UP AT THE VILLA EBOOK

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Up At The Villa Ebook

Author:ETHEL GARTLEY
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Remove FREE. Unavailable for download. Continue shopping Checkout Continue shopping. Up at the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham series Vintage International. See Other Editions. In this series. Skip this list. For years I only knew the humiliation of it. He was so dependent on me.

When anything went wrong, if he got into trouble, if he was ill, it was me he came to for help. He clung to me like a child. Though he was unfaithful to me, though he hid himself from me so that he could drink without restraint, though I exasperated him sometimes so that he hated me, deep down he always loved me, he knew I'd never let him down and he knew that except for me he'd go all to pieces.

He was so beastly when he was drunk he had no friends, only the riff-raff that sponged on him and bled him and robbed him; he knew I was the only person in the world who cared if he lived or died and I knew that I was the only person who stood between him and absolute ruin. And when he died, in my arms, I was broken-hearted.

Rowley, thinking perhaps that it would relieve her to cry, sat still and said no word. Presently he lit a cigarette. I'm being stupid. It's in my bag. He made me promise to take it. I know it's idiotic. And now I'm thankful he died. I know now that my life was wretched with him and he had nothing to look forward to but hopeless misery.

He was drunk. He was driving at sixty miles an hour and skidded on a slippery road. He died in a few hours. Mercifully I was able to get to him. His last words were: 'I've always loved you, Mary. Rowley lit another cigarette on the stub of the first.

He's the Empire-builder; it's not a type that has ever very much appealed to me. He's strong, he's clever, he's trustworthy. Go on with his virtues. He's ambitious. He's a man who has done great things and he'll do still greater in future.

It may be I can help him. I can't hope that you'll think it anything but idiotic when I tell you that I should like to be of some use in the world.

Because you think of nothing but having a good time and as many women as are fools enough to fall for you. I was lucky enough to inherit an income which made it unnecessary for me to earn my living. Do you think I should have got some job that would have taken the bread out of the mouth of a poor devil who needed it? So far as I know I've only got this one life to dispose of. I like it awfully. I'm in the fortunate position of being able to live for living's sake. What a fool I should be if I didn't make the most of my opportunities!

I like women, and strangely enough they like me. I'm young and I know youth doesn't last for ever. Why shouldn't I have as good a time as I can while I have the chance? It may be that I'd be easier to live with.

I should certainly be more fun. You are suggesting a much more temporary arrangement. I was divorced a couple of months ago. Women have funny ideas about marriage. It makes things easier all round if there's never any question of that.

We all know where we are then. With the idea that if I behaved myself and gave satisfaction you might in due course reward me with a wedding ring? Do you? What on earth put it in your head? You see, when you told me about your husband I suddenly realised that I was terribly fond of you.

That's different from being in love, you know, but I'm in love too. I feel a great tenderness toward you. You are a devil, you seem to know instinctively what to say that'll melt a woman. It's lucky for you that I have a cool head and a sense of humour. Let's go back to Florence.

I'll drop you at your hotel. I knew it; but you would be if you gave yourself half a chance. But I don't want to give myself half a chance. Thank you for letting me talk to you. It was hard having no one I could talk to. You've helped me to make up my mind. All you've said, all I've said, the recollection of the life with my husband, the misery, the mortification—well, against that Edgar stands like a great rock; he's so strong and so staunch.

I know I can rely on him; he'd never let me down, because he couldn't.

He offers me security. I have so great an affection for him at this moment that it's almost love. His remark had given her a moment's irritation, not because it reflected on her driving, but because for some reason it made what she had just said seem a trifle high-flown. He chuckled.

I shall be vexed if you pitch me into either one or the other. He lit a cigarette and watched her as she advanced, turned the wheel with an effort of all her strength, stopped the engine and started it again, put the clutch in reverse and gingerly backed, grew very hot, and eventually got the car round and set off on the homeward journey.

They drove in silence till they reached the hotel. It was late now and the door was shut. Rowley made no attempt to get out. She gave him a questioning look and with a smile he turned to her. Oh, I know, you've turned me down.

That's all right. Though I dare say I'd have made a better husband than you think. But you're a fool to marry a man twenty-five years older than yourself. How old are you?

