The Actress in High Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 297 pages of information about The Actress in High Life.

“I am dreaming that, happy as Ulysses, I have listened to the Syren, and escaped her snares.”

She had sprang forward as he spoke, and now threw out her arms to draw him back.  He eluded her clasp, and dropped to the ground on his feet, but fell backward, and did not at once rise again.  She shrieked, and then called out in a piteous tone:  “Speak to me, Colonel L’Isle.  For Heaven’s sake, speak.  Say you are not injured—­not hurt.”

“Console yourself, Lady Mabel,” said he, rising slowly.  “I have not broken my neck, and shall not break my appointment.  And, now, I must bid you good-night; or shall I say good-morning?”

As L’Isle turned, he spied old Moodie standing in the open gateway of the court, with a light in his hand, and knitting his shaggy brows.  He looked neither very drunk, nor much afraid of robbers, but trembled with rage on seeing L’Isle’s mode of breaking out of the mansion.  With a strong effort of self-control, L’Isle walked off without limping, and was soon lost in the gloomy shades of the olive and the orange grove.

Lady Mabel had played out the comedy, and now came—­reflection.  What had she done?  How would it tell?  Above all, what would L’Isle think of her?  What were his feelings now?  And what would they be when the exact truth-the whole plot—­was known to him?  Every faculty hitherto engrossed in the part she was playing, until this moment she had never looked on this side of the picture?  Now, bitter self-reproach, womanly shame, and tears—­vain, useless tears—­filled up the remaining hours of the night.  Jenny Aiken’s feeble attempts at consolation were worse than futile, and she was sent off abruptly to her room for misconstruing the cause of her mistress’ grief.  Lady Mabel found little relief in remembering her father’s injunction, to play her part well, and not fail of success.  She was hardly soothed even by the resolution she took to rate that father soundly for the gross impropriety he had permitted, induced—­nay, almost commanded—­her to perpetrate.

CHAPTER XIX.

Don Pedro.—­By this light he changes more and more.  I think he
be angry, indeed.
Claudio.—­If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.
Benedict.—­Shall I speak a word in your ear?
Claudio.—­God bless me from a challenge.

Much ado about Nothing.

Sir Rowland Hill, with a stout division, had been posted during the winter at Coria, facing Marshal Soult in the valley of the Tagus—­holding him to bail not to disturb the peace and quiet of the British army cantoned along the frontier.  The Marshal had now swallowed or pocketed all that he could find in the rich, but hapless vale of Plasencia, and of late had been casting hungry glances on the country south of the river.  This had induced Sir Rowland to ride over from Coria to Alcantara, to look to his line of communication with the southern provinces.  This old city had been long sinking into decay; the French General, Lapisse, spent one night in it four years ago; and well nigh completed the work which time had begun.  Still its position and its famous bridge, one arch of which had been blown up, and had now been hastily repaired, made it an important point at this time.

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The Actress in High Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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