The Tale of Triona - William J. Locke - ebook

The Tale of Triona ebook

William J. Locke

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Opis

Trion is Alexis Trion, a man with a mysterious past, a tormented hero, a man who writes his story, which instantly becomes a bestseller. It was at this moment that Olivia enters his life. Olivia is a rich, recently orphaned young woman who wants adventure to see the world, etc. to start her new life. There she reads Alexey’s book and meets him in person.

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Liczba stron: 517

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Contents

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

CHAPTER XXV

CHAPTER XXVI

CHAPTER XXVII

CHAPTER I

OLIVIA GALE leaned back in her chair at the end of the dining-room table, and looked first at the elderly gentleman on her right, and then at the elderly gentleman on her left.

“You’re both of you as kind as can be, and I’m more than grateful for all you’ve done; but I do wish you’d see that it’s no use arguing. It only hurts and makes us tired. Do help yourself, Mr. Trivett. And–another cup of tea, Mr. Fenmarch?”

Mr. Fenmarch, on her left, passed his cup with a sigh. He was a dusty, greyish man, his face covered with an indeterminate growth of thin short hair. His eyes were of a dull, unspeculative blue.

“As your solicitor, my dear Olivia,” said he, “I can only obey instructions. As the friend of your family, I venture to give you advice.”

“Why the deuce your father didn’t tie you up in a trusteeship till you were twenty-five, at any rate,” said Mr. Trivett on her right, helping himself to whisky and soda–the table, covered with a green baize cloth, was littered with papers and afternoon refreshments. “Why the dickens–” he began again after a sizzling gulp.

“Yes, it’s most unfortunate,” said Mr. Fenmarch, cutting off his friend’s period. “And what you are going to do with yourself, all alone in the world, with this enormous amount of liquid money is more than I can imagine.”

Olivia smiled and tapped the blue-veined hand that set down his teacup.

“Of course you can’t. If imagination ran away with a solicitor, it would land him in the workhouse.”

“That’s where it will land you, Olivia,” said Mr. Trivett. “Common sense is the better mount.”

“That’s rather neat,” she said.

“If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have said it,” retorted Mr. Trivett, sinking his red jowls into his collar, which made them redder than before.

“You’re so quick and clever,” said Olivia, “that I can’t understand why you won’t see things from my point of view.”

“You’ve got to learn that a man of experience can’t take the view of a wrong-headed young woman.”

Mr. Trivett emphasized the asperity of his tone by a thump of his palm on the table.

As a matter of fact, he was genuinely angry. He was the senior partner in Trivett and Gale, Auctioneers and Estate Agents, in the comfortable little Shropshire town of Medlow; or rather the only surviving partner, for Gale, Olivia’s father, and his two sons had one after the other been wiped out in a recent world accident. Olivia’s decision, inspired from no other fount he could think of than lunacy, involved the withdrawal of considerable capital from the business. This, of course, being an honourable man, he could not dispute; but here were peace and reconstruction and inflated prices, and heaven knew how much percentage on the middleman’s capital, and here was this inexperienced girl throwing away a safe income and clamouring for a settlement in full. They had argued and argued. It may be stated here that Mr. Trivett was the Executor of her father’s estate, which made his position the more delicate and exasperating.

And now Mr. Trivett’s exasperation reached the table-thumping point.

Olivia smiled wearily.

“It’s such a pity.”

“What’s a pity?”

“Oh, everything. One thing is that there’s no more gold. Of course, I know you can’t understand. But that’s your fault, not mine. I should have liked to realize all that I’ve got in sovereigns. Do you think they’d fill a bath? Have you ever thought how lovely it would be to wallow in a bath of sovereigns? Treasury notes are not the same thing. They’re either very dirty and smell of plumbers, or very new and smell of rancid oil. Gold is the real basis of Romance.”

He put her down for a mere female fool, and replied practically:

“We’ll not see a gold coin in England again for the next fifty years.”

“Well, well,” she said; “anyhow, there’s still some romance in mounting the deadly breech of the bank counter with a drawn cheque in one’s hand.”

“I’m afraid, my dear Olivia,” said Mr. Fenmarch mildly, “I don’t quite see what we’re talking about.”

“Why, we’ve discussed it every day for the last three months,” cried Olivia, “and now this is the very last end of everything. A final settlement, as you call it! That’s what you two dears have come for, isn’t it?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” said Mr. Fenmarch.

“Then it’s all so simple. You’ve shown me this”–she picked up a foolscap document and dropped it–“the full statement of account of my father’s estate, and I approve–I being the only person concerned. You’ve got to give me one last cheque for that amount”–she tapped the document–“and I give you my receipt, signed over a penny stamp–you’ll have to stand me a penny stamp, for I’ve only got three-halfpenny ones in the house–and there’s an end of the matter.”

“My clerk made out the receipt and put the penny stamp on,” said Mr. Fenmarch, untroubled by her smile. “Here it is.”

“Solicitors’ clerks seem to think of everything,” said Olivia. “Fancy his remembering the penny stamp!”

“It’s charged up against you, in Fenmarch’s bill–item “sundries,’ ” remarked Mr. Trivett, pointing a fat forefinger.

