough. A paltry ten thousand would be no use to you."

"Oh, Cordelia, I told you I would not have an American," said the Duke, reproachfully. "Think how jumpy they are, and I can't explain to her that I simply want her to stay at home and have lots of children and do the house up."

"Oh yes, you can. She is from the West, and a country-girl, and, I assure you, those Americans are quite accustomed to make a bargain. You can settle everything of that sort with the aunt."

"Mercifully, Margaret Tilchester is arriving to-morrow, too," sighed the Duke. "She has such admirable judgment. I shall be able to rely upon her."

"Ungrateful boy!" laughed Lady Grenellen. "After the trouble I have taken to get her, too. Now I am going to have a sleep before dinner. By-bye." And she sauntered off, accompanied by the beautiful young man.

Augustus stood biting the ends of his stubbly mustache.

No one had to bother about what the other people were doing here. The guests did not sit round waiting to be entertained; they all seemed perfectly at home, and did what they pleased.

The party was not large, but quite delightfully composed. I felt I should enjoy my evening. Before going down to dinner, Augustus came into my room. He hoped, he said, that I had some jewels on.

My appearance pleased him. He came up and kissed me. I could not speak to him, as McGreggor was in the room, and afterwards it seemed too late. Should I leave the affair in silence? Oh, if I had some one to advise me!--Lady Tilchester, perhaps. And yet how, so soon after my marriage, could I say to her: "My husband pays for another woman's clothes, and is, I suppose, her lover. But beyond the insult of the case, the disgust and contempt it fills me with, I am not hurt a bit, and am only thankful for anything that keeps him away from me." What would she think? Would she understand, because of Lord Tilchester and Babykins, or would it, being so soon, shock her? I wish I knew. Perhaps it is as my mother-in-law said, and I am not a flesh-and-blood woman.

Early next day--they had come by the Scotch mail--Lord and Lady Tilchester arrived with Babykins.

Most of the men were out shooting but the Duke and the beautiful young man (his name is Lord Luffton), who had stayed behind to take care of us, they said.

Lady Grenellen appeared just before lunch.

"I have ordered a brougham to meet the one-thirty train, Berty," she said, "to bring my Americans up. They will be here in a minute. Come into the hall with me to receive them."

The Duke accompanied her reluctantly.

"It would be as well to know their name," he said, as he sauntered after her trailing skirts.

"Cadwallader--Miss Martina B. Cadwallader--that is the aunt, and Miss Corrisande K. Trumpet--that is the niece," said Lady Grenellen, stalking ahead.

The windows of the long gallery where we were all sitting looked onto the court-yard, and two flys passed the angle of the turret.

"Look at the luggage!" exclaimed Babykins, and we all went to the window.

There was, indeed, a wonderful collection--both flys laden with enormous, iron-bound trunks as big as hen-houses. A pair of smart French maids seemed buried beneath them.

The entire party of us burned with curiosity to see the owners, but long before they appeared we were conscious of their presence.

Two of the most highly pitched American voices I have ever heard were saying civil things to our host and Lady Grenellen. More highly pitched than Hephzibah's, and that is the highest, I thought, there could be in the world.

"She is awfully good-looking," whispered Babykins, who caught sight of them first as they came through the hall.

The aunt walked in front with Lady Grenellen, a tall woman with a keen, dark face of the red Indian type, with pure white hair, beautifully done, and a perfect dignity of carriage.

The heiress followed with the Duke. She is small and plump and feminine-looking, with the sweetest dimpled face and great brown eyes. Both were exquisitely dressed and carried little bags at their waists. Their manner had complete assurance, without a trace of self-consciousness.

Lady Grenellen had told us all their history. Not a possible drop of blood bluer than a navvy's could circulate in their veins, and yet their wrists were fine, their heads were small, and their general appearance was that of gentlewomen.

I seemed to see pictures and sounds of my earliest childhood as they spoke, I took to them at once.

Following the English custom, Lady Grenellen did not introduce them to any one but Babykins, who happened to step forward, and we all proceeded to lunch, which was laid at small, round tables.

The Duke wore an air of comic distress. His eyebrows were raised as though trying to understand a foreign language.

I sat with Lady Tilchester at another table, and we could not hear most of their conversation, only the sentences of the American ladies, and they sounded like some one talking down the telephone in one of the plays I saw in Paris. You only heard one side, not the answers back.

"Why, this is a real castle!" "You don't say!" "Yes, beheaded in the hall." "Miss Trumpet has all the statistics. She read them in the guide-book coming along." "I calculate she knows more about your family history, Dook, than you know yourself," etc., etc.

"What a pity they have voices like that!" exclaimed Lady Tilchester. "I know Berty will be put off, he is so ridiculously fastidious, and it is absolutely necessary that he should marry an heiress."

"The niece is young. Perhaps hers could be softened," I said. "She is so pretty, too."

Lady Tilchester looked at me suddenly. She had not listened to what I said.

"Oh, dear Mrs. Gurrage, you will help us to secure this girl? I ask you frankly, because, of course, the Duke is in love with you, and he naturally would not be impressed with Miss Trumpet."

I should have been angry if any one else had said this. But there is something so adorable about Lady Tilchester she can say anything.

"You are quite mistaken. I have only seen the Duke at your house," I said, smiling, "and a man cannot get in love on so short an acquaintance, can he?--besides, my being only just married."

"I suppose you have not an idea how beautiful you are, dear," she said, kindly. "Much as I like you, I almost wish you were not staying here now."

"I promise I will do my best to encourage the Duke to marry Miss Trumpet, if you wish it," I said, "I think he knows it is a necessity from what he said to me."

