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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The winning of Lucia : a love story online

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she looked lovelier than she did in the clear white
book-muslin and colored sashes then worn. The
long, plain, filmy skirt, the white satin sandals, and
long white gloves, and the beautifully dressed hair
were exquisite adjuncts to her natural beauty and
fresh, youthful, glow and spirit. Her jewel-case was
not opened, the scarlet bell of gorgeous fuchsias
growing so profusely all around her were far
more exquisite in her dark hair than the glint
of diamonds, and the white rose nestling at her
throat far more bewitching than a rope of Indian
pearls.

Towards the end of March Luda received a let-
ter from Lord Fenwick saying he would leave Liver-
pool for Manxland on the following Wednesday and
he supposed he had better remain in Douglas for a

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LOVE IN IDLENESS



night as the place and its ways were quite unknown
to him.

'1 think, father/' she said after reading the words
aloud, '^I think you ought to drive down to Douglas
and bring Arthur home at once.*'

The Colonel looked perplexed at this proposition,
and after a glance at Geofifrey who was waiting his
aunt's arrival in the room, he said, ^'Geoffrey, I have
promised Gale Quiggin to sail with him to the Calf
of Man today. I cannot disappoint him — and my-
self. I wonder if you would go and meet King Orry.
If she has a good wind she will be at her dock at four
o'clock."

"Certainly. I will go, Colonel."

"You know him I believe, GeoflFrcy."

"I have been introduced to him."

"I will go with Geoffrey, father. I wish to do
that, and Geoffrey is a fine driver."

Geoffrey looked at her and bowed his head in
assent. The glow of his admiration was on his face,
but there was no other sign of it, and even Lucia did
not suspect how well he understood and admired the
pluck and wisdom which had at once seized the point
to be guarded.

So the Colonel went happily away with Gale Quig-
gin, and in the afternoon Lucia and Geoffrey Gardi-
ner ^drove to Douglas pier, where the steamer had
just arrived. Lord Fenwick was standing at the gun-

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

wale and he saw Lucia and her companion the mo-
ment it was possible to do so. Then his eyes con-
quered space and told her In one bright flash how
he loved her. He was looking remarkably hand-
some, and met Lucia — and GeoflFrey also — ^with all
the friendly abandonment to feeling that the situa-
tion expected and called for.

He had no unpleasant memory of Geoffrey; he had
never regarded him as a serious rival. Indeed, his
remembrance of the young man was of the slightest
character. But if he had possessed a full knowledge
of Geoffrey's passionate affection for Lucia, such
knowledge would not have given him any anxiety.
He was far too proud a man to be jealous of any
other man and far too appreciative of his position
and his personality to fear that any woman he loved
and designed to honor with his hand and name, could
possibly descend to a lover on a social and personal
plane far beneath that on which he was an acknowl-
edged leader.

So he was more than usually pleasant to Geoffrey.
He could not blame him for loving Lucia, he saw
her constantly in the St. Clair home, and if he had
been insensible to her many charms, he must have
considered him a creature without heart or intellect.
A large majority of men are greatly influenced con-
cerning the woman they love by the admiration of
other men for her, and that they should be envied

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or even disliked by them because of their success with
the Fair One is a secret but potent element in their
own love and pleasure. And there was a good deal
of this ignoble feeling in Lord Fenwick's heart with
regard to Geoffrey.

Fortunately, Geoffrey did not suspect its existence,
and on this apparently poor foundation there was
built up a very real and worthy friendship. In fact,
the men "took to each other'* in a very singular de-
gree, and certainly on Lord Fenwick's part it was a
genuine liking, though most of the officers in garri-
son could not understand 'Vhat his lordship saw
in that big, brawny man who had made his fortune
by some lucky coup in Turkish business securities."
They considered it in their smoking counsels as ''most
extraordinary.'* The Colonel had been told of these
discussions, but had no special opinion to give. He
only wondered that the most of these youngsters had
not noticed how readily the weak physique clings to
the strong, how the fearful heart loves the hopeful
heart and the cowardly soul the company of the
brave. And in this solution of the question it may
not be noticed that Lord Fenwick, in spite of his very
handsome physique, was essentially a weak man as
regarded bodily strength and endurance. So he
admired Geoffrey's skill and mastery in the boats.
He envied his ability to walk twenty miles and not be
weary and his unflagging spirits after a day's hard

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

rowing and fishing, followed by a night of eight
hours* dancing and talking.

