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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 13
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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 13 Post by :MarkoJevtic Category :Long Stories Author :Elinor Glyn Date :May 2012 Read :1797

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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 13


The fog was white round the windows as I came down to my solitary breakfast on the 4th. My heart sank. What if it should be too thick for me to start? I could not bear to think of the disappointment that would be.

I forced myself to practise for an hour after breakfast. Then I wrote a long letter to the Marquis de Rochermont. Then I looked again at my watch and again at the fog. I should start at half-past two, to give plenty of time, as we should certainly have to go slowly.

At last, at last, luncheon came. I never felt less hungry, nor had the servants ever appeared so pompous and slow. It seemed as if it could never be half-past two.

However, it struck eventually, and the automobile came round to the door.

For the first five miles the fog was very thick. We had to creep along. Then it lifted a little, then fell again. But at half-past four we turned into the lodge-gates. I could see nothing in front of me. The trees seemed like gaunt ghosts, with the mist and the dying daylight. The drive across the park and up the long avenue was fraught with difficulty. Even when we arrived I could see nothing but the bright lights from the windows. But as the door was thrown open, I realised that Antony was standing there against the flood of brightness.

I seem always to be saying my heart beats, but there is no other way of describing the extraordinary and unusual physical sensation that happens to me when I meet this man.

"Welcome!" he said, as he helped me out of the automobile. "Welcome to Dane Mount!"

A broad corridor, full of trophies of the chase and armor and carved oak, leads to a splendid hall, high to the top of the house, with a great staircase and galleries running round. It is hung with tapestry and pictures, and full of old and beautiful furniture.

Three huge, rough-coated hounds lay on the lion-skin before the fire. They rose, haughtily, to greet me.

"Ulfus, Belfus, and Bedevere, come and be introduced to a fair lady," said Antony. "You can be quite civil, she is of the family."

The dogs came forward.

"What darlings!" I said, patted them all. They received the caresses with dignity, and, without gush, made me understand they were glad to see me.

Then we said some _banal things to each other--Antony and I--about the fog and the difficulty of getting here and the length of the drive.

I did not look at him much. I felt excited and awkward--and happy.

"I am not going to let you stay here a minute in those damp things," he said. "I shall give you into the hands of Mrs. Harrison, my housekeeper, to take you to your room. When you have got into a tea-gown, you will find me here again." And he rang the bell.

Grandmamma would have approved of Mrs. Harrison when she appeared. She is like the housekeepers one reads of in books--stately and plump, and clothed in black silk, with a fat, gold-and-cameo brooch fastening a neat cambric collar.

She conducted me up the staircase and into the most exquisite bedroom I have ever dreamed of in my life.

It is white, and panelled, and full of really old and beautiful French furniture. Everything is in keeping, even to the locks on the doors and the bell-ropes. How grandmamma would have appreciated this! And the fineness of the linen, and the softness of the pillows and sofa-cushions! And everywhere great bowls of roses--my favorite flower. Roses in November!

"Oh, what a lovely room!" I exclaimed, as I went round and looked at everything.

"It is pretty, ma'am. It has only just been arranged," said Mrs. Harrison, much gratified. "Sir Antony bid me ask you to order anything you can possibly want."

Then she indicated which bell rang into my maid's room and which for the house-maids, and with a few more polite wishes for my comfort, and the information that the room prepared for Augustus was some way down the corridor, on the right, she left me in McGreggor's hands.

With great promptness the luggage had been carried up, so I was not long getting into a tea-gown.

Augustus and Lady Grenellen would have arrived by the time I got down to the hall again. They ought to have been here before me, but no doubt the train was late.

The soft _crepe de chine of my skirts made no _frou-frou_. Antony did not see me as I looked over the bend of the stairs descending; he was staring into the fire, an expression I have never seen before on his face.

I stopped. Presently he looked up.

"How silently you came, Comtesse! I did not hear you."

"You were thinking deeply. Upon what grave matters of state?"

"None at all. Do you know Lady Grenellen and your husband have not arrived? The brougham has with difficulty returned from the station after waiting until the train was in, and there was no sign of them."

A joy, unbidden and instantly suppressed, pervaded me as he spoke.

"Perhaps they missed the train and will catch the next," I hazarded.

"The fog in London is quite exceptional, the guard said. I have given orders for the coachman to return and try for the next train. It gets in at 6:42. After that there is one at 7, and the last one is at 10:18. But they will probably telegraph."

"It makes me laugh," I said.

"Come and have tea. We shall not bother our heads about them. They are, fortunately, well able to take care of themselves."

Antony led the way to the library, where the tea was laid out.

I never have sat in such a comfortable sofa or felt more cosily at home. Everything pleased me. All is in perfect taste.

