Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

AFTER DARK by Wilkie Collins

Part 4 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

unsettled look, however, in her eyes, a slowly-heightening color
in her cheeks, which showed her to be at least vaguely aware that
something unusual had been taking place in the corridor.

Lomaque beckoned to Trudaine to leave her, and whispered to him:
"The prescription has worked well. You are safe for to-day. Break
the news to your sister as gently as you can. Danville--" He
stopped and listened till he satisfied himself, by the sound of
the deputy-jailer's footsteps, that the man was lounging toward
the further end of the corridor. "Danville," he resumed, "after
having mixed with the peop le outside the grate yesterday, and
having heard your names read, was arrested in the evening by
secret order from Robespierre, and sent to the Temple. What
charge will be laid to him, or when he will be brought to trial,
it is impossible to say. I only know that he is arrested. Hush!
don't talk now; my friend outside is coming back. Keep
quiet--hope everything from the chances and changes of public
affairs; and comfort yourself with the thought that you are both
safe for to-day."

"And to-morrow?" whispered Trudaine.

"Don't think of to-morrow," returned Lomaque, turning away
hurriedly to the door "Let to-morrow take care of itself."

PART THIRD.

CHAPTER 1.

ON a spring morning, in the year seventeen hundred and
ninety-eight, the public conveyance then running between
Chalons-sur-Marne and Paris sat down one of its outside
passengers at the first poststation beyond Meaux. The traveler,
an old man, after looking about him hesitatingly for a moment or
two, betook himself to a little inn opposite the post-house,
known by the sign of the Piebald Horse, and kept by the Widow
Duval--a woman who enjoyed and deserved the reputation of being
the fastest talker and the best maker of _gibelotte_ in the whole
locality.

Although the traveler was carelessly noticed by the village
idlers, and received without ceremony by the Widow Duval, he was
by no means so ordinary and uninteresting a stranger as the
rustics of the place were pleased to consider him. The time had
been when this quiet, elderly, unobtrusive applicant for
refreshment at the Piebald House was trusted with the darkest
secrets of the Reign of Terror, and was admitted at all times and
seasons to speak face to face with Maximilian Robespierre
himself. The Widow Duval and the hangers-on in front of the
post-house would have been all astonished indeed if any
well-informed personage from the metropolis had been present to
tell them that the modest old traveler with the shabby little
carpet-bag was an ex-chief agent of the secret police of Paris!

Between three and four years had elapsed since Lomaque had
exercised, for the last time, his official functions under the
Reign of Terror. His shoulders had contracted an extra stoop, and
his hair had all fallen off, except at the sides and back of his
head. In some other respects, however, advancing age seemed to
have improved rather than deteriorated him in personal
appearance. His complexion looked healthier, his expression
cheerfuller, his eyes brighter than they had ever been of late
years. He walked, too, with a brisker step than the step of old
times in the police office; and his dress, although it certainly
did not look like the costume of a man in affluent circumstances,
was cleaner and far more nearly worn than ever it had been in the
past days of his political employment at Paris.

He sat down alone in the inn parlor, and occupied the time, while
his hostess had gone to fetch the half-bottle of wine that he
ordered, in examining a dirty old card which he extricated from a
mass of papers in his pocket-book, and which bore, written on it,
these lines:

"When the troubles are over, do not forget those who remember you
with eternal gratitude. Stop at the first post-station beyond
Meaux, on the high-road to Paris, and ask at the inn for Citizen
Maurice, whenever you wish to see us or to hear of us again."

"Pray," inquired Lomaque, putting the card in his pocket when the
Widow Duval brought in the wine, "can you inform me whether a
person named Maurice lives anywhere in this neighborhood?"

"Can I inform you?" repeated the voluble widow. "Of course I can!
Citizen Maurice, and the citoyenne, his amiable sister--who is
not to be passed over because you don't mention her, my honest
man--lives within ten minutes' walk of my house. A charming
cottage, in a charming situation, inhabited by two charming
people--so quiet, so retiring, such excellent pay. I supply them
with everything--fowls, eggs, bread, butter, vegetables (not that
they eat much of anything), wine (which they don't drink half
enough of to do them good); in short, I victual the dear little
hermitage, and love the two amiable recluses with all my heart.
Ah! they have had their troubles, poor people, the sister
especially, though they never talk about them. When they first
came to live in our neighborhood--"

"I beg pardon, citoyenne, but if you would only be so kind as to
direct me--"

"Which is three--no, four--no, three years and a half ago--in
short, just after the time when that Satan of a man, Robespierre,
had his head cut off (and serve him right!), I said to my husband
(who was on his last legs then, poor man!) 'She'll die'--meaning
the lady. She didn't though. My fowls, eggs, bread, butter,
vegetables, and wine carried her through--always in combination
with the anxious care of Citizen Maurice. Yes, yes! let us be
tenderly conscientious in giving credit where credit is due; let
us never forget that the citizen Maurice contributed something to
the cure of the interesting invalid, as well as the victuals and
drink from the Piebald Horse. There she is now, the prettiest
little woman in the prettiest little cottage--"

"Where? Will you be so obliging as to tell me where?"

