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and, a moment after, said, “Nothing pleased me more than finding the Duke of Beaulieu and yourself settled at Versailles. If anybody can induce my poor son to enter again into society, it will be his old and faithful friend the duke.”
“He meant to have called on the earl this morning,” replied the duchess, “ and I almost expected to have found him here."
I stayed to hear no more, terrified for his sake as well as my own, lest the duke should make his appearance among us. Casting one hurried glance at her who had innocently destroyed all my happiness, and gazing once more on the faces of his two sweet children, I pressed the brother of my dead child to my heart, and unnoticed left the room.
I reached the landing-place, when I could no longer restrain the tears which had almost choked me. Afraid, however, of being discovered in that state, I hurried down stairs in order to hide myself in my own room, which was on the ground floor.
When I had got down one flight of steps, a footman passed me, and on my taking my
handkerchief from my eyes, what was my astonishment and dismay to see, a few steps behind the servant, who was no doubt hastening to the drawing-room to announce him, “ The Duke of Beaulieu” himself.
He was hurrying up with a light step and cheerful countenance. It was impossible to avoid him, for in one moment he was close to, and recognized me. Overwhelmed with contending emotions, I can only remember his seizing my hand, and saying with much appearance of surprise, agitation, and kindness, “ Theresa! dear Theresa !"
I stopped to hear no more, but withdrawing my hand, and almost fainting, I hurried past him, and reaching my room without once turning back, had just strength and sense left to secure the door, when I fell senseless on the floor.
As soon as I came to myself, I crawled to the bed, on which I threw myself more dead than alive.
To know that he, whom I had once believed my husband, and who was the father of my
dead child, was now in the house with his happy, high-born wife, and acknowledged children, while I was a neglected, friendless dependent, was almost more than I could bear. I was nearly drowned by my tears, and choked by my sobs, which I thought would burst my heart.
I was roused from this agony of grief by the sound of voices, happy voices on the stairs, but I stopped my ears, lest his voice should reach me, to which I ought not, and was determined never again to listen, if I could avoid it.
In about half an hour I was summoned into the saloon. I endeavoured to compose myself, and ascertaining first that only the dowager and the young ladies were there, obeyed the summons. The former started at seeing me, and asked what was the matter. I told her ladyship that I felt very unwell, and said that I should be grateful if she would excuse my keeping my room the remainder of the day, and allow the nurse to take my place with the children in their walks.
She consented at once, and then, without troubling herself more about the illness of so very insignificant a being as myself, began telling me of the pleasure she had experienced in seeing so unexpectedly the Duchess of Beaulieu.
The Dowager Countess of Loranville (the mother of the duchess) and the Dowager Countess of Ruperta were first cousins. Of this relationship I was till now ignorant. Her ladyship then went on to say that the Duke and Duchess of Beaulieu intended to set out in about a month for some of the German spas; that in the interim they should of course see a great deal of each other, and that she intended proposing to her son to join forces, and start together for Germany, and visit Italy afterwards.
I listened with a beating heart and confused head to this (to me) distressing arrangement, and was glad when allowed to retire, that I might think over and decide upon my future movements; for to remain longer in a family where I might meet the Duke of Beaulieu