Antony talked to me gayly as he gave me some tea. It was as if he wanted to remove the least feeling of awkwardness this unusual situation might possibly cause me to feel.

Ulfus, Belfus, and Bedevere had followed us, and now lay, like three grim guardians, upon the tiger-skin hearth-rug.

"How is your arm?" I asked.

"Oh, that is all right. I had the shot taken out and it has quite healed up. Wonderful escape we had that day!" And he laughed.

"And you were so good about it! Augustus said he would have shot back if Mr. Dodd had hit him."

"Mrs. Dodd would have made a nice target. One does not often come across a person like that. Are all your guests at Ledstone of the same sort as those I met?"

"No. Some of them are worse," I replied, gravely, smiling at him. "Next time you shall come to an earlier party. You would enjoy that." And I laughed, thinking of the first batch of relations we had entertained.

"I will come whenever you ask me," he said, quite simply.

"No. You know I would never ask you again, if I could help it. Oh, you were so kind, but it--" I stopped. I did not know how to say what I meant. I had better not have said so much.

"I don't want you to have that feeling. It amuses me to come, Comtesse, only you feed one too well. Do you remember how I drank everything I could get hold of, to please you?"

"You were ridiculous!" And I laughed.

"I thought I was heroic." Then, in another voice: "I think you must have that boudoir altered a little, you know, before long. I can't say I found your sofa comfortable."

"Not like this." And I lay back luxuriously.

"I generally choose things with a reason, if I can."

"That sounds like one of grandmamma's speeches." Then I stupidly blushed, remembering, apropos of what she had said, almost the same thing. It was when she accepted Mrs. Gurrage's invitation to the ball, where she calculated I should meet Antony. That was before she had the fainting-fit. I stared into the fire. What would have happened by now, if she could have carried out that plan--the "suitable and happy" arrangement of my future!

"Comtesse, why do you stop suddenly and blush, and then stare into the fire? Your grandmother was not, I am sure, in the habit of saying such startling things as to cause you such emotions."

I looked up at him. I suppose my eyes were troubled, for he said, so gently:

"Dear little girl, I won't tease you. Tell me, have you read any more books on philosophy lately?"

I drank the last sip of my tea, and held out my cup. It was nice tea.

"No, I have not had time to read anything. There, you can take my cup. You have such pretty things here. Everything is suitable, and it gives me pleasure. I don't feel philosophical; I feel genuine human enjoyment."

"That is good to know. Well, we won't be philosophical, then, we will be humanly happy," and he sat down beside me.

I took up, idly, a little book that was lying on a table near, because my silly heart had begun to beat again, like Lydia Languish or any vaporish young lady in an early romance. I looked at the title and Antony looked at me. I read it over without taking in the sense, and then the name arrested my attention.

"_A Digit of the Moon_," I said, "What a queer title!"

"What long eyelashes you have, Comtesse!" said Antony, apropos of nothing. "They make a great shadow on your cheek, and they have no business to be so dark, with your light, mud-colored hair."

"How rude, to call my hair mud-colored!" I said, indignantly, "I always thought it _blond cendre_."

"So it is, and it shines like burnished metal. But you are a vain little thing, I expect, and I did not wish to encourage you."

His voice was full of a caress. I did not dare to look into his queer cat's eyes.

"You have black eyelashes yourself, and as I am of the family, why may I not have them too?" I said, pouting.

"Of course you can have them or anything else you wish, to oblige you. But I should rather like to know how long your hair is when you let it down. You look as if you had a great quantity there, but probably it is not all your own." And he smiled provokingly.

"If I was not afraid of the servants coming in I would undo it to show you," I replied, with great indignation and a sadden feeling that I, too, could tease. "I never heard anything so insulting!"

"My servants are well trained. It is not six o'clock yet. They won't come in until half-past six, unless I ring. You have plenty of time."

A spirit of _coquetterie came over me for the first time in my life. I took out the two great tortoise-shell pins that held it up, and let my hair tumble down around me. It falls in heavy waves nearly to my knees.

"That is perfectly beautiful!" said Antony, almost reverently. "I apologize. It is your own."

I got up and shook it out and stood before him. It hung all round me like a cloak. Oh, I was in a wicked mood, and I do not defend my conduct.

"Comtesse," he said, and his eyes swam, "fiendish little temptress, put up that hair. And come, I will tell you about _A Digit of the Moon_."

I pretended to feel greatly snubbed, and in a minute had twisted it to my head again.

"It is a queer title," I said.

Antony talked a little faster than usual. It seemed as if he was breathing rather quickly.