Thirty at the outside. You're not a fish. One only has to look at your mouth and the warmth of your eyes, and at the lines of your body, to know that you're a passionate and sensual woman. Oh, I know you had a rotten break. But at your age one recovers from those things; you'll fall in love again. D'you think you can ignore your sexual instincts?

That beautiful body of yours is made for love; it won't allow you to deny it. You're too young to shut the door on life. You talk as though bed were its aim and end. Some have said they did. You can't think how little they meant to me. I can't say I've resisted temptation; I've never been tempted. They last so short a time.

Up At The Villa

What's the good of riches if one does nothing with them? You're a kind woman and a generous one. Haven't you ever the desire to give of your riches? I'm afraid you'll think me even more foolish than you do. But tell me all the same. It's true that sometimes I felt that I had something to give that might mean a great deal to the person I gave it to.

Does that sound frightfully conceited? It's the plain truth. If ever I'd taken a lover it wouldn't have been a man like you. My poor Rowley, you're the last man I would ever have had an affair with. But I've sometimes thought that if I ever ran across someone who was poor, alone and unhappy, who'd never had any pleasure in life, who'd never known any of the good things money can download—and if I could give him a unique experience, an hour of absolute happiness, something that he'd never dreamt of and that would never be repeated, then I'd give him gladly everything I had to give.

Marry your Empire-builder and be damned to you. The hill was steep and wound sharply with horseshoe turns. About half-way up was a little semi-circular terrace, with a tall, very old cypress and a parapet in front, from which one got a view of the cathedral and the towers of Florence.

Tempted by the beauty of the night Mary stopped the car and got out. She walked to the edge and looked over. The sight that met her eyes, the valley flooded with the full moon under the vastness of the cloudless sky, was so lovely that it wrung her heart with a throb of pain. Suddenly she was aware that a man was standing in the shadow of the cypress. She saw the gleam of his cigarette. He came towards her. She was a trifle startled, but had no intention of showing it. He took off his hat.

He spoke English well enough but with a foreign accent. The people I live with are very good to me, but they are poor and they need the money. Now I shall be able to pay them.

I stopped to look at the view. I know that you have a beautiful garden and there are frescoes in the villa. How should I? The contadini have told me about it. He was a pleasant-spoken, rather shy young man; she remembered how ill at ease he had looked in the restaurant. When would it be convenient?

She had no wish to go to bed. The garden is never so beautiful as under the full moon. I'll drive you up. She continued on her way and they came to a group of cottages huddled together.

She slowed down and looked reflectively at the poverty-stricken little houses. They were horribly sordid. She drove on and presently they came to the gates of her villa. They stood open and she drove in. She parked the car and they walked up the narrow drive. The principal rooms and Mary's bedroom were on the second floor, to which you ascended by a fine flight of steps. She opened the door and turned on the lights.

There was nothing much to see in the hall and she took the young man straight into the drawing-room with the painted walls. It was a noble apartment and the owners of the villa had furnished it with period pieces of fine quality. Flowers arranged in great vases mitigated its stately severity.

The frescoes were somewhat damaged and had been none too well restored, but with all those figures in their sixteenth-century clothes they gave an impression of a multifarious and magnificent vitality.

I never realised that people could possess them. She did not think it necessary to tell him that there was not a chair in which you could sit with comfort nor that, with those marble floors and that vaulted ceiling, except in the warmest of warm weather you shivered with cold.

It belongs to friends of mine.

They've lent it to me while they're away. You are beautiful and it's right that you should possess beautiful things. Wine would go to my head. But never mind about that; I shall eat to-morrow. Come into the kitchen and we'll see if we can't find something for you to eat now.

This is better than food. Let me see the garden with the moon shining. I'm going to make you some supper and then you shall see anything you like. It was vast, with a stone floor and a huge old-fashioned range where you might have cooked for fifty people.

Nina and Ciro were long since in bed and asleep and the cook had gone home to her cottage half-way down the hill. Mary and the stranger, hunting about for food, felt like a pair of burglars. They found bread and wine, eggs, bacon and butter.

Mary turned on the electric stove which the Leonards had put in, started to toast some slices of bread and broke the eggs into a frying-pan to scramble them.

What is your name? Have you ever been to England? I learnt it at school and at the University. Like a princess in a fairy story. I can scramble eggs and fry bacon because that was one of the gifts I received at my christening from my fairy godmother. It was a large room with a painted ceiling, with a tapestry at each end and great gilt-wood sconces on the side walls. They sat opposite one another in tall stately chairs at a refectory table.

