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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 4
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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 4 Post by :MarkoJevtic Category :Long Stories Author :Elinor Glyn Date :May 2012 Read :3336

Click below to download : The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 4 (Format : PDF)

The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 4

BOOK III CHAPTER IV

As 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 very young girl, wondering what life had in store for me, and in twelve months a whole chapter of events and sensations had passed. I seemed to know the whole string of emotions--or so I thought.

I had my deck-chair put where I could watch the waves receding as the great ship cut her way through them.

The salt air seemed to bring fresh life to me--fresh life and fresh ideas. Two things were certain--first, that I was now much too rich for one woman, and Amelia, who had tasted nothing but the rough bits of life, was much too poor after her long service.

A scheme had come into my head in these months alone.

My mother-in-law was still an imbecile, happy and contented. She was surrounded with nurses and all the attention that money and affection could buy. Why should not poor Amelia get some pleasure out of life?

I had a feeling that I, too, meant to live when the period of my mourning should be over; and how glorious to live and to forget that I had ever even had the name of Gurrage! I would give the whole of Augustus's fortune to Amelia; then she would gain by it, and I, too, would have the satisfaction of feeling that my marriage was an episode, a year to be blotted out of my life.

This thought would never have come if Mrs. Gurrage had not passed into another sphere of mental living. I would not have wounded her for the world.

I settled all the details in my mind, on my voyage home, and no sooner got to London than I executed them. The law is a slow and delaying business, and even a deed of gift requires endless formalities to go through.

Amelia was overcome. Her gratitude was speechless some days, and at others broke into torrents of words.

"I can have aunt to live with me back in the dear old home," she said, once.

To Amelia the crimson-satin boudoir, and the negro figures, and the bears, and the stained-glass window are all household gods, and far be it from me to wish to disillusionize her.

And I? I can take my household gods to a more congenial setting, perhaps. Who can tell? With the summer coming on and the birds singing it would be useless for me to pretend to grieve any more. A joy lives always in my heart. Some day--not too soon, but some day--I shall see Antony.

I shall never hurry matters. If he cares for me as deeply as I once thought, he will write to me soon or make some sign. Meanwhile--oh, I am free! Free and rich and young again! The shadows are fading away.

Grandmamma was right.

"Remember, above all things, that life is full of compensations."

Dear grandmamma! I wish you could come back to enjoy this second youth with me.

Shall I travel? It is late June now. Shall I go and see the world, or shall I wait, and perhaps, later on, have a companion to see it with me?

To avoid the Coronation festivities, when all details about my transfer of Augustus's property to Amelia were finished, I went over to France. I should stop at Versailles for a month and see the Marquis in Paris, and then, perhaps, go back to the cottage.

I had often heard from Lady Tilchester--charming, sympathetic, feminine letters. I must come to them at Harley whenever I decided to go out a little, she said. I felt the whole of the world was opening fairly for me.

I stopped a day or two in Paris to do a little shopping on my way to Versailles, and coming down the steps at Ritz one day I met Mr. Budge. He had come over for a breath of gayer air, he told me, after the Coronation fiasco.

"You are looking wonderfully well," he said, "and not quite fifty years old now."

"I am hardly more than thirty," I informed him, "and hope, if the weather keeps fine, to grow a little younger still."

He said he was glad to hear it, and prayed I would let him come and see the process.

"One grows in the night, when one is asleep," I said, "so no one can see it. But if you would care to take tea with me in the afternoon, I shall be very pleased to see you."

He came the next day.

We talked gravely, as was befitting my mourning. He gave me news of my friends at Harley.

Lady Tilchester, he said, had a new scheme on hand for the employment of the returning volunteers whose places in business had been filled up in their absence. She was absorbed in this undertaking, but when not too busy was more charming than ever.

"I spent a Sunday at Harley a couple of weeks ago." he said. "I don't think many of the people were there that you met before--none, I believe, but Sir Antony Thornhirst."

"And how was he?" I tried to say as naturally as possible.

"He seemed in the best of health and spirits. There is an intelligent person, if you like. I wish he would enter Parliament."

"But Sir Antony is a Tory, I understand, Mr. Budge! He would be no use to you," I said.

