105 Greatest Living Authors Present the World's Best Stories, Humor, Drama, Biography, History, Essays, Poetry

By Whit Burnett | Go to book overview

V. SACKVILLE-WEST

DEAR MR. BURNETT:

I have not got a copy of the American edition of The Edwardians so am unable to give you page references . . . but I would suggest the scene of the Duchess dressing for dinner.

Yours sincerely,
V. SACKVILLE-WEST


The Duchess Dresses for Dinner

ON LEAVING LADY ROEHAMPTON, Lucy went to her own room: the great house was quiet; all the guests were safely shut into their rooms till dinner; no one was about, except a housemaid beating up the cushions or a footman emptying the waste-paper basket. Along the passages, the windows were open, for it was a warm July evening, and the pigeons cooing on the battlements made the silence murmurous as though the grey stone of the walls had itself become vocal. Lucy hurried through the empty rooms. She detested solitude, even for half an hour; the habit of constant company--it could scarcely be called companionship--had unfitted her for her own society, and now she sagged and felt forlorn. She ought to look into the schoolroom, she thought, and say good-night to Viola, who, in dressing-gown and pigtails would be eating her supper, but the idea, no sooner than conceived, filled her with boredom. She decided to summon her favourite Sebastian instead. Reaching her room, where her maid, Button, was laying out her dress, she said, "Send word to his Grace, Button, that I should like to see him here for a few minutes."

Oh, the weariness of life, she thought, sitting down at her dressing-table; and then she remembered how Leonard Anquetil had looked at her when she had shown him the garden after tea, and a slight zest for life revived. She sat with lowered eyes, smiling a downward smile, while her thoughts dawdled over Leonard An

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