He wore no tie. By the light of the tall candles on the table his eyes were dark and cavernous. He had a strange head with close-cropped black hair, high cheek-bones, hollow cheeks, a pallid skin and a look of strain which was somewhat moving.

It occurred to Mary that in costume, dressed, say, like one of those young princes in a picture by Bronzino at the Uffizi, he would have been very nearly beautiful. I live in a prison and there's no escape from it. I'm not a violinist. When I escaped from Austria I got work in a hotel, but business was bad and I was sent away. I've had one or two odd jobs, but it's difficult to get them when you're a foreigner and your papers aren't in order.

I play the fiddle when I get the chance just to keep body and soul together, but I don't get the chance every day. We tried to organise resistance.

It was stupid of course. We hadn't a hope. The only result was that two of us were shot and the rest put in a concentration camp. They put me in for six months, but I escaped and crossed the mountains into Italy. It was a lame and inadequate thing to say, but it was all she could think of. He gave her an ironical smile. There are thousands and thousands of us in the world now.

Anyhow I'm free. But he made an impatient gesture and laughed. Let me enjoy this priceless moment. Nothing has ever happened to me like this in all my life. I want to enjoy it so that whatever comes to me later it will be a recollection that I can always treasure. It had been almost a joke, what she had said to Rowley, the reverie of an idle day that, when the moment came, she knew she would shrink from.

Had the moment come now? She felt queerly reckless. She drank very little as a rule and the strong red wine she had been drinking to keep him company had gone to her head. There was something mysteriously disturbing in thus sitting in that vast room with its memories of long ago opposite this young man with the tragic face.

It was long past midnight. The air that came in through the open windows was warm and scented. Mary felt a sort of languor running through her excitement; her heart seemed to melt in her bosom and at the same time the blood seemed to race madly through her veins.

Up At The Villa

She rose abruptly from the table. On the way through he paused to look at a handsome cassone that stood against the wall; then he caught sight of the gramophone.

By chance the record was that of a Strauss waltz. He gave a little cry of delight. It's one of our dear Viennese waltzes. His face was transfigured. She had an intuition of what he wanted to ask her, and saw at the same time that he was too timid to speak. She smiled. I dance better than I play. Then she took his hand and led him out into the garden. By the garish light of day it had sometimes a look that was a trifle forlorn, like a woman much loved who has lost her loveliness; but now under the full moon, with its trimmed hedges and ancient trees, with its grotto and its lawns, it was thrilling and secret.

The centuries fell away and wandering there you felt yourself the inhabitant of a fresher, younger world in which instinct was more reckless and consequences less material. The light summer air was scented with the white flowers of night.

They walked silently, hand-in-hand. You're kind and good and generous. You deserve happiness. I should like to think that you have everything in the world you desire. Nothing so wonderful will ever happen to me again. I shall think of it all my life.

I shall always have this evening to remember, the glimpse of your beauty and the recollection of this lovely spot. I shall always think of you as a goddess in heaven and I shall pray to you as though you were the Madonna.

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She gently touched his face. Suddenly he fell on his knees and kissed the hem of her dress. Then a great exaltation seized her.

She took his head in her hands, raising him towards her, and kissed his eyes and his mouth. There was something solemn and mystical in the action.

She had a feeling that was strange to her. Her heart was filled with loving kindness. He rose to his feet and passionately clasped her in his arms. He was twenty-three. She was not a goddess to pray to, but a woman to possess. They went back into the silent house.

Mary was sitting in a straight-backed antique chair and the youth sat at her feet leaning his head against her knees. He was smoking a cigarette and in the darkness the glow shone red. In answer to her questioning he told her that his father had been head of the police in one of the smaller towns of Austria during the Dollfuss Government and he had put down with severity the various agitations which disturbed the peace during those troubled times. When Schuschnigg became head of the State after the assassination of the little peasant Chancellor, his firmness and determined attitude had maintained him in his post.

He favoured the restoration of the Archduke Otto because he thought that this was the only way to prevent Austria, which he loved with ardent patriotism, from being absorbed by Germany.

Reward Yourself

During the three years that followed he aroused the bitter enmity of the Austrian Nazis by the stern measures he took to curb their treasonable activities.

