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Shadows of Flames A Novel   By: (1863-1945)

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Shadows of Flames

Amélie Rives, Alfred James Dewey, Frederick A. Stokes Company


[Illustration: "'And it came to me that we were all like that like little flames casting shadows in some greater light. And that our passions were also like little flames that cast shadows of sorrow ... regret ... despair ... weariness....'" Page 27 ]


A Novel


Author of "The Quick or the Dead," "World's End," etc.



Copyright, 1914, 1915, by AMÉLIE TROUBETZKOY



Sophy smiled at her image in the mirror, and her grey eyes smiled back at her. The shadows under them warm, golden stains like those on a bruised magnolia leaf gave them a mysterious, impassioned look. She felt that she was going to have a happy evening.

In those days, in the early '90s, electric light was not much used in the houses in Regent's Park. Candles in brass sconces lighted her dressing table. They brought out flickering shimmers from her gown of white brocade. Sleeves were full that year. The transparent masses of azalea pink, drooping on either side of her slender body, made it look slenderer. These sleeves were like huge orchids, and from them her arms drooped stamenlike in the soft, gold wash from the candles.

Matilda, her little Kentish maid, could not keep her eyes away from her. As she hooked the long, tightly wound sash of azalea pink she kept peering at her lady's image in the glass. There, Sophy's eyes met hers. She smiled again at Tilda this time.

"Will you wear anything on your hair, m'm?" asked the girl, smiling shyly in return.

Sophy considered, looking at the curve of her head from different angles in a little hand glass.

"No," she said, at last; "just the pearls to night."

Her hair, dark and richly shaded like a breadth of veined mahogany, was drawn loosely back into a big, shining knot low on her neck. Her eyebrows were darker than her hair, long, slender, and straight. When she laughed or smiled her eyes too grew long and slender.

She glanced at the pearls that the girl was now clasping about her throat. They had been a wedding gift from her brother in law, Lord Wychcote. Poor Gerald! She was fond of him. He was the only one of the family who had been really nice to her. Yes, they were fond of each other. She touched the cold, heavy pearls and thought pityingly of his dark eyes so often full of pain. Then she thought of how Cecil sometimes spoke brutally to him, and she shivered.

"A goose on your grave, m'm?" said Tilda. "Let me fetch a scarf."

She brought a scarf of old lace, delicate as the skeleton of an elm leaf left by caterpillars, and threw it over Sophy's shoulders. Then handed her her fan, gloves, and handkerchief, and taking the white evening cloak on her arm, waited for her mistress to leave the room.

Sophy gave a last look over her shoulder as she turned from the mirror. Yes, she liked the dark curve of her head unbroken by any ornament besides, she did not wish to wear anything that Cecil had given her, to night. The pink and white gown was three years old had been part of her trousseau. She had had it remodelled in the house by a clever little seamstress.

She went slowly down the stairway, through the square white hall. The Georgian house was simple and cheerful. Sophy especially liked the Sheraton furniture and white panelling, because they reminded her of her Virginia home "Sweet Waters." How happy she could have been in a house like this, if only.... Her eyes darkened. She stood still for a moment in the middle of the stairway, and Tilda halted patiently behind her. Then, before the girl could ask if anything were needed, she went on again with her swift, light step, and passed across the hall into the drawing room... Continue reading book >>

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