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A Beleaguered City by Mrs. Oliphant

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imposture. But M. le Cure shook his head. 'It will do no good,' he said.

'But how no good?' said I. 'What good are we looking for? These are
lies, nothing but lies. Either he has deceived the poor ladies basely,
or they themselves--but this is what I cannot believe.'

'Dear friend,' he said, 'compose thyself. Have you never discovered yet
how strong is self-delusion? There will be no lying of which they are
aware. Figure to yourself what a stimulus to the imagination to know
that he was here, actually here. Even I--it suggests a hundred things to
me. The Sisters will have said to him (meaning no evil, nay meaning the
edification of the people), "But, Pierre, reflect! You must have seen
this and that. Recall thy recollections a little." And by degrees Pierre
will have found out that he remembered--more than could have been
hoped.'

'_Mon Dieu_!' I cried, out of patience, 'and you know all this, yet you
will not tell them the truth--the very truth.'

'To what good?' he said. Perhaps M. le Cure was right: but, for my part,
had I stood up in that pulpit, I should have contradicted their lies and
given no quarter. This, indeed, was what I did both in my private and
public capacity; but the people, though they loved me, did not believe
me. They said, 'The best men have their prejudices. M. le Maire is an
excellent man; but what will you? He is but human after all.'

M. le Cure and I said no more to each other on this subject. He was a
brave man, yet here perhaps he was not quite brave. And the effect of
Pierre Plastron's revelations in other quarters was to turn the awe that
had been in many minds into mockery and laughter. '_Ma foi_,' said Felix
de Bois-Sombre, 'Monseigneur St. Lambert has bad taste, mon ami Martin,
to choose Pierre Plastron for his confidant when he might have had
thee.' 'M. de Bois-Sombre does ill to laugh,' said my mother (even my
mother! she was not on my side), 'when it is known that the foolish are
often chosen to confound the wise.' But Agnes, my wife, it was she who
gave me the best consolation. She turned to me with the tears in her
beautiful eyes.

'Mon ami,' she said, 'let Monseigneur St. Lambert say what he will. He
is not God that we should put him above all. There were other saints
with other thoughts that came for thee and for me!'

All this contradiction was over when Agnes and I together took our
flowers on the _jour des morts_ to the graves we love. Glimmering among
the rest was a new cross which I had not seen before. This was the
inscription upon it:--

A PAUL LECAMUS
PARTI
LE 20 JUILLET, 1875
AVEC LES BIEN-AIMES

On it was wrought in the marble a little branch of olive. I turned to
look at my wife as she laid underneath this cross a handful of violets.
She gave me her hand still fragrant with the flowers. There was none of
his family left to put up for him any token of human remembrance. Who
but she should have done it, who had helped him to join that company and
army of the beloved? 'This was our brother,' she said; 'he will tell my
Marie what use I made of her olive leaves.'

THE END

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