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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 5
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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 5 Post by :MarkoJevtic Category :Long Stories Author :Elinor Glyn Date :May 2012 Read :2785

Click below to download : The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 5 (Format : PDF)

The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 5


Versailles 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 neither of my correspondents had written to me before, even letters of condolence, and that they should select the same date now.

The letters were from Antony and the Duke. They were both characteristic.

"Comtesse," Antony wrote, "you know I am thinking of you always. When may I come and see you, and where?"

The Duke's was longer. It began conventionally, and went on in delicate language to tell me that time was passing, and surely soon I must be thinking of seeing my friends again, and he was entirely at my disposition when I should return to England.

This amused me. Antony's caused me a wave of joy. Oh! should I be able to take the Marquis's advice and wait for several years? I feared not.

Of course, I should not think of marrying Antony yet. It would be absolutely indecent haste. Certainly not for eighteen months or two years, anyway. But there could be no harm in my seeing him soon.

Excitement tingled to my very finger-tips at the thought. I did not answer either letter for nearly a week. I walked about the gardens at Versailles and luxuriously enjoyed my musings.

I was, as it were, a cat playing with a mouse, only I was both cat and mouse.

One day I would picture our meeting--Antony's and mine. The next I would push him away from my thoughts, and decide that I would not even let him come to me until the year was up. Then, again, when it grew evening, and the darkness gradually crept up, there came a scent in the air which affected me so that I longed to see him at once--to see him--to let him kiss me. Oh, to myself I hardly dared to think of this!

The kisses of Augustus were, as yet, the only ones I knew.

At last I wrote my answers.

To the Duke I said my plans were uncertain. I did not know when I should return to England; probably not at all until next year, as I thought of going to Egypt for the winter. I finished with some pleasant platitudes.

Antony's answer took longer to write, and was only a few words when finished.

"I am staying at Versailles," I wrote. "If you like to come and see me casually--to talk about the ancestors--you may; but not for a week."

Why I made this stipulation of a week I do not know. Directly I had posted the letter I felt the time could never pass. It was with the greatest difficulty I prevented myself from sending a telegram of three words: "Come now. To-day." How would he find me looking? Would he, too, think I had improved in appearance? I had grown an inch, it seemed to me. I was never very short, but now, at five feet seven, he could not call me "little Comtesse" any more. Oh, to hear his dear voice! To look into his greeny-blue, beautiful eyes! Oh, I fear no advice in the world of a hundred marquises could keep me from Antony much longer!

Would Wednesday never come? The Wednesday in August after the Coronation, that was the day I had fixed for our meeting.

Should I be out, and leave a message for him to follow me into the gardens, or should I quietly stay in my sitting-room? What should we say to each other? I must be very calm, of course, and appear perfectly indifferent, and we must not speak upon any subjects but the pictures here, and our mutual friends, and the pleasure of Paris, and the health of the dogs.

He had replied, immediately:

"I shall be there, and we can talk of the ancestors--and other things," No, there must be no "other things" yet.

But what immense joy all this was to think about for me! I who had never in all my life been able to do as I pleased. Now I would nibble at my cake and enjoy its every crumb--not seize and eat it all at once.

On Tuesday morning I got a telegram from Lady Tilchester, sent from Paris. I had written to her some days before. She had run over to Ritz for a week, she said, to recover from her fatigues of the Saturday, and would I come into town, and lunch with her that day at half-past twelve?

With delight I started in my automobile. I had not seen her for months.

"Oh, you beautiful thing!" she exclaimed, when we met, "I have never seen such a change in any one. You are like an opening rose, a glorious, fresh flower."

She looked tired, I thought, but fascinating as ever. We lunched together in the restaurant, and had a long conversation.

She told me an amusing story of the American Lady Luffton, whom she had seen the day before. An expected family event had prevented her from gracing the Coronation.

"My dear"--and Lady Tilchester imitated her voice exactly--"it is a dispensation of Providence that circumstances did not permit me to attend this ceremony. You Englishwomen would have gone anyhow; but we Americans are different. But, I say, it is a dispensation of Providence, as I am considerably contented with Luffy and my position up to the present time. But if I had gotten there, stuffed behind with the baronesses, and had seen those duchesses marching along with their strawberry-leaves ahead of me, I kinder think I should have had a fit of dyspepsia right there in the Abbey."

After lunch we went up to the sitting-room. I meant to stay for half an hour before going back to Versailles.

Telegrams called Lady Tilchester away for a little. She is always so full of business.

"I shall send Muriel to entertain you while I answer these," she said. "I brought her over with me to have a glimpse of Paris, too."

In a few moments the sound of feet running down the passage caused me to turn round as the door opened and a slender child of ten or eleven entered the room. She was facing the light. I happened to be standing with my back to the window.

"How do you do?" she said, sweetly, and put out her little hand. "Mother says I may come and talk to you."

There are some moments in life too anguishing for words!

Her face is the face of Lady Tilchester, but her eyes--her eyes are grayish-greeny-blue, with black edges, and that look like a cat's, that can see in the dark.

Now I know whom her photograph reminded me of.

There can be only one other pair of such eyes in the world.

I don't remember what I said. Something kind and _banal_. Then I invented an excuse to go away.

"Give my best love to your mother, dear," I said, "and say I must not stop another moment. I have remembered an important appointment with the dressmaker, and I must fly!"

She put up her _mignonne oval face to kiss me.

"I have heard so much of you," she said. "I wanted so to see you. I wish you could have stayed." And so we kissed and parted.

When I got into the automobile outside, I felt as if I were going to faint for a few awful moments. Everything was clear to me now! I remembered the little photograph on his mantel-piece, his sudden changing of the conversation, a number of small things unnoticed at the time. How had I been so ridiculously blind? It was because she seemed so great and noble, and utterly apart from all these things.

Had it been Babykins or Lady Grenellen, or any other woman, this discovery would have made no difference to me. I did not doubt that Antony loved me, and me only, now. He had been "not wearyingly faithful," like the rest of his world, that was all.

But she--Lady Tilchester--my friend! Oh, I could not take her lover from her! She who had always been so good to me, from the first moment of our acquaintance, kind and sympathetic and dear! I owed her deepest gratitude. If one of us must suffer, it should certainly be I. I could not play her false like this. Of course she loved him still! He was often with her, I knew, and her face had softened when first she spoke of him. They had known each other for fourteen years, she had said. I seemed to see it all. This was her "mid-summer madness," and Antony had gone away to travel for several years, and then returned to her again. They had probably been so happy together until I came upon the scene.

Well, they can be happy once more when he forgets me. I, at least, shall not stand in the way. Dear Margaret, I am not so mean as that! You shall keep your lover, and I will never have mine!

All my life I shall hate the road to Versailles. "Go at top speed," I told my chauffeur.

I felt if we might dash against a tree and have done with the whole matter, it would be the best thing in the end.

The rapid motion through the air revived me. I had my wits about me when we drew up at the hotel door.

"I am going to Switzerland to-night," I said to McGreggor. "Pack up everything."

She is a maid of wonderful sense.

"Very well, ma'am," she said, without the slightest appearance of surprise.

I sat down and wrote a telegram to Antony. It would just catch him. He was to leave by the night mail:

"I have seen Muriel and I know. Lady Tilchester
has been always kind to me. Do not come. Good-bye."

Then I took it to the post-office myself.

That night we left for Lucerne--McGreggor and Roy and I.

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