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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 6
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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 6 Post by :easygoing Category :Long Stories Author :Elinor Glyn Date :May 2012 Read :843

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The Reflections Of Ambrosine: A Novel - Book 3 - Chapter 6

BOOK III CHAPTER VI

It being August, crowds of tourists faced me everywhere. Lucerne, which I had always heard was such a pretty place, filled me with loathing. I only stayed a day there. At last, after stopping in several places, we arrived one afternoon at Zuiebad. Here, at least, there were no tourists, only ugly rheumatic invalids, and unattractive. What made me choose such a place I do not know, unless it was because I happened to see the name printed large upon the map. Any place would do. I had not felt much in my rapid rush. A numbness, as of a limb cut off, an utter indifference to everything in life.

But when I found myself alone in the vast pine-woods, an anguish, as of physical pain, took possession of me. Every tree spoke to me of Antony. The surroundings were all perfect.

What would he do? Would he follow me and try to persuade me to alter my mind? Oh no, he could never do that. He would know that this must be final. What had been his idea all along? How could he think I should never find out, and having done so, that I would ever accept such a position?

Or was it that he, like all his world, thought so lightly of passing from one love to another that fidelity to Lady Tilchester was among the catalogue of things that do not count.

I had taken no pains to hide my whereabouts.

At each hotel they would know to where I had gone on. For days a feverish excitement took possession of me. Every knock at the door made me start. Would he write? Would he make any sign? I almost prayed not, and yet I feared and longed to hear from him.

This is not a school-girl love story I am writing, but the chronicle of my life. I have always despised sentimental heart-burnings, and when I used to read of the heroine dying for love, it always made me laugh. But, oh, never again can I know such bitterness in life as I have suffered in this black week--to have been so near to bliss, and now to be away forever!

What good to me were my freedom and riches? As well be married or dead. I never knew before how much I had been looking forward to seeing Antony again. I never realized how, instinctively, for months my soul had been living in the background on this thought.

And now it was all finished. I must not be a coward. Oh, how I wished again for grandmamma's spirit! This time I must tear the whole thing out of my life at once.

To go on caring for another woman's lover was beneath contempt.

When I should have recovered a little, I would go back to England and mix with the world, and gradually forget, and eventually marry the Duke. Fortunately, as the Marquis said, _a vingt ans one could never be sure of love lasting. So probably I should soon be cured, and there would be compensation in being an English duchess. It was a great position, as Miss Corrisande K. Trumpet had said. And all men make good enough husbands if you have control of the dollars, I remember she added.

Well, I should have control of the dollars. So we should see.

The Duke was a gentleman, too, and intelligent, agreeable, and had liberal views. His Duchess might eventually have a "friend," like the rest, he had said. So, no doubt, I should be able to acquire the habit of thus amusing myself. Why should I hesitate, when the best and the noblest gave me examples?

All my ideas on those subjects had fallen to pieces like a pack of cards.

"'Eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow you die.'"

Well, I had never eaten or drunk of happiness yet, and now my heart was dead. So what was the good of it all, anyway? _A quoi bon_? and again, _a quoi bon_? That is what the trees said to me when they tired of calling for Antony.

I breakfasted and lunched and dined and walked miles every day. I loathed my food. I hated the faces of the people who stared at me. I fear I even snapped at McGreggor. Roy was my only comfort.

But gradually the beauty and peace of the pine-forests soothed me. Better thoughts came. I said to myself: "Enough. Now you will go home and face life. At least you can try to do some good in the world, and with your great wealth make some poor creatures happy. You have behaved according to your own idea of gratitude and honor. No one asked you to do it; therefore, why sit there and growl at fate? Have courage to carry the thing through. No more contemptible repinings."

* * * * *

Far away up the hills there is a path that leads to an open space--a tiny peep out over the tree-tops, sheer precipices below. I would go there for the last time, and to-morrow return to England.

The climb was steep. I was a little out of breath, and leaned on the stone ledge to rest myself when I arrived at the top. I was quite alone.

The knife on my chatelaine caught in the lichen and dragged at the chain. It angered me. I took it off the twisted ring and looked at it.

"Little 'ill omen,' as he called you, is it your fault that once fate, once honor, once gratitude to a woman have kept me from my love? Well, I shall throw you away now, then I shall have no link left to remind me of foolish things that might have been."

I lifted my arm, and with all my might flung the tiny, glittering thing out into the air. It fell far away down among the tree-tops in the valley.

Then I turned to go down the hill. I had done with ridiculous sentiment, which I had always disliked and despised.

Footsteps were coming towards me up the long, winding path. It was a lonely place. I hoped it was not one of the fat German Jews who had followed me once or twice. Ugly creatures!--hardly human, they seemed to me. I wished I had Roy with me. He had gone with McGreggor into the town.

A bend in the path hid the person from view until we met face to face.

And then I saw it was Antony, and it seemed as if my heart stopped beating.

"At last I have found you, Ambrosine, sweetheart!" he said, and he clasped me in his arms and kissed my lips.

Then I forgot Lady Tilchester and gratitude and honor and self-control, because in nature I find there is a stronger force than all these things, and that is the _touch of the one we love.

* * * * *

It was perhaps an hour afterwards. The shadows looked blue among the pine-trees.

We sat on a little wooden bench. There was a warm, still silence. Not a twig moved. A joy so infinite seemed everywhere around.

"It was all over between us ten years ago," Antony said. "It only lasted a year or two, when we were very young. The situation galled us both too much, and Tilchester was always my friend. She knows I love you, and she only cares for her great works and her fine position now. So you need not have fled, Comtesse."

"I shall tell you something, Antony." I whispered. "I am glad I am doing no wrong, but if it was to break Lady Tilchester's heart, if grandmamma were to come back and curse me here for forgetting all her teachings, if it was almost disgrace--now that I know what it is like to stay in your arms--I should stay!"


(THE END)
Elinor Glyn's Novel: Reflections of Ambrosine: A Novel

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