"Then I shall carry you up-stairs this afternoon out of harm's way," she said, with her exquisite smile. "Berty always gives me a dear little sitting-room next my room, and we can have a regular school-girls' chat over the fire."

Nothing could have pleased me better. I would rather talk to this dear lady than any Duke in the world.

After lunch some introductions were gone through.

"Now I am proud to be presented to you," said the aunt to Lady Tilchester, with perfect composure. "We have heard a great deal of you in our country, and my niece, Miss Trumpet, has always had the greatest admiration for your photograph."

The niece, meanwhile, talked to me.

There is something so fresh and engaging about her that in a few moments one almost forgot her terrible voice.

"Why, it does seem strange," she said, "with the veneration we have in America for really old things, to hear the Duke" (she does not quite say Dook, like the aunt. It sounds more like Juke) "call this castle an old 'stone-heap.' I am just longing to see the place his ancestor was beheaded upon in May, 1485. The Duke hardly seems to know about it, but I have been led to expect, from the guide-book, that I should see the blood on the stones."

The beautiful young man, Lord Luffton, now engaged her in conversation, and as Lady Tilchester and I left the hall both he and the Duke were escorting Miss Trumpet to the dais--no doubt to turn up the carpet and search for the traditional blood upon the steps.

"They are the most wonderful nation," Lady Tilchester said, as she linked her arm in mine. "Here is a girl looking as well bred as any of us--more so than most of us--probably beautifully educated, and accomplished, too, and whose father began as a common navvy or miner out in the West. The mother is dead--she took in washing, Cordelia says--and yet she was the sister of Miss Martina B. Cadwallader! How on earth do they manage to look like this?"

"It is wonderful, certainly. It must be the climate," I hazarded.

"We cannot do it in England. Think of the terrible creature a girl with such parentage would be here. Picture her ankles and hands! And the self-consciousness, or the swagger, this situation would display!"

I thought of Mrs. Dodd and the Gurrage commercial relations generally.

"Yes, _indeed_," I said.

"They are so adaptable," she continued. "It does not seem to matter into what nation they marry, they seem to assimilate and fit into their places. When this little thing is a duchess, you will see she will fulfil the position to a tee. Berty will be very lucky if he secures her."

"I think Lord Luffton will be a much greater stumbling-block than I shall," I laughed. "Perhaps he likes the idea of fifty thousand a year, too."

"Oh, Cordelia will see about that. Babykins, who knows everything, tells me she has fallen wildly in love with Luffy. He has only arrived back from the war about a week. And she will not let any other woman interfere with her. I had heard another story about her in Scotland. They told me she was having an affair with some"--she stopped suddenly, no doubt remembering to whom she was talking--"foreigner." She ended the sentence with perfect tact.

The little sitting-room is in a turret and is octagon-shaped, a dainty, charming, old-world room that grandmamma might have lived in.

We drew two chairs up to the fire and sat down cosily.

How kind and gracious and altogether charming this woman can be! Again I can only compare her to the sun's rays, so warm and comfortable she makes one feel. There is a nobleness and a loftiness about her which causes even ordinary things she says to sound like fine sentiments. No wonder Mr. Budge adores her.

We spoke very little of people. She told me of her interests and all the schemes to benefit mankind she has in hand. At last she said:

"You have not been to Dane Mount yet, have you?"

"No. We are going there on Monday, after we leave here."

"It will interest you deeply, I am sure." And she looked into the fire. "Antony stayed with you, did he not?"

"Yes," I said, and my voice sounded strained, remembering that terrible visit.

She was silent for a few moments.

"I want you to be friends with me, dear," she said, so gently. "You are, perhaps, not always quite happy, and if ever I can do anything for you I want you to know I will."

"Oh, dear Lady Tilchester," I said, "you have been so kind and good to me already I shall never forget it. And I am a stranger, too, and yet you have troubled about me."

"I liked you from the first moment we met, at the Tilchester ball. And Antony is so interested in you, and we are such dear old friends I should always be prejudiced in favor of any one he thought worth liking."

There were numbers of things I wished to ask her, but somehow my tongue felt tied. It was almost a relief when she turned the conversation.

Soon the daylight faded and the servants brought lamps.

"It is almost five," she said, at last "What a happy afternoon we have had! I know you ever so much better now, dear. Well, I suppose the time has come to put on tea-gowns and descend to see how affairs are progressing."

I rose.

"I am going to call you Ambrosine," she said, and she kissed me. "I am not given to sudden friendships, but there is something about your eyes that touches me. Oh, dear, I hope fate will not force you to commit some mid-summer madness, as I did, to regret to the end of your days!"

All the way to my room her words puzzled me. What could she mean?

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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 12 The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 12

The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 12
BOOK II CHAPTER XIIThe scene was picturesque and pretty as I looked at it from the gallery that crosses the hall. Tea was laid out on a large, low table, with plates and jam and cakes and muffins--a nice, comfortable, substantial meal. A fire of whole logs burned in the colossal, open chimney. The huge, heavily shaded lamps concentrated all the light beneath them, viewed from above. And like a group of summer-flowers the women, in their light and fluffy tea-gowns, added the touch of grace to the heavy darkness of the old stone walls. I paused a while and watched

The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 10 The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 10

The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 10
BOOK II CHAPTER XWhen I got into my bedroom the door was open into Augustus's room beyond. He had not come up to dress. Indeed, when I was quite ready to go down to dinner he had not yet appeared. Half-past eight sounded. I descended the stairs quickly and went along the passage towards his "den." There I met his valet. "Mr. Gurrage is asleep, ma'am," he said, "and does not seem inclined to wake, ma'am," and he held the door open for me to pass into the room. Augustus was lying in his big chair, before the fire, his face