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and return husband and father to his sorrowing wife and

source:work and rest networkedit:meattime:2023-12-02 07:59:59

At first I was sorry that the distance they were from me rendered hearing what they were saying impossible; very soon, however, the frame of my open window provided me with a living picture which would have been actually spoiled had the human voice disturbed its eloquent pantomime.

and return husband and father to his sorrowing wife and

General Rieppe's daughter responded to her father's caress but languidly, turning to him her face, with its luminous, stationary beauty. He pointed to the house, and then waved his hand toward the bench where she sat; and she, in response to this, nodded slightly. Upon which the General, after another kiss of histrionic paternity administered to her forehead, left her sitting and proceeded along the garden walk at a stately pace, until I could no longer see him. Hortense, left alone upon the bench, looked down at the folds of her dress, extended a hand and slowly rearranged one of them, and then, with the same hand, felt her hair from front to back. This had scarce been accomplished when the General reappeared, ushering Juno along the walk, and bearing a chair with him. When they turned the corner at the arbor, Hortense rose, and greetings ensued. Few objects could be straighter than was Juno's back; her card-case was in her hand, but her pocket was not quite large enough for the whole of her pride, which stuck out so that it could have been seen from a greater distance than my window. The General would have departed, placing his chair for the visitor, when Hortense waved for him an inviting hand toward the bench beside her; he waved a similarly inviting hand, looking at Juno, who thereupon sat firmly down upon the chair. At this the General hovered heavily, looking at his daughter, who gave him no look in return, as she engaged in conversation with Juno; and presently the General left them. Juno's back and Hortense's front, both entirely motionless as they interviewed each other' presented a stiff appearance, with Juno half turned in her seat and Hortense's glance following her slight movement; the two then rose, as the General came down the walk with two chairs and Mrs. Gregory and Mrs. Weguelin St. Michael. Juno, with a bow to them, approached Hortense by a step or two, a brief touch of their fingers was to be seen, and Juno's departure took place, attended by the heavy hovering of General Rieppe.

and return husband and father to his sorrowing wife and

"That's why!" I said to myself aloud, suddenly, at my open window. Immediately, however, I added, "but can it be?" And in my mind a whole little edifice of reasons for Hortense's apparent determination to marry John instantly fabricated itself--and then fell down.

and return husband and father to his sorrowing wife and

Through John she was triumphantly bringing stiff Kings Port to her, was forcing them to accept her. But this was scarce enough temptation for Hortense to marry; she could do very well without Kings Port--indeed, she was not very likely to show herself in it, save to remind them, now and then, that she was there, and that they could not keep her out any more; this might amuse her a little, but the society itself would not amuse her in the least. What place had it for her to smoke her cigarettes in?

Eliza La Heu, then? Spite? The pleasure of taking something that somebody else wanted? The pleasure of spoiling somebody else's pleasure? Or, more accurately, the pleasure of power? Well, yes; that might be it, if Hortense Rieppe were younger in years, and younger, especially, in soul; but her museum was too richly furnished with specimens of the chase, she had collected too many bits and bibelots from life's Hotel Druot and the great bazaar of female competition, to pay so great a price as marriage for merely John; particularly when a lady, even in Newport, can have but one husband at a time in her collection. If she did actually love John, as Beverly Rodgers had reluctantly come to believe, it was most in- appropriate in her! Had I followed out the train of reasoning which lay coiled up inside the word inappropriate, I might have reached the solution which eventually Hortense herself gave me, and the jewelled recesses of her nature would have blazed still more brilliantly to my eyes to-day; but in truth, my soul wasn't old enough yet to work Hortense out by itself, unaided!

While Mrs. Gregory and Mrs. Weguelin sat on their chairs, and Hortense sat on her bench, tea was brought and a table laid, behind whose whiteness and silver Hortense began slight offices with cups and sugar tongs. She looked inquiry at her visitors, in answer to which Mrs. Gregory indicated acceptance, and Mrs. Weguelin refusal. The beauty of Hortense's face had strangely increased since the arrival of these two visitors. It shone resplendent behind the silver and the white cloth, and her movement, as she gave the cup to Mrs. Gregory St. Michael, was one of complete grace and admirable propriety. But once she looked away from them in the direction of the path. Her two visitors rose and left her, Mrs. Gregory setting her tea-cup down with a gesture that said she would take no more, and, after their bows of farewell, Hortense sat alone again pulling about the tea things.

I saw that by the table lay a card-case on the ground, evidently dropped by Mrs. Gregory; but Hortense could not see it where she sat. Her quick look along the path heralded more company and the General with more chairs. Young people now began to appear, the various motions of whom were more animated than the approaches and greetings and farewells of their elders; chairs were moved and exchanged, the General was useful in handling cups, and a number of faces unknown to me came and went, some of them elderly ones whom I had seen in church, or passed while walking; the black dresses of age mingled with the brighter colors of youth; and on her bench behind the cups sat Hortense, or rose up at right moments, radiant, restrained and adequate, receiving with deferential attention the remarks of some dark-clothed elder, or, with sufficiently interested countenance, inquiring something from a brighter one of her own generation; but twice I saw her look up the garden path. None of them stayed long, although when they were all gone the shadow of the garden wall had come as far as the arbor; and once again Hortense sat alone behind the table, leaning back with arms folded, and looking straight in front of her. At last she stirred, and rose slowly, and then, with a movement which was the perfection of timidity, began to advance, as John, with his Aunt Eliza, came along the path. To John, Hortense with familiar yet discreet brightness gave a left hand, as she waited for the old lady; and then the old lady went through with it. What that embrace of acknowledgment cost her cannot be measured, and during its process John stood like a sentinel. Possibly this was the price of his forgiveness to his Aunt Eliza.

The visitors accepted tea, and the beauty in Hortense's face was now supreme. The old lady sat, forgetting to drink her tea, but very still in outward attitude, as she talked with Hortense; and the sight of one hand in its glove lying motionless upon her best dress, suddenly almost drew unexpected tears to my eyes. John was nearly as quiet as she, but the glove that he held was twisted between his fingers. I expected that he would stay with his Hortense when his aunt took her leave; he, however, was evidently expected by the old lady to accompany her out and back, I suppose, to her house, as was proper.

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