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20 March 2022
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An Unknown Lover
An Unknown Lover by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey (reading an ebook pdf) 📖
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An Unknown Lover by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey (reading an ebook pdf) 📖 brief summary

An Unknown Lover by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey (reading an ebook pdf) 📖 - description and summary, by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, read for free online at the e-library uribrotv.com
oice was very real, but her brother refused to treat it seriously.

He shrugged his shoulders, and smiled an easy smile.

"Oh, I should rub along. I might get in a working housekeeper, or I could take a room in town. I might work better for a change of scene. If you would like to go--"

"I shouldn't like anything which left you alone. It would not be worth going for less than six months, and I couldn't possibly do that. I am of some use to you, Martin!"

This time the appeal was too direct to be ignored and the response came readily enough.

"A very great deal. You have managed admirably, but it is possible to be too unselfish. If you would like a change--"

Katrine drew in her breath with a sharp inhalation. "Like it!" like to spend months with Dorothea and Jack Middleton! Like to have the experiences of that thrilling voyage, past the Bay, past Gib., along the Mediterranean, through the Canal to the glowing East! Like to see India, with

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Project Gutenberg's An Unknown Lover, by Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: An Unknown Lover

Author: Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey

Release Date: June 20, 2010 [EBook #32936]

Language: English


Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

Mrs George de Horne Vaizey

"An Unknown Lover"

Part 1— Chapter I.

They were seated together at the breakfast-table, a handsome, bored-looking man of thirty-three, and a girl of twenty-six, whose dress of a rich blue made an admirable touch of colour in the dim, brown room.

The house had been designed in the period when shelter from the wind seems to have been the one desired good, and was therefore built in a dell, from which the garden rose in a rapid slope. Today the house would crown the head of the slope, and the dell be relegated to a retreat for occasional hot afternoons; the breakfast-room would face east, and the sun stream in through wide bay-windows, from which fact the spirits of the occupants would benefit afresh with each new morn. As it was the light filtered dimly through mullioned panes, and the oak panelled walls gave back no answering gleam. Curtains and carpet alike were of dull neutral tints, and the one bright spot in the picture was the blue dress of the girl, who sat behind the coffee urn.

Was she beautiful? Was she merely pretty? Was she redeemed from plainness only by a certain quality of interest and charm? At different times an affirmative answer might have been given to each of the three questions in turns; at the moment Katrine Beverley appeared just a tall, graceful girl who arranged her hair with a fine eye for the exigencies of an irregular profile, and who deserved an order of merit for choosing a dress at once so simple, so artistic, and so becoming.

Martin was enjoying a breakfast menu which he sturdily refused to vary. Year in, year out, through dog days, and through frost, the same three courses formed his morning meal. Porridge—the which he ate barbarously with sugar, instead of salt,—bacon and eggs, marmalade and toast. The appearance of the same dish at the dinner-table twice over in a fortnight would have evoked complaint and reprisals, but he would stand no tampering with his breakfast. The Times and the Morning Post lay beside his plate. He glanced at the headlines in the interval between porridge and bacon. Nothing going on! It was the dullest of all dead years.

Katrine was nibbling daintily at fruit and cream. For the moment a fruitarian craze was in full swing, and she shuddered disgustedly at the thought of bacon, refusing to view it in its crisp and rashered form, and obstinately harking back to the sty. In a few months’ time she would probably be discoursing learnedly of the uric acid in fruit, and seriously contemplating a course of “Salisbury.”

When the maid entered the room with the morning’s letters and the young mistress turned over her correspondence with white, ringless hands, the discovery that she was not the wife of the man at the head of the table would have come to an onlooker less as a surprise than as the confirmation of a settled conviction. These two people had not the air of a married couple. As individuals they were more calmly, amicably detached than it is possible to be in that closest and most demanding of relationships; moreover, family likeness betrayed itself in curve and line, and in a natural grace of movement.

Brother and sister, alone in the dim old room, while from three different points of view the same pictured face looked down upon their tête-à-tête. From above the mantelpiece a painting; from the bureau, a photograph printed in soft sepia tones; from the bookcase a snapshot in a round black frame. All over the house the same face looked down from the walls, for Katrine saw to it that no room was without a pictured presentment of the young mistress who had reigned for one short year over the dim old house. In the first days of loss her heart had ached with an unbearable ache, not so much even for Martin himself, as for that other girl who had enjoyed her kingdom for so brief a reign. Poor, pretty, fair-haired child! there was something inconceivably shocking in the thought of Juliet dead. In life she had played the part of an irresponsible toy, born to be petted, to be served, to be screened from every touch of care; her very marriage had been treated in the light of an amusing joke. It was impossible to think of Juliet becoming middle-aged and responsible. She was a flower of a day, and her day had passed with startling, with horrible rapidity.

Martin had been stunned by his loss. He was but twenty-five at the time of his marriage, and had found no difficulty in turning into a boy again to make merry with his girl wife. As the months passed by, he had, it is true, shown signs of a growing restiveness, born of a desire for something more stable than everlasting frivoling, but before the restiveness had had time to culminate, a sudden wind had swept the delicate flower, and after a few days of agonising fear, the soul of Juliet had fled, leaving behind a still, majestic mask, which even to the husband who loved her was a strange and awesome thing.

