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ket qua xsmn thu ba hang tuan minh ngoc

Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-06-15 19:58:42
Typefacelarge in Small

ket qua xsmn thu ba hang tuan minh ngoc

“Good morning, darling,” he said. “I tried to say that to you before, but you were busy sleeping. What shall I give you? There’s some nasty fish and some tepid bacon.” He looked at her with some sort of wistful expectancy,{327} as if wondering if she would remember something, and the thoughts, the wild imaginings which had made the dawn a plunge into some dark menace, dropped from her mind like drugged creatures. “Colin dear, your birthday. What can I give you?” she said, kissing him. “It was the first thing I thought of when I woke. We’re the same age again. I was a year ahead of you till this morning.” “Delicious of you to remember it, Vi,” said he. “Yes, we’re forty-two years old between us. A great age! Hullo, Nino.” “Pella signora,” said Nino, and gave Violet a telegram. Colin watched her fingers fumbling at the gummed flap of the envelope, as if numb and nerveless. Then with a jerk she tore it across and opened it. Only once before had he seen a living face as white as that, when fingers were slipping from the ice. “Read it for me,” she said at length. “I don’t seem to see what it means.” Colin took it; it had been sent from Naples late last night, and came from Mr. Markham. He read: “Salvatore Viagi’s account of letters agrees with your husband’s. Page containing marriages of year and month in question has been cut out of register at Consulate.” Colin passed the sheet back to Violet. She did not take it from his hand and he let it drop on to the tablecloth. He leaned a little towards her. “Vi, you’re magnificent,” he said. “That was a glorious stroke of yours! That night when you and I stayed at the Consulate. No, darling, don’t interrupt, let me speak for two or three minutes just as you did a few mornings ago. Eat your bacon and listen.... I see now the reason of your pretended reluctance to stay with Mr. Cecil. It put me off the scent completely at the time.” “What scent?” she asked. “What do you mean?” “I asked you not to interrupt. There we were on our{328} honeymoon and so casually, so unthinkingly, I told Mr. Cecil that we would stay with him on our way home. You objected, but eventually you agreed. Your reluctance to stay with him, as I say, put me quite off the scent. Having done that you yielded. Little did I dream then of your superb project....” She gazed at him like some bird hypnotised by the snake that coil after coil draws nearer. Colin, too, drew nearer; he pushed his chair sideways and leaned towards her, elbows on the table. “I remember that night so well,” he said. “I was sleeping in the dressing-room next door to you, and the door was wide, for it was hot. I heard you get out of bed. I heard your latch creak. Oh, yes, you called to me first, and I did not answer. I called to you this morning, you remember, and you did not answer. Sometimes one pretends to be asleep. Till this minute I knew nothing for certain more of what you did. Now I know. You were playing for a great stake: I applaud you. You got hold of Mr. Cecil’s keys (he is careless about them) and tore that leaf out of the register. You knew that on my father’s death his marriage to my mother must be proved before Raymond or I (poor Raymond) could succeed, for, of course, it was common property that he lived with her before they were married. Giuseppe, his boatman, Uncle Salvatore, half-a-dozen people, could have told you that. And then, oh! a crowning piece of genius, you make up a cock-and-bull story about erasure and letters which force us to have the register examined, and lo! there is no record of the marriage at all. What is the presumption? That Raymond and I were, well, an ugly word. But just there fate was unkind to you through no fault of yours, except that failure is a fault and the most fatal one. You did not know that I had made a copy of the entry and got it signed and certified by our charming Mr. Cecil, before the curious disappearance of that page. And then you made just one terrible mistake. How could you have done it?{329}” She turned to him a face of marble, faultlessly chiselled, but wholly lifeless. “What mistake did I make?” she said. “You kept that leaf,” said Colin pityingly. “A record of your triumph, I suppose, like a cotillon-toy, to dream over when you were mistress here.” “Go on,” said she. Colin came closer yet. “Darling, will you be awfully nice to me,” he said, “and give me that leaf as a birthday present? It would be a delightful souvenir. You know where it is.” She paused. She remembered the tradition of the icy self-repression of the Lady Yardleys who had preceded her, the frost that fell on them. From personal knowledge there was her grandmother. That Arctic night was darkening on her now, and she shivered. “I don’t know where it is,” she said. “Make up another lie.” He rose. “You must learn politeness, Violet,” he said. “You must learn many useful things. I am being very kind to you. You don’t appreciate that.” Night had not quite fallen yet. “Just as you were kind to Raymond,” she said. He smiled at her. “Yes, the same sort of kindness,” he said. He spoke to her as to a troublesome child with soft persuasion. “Now you know where it is quite well, but you want to give me the trouble of reminding you. You won’t say you’re sorry, or anything of that sort. Not wise.” “Spring the trap on me,” she said. “Very well; you put it in the secret drawer in the stand of your lovely Lamerie looking-glass, the evening we came back from our honeymoon. You had left me talking to father, but as soon as you had gone, I followed you. It was pure chance: I suspected nothing