1839-1908 Ouida.

Ouida, illustrated (Volume 4) online

. (page 80 of 80)
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and whisper, as he- bent over her, "If you love me, 1 have nothing to

The snow fell softly without over the woods and fields, and the winds roared
through the old oaks and whistled among the frozen ferns, but Christmas-eve
passed brightly enough to us at home within the strong walls of Deerhurst.

I am sure that all Moore's pictures of Paradise seemed to me tame com-
pared to that drawing-room, with its warmth, and coziness, and luxuries; with
the waxlights shining on the silver of the English tea equipage (pleasant to eye
and taste, let one love campaigning ever so well, after the roast beans of the
Commissariat), and the fire-gleams dancing on the soft brow and shining hair
of the face beside me. I doubt if Vivian either ever spent a happier Christmas-
eve as he lay on the sofa in the back drawing-room, with Cecil sitting on a low
seat by him, her hand in his, and the Canadian eyes telling him eloquently of
love and reconciliation. They had such volumes to say ! As soon as she
knew that wild farewell of his preceded his departure to the Crimea, Cecil,
always impulsive, had written to him on the instant, telling him how she loved
him, detailing what she had heard in the green-room, confessing that, in des-
peration, she had done everything she could to rouse his jealousy, assuring him
that that same evening she had refused Cos's proposals, and beseeching him to
forgive her and come back to her. That letter Vivian had never had (six
months from that time, by the way, it turned up, after a journey to India and
Melbourne, following a cousin of his, colonel of a line regiment, she in her
haste having omitted to put his troop on the address), and Cecil, whose feeling
was too deep to let her mention the subject to Blanche or Helena, made up her
mind that he would never forgive her, and being an impressionable young lady,
had, on the anniversary of Christmas-eve, been comparing her fate with that of
Muriel in the ghost legend, and, on seeing the Colonel's unexpected apparition,
had fainted straight away in the over-excitement and sudden joy of the


Such was Cecil's story, and Vivian was content with it and gladly took
occasion to practice the Christmas duties of peace, and love, and pardon. H<-
had the best anodyne for his wounds now, "and there was no danger for him,
since Cecil had taken the place of the Scutari nurses. No " Crimean heroes,"
as they call us in the papers, were ever more feted and petted than were the

Colonel and I.

Christmas morning dawned, the sun shining bright on the snow-cover
trees, and the Christmas bells chiming merrily; and as we stood on the terrace


to see the whole village trooping up through the avenue to receive the gifts left
to them by some old Vivian long gone to his rest with his forefathers under the
churchyard cedars, Syd looked down with a smile into Cecil's eyes as she hung
on his arm, and whispered,

" I will double those alms, love, in memory of the priceless gift this Christ-
mas has given me. Ah ! Thornton and I little knew, when we came down for
the hunting, how fast you and Blanche would capture us with your HOLLY


III Mill | | III HI

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Online Library1839-1908 OuidaOuida, illustrated (Volume 4) → online text (page 80 of 80)