Long before her ill-assorted marriage had been dissolved by the death of her husband, Anne Lennox’s name had been connected with that of Francis Ravenel. But it was one of the few affairs of his life which had caused no scandal, one which other women had slurred over with a laugh.
“Anne’s all right, you know,” they explained, “and really Frank and she would have been very well suited to each other if they could have married. At worst nothing but a flirtation; and who, knowing her husband, can blame her?” These were the excuses framed for Mrs. Lennox by her many friends. The death of her husband had brought the general belief that a wedding between Frank and herself would naturally follow. Nearly four years had elapsed, however, and marriage between them seemed no nearer than it had ever done.
Frank’s present visit to Paris, Anne Lennox knew, with some bitterness, was a business one. He had made that disappointingly plain to her in his letter. But as she awaited his coming in a white crepe gown, which made her seem so fair and young, she hoped the words might be spoken which would bring to her the desired end.
With all the love of which her worldly heart was capable, she had loved this man for years, for his wealth, his family, even for his reputed successes with women, which would give added distinction to the charms of the woman whom he finally selected for a wife.
After he had been announced she rose to greet him, and stood watching him as he came slowly through the great hall, noticing the hangings as he came. It was a slight thing, but a woman in love knows the value of such signs.
“When did you come?” she asked.
“Three days ago.” He offered no excuse for his tardy attention, adding only, “You’ve a beautiful old place, Anne.”
“You like it?” she asked. “I’m delighted. You are not easily pleased. But you should see the De Nemours’ place. Whenever I come back after seeing it this place seems detestably new, as if it were just varnished! It is with the Countess de Nemours that Miss Dulany lives.”
She watched him with attentiveness.
“Yes!” he answered, in a tone which might either be asking or answering a question, adding: “The New York papers are heralding many complimentary things concerning her voice. Have you heard her sing?”