"Yes, indeed, he would. We want some brilliancy just now in the House to wake us up. It does not matter which side it comes from."

"Don't you think he is too casual to care enough about it? He would not give himself the trouble to enter Parliament, I believe."

"That is just it. The ablest people are so lazy. Lady Tilchester has often tried to persuade him, but he has some whimsical answer ready, and remains at large."

I should like to have talked much more on this subject, but Mr. Budge changed the conversation. He drifted into saying some personal things which did not quite please me, considering my mourning. They were not in perfect taste. I remembered how in the beginning I had not liked his hands. One's first instincts are generally right.

When he had gone I said to myself I should not care to see him any more.

In Paris one finds a hundred things to do and to buy if one happens suddenly to have become a rich widow, as is my case. My few days stretched themselves into a week.

I had a letter from the Marquis de Rochermont. He was returning to his tiny apartments in the Rue de Varennes the following day, after a fortnight's absence, he told me. The dear old Marquis! I should be glad to see him again. He must be a very old man now, almost eighty, although he was several years grandmamma's junior.

He would lunch with me with pleasure, he said, and at one next day arrived in my sitting-room. He looked just as he used to do at first, but soon I noticed his gayety was gone. He seemed frail and older. He had deeply grieved for grandmamma.

His conversation was much the same, however. We spoke English as usual. I had grown, he said, into the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life, and my air and my dignity were worthy of the _ancien regime_. I had found, he hoped, that his _conseils had been of some use to me in my brief married life.

"Yes, Marquis," I said, "I have often been grateful to you and grandmamma."

"You are of a great _richesse now, _n'est-ce pas, mon enfant_?"

"Yes, of a _richesse_. And so I have given all the Gurrage money back to one of their family--you may remember her--Amelia Hoad was her name."

"Ah!" he said, and he kissed my hand. "That was worthy of you and worthy of your race. It would have pleased our dear madam."

"I had become so rich, you see, from papa, I did not really want the money, and I had a feeling that if I gave it all back I should have no further ties with them. I could slip away into another atmosphere and gradually forget this year of my life."

We had a delightful luncheon, in spite of my poor old guest's infirmities; he had grown blinder and more tottering since last we met. He eat very little and sipped his sparkling hock.

I had determined somehow to try and give him some of my great wealth; but how even to broach the subject I did not know. At last, driven into a corner with nervousness, I blurted out my wishes.

"Oh, I want you to benefit too, dear friend!" I said. "You shared our poverty, why not my riches?"

His old, faded cheeks turned pink. He rose from his chair.

"I thank you, madam," he said, haughtily. "The de Rochermonts do not accept money from women."

I felt as I used to when grandmamma was ever displeased with me. My knees shook.

"Oh, please forgive me!" I implored. "I have always looked upon myself as almost your child, although we are no relations, dear Marquis, and I thought--"

"_Assez, assez, mon enfant_," he said, and he resumed his chair, "You meant it _gentiment_, but it was a _betise quand meme_. We shall speak of it no more."

Before he left he gave me some more _conseils_.

"You took no _amant_, child? No? Well, perhaps in England it was as well. But now listen to me. Be in no hurry _de prendre un second mari_. The _agrements of life are at their beginnings for you. All doors fly open to a _jeune et belle veuve_. _Amusez-vous bien._"

I looked at him. We were such old friends. I could speak to him.

"Even if one loved some one very much, Marquis?" I asked.

"_On ne sait jamais combien de temps cela va durer, l'amour a vingt ans! C'est dangereux!_" And he shook his head. Then, with an air of illumination, "It is your kinsman, Sir Thornhirst?" he said.

"Yes."

"And you love him very much?"

"I think so."

"In all cases wait--_attendez_--_surtout_--_point trop de hate!_"

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BOOK III CHAPTER VVersailles for me is always full of charms. There is a dignity about it which reminds me of grandmamma. I love to walk in the galleries and look at the portraits of the great ladies of the past. The gay _insouciance of their expressions, the daintiness of their poses, the beautiful and suitable color of everything give me a sense of satisfaction and repose. I had been there for some little while, spending days of peace and reflection, when, nearly eight months after the death of Augustus, I received two letters. It was a most curious coincidence that
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BOOK III CHAPTER IIIBefore 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
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