Also he felt himself to be in every sense uplifted
in Geoffrey^s presence. He made him content with the
past and hopeful for the future. He found himself
laughing often and very heartily in Geofifrey's society
and he could spend a whole day with Geoffrey and
never feel cross or say disagreeable things about any
of the young cads in the barracks. Admitting and
praising all these evident good qualities one day to
the Colonel, Lucia's betrothed added, "And you must
have seen, sir, how controlling his whole manner is,
how straightforward, earnest, headlong, almost will-
ful his purposes and ways. I am glad he is not in
love with Lucia. I have never feared a rival, but I
might fear Geoffrey Gardiner if I was inclined to do
Lucia such a wrong."

"You need not fear anyone, Arthur," was the an-
swer. "Lucia loves you with all her heart. She pre-
fers both your person and your qualities. You suit
her exactly."

Indeed it appeared to be so. Until the summer
days were far spent, the sunny ideal life which their
surroundings indicated continued. It was an inter-
lude in Paradise to which everything around con-
duced. Even the climate and the charming land-
scapes on every hand contributed their share — ^moun-
tain and valley and babbling streams, and the songs

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of multitudes of birds and the perfume and glory of
flowers and, above all, the ever-present sight of the
sea and scent of the sea and voice of the sea — all
these things were a positive part of their love life and
perpetually served love's sweet intents. Gradually all
felt the influx of perfect health and rejoiced in it. Such
an existence even for a few months was hiving honey
for every day of life after it.

The first note of change came in August. The St.
Clairs went to the moors in Sutherland for that
month and September, and had no clear intent as to
their future movements. But they wrote to Geoffrey
such splendid accounts of the game and the shooting
that both Geoffrey and Lord Fenwick became rest-
less and in ten days joined them. The Ragnors were
then alone, and the Colonel began to talk with his
daughter of the south of Europe for the winter
months.

But while everything was undecided and Lucia was
really enjoying the happy lethargy of a heart a little
weary of love and happiness, a letter came from Dr.
Studley that canceled all plans under consideration.
He said that some sore distemper was killing the
sheep on all the fells in great numbers and that the
flocks belonging to Abbot's Rest had suffered most se-
verely. This letter disturbed the Colonel very much.
A great deal of his wealth was in the splendid flocks
that covered the bleak pastures of his mountainous

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

acres. He told Lucia that he ought to go home at
once, and she was not unwilling. The thought of the
large, still rooms and the quiet luxury of Abbot's Rest
was strangely pleasant to her. She wondered at it and
expressed her wonder to Ann, who was packing the
trunks for the journey.

"I have been so happy here, Ann, so happy! And
yet I am not sorry to go away. How is that?**

''Your company has gone, miss, and your heart fol-
lows after them. And then this weary sea with its
never-ending whispering and moaning — it would
weary the saints in heaven, and God knows it, for
there's no sea there, Vm thankful to say."

"There was such a delightful letter from Arthur
this morning. He has found a dear friend of his in
Sutherland and he says he is on the moors all day
long."

"With a gun, of course. Is he anything of a good
shot?"

"A very good shot."

"Some men are grand at the shooting, but no good
at the killing — too scattering like."

"Well, we had a happy summer — ^the happiest
summer in all my life."

"I'm sure I am very glad, miss. I wish I could
say the same."

"Why, Ann, you have had Dick with you most of
the time. I thought you were enjoying his society.

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You went walking with him to Scarlet Rocks every
evening, and Lord Fenwick saw you, sitting on the
grass at Dick's side, and he was holding your hand
and talking to you most lover-like — so Lord Fenwick
said/*

"If Lord Fenwick would consider my love affairs
beneath his notice it would be only proper. I had my
own reasons for walking with my husband. I didn't
want the women around me to think I had not been
able to get a husband and keep him, too. Dick's as
handsome as can be and I was rather proud of his
looks, and since he became a Methodist he seems
very sorry for all his past faults. We have to for-
give or else we won't be forgiven; leastways, that is
what my Book of Conunon Prayer says, and I do
suppose the Book knows what it is saying."

"Did Dick go to the highlands with his master or
is he left at Fenwick?"

