The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 454 pages of information about The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax.

Lady Latimer walked in; Harry Musgrave and Bessie waited outside.  My lady had many questions to ask of the gardener about the tenants of the vaults beneath the huge monuments, and many inscriptions upon the wall to read—­pathetic, quaint, or fulsome.  At length she turned to rejoin her companions.  They were gazing through a locked grate into a tiny garden where were two graves only—­a verdant little spot over which the roses hung in clouds of beauty and fragrance.  An inscription on a slab sunk in the wall stated that this piece of ground was given for a burial-place to his country-people by an Englishman who had there buried his only son.  The other denizen of the narrow plat was Dorothea Fairfax, at whose head and feet were white marble stones, the sculpture on them as distinct as yesterday.  Bessie turned away with tears in her eyes.

“What is it?” said my lady sharply, and peered through the grate.  Harry Musgrave had walked on.  When Lady Latimer looked round her face was stern and cold, and the pleasant light had gone out of it.  Without meeting Elizabeth’s glance she spoke:  “The dead are always in the right; the living always in the wrong.  I had forgotten it was at Bellagio that Dorothy died.  Has Oliver seen it, I wonder?  I must tell him.”  Yes, Oliver had been there with his other sisters in the morning:  they had not forgotten, but they hoped that dear Olympia’s steps would not wander round by that way.

However, my lady made no further sign except by her unwonted silence.  She left the Villa Giulia the following day with all her party, her last words to Elizabeth being, “You will let me know when you are coming to England, and I will be at Fairfield.  I would not miss seeing you:  it seems to me that we belong to one another in some fashion.  Good-bye.”

Bessie went back to Harry over his work rather saddened.  “I do love Lady Latimer, Harry—­her very faults and her foibles,” she said.  “I must have it by inheritance.”

“If you had expressed a wish, perhaps she would not have gone so suddenly.  She appears to have no object in life but to serve other people even while she rules them.  Don’t look so melancholy:  she is not unhappy—­she is not to be pitied.”

“Oh, Harry!  Not unhappy, and so lonely!”

“My dear child, all the world is lonely more or less—­she more, we less.  But doing all the good she can—­and so much good—­she must have many hours of pure and high satisfaction.  I am glad we have met.”

And Bessie was glad.  These chance meetings so far away gave her sweet intervals of reverie about friends at home.  She kept her tender heart for them, but had never a regret that she had left them all for Harry Musgrave’s sake.  She sat musing with lovely pensive face.  Harry looked up from his work again.  The sky was heavenly serene, there was a cool air stirring, and slow moving shadows of cloud were upon the lake.

“I am tired of these songs just now,” said Harry, rising and stepping over to the window where his wife sat.  “This is a day to find out something new:  let us go down the garden to the landing and take a boat.  We will ask for a roll or two of bread and some wine, and we can stay as late as we please.”

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The Vicissitudes of Bessie Fairfax from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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