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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, April 17, 1938, Image 71

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1938-04-17/ed-1/seq-71/

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A story you ll read twice
TUK late afternoon sun broke through the
clouds, swept across the gardens of the
Tuilleries and filled the book-lined room
with a warm, tawny glow. A few
moments before when Louise, the maid, had
come into the room she had thought it empty.
As she made the usual round, watering the
i potted plants and fems, she came upon the
iComtesse Freya stretched out, eyes closed,
on the petit point couch which faced the half
'opened French windows.
) “Tiens . . . tiens . . .” I-ouise muttered dis
approvingly under her breath.
As the heavy door closed behind Louise,
{he Comtesse Freya stirred and stretched her
'lovely body in the sunlight, grateful for its
:warmth and cheerfulness. Well, indeed, might
.'Louise have muttered, “Tiens . . . tiens ...”
funder her breath. But Louise’s shocked
.Sensibilities or her problems of household
imanagement were of little concern to the
iComtesse Freya.
It was good to lie in the sun on Pierre’s
sofa, in Pierre’s book-filled room, with his
things all about her. The years she had
spent with Pierre had not dulled the pleasure
she found in just being surrounded by his
jxissessions. Next to being with him, to be
with his things gave her a sense of security
and joy.
And yet today she was afflicted with a
vague unease. Why was Pierre away so long?
"Whenever he went out she was always
impatient for his return, but today his absence
seemed longer than usual.
Did Pierre still find her lovely? W’ould he
always want to caress her sleek soft throat
with his fingertips? Did he still find joy in her
chiseled features?
The Comtesse Freya drew her shoulders
together and her long slim face quivered
slightly as she looked across the Seine. Where
was Pierre? Why did he not return? Perhaps
it was foolish, she pondered, to let her happi
ness be wrapped up so completely in one
human being, but Pierre had never betrayed
her faith.
Her thoughts, as she lay there, wandered
back to her husband with a complete lack of
wnotion. Ilers had been a marriage of con
venience. Thorwald had been a good fellow,
but not overly intelligent. The supreme
passion of his life had been his army corps.
For it he had lived and in it he had died.
She had really never known fulfillment until
she came to live with Pierre. How well she
remembered the day they had first met! She
had been staying at the old Cieneral’s palace.
He had been her guardian from her earliest
youth, and the guardian of her children. His
ideas were strict, and he took his guardianship
as seriously after Thorwald's death as he
had before her marriage.
Of course she had a deep affection for the
old General, but she was still young then, and
romance still beckoned to her.
On that particular day, heady with the
scents of spring, she had stolen, alone and
unobserved, from the palace. She could
remember with pleasure, even now, how soft
and springy and free the turf had felt beneath
her feet as she walked along the tree-shaded
alleys of the bois. She had come to a little
hidden place in the forest, where a grassy bank
ran down to a little pool circled by sweet
flowering shrubs.
She must have been lost in the spirit of
the forest, trying to understand herself and
the things that were surging within her, when
she came upon Pierre.
How well she could recall that first sight
of him, sitting on a bench in that enchanted
spot, looking so lonely and so appealingly
young. She had passed him self-consciously
and been slightly shocked to realize that she
half hoped he would speak to her. She was
forever being spoken to on the street, but
always she had been superior to such en
counters.
She realized, though, that if this man spoke
to her .. . She turned and repassed him, and
a sudden wild impulse led her to the bench
where he was seated: beside him she sat down.
How had it all begun? How do such things
spring into being? Something had stirred
by William Beverly
within her, like no emotion she had ever felt
before.
Her breath had quickened, as it was destined
always to quicken when she thought of Pierre.
Something swept over her that set her every
nerve tingling.
She had gone to him boldly, like a waif
from the streets. At the last moment it seemed
that her courage must fail her; the sudden
thought that he would despise her for the
way she was throwing herself upon him re
called some of her long-schooled reserves.
But only for a moment. She had been lonely
and she ... she... It seemed as if he were the
one person in the world she had always been
waiting for. She had gone with him, unques
tioning and armed only with a great faith.
The next morning Pierre telephoned the
General's palace. There had nat
urally been considerable agita
tion about her failure to return
and the news of it had reached
Pierre through a mutual friend.
Pierre spoke to the General him
self. Their words were few;
Illustrated by
Marshall Frants
“Your Excellency, I should prefer to tell
you the details of this affair in person . . .
Yes, your Excellency, I am in my rooms and
will wait until you call.”
She had realized that the interview with
the General would be difficult, terribly diffi
cult. Even now a tremor ran though her
body as she remembered those long minutes
while she and Pierre waited for the General
to come to the Hotel Metropole. In those
minutes she had made the decision which
completely changed the course of her life.
She had sat and moved not a muscle when
the General was announced into Pierre’s
rooms. The General was very' polite but
reserved, completely the master of himself
and the moment. He and Pierre went into the
sitting room and talked for a long time, in
low, modulated tones. At times Pierre’s voice
seemed to be pleading, but the General’s was
firm and seemed to deny what Pierre was
asking. Finally the General returned, bowed
curtly in his military fashion to Pierre, went
to the door, opened it and turned to the
Comtesse Freya. "Comtesse Freya,” he said.
It was an invitation, but the words were
spoken as a command. Freya even now
trembled at the memory of her abrupt in
dependence. The General, her guardian, had
dominated her from her earliest days, but not
even he could bring her to leave Pierre.
There had been words, stormy words, words
of outright command, but she had kept her
courage and her determination. No word of
the old General’s penetrated to her heart,
which was brimming over with love.
She was sorry for him. She could see that
he was hurt and chagrined, that his pride
and his affection were touched to the quick.
The General was terribly firm. Flatly he denied Pierre's demand
And then he went to the door and his last
words to her were:
Freya, you have made your choice. I have
the power to force you to come with me, but
that 1 will not do. This man you love. I had
hoped that you and I . . . but I realize
all too well that it is my fate only to have
been your guardian. Adieu, ma chire petite
Freya!"
There had been tears in the old General’s
eyes as he closed the door. The Comtesse
Freya almost went to him, but she could not.
When they were alone, once again, she went to
Pierre. Close beside him, in the circle of his
arm, she had thought that perhaps the pain
of so much mingled joy and sadness might be
lessened by his love. But it never had been.
The door opened and Pierre came into the
study. Freya raised her head but he did not
look toward the couch. He threw a bundle of
books upon his desk and muttered to himself
in a tired way: “What a rotten day!” Then
he came to her and seated himself on the
couch beside her.
“Oh, my lovely one!” he murmured as he
stroked her throat and she kissed the fingers
that caressed her. “You are so always beauti
ful.” He smiled fondly. “And for news, I have
a treat for you. Tonight there will be no
guests. We shall spend the evening here alone
together. Louise will serve us our dinner
before the fire. We will watch the lights of
Paris. And tomorrow. Ah, tomorrow, we go to
the country. To Normandy. There’ll be
rabbits to hunt and the sea to swim in.”
The Comtesse Freya gave a little cry of
delight and nestled closer beside him.
“And now chbie, if it would please you, a
walk before dinner.”
A moment or two later Louise, who always
kept the kitchen door open (except when she
cooked cabbage) that she might better know
what went on in the house, heard Pierre
say:
“But no, after you, Madame la Comtesse."
And the front door closed.
“Madame la Comtesse ... humph!” Louise
sniffed. “Madame la Comtesse to him! She’s
just a big overgrown police dog to me. You’d
think that dog was a person, the way he treats .
her. Why, you know when my mother died
and I had to go home he dismissed the girl
who came to take my place because she tied
up that dog in the pantry to keep her off the
library couch!”
The End

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