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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 3
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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 3 Post by :MarkoJevtic Category :Long Stories Author :Elinor Glyn Date :May 2012 Read :2007

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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 3

BOOK III CHAPTER III

Before the end of my visit to Harley the Duke and I became fast friends, and while not possessing Antony's lightness of wit or personal attractions, he is an agreeable companion and out of the ordinary run of young men. He promised me, as we said good-bye, that he would think of my words, and try to do something with his life to deserve my good opinion.

"Come here whenever you are lonely, dear child," said my beautiful hostess, as we parted. "We delight in having you, and you must not mope at home all by yourself."

The roads were too bad for the automobile, so I drove back to Ledstone in my victoria. It was a brilliant, frosty day, the 11th of December. Something in the air sent my spirits up. I felt if Mr. Budge had only been with me I could have told him I was growing younger. My first interest when I got home should be to alter my boudoir. Augustus had left me fairly provided with money, and I could, at all events, run up what bills I pleased. That thought brought me back to the last bill I had tried to incur.

What had been the result of my orders? Would the shop-people have told Lady Grenellen that a strange lady had sent her the tea-gowns? Would she have wondered about them and made inquiries? I had heard nothing further. I dismissed the subject and returned to my boudoir. I was just thinking deeply what change I should make as we drove up the avenue. Should I take away the mustard walls and do the whole thing white, or have it pale green, or what? Then we caught up a telegraph-boy. He handed me the orange envelope.

It was from the war office, and ran:


"We are deeply grieved to inform you intelligence
has been received that your husband, Lieutenant
Augustus Gurrage, of the Tilchester Yeomanry, died
of measles on board the troop-ship _Aurora on
the 6th instant."


The sky suddenly became dark, I remember nothing more until I found myself in the hall with a crowd of servants round me. For the first time in my life I had fainted. I shall not analyze my feelings at this time. The principal emotions were horror and shock.

Oh, poor Augustus! to have died all alone at sea! Oh, I did, indeed, grieve for him! And the measles, which I had almost laughed at! The measles to have killed him! Afterwards, when we heard the details, it appeared his constitution was so weakened with the quantity of alcohol he taken in those last three weeks that he had no strength to stand against the attack.

My one thought was for his poor mother. A telegram had gone to her, too, it appeared.

I left for Bournemouth by the first train I could catch, but when I arrived I was met by a doctor. Mrs. Gurrage had lost her reason, he told me, upon hearing the news. She had been weak and ailing and in bed ever since her return from London, and this had proved the last straw, and now she lay, a childish imbecile, in her gorgeous bedroom up-stairs.

Oh, I can never write the horrors poor Amelia and I went through for the next ten days. The sadness of it all! My poor mother-in-law did not recognize me. She talked incessantly of Augustus. She seemed quite happy. He was a boy again to her--sometimes an infant, and at others almost grown up.

Once or twice she asked Amelia if I was not the new tenant at the cottage.

"She's a pretty girl," she said, "and Gussie's wonderful took with her."

Her poor voice had gone back to the sound and pronunciation of her early youth. Sometimes her accent was so broad and her expression so unusual that I could hardly understand her.

They had buried Augustus at sea. A grand and glorious grave, I think.

By the beginning of the new year I found myself a very rich woman. Augustus had left me his fortune, to be divided with his mother, should she survive him, and if not, to go to me and any possible children we might have. The will had been made directly we returned to Ledstone after our wedding.

Amelia received only a very small legacy.

Towards the end of January there was a change in the poor invalid up-stairs. My presence began to awake some memories. She was unhappy, and pointed at me. I disturbed and distressed her. It grieved me. I would so willingly have stayed and nursed her, but the doctors absolutely forbade my ever going into her room.

We had all the greatest specialists down from London to consult about her case, but they all shook their heads. It seemed hopeless and most unlikely she would ever recover her reason.

One great physician said to me, with truth:

"For the poor lady's sake I could almost hope she will remain in her present state. She is happy and quite harmless, whereas she would suffer agonies of grief should she recover."

