Read Beauty for Ashes Online

Authors: Grace Livingston Hill

Beauty for Ashes

BOOK: Beauty for Ashes
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© 2013 by Grace Livingston Hill

Print ISBN 978-1-62416-321-0

eBook Editions:
Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-62836-295-4
Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-62836-296-1

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.

All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

Cover design: Faceout Studio,
www.faceoutstudio.com

Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
www.barbourbooks.com

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses
.

Printed in the United States of America.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

About the Author

Chapter 1

1930s New England

T
he Sutherland home sat like some royal palace at the top of a grassy eminence, nestled about by dark pines and hemlocks, its lawn sloping softly down to the highway where tall iron grillwork surrounded the estate and stone pillars made a stately entrance for the driveway. Thick clustering rhododendrons did their best to hide the place from the casual gazer, and glossy laurel branches filled spaces here and there. An avenue of trees gave mystery to the driveway as it disappeared into the thickly shrouded entrance and wound around till it reached the dwelling that stood like a white, gleaming jewel at the top of the rise, not quite hidden from view, tantalizingly beautiful in the morning sun.

Behind the house were terraces down to a blue-tiled swimming pool, and a smaller pool where lilies floated lazily, and below that a sunken garden. Beyond, a small native woodland with old forest trees carefully tended gave background to the setting.

Off to the right of the house on another eminence not quite so high, well hidden by trees and shrubbery, and somewhat farther back from the highway, another stone dwelling was fast nearing completion. It was called by the architect and the family “the bungalow,” but it might have been but another, somewhat smaller palace, so complete and wide-spreading it was. Gloria Sutherland was to be married next week to Stanwood Asher, and this bungalow, a wedding gift from her father, was to be her new home.

The Ashers lived on another hilltop across the town of Roselands, in a mansion of fine old Norman architecture, and were the moving spirits in the social life of the place. What the Ashers and Sutherlands did set the pace for the rest of the set, and even the humbler residents of Roselands turned to look when Nancy Asher rode through town on her fine-blooded mare or her brother Stanwood shot by in his fabulous-priced high-powered car, and they stood to admire when either Gloria or Vanna Sutherland were driven by in the handsome Sutherland limousine. Both Gloria and Vanna were worth a second look as well, being the very most charming girls of the younger, smart set of Roselands and wearing clothes straight from the most noted creators of Europe.

It was a bright, beautiful morning in spring. There were daffodils in golden banks here and there along the borders of the driveway, and the terraces behind the house were a marvelous broidery of color in crocuses, hyacinths, and tulips. Great forsythia bushes shed brightness against the dark pines effectively, like sudden bursts of sunshine, a flame of red tulips picked out a scallop below the white stone wall, and out on the edge of the woods pink and white dogwood had decked themselves in blossoms. It was a morning that went well in one’s mind with the thought of weddings; large, priceless weddings where money was lavished without stint.

Gloria Sutherland had arisen at an hour that she called early. It was ten o’clock. She had breakfasted, mainly on orange juice and coffee, in her room, and in her yellow velvet robe went straight to the sewing room where the fitter awaited who had come up from one of the city shops to make an alteration in an orchid satin evening frock.

She looked like a daffodil herself as she entered the sewing room and stood by the open window with the sunlight falling on her mop of yellow curls. The yellow velvet gown coming down softly to the little green satin shoes she was wearing completed the illusion of a yellow flower. She stood and basked in the sunshine, and the sunlight on the velvet cast a golden glow over her piquant face. The seamstress, who was no longer young and never had been beautiful, looked at her with a wistful admiration and sighed enviously to think what a charmed life this beautiful creature led.

Gloria threw the golden garment aside and allowed herself to be carefully arrayed in the delicate orchid satin. She stood in front of the long pier glass and watched the seamstress as she deftly put in a pin here, smoothed out a pucker there, gave just a little different sweep to the deep flounce that half circled the curiously fashioned skirt, and spread out the line of the long train.

“It is a lovely dress, isn’t it?” said Gloria childishly, joyously. That was one thing about Gloria that made everybody like her—she was so natural and childlike and happy. Her wealth and beauty had not spoiled her or made her snobbish.

“She is like her father,” the servants whispered among themselves.

After the pinning was complete, Gloria gave herself another look and walked the length of the room and back, watching the sweep of the train as she walked.

“I want Vanna to see this before I take it off!” she suddenly exclaimed. “I wonder if she has come in yet. I thought I heard a car. She was away at a house party last night, but she said she’d be home early. Just wait a minute, and I’ll run down and see if she has come yet.”