"His master would not go without him. Dick
knows him as well as if he lived inside of him. In
sickness or health he knows what is to be done, and
in every kind of temper Dick understands the situa-
tion."

Lucia did not answer. She felt offended at Ann's
tone and manner, and she recalled with a little shock
that she had been hurt frequently by Ann during the
past weeks in the same manner. The woman had
been hard to please and frequently put on an air of

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. THE WINNING OF LUCIA

injury that Lucia could not understand. She was
changed in many respects. She talked about her
wasted life, and so evidently blamed the Ragnors in
her heart for her alienation from her husband that
one day Lucia could not help a feeling of wrong and
offence.

"One would think you regretted the years you
spent with us, Ann," she said, with a touch of wound-
ed feeling, and Ann answered :

"Maybe I have reason to be angry at myself —
perhaps at others. Someway, I have wronged my
husband badly. I never knew till lately Dick was
such a fine, loving fellow.**

"You can go to Dick any day you like, Ann."

"I can't go till I have seen you married and in
somebody's care. I promised your mother — "

"My father is a sufficient protection. I need no
other."

"Well, you need not get on your high horse to say
that to me. I have spent the best twenty years of
my life taking care of you."

"And we have taken care of you, Ann. You have
had twenty easy, profitable years," and with these
words Lucia left the room, and went to her father
with Ann's complaint.

The Colonel said he had noticed the same change,
and when Lucia complained further, he advised her
to appear oblivious of it. "You have not the old Ann

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Idle to deal with,'* he said. "It is now Ann Idle
plus Dick Idle. It is a strange thing/' he continued,
"that if a woman marries a man beneath her, she
descends rapidly to his level, whereas if a man marries
a girl beneath him, he generally succeeds in lifting
her up to his own higher position."



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CHAPTER XII

DEATH REDEEMETH LIFE

The long, long Love, the healing Love, the Love
of Marriage ! Love's Golden Net — ^but iron is only
cobwebs to it.

IT was in the cool, beautiful Sq)tcmbcr days that
the Ragnors went back to Abbot's Rest Ann had
preceded them a week, and within the house all
was comfortably in order. But the large flocks of
white sheep had disappeared from the fells and an air
of melancholy pervaded them, while the shepherds
watched disconsolately the small remnants of their
once large companies. The Ragnor sheep range was
one of the largest and finest in the North Country,
and Colonel Ragnor the most wealthy and notable of
all its sheep lords^ but his wealth in this respect ap-
peared to have vanished. Dr. Studley said, "The
epidemic fell on the Ragnor sheep just when it was
at the height of its malignity. But you must take
courage. Colonel,'' he added in a strong and cheer-
ful voice. "The early September storms have

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DEATH REDEEMETH LIFE

cleansed and renewed both the air and the earth, and
your head shepherd, Thomas Gait, will go into Scot-
land and buy you a still finer breed."

"Very good, Studley, but Gait will require a good
deal of money to replace the hundreds of sheep lost,
and you know I have had some extraordinary ex-
penses lately " and a sense of possible poverty

made the Colonel's heart sick with fear.

"Whatever money is needful, if not in your purse,
is in mine, and I would send Thomas oR by tonight's
express. You cannot have sheep too soon now. They
must learn their places of rest and safety before
wmter.**

So Thomas Gait went over the border that day,
and the Colonel having done what he could to cover
the bare fells once more, sat down to consider his
position. He had spent so much in entertaining, in
jewelry for Lucia, and in travel and hotel charges,
that he was pinched for money. The situation was
quite new. He had always been a forehanded man
and to be in need of a few sovereigns seemed an in-
credible thing to him.

He could not help describing his position to Lucia
and she listened with sympathy and understanding.
"You are in the hands of a good creditor, father, '•
she answered. "Dr. Studley will, never trouble you
about the money he loaned you, but why did you go
to himr*

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

"I did not go to him. He offered It freely, and
I took it freely."

For a few minutes there was silence, then Lucia
asked, ''Do you think this will make any difference
with Arthur?"

"No. Arthur is fond of money, but there are
things he values beyond it. I shall write to him to-
day, and tell him the situation truthfully."

"Is there anything I can do?"

"Yes, if you would look lo the house expenses a
little. I see that Ann has hired four women. Surely
that is an unnecessary number."