Eight years ago! The colour was fading from the photographs. The fair face with the large eyes and small open mouth was growing more and more cloudy and indistinct, but as soon as her attention was directed to the fact, Katrine had industriously ordered new copies from the old negative, and distributed them about the house, waiting complacently for her brother’s recognition.

It never came. No word or glance betrayed Martin’s knowledge of the change. Even yet, Katrine reflected, even yet, he could not bear to refer to the past! In his heart he was grateful, no doubt, but his tongue could not speak. Juliet’s name was never mentioned between them. A blank wall of silence was drawn over that short, eventful year during which she had passed meteor-like across their path. So far as Katrine herself was concerned, grief had long since evaporated, but she reminded herself constantly that for Martin it was different. Martin’s sorrow was for life.

Eight years ago, when she was barely eighteen, he had come to her, white and haggard, and had spoken a few unforgettable words:

“You are the mistress now, Katrine. We are alone together, and I—and I shall never marry! Do as you please in the house. I shan’t interfere; I shall never care enough to interfere. My life is over.”

He believed what he said; they both believed it, the girl of eighteen and the youth of twenty-five, and alone in her room Katrine, who had never kept in the same mind for a month together, made, with sobs and tears, a life-long vow. Loyalty to Martin! faithfulness, devotion, unending patience and tenderness to Martin of the broken heart, and the broken, ended life. In the hour of his agony he had turned to her, and she would never fail him. It would not be easy; Martin had not always been easy to understand even in the good old times; now he would be sad, irritable, unresponsive; she would have to expend herself, and to expect but little appreciation in return. She told herself warmly that she wanted no thanks, all she wanted was to help. Incidentally, also, she herself could never marry, but as a mere school-girl, free as yet from any consciousness of sex, she accepted that privation with youthful calm. She would have her own house, her own place in the world; a life-work worth doing, and which no one but herself could undertake. She entered upon it with a serene content.

Eight years ago, and here they were still, sitting at either end of the breakfast table, with Juliet’s face looking down on them from the walls; the same people, living the same lives, looking practically the same, for life goes slowly in little English towns, thinking the same thoughts. Well! practically the same—poor Martin’s outlook, of course, was unchanged, Katrine decided, but for herself, when one was twenty-six... She heaved a sigh, straightened herself resolutely, and glanced at the letters by her plate.

They were three in number; a coroneted missive in white and gold, a pale violet envelope edged with a line of a darker shade, and bearing a dashing monogram upon the reverse side, and lastly, a bulky epistle with an Indian stamp.

“Nice mail!” exclaimed Katrine appreciatively, as she glanced over her budget. “Some one told me yesterday that the invitations for the Barfield Garden Party were out, and I felt a qualm in case ours had been overlooked. Here it is, however, safe and sound. Tuesday, July 9. Over six weeks! What a fearsomely long invitation! I do love that afternoon at Barfield; it is a very zoological garden of lions. If they could only be labelled, how interesting it would be! You will come with me to Barfield, Martin?”

“Oh, I suppose so. Possibly. If nothing happens.” Martin Beverley’s voice hardly echoed his sister’s gratification. He spoke with the air of a man laboriously anxious to be agreeable, but his lifted eyes held no sparkle of light. Then they fell upon the violet envelope, and he spoke again:—

“From Grizel, is it not? What has she to say?”

Katrine laughed with light amusement.

“The usual Grizel! Nothing whatever that’s worth repeating. I often wonder why I write to her at all, for her replies are nothing but a paraphrase of my own letters. This one for example. She is sorry it was wet for the picnic; she is glad you are enjoying your golf; how nice it is that the garden is looking so well! She echoes all my sentiments and thoughts, but”—Katrine’s lips curved with laughter, “in her own way! It’s just the Grizel touch which transforms the whole. Little wretch! she can make even a paraphrase charming.”

Martin helped himself to another slice of crisp brown toast. His sister’s description of her friend’s letter had not been enthralling, nevertheless his eyes dwelt upon it with a persistence which was easily understood. Martin wanted to read Grizel’s effusion for himself. Katrine was perfectly aware of the fact, but a latent obstinacy, for which she would have found it difficult to account, prevented her from granting his desire. There was nothing whatever in the letter which could interest a grown man. She persistently looked the other way, waiting in silence until he should speak again.

“Are you going to ask Grizel for the Barfield Garden Party?”

Katrine looked up sharply, her tell-tale face betraying the fact that the suggestion was not to her taste.

“Grizel! To Barfield. I never thought of it. Why should I?”

“She would enjoy it. She hasn’t been here for some time.”

Katrine looked down, and drummed on the table impatiently. A moment before she had been decidedly pale; now there was a suspicion of temper in the quick reddening of her cheeks. Her lips were pressed together as though to keep back impetuous words, but before the pause had time to grow serious, she had put another question, with an air of elaborate calm:

“Do you wish her to be invited?”

“Well!” Martin Beverley waved his hand carelessly, “it was a suggestion. I thought you might be glad of her company, and Grizel can always be trusted to turn herself out well. She would do you credit.”

“Oh, clothes! I was not thinking of clothes,” Katrine pushed back her plate, and fidgeted impatiently with her cup and saucer.

“Of course it is your house.

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20 June 2022 08:46
The amazing world of nature, pure feelings, beautiful dreams, this theme is well described in this novel. Such lines are always pleasant to read.