I tried to take this view, and after making every possible arrangement for her comfort and attendance I left for London. There was a great deal of business to be seen about in connection with the will.

Lady Tilchester had telegraphed at once all her sympathy, and I got numbers of letters from all sorts of people.

Among them Lady Grenellen! A beautifully expressed note, full of the friendliest sympathy.

When I got back to Ledstone, after my week in London, I found quantities of letters and bills had accumulated for Augustus. His lawyers were coming down the next day to sort and settle everything. They had been piled up in the smoking-room.

I sadly glanced through them as they lay. Oh, I am not a hypocrite to say that when I first went back into this room, full of tipsy horrors as its associations were, it brought Augustus back so vividly that I sat down and cried.

I had never wished him ill, and would have given him back his life if I could. To die so young, with everything to make existence fair! It seemed too sad.

I lifted the pile of papers, one after another, and at last came upon one with the address printed on the outside of the envelope--the address of the dress-maker where Lady Grenellen's clothes came from.

This bill the lawyers should not see. I looked carefully to the end of the pile. There were no more of any consequence. I wished I could find her letters too, to save them also. The drawers were all locked. I could not think that night what to do, but when the lawyers came next day I asked them to give me any letters they might find with the same writing on the envelope as the one I showed them--her note of sympathy to me--and not to examine them.

And so it was that a day or two afterwards I had before me six letters with a gold coronet emblazoned upon the envelopes.

I had paid the bill. I wrote the check and despatched it the night I found it, and now the receipt also lay beside the letters. I tied them together and sealed the bundle with Augustus's seal. I put the receipted bill with them, and enclosed the whole packet in another envelope, and addressed it to Lady Grenellen.

I had not answered her letter of sympathy. This would be my answer.

A thick skin is a fortunate gift, it appears, and one I had thought of extreme rareness in the class to which she belongs. What was my surprise to receive a gushing letter of thanks by return of post! My husband and she had been such friends, she said, and he had helped her before so kindly out of her difficulties, and it was too good of me to have paid this bill--she could see by the date I must have paid it--and it all was too sad, and she hoped we should meet later on, perhaps at Harley! Her own husband was coming home, slightly wounded, she added.

Had I been in a laughing mood I should have laughed aloud at the effrontery of the whole thing. Well, perhaps it was better so. As far as I am concerned the whole incident shall be forgotten--a memory of Augustus sunk into the past.

And so January passed and February began.

It seems in life that things all come together. One's days go on smoothly, uneventfully, for months, and then, one after another, a series of startling, unusual events occurs, which changes the course of the peaceful river.

At the end of February--I was still at Ledstone, and my daily communications from Amelia told me my poor mother-in-law was still a happy idiot--another telegram came to me--this time it was addressed to grandmamma--to grandmamma at the cottage! The very outside startled me.

It was long, and from an unknown firm of lawyers in America, to say that papa had died out in the West, leaving me and grandmamma a perfectly colossal fortune--all made in the space of three years, it must have been.

I seemed past feeling any grief. Papa was a shadow, a strange flash in my life for so long a time now.

I was perfectly unacquainted with business, and had no more idea than a child what I should have to do about this. I wished I had a friend to advise me. Where could I turn? I thought of Antony. For the first time since my widowhood I let my thoughts turn to him. He would give me any advice I wanted, but then--no, he had had the good taste never even to write to me. There was time enough for our meeting. I would not push fate--I, who had been a widow only two months.

The only thing there seemed for me to do was to start for America immediately, and, after taking paid advice--one gets very good advice by paying for it--Roy, McGreggor, my lawyer, and I left England one cold and bleak March morning.

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BOOK III CHAPTER IVAs my trip to America was one of business entirely, and was unaccompanied by any interesting incidents or adventures, I have let it pass by in silence. I was too busy all the time, and too lonely, to take many fresh impressions. It seemed hurry and rush, continuous noises, and tension of the nerves. I felt glad when I once more found myself on board the great liner that was taking me to England. It was fortunately a fine passage, not even really cold at the end of May. Just over a year ago since I was a
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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
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