"I have already spoken to her about so many
women trailing about the house. You cannot go
into any room, but there is a woman with a duster
trying to make you believe she is doing something.
I told Ann they worried me, that I never knew when
I was or could be alone, and she was quite cross and
said, 'Lord Fenwick would be here anon, and she
could not slave herself another year for him' — and
so on. Ann is not like herself lately."

"Not at all. I told you why. We must let her
go to Dick Idle. Half a year of his society — ^with-
out the protection of my presence — ^will send her
gratefully back to her position in Abbot's Rest
Poor Annl She is making heart sorrow for her-
self."

"We all do that some way or about some person,
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DEATH REDEEMETH LIFE

father. I hope you will write Arthur at once. I
shall not be happy until I know how he takes the
loss of your flocks and consequent loss of money.''

"I will write at once, Lucia."

The answer to this letter was prompt and sympa-
thetic.

I want no money with Lucia, dear Robert [Fcn-
wick wrote]. To me, Lucia is the wealth of the
world, and there is nothing I can compare her with.
I am not insensible to the value of money, but
Lucia and money cannot be named together or
thought of as in any way equivalents. Before I
left Fenwick, while settling — as far as I then could
— ^business relating to the estate, I made my will
and I gave every shilling of my personal estate to
Lucia. This is no trifling gift, dear Robert. My
mother left the results of sixty years' saving and
wise investments to me and I have left everything
— gold, lands, houses, and railway stock to Lucia.
Judge then, if you need to worry concerning a
dowry for your daughter. While I live she will
share all I have; when I leave her, she will be
among the richest women in England. There is only
one other thing to say — ^that is, you are heartily
welcome to any and all the financial help I can
give you in renewing your flocks. There is no one
that has more right to assist you in trouble than I
have, and there is no one that will more gladly do
so. I am your kin and your friend forever,

Arthur Hbnry Fbnwick.

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Both father and daughter were very proud of this
ready response, and there was a great and sudden
uplifting of the household atmosphere. And though
nothing was said and retrenchments went on in every
direction, Ann and Dixon knew well the financial
strain had passed away.

"And it is Lord Fenwick's doing,** said Dixon.
"He got to feel very friendly and loving with his
cousin."

"It is nothing of the kind, Dixon. You must be
a fool to think Fenwick would put out thousands for
anyone but himself — ^it is Dr. Studley's doing, more
likely."

"Fm sorry for the Colonel. I never thought ofl
him getting poor."

"It is only a tight place. He is not poor — not he I"

"Debt is the worst of all kinds of poverty. If a
man owes nothing, he is rich enough. That is what
I say. Then comes this weary wedding again at the
New Year, and goodness knows there was no end of
extravagance about it last year's end."

"Extravagance I What do you mean ?"

"The eating and drinking and dressing and con-
stant entertaining."

"It was all as it should be. I hate to be in a
scrimped kitchen, and if Miss Ragnor is going to be
housekeeper, Mrs. Idle is ready for her own home
— and it is ready for her."

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DEATH REDEEMETH LIFE

^^Whyal I never heard the like I What do you
mean?*'

"I mean that when Mr. Idle comes back from the
highlands, he is going to take the Cross Keys public
house. There is ten years of John Hartley's lease
to run and Dick has bought it and all the house fur«
nishings and the tap and bar fixtures as well."

"That would take a deal of money."

"It did, but what Dick did not have, Didc's wife
could easy hand over — and that is what she did."

"Well I never — never heard the like I"

"So you see, I have a home of my own now and
I am about tired of humoring a slip of a girl whom
no one can please, and of bowing down to the Colo-
nel's commanding ways. I'm going to the Cross
Keys as soon as Dick comes home, and I tell you,
Mr. Dixon, you'll be very welcome to smoke your
pipe in its big kitchen and drink your pot of ale with
the men that do the same." And Dixon stood up
and bowed to the future mistress of the Cross Keys
and Ann went o£F with a gracious smile, a very
patronizing air, and a toss of her head which set all
the pink ribbons in her cap a-flutter.