“Why, naturally. Why should Mr. Fenmarch shower pennies on me? It’s the delicate thoughtfulness that I admire. I hope you’ll raise that young man’s salary.”

Mr. Fenmarch looked pained, like a horse to whom one had offered wooden oats, and swung his head away. Mr. Trivett opened his mouth to speak, but before he spoke finished his whisky and soda.

“My dear Olivia,” said he, “I’m sorry to see you so flippant. You’ve disappointed me and Mrs. Trivett who’ve known you since you were born, more than I can say. Until your poor mother died–God bless her–we thought you the most capable, level-headed young woman in this town. But for the last three months–you’ll forgive my freedom in saying so–you have shown yourself to be quite impossible.”

He paused, angry. Olivia smiled and drummed on the table.

“Have some more whisky.”

“No, I won’t,” he said in a loud voice. “Whisky’s too expensive to ladle out in that offhand fashion. It’s a luxury, as you’ll jolly well soon discover. I’m talking for your good, Olivia. That’s why Fenmarch and I are here. Two minutes will wind up the business. But we have your interests at heart, my girl, and we want to make a last appeal.”

She covered with hers the back of his red-glazed hand and spoke in a softened voice:–

“Yes, I know, I know. I’ve said already that you and Mr. Fenmarch were dears. But what would you have me do? I’m twenty-three. Alone in the world.”

“You have your uncle and aunt at Clapham,” said Mr. Trivett.

“I’ve also some sort of relations in the monkey cage at the Zoo,” said Olivia.

The repartee to the effect that it was the fittest home for her only occurring to Mr. Trivett when he was getting into bed that night, he merely stared at her gaspingly. She continued:

“I’m absolutely alone in the world. Do you think it reasonable for me to stay in this dull old house, in this mouldering old town, where one never sees a man from one year’s end to another, living for the rest of my life on the few hundreds a year which I could get if my capital were properly invested?”

“We don’t grant your premises, Olivia,” said Mr. Fenmarch. “ "The Towers’ may be old, but it is not dull. Medlow is not mouldering, but singularly progressive, and the place seems to–to pullulate with young men. So I think our advice to you is eminently reasonable.”

“Oh, dear!” sighed Olivia. “That’s where all the trouble comes in. Our ideas of dullness, mouldering and pullu–what you call it; don’t correspond. Mother was very fond of a story of Sydney Smith. Perhaps she told you. He was walking one day with a friend through the slums and came across two women quarrelling across the street, through opposite windows. And Sydney Smith said: “They’ll never come to an agreement, because they are arguing from different premises.’ ”

There was a silence.

“I’ll have a drop more whisky,” said Mr. Trivett.

“I think I see the point of the remark,” said Mr. Fenmarch greyly. “It was a play on the two meanings of the word.”

“That was what my mother gave me to understand,” said Olivia.

Then, after another spell of chill silence, she cried, her nerves on edge:

“Do let us come to the end of it!”

“We will,” said Mr. Trivett impressively. “But not before I’ve made a few remarks in protest, with Fenmarch as witness. I’m sorry there’s not another witness–”

“Oh, I’ll get one!” cried Olivia. “Myra–the faithful Myra.”

“Myra’s a servant, also a fool; and you’ve got her under your thumb,” said Mr. Trivett.

“Well, well,” said Olivia, “we’ll give Myra a miss. But I know what you’re going to say–and the kind heart that makes you say it.”

A touch of real tenderness crept into her fine dark eyes and almost softened Mr. Trivett. She looked so young, so slender, so immature in her simple mourning. Her soft black hair clustered over her forehead in a manner which he felt was inconsistent with a woman fighting her way alone in the world. She hadn’t a bit of colour in her cheeks; wanted feeding up, he thought. She was capable enough in her own sphere, the management of her house, the care of a bed-ridden mother, the appreciation of legal technicalities. Until she had got this bee in her bonnet he had admired her prodigiously; though, with the reserve which every Englishman makes in his admiration, he deplored the shrewdness of her tongue. But this idea of hers, to realize all her money in hard cash at the bank and go off into unknown perils was preposterous. She was not fit for it. You could take her by the neck in one hand and by the waist in another and break her to bits.... He was a good, honest man with fatherly instincts developed by the possession of daughters of his own, strapping red-cheeked girls, who had stayed soberly at home until the right young man had come along and carried them off to modest homes of unimpeachable respectability. So when he met the tenderness in Olivia’s eyes he mitigated the asperities of his projected discourse and preached her a very human little sermon. While he spoke, Mr. Fenmarch nodded his unhumorous head and stroked the straggling grey hairs on his cheek. When he had ended, Mr. Fenmarch seconded, as it were, the resolution.

Then Olivia thanked them prettily, promised to avoid extravagance, and, in case of difficulty, to come to them for advice. The final cheque was passed over, the final receipt signed across the penny stamp provided with such forethought, and Olivia Gale entered into uncontrolled possession of her fortune.

The men rose to take their leave. Olivia held the hand of the burly red-faced man who had been her father’s partner and looked up at him.

“I know, if you could have your way, you would give me a good hiding.”

He laughed grimly. “Not the least doubt of it.” Then he patted her roughly on the shoulder.

“And you, Mr. Fenmarch?”

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