then. But I looked in from my dressing-room and saw you with the secret drawer open, putting something into it. I went{330} downstairs again. But I am bound to say that my curiosity was aroused; perhaps you might have been having a billet-doux from Nino. So I took a suitable opportunity—I think it was when you were at church—and satisfied myself about it.” Colin reviewed this speech, which seemed to come to him impromptu, except for the one fact that underlay it, which in a few minutes now would be made manifest to Violet. “So poor Nino was not my rival,” he said. “That was such a relief, Vi darling, for I should have had to send him away. But I never really gave a serious thought to that, for I believed you liked your poor Colin. But what I found did surprise me. I could not believe that any one so clever could have been so stupid as to keep the evidence of her cleverness. When you have been clever, it is wise to destroy the evidence of your cleverness. Shall we come?” “But my looking-glass? A secret drawer?” said Violet. “There’s no secret drawer that I know of.” “No, no, of course not,” said Colin. “I shall be obliged to show it you. But wait a minute. I had better have a witness of what I find in the secret drawer of which you are ignorant. My solicitor is here, but with this other disclosure, he might urge me to proceed against you for conspiracy, which I don’t at present intend to do. Your maid, now; no, you would not like her to know such things about you. She might blackmail you. How about Nino? He will do no more than understand that a paper has been found, and that he witnesses to the finding of it. One has to protect oneself. I had to protect myself against Raymond. May I ring for Nino?” At that the Arctic night fell on Violet, and presently the three of them were in her bedroom. Round the base of the looking-glass ran a repoussé cable band, and Colin was explaining to her how, if she pressed the stud at the corner of it, just where the silversmith’s name—L. A. for Lamerie—was punched in the metal, the side of the base{331} would fly open. And so it was; she pressed it herself while he stood aside, and within was the drawer and the folded paper. Colin took a swift step and plucked the paper out, holding it at arm’s length. “There, darling, all your responsibility is over,” he said. “I will keep it for you now. I will just open it and show you what it is, but do not come too close or try to snatch it. There! Names of happy couples one below the other, and in the space next the name the date of their marriage. Half-way down the page you see the names we are looking for, Rosina Viagi and Philip Lord Stanier and the date, March the first, 1893.” He turned to Nino and spoke in Italian. “And you, Nino,” he said, “you saw me take this paper out of the drawer of the signora’s looking-glass. And now you see me—give me a big envelope from the table—you see me put it in this envelope and close it—it is as if I did a conjuring trick—and I sit down and write on the envelope for the signora to read. I say that in your presence and in mine the enclosed was taken from the secret drawer in the looking-glass where it had been placed for safe custody by Violet Stanier, Countess of Yardley, and given into the care of her husband, Colin Stanier, Earl of Yardley. Sign it, Nino, and observe that I sign. I date it also. That’s all, Nino; you may go.” Colin laid his hand on Violet’s neck. “It has been trying for you, dear,” he said. “Rest a little. But your mind may be at ease now; the anxiety of having that in your possession is removed, and it will be in safe keeping. I will give it at once to my lawyer, with instructions that it is to be delivered to no one except to me in person, and that at my death it is to be destroyed unopened. It entirely depends on yourself as to whether it ever sees the light again.... And then, when you are rested, shall we go for one of our delicious rambles in the park. What’s that line of Wordsworth? ‘This{332} one day we’ll give to idleness.’ Thank you, darling, for your lovely birthday present.” Never on Walpurgis Night nor at Black Mass had there ever been so fervent an adorer to his god as Colin, so satanic a rite as that which he had performed on this birthday morning. No need was there for him to make any vow of lip-service, or by any acceptation of the parchment that was set in the frame of the Holbein, to confirm his allegiance. The spirit was more than the letter, and in no wanton ecstasy of evil could he have made a more sacramental dedication of himself. It was not enough for him to have forged, ever so cunningly, the evidence which, while Raymond lived, proved his illegitimacy, nor, more cunningly yet, to have got rid of that evidence when Raymond’s death cleared for him the steps to the throne. He must in the very flower and felicity of wickedness preserve that evidence in order to produce it as the handiwork of his wife. The edifice would have been incomplete otherwise; it would have lacked that soaring spire of infamy. But now all was done, and on his birthday came the consecration of the abominable temple of himself to the spirit he adored. He came to her room that night and sat as he so often did on the edge of her bed. “You have been perfect to me to-day, darling,” he said. “You have given me the happiest birthday. You have been so quiet and serene and controlled. And have you been happy?” “Yes, Colin,” said she. He pulled off his tie and flapped her fingers with the end of it. “I think I shall go south again,” he said. “I was defrauded of my stay in Capri owing to my father’s death. What about you? Had you not better stay quietly at home? Get your father and mother to come down.” “Just as you please,” said she.{333}


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