On that fatal day when the German troops marched into the defenceless little country he shot himself through the heart. The young Karl, his boy, was then finishing his education. He had specialised in the history of art, but was going to be a schoolmaster. At the moment nothing could be done and with rage in his heart he listened among the crowd to the speech Hitler made at Linz from the balcony of the Landhaus when he entered the town in triumph. He heard the Austrians shout themselves hoarse with joy as they acclaimed their conqueror.

But this enthusiasm was soon followed by disillusion, and when some of the bolder spirits gathered together to form a secret association to fight the alien rule by every means in their power they found many adherents. Karl was among them. They held meetings which they were convinced were private; they conspired in an ineffective way; they were no more than boys any of them, and they never dreamt that every move they made, every word they said, was reported at the headquarters of the secret police.

One day they were all arrested. Two were shot as a warning to the rest, and the others were sent to a concentration camp. Karl escaped after three months and by good luck was able to get over the frontier into the Italian Tyrol. He had no passport nor papers of any kind, for these had been taken from him in the concentration camp, and he lived in terror of being arrested and either put in prison as a vagabond or deported back to the Reich where a harsh punishment awaited him.

Just where your fingers are. He gave a mirthless laugh. His fate seemed so cruel that any words she might have found to console him could only have been futile. He pressed her hand. It's all been worth it for this wonderful night. Mary thought of his miserable story. There was no way out. What could she do? Give him money? That would help him for a little while perhaps, but that was all; he was a romantic creature, his high-flown, extravagant language was that of a boy who knew more of books than, for all his terrible experiences, of life, and it was quite possible that he would refuse to take anything from her.

On a sudden a cock crew. The sound broke the silence of the night so shrilly that she was startled. She took her hand away from his. It's so late. He scrambled to his feet. He looked for his coat and shoes and she switched on a light. When he was once more dressed he took her in his arms again. Now I have you I have everything. Let the future look after itself. Life's not so bad; something will turn up. She freed herself again.

I'm leaving here very soon—in three or four days, I expect. You see, I'm not free. They told me you were a widow. She did not know what prevented her.

She hedged. I tell you it's impossible we should ever meet again. You don't want to ruin my life, do you?

Once more, only once more. Or else I shall die. I tell you it's impossible. When we part now we part for ever. Don't you love me? She did not want to be unkind, but thought it necessary at that moment to tell the plain truth. She shook her head and smiled a little. I wanted to give you a few moments' happiness. How monstrously cruel!

I didn't mean to be cruel. My heart was full of tenderness and pity. Why didn't you leave me alone? You have shown me heaven and now you want to thrust me back to earth. There was something tragic in his indignation.

She was vaguely impressed. It had never occurred to her that he would take it like that. His white face had gone whiter still and it was like a death mask. It made her uneasy. She knew now what a fool she'd been. The servants slept far away and if she screamed they would not hear her.

Reward Yourself

Idiot, idiot that she was! The only thing was to keep her head and not show him that she was frightened. If there's anything I can do to make up I'll only be too glad to do it. Are you offering me money? I don't want your money. How much money have you got here? It gave her a start. She had never fired one in her life. We have started our journey through this unique estate by visiting the green areas.

The route leads through gardens: the Spanish, the Florentine, the stone lapidarium , the Japanese, the Exotic, the rose, the Provencal, the French, and the Sevres I have no idea how to translate it … gardens.

In the French garden, located directly in front of the villa, fountains dance to the rhythm of music every 20 minutes. Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild — practical information The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is open daily from 10am to 6pm, and from July to August, from 10am to 7pm.

For details, visit villa-ephrussi. It is worth spending a minimum of one hour to visit the gardens, and a second hour to see the house.He hit her hand roughly, so that, crying out with the pain, she let go instinctively, with a swift gesture he picked her up, carried her across the room and roughly threw her down on the bed.

It seemed an interminable time that he was away. Or else this would be a neverending process! Read it Forward Read it first. A Writer's Notebook W. I'll manage. I or another woman, it made no difference, and his kisses made me sick and his desire horrified and mortified me.

She was satisfied to lounge about the garden and read books, and if she wanted to go out she preferred to get into the Fiat and explore the country round about. And suddenly, her life is utterly, irrevocably altered.

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