"I shall give you this book. It only came out last year. I think it is one of the most delightful things that ever was written. You must read it carefully." And he put it into my hand. "The description, in the beginning, of the ingredients which God used to create woman is quite exquisite. Listen, I will read it to you." And he took the book again.

His voice is the most refined and the tones are deep. One cannot say what quality there is in some voices and pronunciation that makes them so attractive. If Antony were an ugly man he still would be alluring with such a voice as his. I listened intently until the last word.

"It is, indeed, a beautiful description," I said.

"You probably are all those things, Comtesse, except, perhaps, the 'chattering of the monkeys.' You don't speak much."

"And do you feel like 'man'?"

"That I cannot do with you, or without you? Yes, especially the latter part of the sentence."

I got up from the sofa and looked about the room. It seemed as if we were getting on dangerous ground.

"How comfortable men make their habitations! And I like the smell," I said, sniffing. "The pine-logs, I suppose."

"And the cedar panelling, perhaps, scents the place a little when it gets hot."

"You have thousands of books here." And I looked round at the high shelves between the long windows. "And what a nice piano! How happy you must be!"

"I should have been--and am sometimes, still," he said. "The Duke had a good room, too, at Myrlton."

I sat down on the sofa again. Antony had risen and leaned against the mantel-piece. He was idly pulling the ears of Bedevere, who, sitting there, reached up into his hand. I never could have imagined dogs so big as are these three.

"Of course you went to Myrlton. I had forgotten. The Duke made love to you, I suppose?"

"Why should you suppose?"

"Because I saw signs of it at Harley. Don't you remember how I carried you off to the woods while he fetched your umbrella?"

I laughed.

"Well, did he make love to you?"

"Why should you think any man would make love to me? It is ridiculous. You seem to forget I have only been married five months. Even in a well-bred world, where they have gone back to nature, they don't begin as soon as that, do they?"

"You are prevaricating. He did make love to you, then?"

"Lady Grenellen had brought an heiress there for him, and he was busy with her."

"And you made it as difficult for him as possible to do his duty. How heartless of you, Comtesse! I would not have believed it of you."

His voice was more mocking than I had ever heard it.

"I did nothing of the kind."

"He is an agreeable fellow, Berty."

"Full of information."



Then our eyes met.

"Comtesse, we are not here to talk about the Duke of Myrlshire in these our few minutes of grace. The 6.42 train will soon be in." And he sat down again beside me.

"What shall we talk about, then?" I asked, trying to keep my head. A maddening sensation of excitement made my voice sound strained. "First, I want to tell you how beautiful I find my room. If you had known my taste, and had it done to please me, you could not have found anything I should like so much."

"I did know your taste, and I had it done to please you. It is for you. No one else shall ever sleep there," he said, simply, and looked deep into my eyes.

I had nothing to say.

"I like to know there is a room for you in my house. I want everything in it to be exactly as you desire. When you have time to look, I think you will find some agreeable books, and your old friends La Rochefoucauld, etc. But if there is a thing you want changed, it would give me pleasure to change it."

I was stupefied. I could not speak.

"Over the mantel-piece is the little pastel by La Tour I told you I bought last year."

"Oh! it is good of you!" I managed to say.

"I have at least the satisfaction of knowing that I please myself too if it gives you pleasure. I want you to feel there is one corner in the world where you are really at home with the things that are sympathetic to you, so that whenever you will come over like this it will give you a feeling of repose."

"Oh! it is dear of you!"

"You said the other day," he continued, "that I, at all events, was never serious, and I told you I would tell you that when you came here to Dane Mount. Well, I tell you now--I am serious in this--that if there is anything in the world I can do to make you happy I will do it."

"It makes me happy to know you understand--that there is some one of my kin. Oh! I have been very lonely since grandmamma died!"

He looked at me long, and we neither of us spoke.

"It was a very cruel turn of fate that we did not meet this time last year," he said at last.


"Comtesse, I want to make your life happier. I want to introduce you to several nice women I know. I shall have a big party next month. Will you come and stay again? Then you will gradually get a pleasant society round you, and you need not trouble about the Dodds and the Springers--no, Springle was their name, wasn't it?"

"Yes. It is so kind of you, all this thought for me. Oh, Sir Antony, I have nothing to say!" I faltered.

He frowned.

"Do not call me _Sir Antony, child. It hurts me. You must not forget we are cousins. You are Ambrosine to me, or my dearest little Comtesse."

The clock struck half-past six. The servants entered the room to take the tea-things away, and while they were there a footman brought in three telegrams, one for me and two for my host.

Mine was from Augustus, and ran:

"Hope you have arrived safely. Hear fog bad in
country too. Impossible to get to Liverpool Street
yet. Awfully worried at your being alone there.
Shall come by last train."