Dixon told this news confidentially to Dr. Studley.
He was very proper about it and regretted that he
felt it to be his duty to let the Colonel know how
things stood in the kitchen. And Dr. Studley lis-
tened without apparent interest and said if Ann's

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

business was of any importance to the Colonel, he
undoubtedly knew all about it. But Dr. Studley
thought it best to tell the Colonel and the Colonel
talked the circumstance over with Lucia as soon as
the doctor left. And the story got thus into the at-
mosphere of the house and disturbed and unsettled
life and made everyone doubtful and suspicious,
even though the contemplated change was not
spoken of.

But this was but a small annoyance, and the
sources of pleasure were many and sufficient for
Colonel Ragnor and his daughter. That Lord Fen-
wick and Dr. Studley had both, without the slightest
delay, stood up to the highest test of friendship, was
a satisfaction the Colonel thought well worth the
loss of his flocks. And Lucia*s heart was always
singing within her, because her lover rang true
through the most searching of all trials — ^the money
test. So these weeks of the early autumn were
weeks of sweet and sudden soul growth to Lucia, for
behind the foreground of her daily life she had re-
ceived the kindest and sternest discipline that Love
can impart. And a true love is regeneration ! It is
to be bom again in or through someone else. It is
something happening to the subconscious self — a
growth? Yes. Sometimes a revolution.

Yet true love brings its own reward, even if un-
requited Those who love are the better for love's



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DEATH REDEEMETH LIFE

revelation; for love enriches, perfects, blesses the
lover to his or her life's end. And it must be ac-
knowledged that the Colonel's fears of Geoffrey's
influence were reasonable ones. The young man
loved Lucia tenderly and she knew it and felt it
every hour they were together. But love is not the
most powerful passion in the world. It bows down
frequently to Duty and Honor, to filial and paternal
affection, to patriotism, yes, even gold — gold can
buy love in the marketplace. If the beloved of
either sex were Calvinists, it would be wise for them
to say, "I wish for a love that is mine by predestina-
tion as well as choice." Then love would be Destiny,
and Destiny does all things well.

Now both Geoffrey and Lucia were quite aware
of the danger they had to face every day. Lucia
halted it at the first symptom. With her face burn-
ing she went to her room and sat down to angrily
question herself: "Did I glance for a moment into
Geoffrey's face as I should not have done? If I did,
I wronged both him and myself."

"But did I? Tell the truth, Lucia."

"Yes."

"Purposely?"

"No, inadvertently. It could easily become of
intent."

"But it shall not. If I could deceive Arthur now,
my father would never speak to me again. I should

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THE WINNING OF LUCIA

be dishonored in everyone's sight, most of all in
Geoffrey's and my own. Arthur would despise me;
he would not weep for me. I should not be worth
a tear. I am really Arthur's wife. I wear the wed-
ding-ring he sent me/' and she thoughtfully turned
it round her finger. "No 1 No 1 No I Honor is
greater than love I Honor is dearer than love.
Honor is worth more than life. I should really die
in the moment I first permitted Geoffrey to kiss me,
or to even look love at me."

Undoubtedly Geoffrey held a similar session with
himself, for after this there was a barrier between
them kept sacred by a mutual honor that held itself
above endearments, that had no mouth for kisses or
laughter, but by determined self-repression kept
down the heart a dignified prisoner behind very real
bars.

Geoffrey had even stronger reasons for honorable
behavior. Lord Fenwick had given him a very true
and warm friendship, not infrequently he had called
him brother. How then could he wrong him? He
put the very thought angrily under his foot. In
these conditions, though the Colonel's fears were
natural, they were most unnecessary, and Lucia
might have answered them as she answered Ann one
day when she made some remark about the impru-
dence of being so much alone with "that man that
hangs around Mrs. St. Clair."

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DEATH REDEEMETH LIFE

"Ann, I am never alone with Mr. Gardiner; my
honor is always with me.'*

In about a month Thomas Gait and the shepherds
he took with him, returned with fine flocks from the
Cheviot mountains and the Gala Teviot and Borth-
wick Waters. And, Oh, what a joy it was to see
the white companies with their plaided keepers, wan-
dering over the bushless fells in the cahn October
mornings, or when the colored end of evening smiled :

. . . miles and miles
On the solitary pastures, where their sheep,

Half asleep,
Tinkled homeward through the twilight;

Stray or stop,

As they crop.

And they felt a love for the gentle creatures who


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe winning of Lucia : a love story → online text (page 15 of 19)