Lightly Gloria caught up the gleaming train, ran down the deeply carpeted stairs to the floor below, and then paused to listen. Someone had just come in the door. Yes, that was Vanna’s voice. She was talking to Brandon, their younger brother home from school for the weekend. Her tone was wildly excited as she said, “Oh, Brand! Have you seen the paper?”

“No,” growled Brandon, “I just came downstairs. Anything the matter? You look like last year’s tax bills. What’s happened?”

“Plenty!” said Vanna tragically. “Stan Asher’s been killed!”

“Killed!” said Brandon, echoing her word stupidly. “How? When?”

“Shot!” said Vanna with a gasp of her breath. “Shot in a nightclub in New York last night! Shot with a dancing girl he had with him. They’re both dead! They’ve arrested the girl’s lover. He didn’t make any attempt to get away!”

“Good night!” said Brandon in a shocked voice as if he had suddenly grown up.

“We mustn’t tell Gloria!” said Vanna breathlessly. “Not yet! Not till Dad comes! He’ll be sure to be here soon. He’ll see it in the paper. He’ll come to her right away! Better go hide the paper. It says awful things about Stan. She mustn’t
ever
see it!”

“She’ll have to know pretty soon if Dad doesn’t get here!” said the boy gravely. “And if Mother finds out—”

“Is Mother down yet?”

“I don’t think so. Her door was shut when I came by. What if we phone down to the office to see if Dad has got it yet? He went to New York yesterday, didn’t he? You sure he was coming back today?”

“No, but you know he’ll come when he sees this. And he can’t help seeing it. It’s in all the papers, great big headlines: S
TANWOOD
A
SHER
, W
EALTHY
H
EIR TO
M
ILLIONS
, S
HOT
D
OWN WITH
C
HORUS
G
IRL BY
J
EALOUS
L
OVER IN
N
OTORIOUS
N
IGHTCLUB!
Oh, it’s
awful!
To think anything like that could come to our family!”

Vanna caught her breath in a great sob and then suddenly held her breath and looked up the stairs, her eyes large with horror, for there stood Gloria in her lovely orchid dress with her gold hair aflame and her eyes wide pools of dark blue horror in a white, white face.

“Vanna! What is it? I’m not a child! Tell me everything!
Quick!”

Vanna gave her young brother a frightened glance and sped up the stairs.

“It’s about Stan, dear!” she said, trying to make her voice sound steady. “It’s bad news!”

“Yes! I heard!” said Gloria. “Tell it over again slowly, just as you said it!”

Vanna gave a little gasp like a sob as she spoke the words, “Stan was killed in a nightclub in New York last night, dear.”

“And the girl?” said Gloria, fixing her sister with a keen glance.

Vanna caught another little sob in her throat.

“She was killed, too. By a jealous lover!”

Gloria reached out and caught hold of the stair railing.

“Brand!” she called to the brother who lingered in blank horror below. “Bring me that paper! Yes, please—!” as she saw Vanna shake her head. “I’ve got to know everything right away! Bring it, Brand! Vanna, won’t you please help me off with this terrible dress?”

Vanna drew her sister into Gloria’s own room and began to unfasten the hooks with fingers that trembled.

“There—couldn’t be a mistake, could there Vanna?” asked Gloria, casting an imploring glance her way as the dress was lifted over her head.

“No, there couldn’t be a mistake,” said Vanna sadly. “I telephoned Nance! She said her father went up on the early morning train. He phoned about ten minutes ago. It’s all true!”

Vanna looked around for Gloria’s robe.

“No,” said Gloria sharply, as her sister brought out a blue silk robe. “No, I’ve got to have a dress on!”

“You ought to lie down, dear!” soothed Vanna. “You don’t realize yet! You need to lie down and take it quietly!”

“No,” said Gloria, “I must do something! I don’t know what, but there’ll be things to do. I must have a dress on and be ready.”

Vanna searched helplessly in the closet for something appropriate. What would one wear on an occasion like this? Mourning? If Gloria was dressed, people would be likely to see her, and they would criticize whatever she had on. Clothes had always played such a large part in Vanna’s life that they seemed important even now.

But Gloria pulled out a drawer and snatched up a brown and tan knitted dress she had worn the day before and flung it on.

“Just anything! It doesn’t matter what,” she said as her sister looked askance at the dress. “Brand, is that you with the paper? And please, Brand, will you take this orchid dress up to the sewing room and tell the fitter it is perfectly all right just as it is, and she can just hang it up there when she has finished? Tell her I won’t be able to come up again today.”

BOOK: Beauty for Ashes
12.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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