Antony handed the two others to me. One was from Lady Grenellen, the other from Augustus, both expressing their annoyance and regret. The telegrams were all sent off at the same hour from Piccadilly, so apparently they were together, my husband and his friend.

"It is comic," I said, "this situation! Augustus and Lady Grenellen fog-bound in London, and you and I here, it is the fault of none of us."

"I like a fog," said Antony, with his old, whimsical smile, all trace of seriousness departed. "A good, useful thing, a fog. Hope it won't lift in a hurry."

"Now come and show me the ancestors," I said.

He led the way to the drawing-room--a great room, all painted white, too, and in each faded green-brocade panel hangs a picture. The electric lights are so arranged that each was perfectly illuminated.

They were all interesting to me, especially the portraits of our common ancestors.

"That must be your grandfather's father," said Antony, pointing to a portly gentleman, with lightly powdered hair and a blue riding-coat, painted at the end of the eighteenth century. "It was his eldest son, who had no sons, and left the place to his daughter, who married Sir Geoffrey Thornhirst."

"But where is your great-great-grandmother that you told me about, and rather insinuated she was as nice as my Ambrosine Eustasie de Calincourt?"

"There she is, in the place of honor. She was painted by Gainsborough, after she married. What do you think of her?"

"Oh! she is lovely," I said, "and she has your cat's eyes."

"'She is your ancestress, too, but she is not like you. Do you see the dog in the picture?"

"Yes. Why, it is just the portrait of one of your three knights!"

"Have you never heard the tradition, then?"


"As long as Dane Mount possesses that breed of dogs fortune is to favor the owner; but if they die out I can't tell you what calamities are not to overtake him. It has been going for hundreds of years."

"Then Ulfus, Belfus, and Bedevere are the descendants of that dog in the picture?"


"No wonder they give themselves such airs."

"Do you hear that, boys?" said Antony, turning to the three, who had again followed us. "My Comtesse says you give yourselves airs. Come and die for her to show her your real sentiments."

The three great fellows advanced in their dignified way, casting adoring glances at their master.

"Now die, all of you!"

They sneezed and curled up their lips, and made the usual grimaces of dogs when they are moved and self-conscious, but they all three lay flat down at my feet.

"I _am flattered," I said, "and I have not even a biscuit to give you."

"We are not so sordid as that at Dane Mount. We do not die for biscuits, but because we love the lady," said Antony.

I bent down and kissed Ulfus, who was nearest to me.

"Now I am going to show you some Thornhirst pictures and some older Athelstans that are in the hall and the dining-room, and a portrait of my mother that I have in my own smoking-room."

Antony made the most interesting guide. There was something amusing and to the point about all his comments. I soon knew the different characteristics of each member of the family. One or two, especially of the Thornhirsts, are wonderfully like him--the same level, dark eyebrows and firm mouths.

"This is my sanctum," he said, at last, opening a door down a corridor, and we went into a large room with a lower ceiling than the rest of the apartments I had been into. It is panelled with cedar-wood also and sparely hung with old prints. A delicious smell of burning pine-logs again greeted me. The thick, silk curtains were drawn. The lamps were softly shaded. An old dog of the same family as the three knights basked before the fire. It was all cosey and homelike.

"Oh! this is a nice room, too!" I exclaimed.

"I spend a good deal of time here. One grows to like one's rooms."

His mother's portrait hangs over the fireplace, a charming face, whose beauty is not even disguised by the hideous fashions of 1870, when it was painted.

"She died when I was in Russia," said Antony.

My eyes fell on the mantel-piece. The narrow ledge held three photographs, one of a man, one of Lady Tilchester, and the centre one--an amateur production, evidently--of a little girl with bare feet, putting one fat toe into a stream, her hat hanging down her back, and her face bent down looking at the water.

"What a dear little picture," I said. "Who is that?"

"Oh, that is the Tilchester child, Muriel Harley," he said, carelessly. "We snap-shotted her paddling in the burn in Scotland a year or two ago. Come, it is dressing-time. I must send you up-stairs." And then, as we left the room, "You look so comfortable in that tea-gown! Don't bother to change," he said.

"Why deprive me of displaying to you the splendors I brought over on purpose?" I said, gayly, as I ran up the broad steps.

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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 14 The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 14

The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 2 - Chapter 14
BOOK II CHAPTER XIVI do not think there can be a more agreeable form of entertainment than a _tete-a-tete dinner, provided your companion is sympathetic. Anyway, to me this will always be one of the golden hours in my life to look back upon. Never had Antony been so attractive. Every sentence was well expressed, and only when one came to think of them afterwards, did one discover their subtle flattery. By the time the servants had finally left the room I felt like a purring cat whose fur has been all stroked the right way--at peace with the world. The

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