"And in excellent health, except that she is subject now and then
to nervous attacks; having evidently, as I believe, been struck
with some dreadful fright--most likely during that accursed time
of the Terror; for they came from Paris--you don't drink, honest
man! Why don't you drink? Very, very pretty in a pale way; figure
perhaps too thin--let me pour it out for you--but an angel of
gentleness, and attached in such a touching way to the citizen
Maurice--"

"Citizen hostess, will you, or will you not, tell me where they
live?"

"You droll little man, why did you not ask me that before, if you
wanted to know? Finish your wine, and come to the door. There's
your change, and thank you for your custom, though it isn't much.
Come to the door, I say, and don't interrupt me! You're an old
man--can you see forty yards before you? Yes, you can! Don't be
peevish--that never did anybody any good yet. Now look back,
along the road where I am pointing. You see a large heap of
stones? Good. On the other side of the heap of stones there is a
little path; you can't see that, but you can remember what I tell
you? Good. You go down the path till you get to a stream; down
the stream till you get to a bridge; down the other bank of the
stream (after crossing the bridge) till you get to an old
water-mill--a jewel of a water-mill, famous for miles round;
artists from the four quarters of the globe are always coming to
sketch it. Ah! what, you are getting peevish again? You won't
wait? Impatient old man, what a life your wife must lead, if you
have got one! Remember the bridge. Ah! your poor wife and
children, I pity them; your daughters especially Pst! pst!
Remember the bridge--peevish old man, remember the bridge!"

Walking as fast as he could out of hearing of the Widow Duval's
tongue, Lomaque took the path by the heap of stones which led out
of the high-road, crossed the stream, and arrived at the old
water-mill. Close by it stood a cottage--a rough, simple
building, with a strip of garden in front. Lomaque's observant
eyes marked the graceful arrangement of the flower-beds, and the
delicate whiteness of the curtains that hung behind the
badly-glazed narrow windows. "This must be the place," he said to
himself, as he knocked at the door with his stick. "I can see the
traces of her hand before I cross the threshold."

The door was opened. "Pray, does the citizen Maurice--" Lomaque
began, not seeing clearly, for the first moment, in the dark
little passage.

Before he could say any more his hand was grasped, his carpet-bag
was taken from him, and a well-known voice cried, "Welcome! a
thousand thousand times welcome, at last! Citizen Maurice is not
at home; but Louis Trudaine takes his place, and is overjoyed to
see once more the best and dearest of his friends!"

"I hardly know you again. How you are altered for the better!"
exclaimed Lomaque, as they entered the parlor of the cottage.

"Remember that you see me after a long freed om from anxiety.
Since I have lived here, I have gone to rest at night, and have
not been afraid of the morning," replied Trudaine. He went out
into the passage while he spoke, and called at the foot of the
one flight of stairs which the cottage possessed, "Rose! Rose!
come down! The friend whom you most wished to see has arrived at
last."

She answered the summons immediately. The frank, friendly warmth
of her greeting; her resolute determination, after the first
inquiries were over, to help the guest to take off his upper coat
with her own hands, so confused and delighted Lomaque, that he
hardly knew which way to turn, or what to say.

"This is even more trying, in a pleasant way, to a lonely old
fellow like me," he was about to add, "than the unexpected
civility of the hot cup of coffee years ago"; but remembering
what recollections even that trifling circumstance might recall,
he checked himself.

"More trying than what?" asked Rose, leading him to a chair.

"Ah! I forget. I am in my dotage already!" he answered,
confusedly. "I have not got used just yet to the pleasure of
seeing your kind face again." It was indeed a pleasure to look at
that face now, after Lomaque's last experience of it. Three years
of repose, though they had not restored to Rose those youthful
attractions which she had lost forever in the days of the Terror,
had not passed without leaving kindly outward traces of their
healing progress. Though the girlish roundness had not returned
to her cheeks, or the girlish delicacy of color to her
complexion, her eyes had recovered much of their old softness,
and her expression all of its old winning charm. What was left of
latent sadness in her face, and of significant quietness in her
manner, remained gently and harmlessly--remained rather to show
what had been once than what was now.

When they were all seated, there was, however, something like a
momentary return to the suspense and anxiety of past days in
their faces, as Trudaine, looking earnestly at Lomaque, asked,
"Do you bring any news from Paris?"

"None," he replied; "but excellent news, instead, from Rouen. I
have heard, accidentally, through the employer whom I have been
serving since we parted, that your old house by the riverside is
to let again."

Rose started from her chair. "Oh, Louis, if we could only live
there once more! My flower-garden?" she continued to Lomaque.

"Cultivated throughout," he answered, "by the late proprietor."

"And the laboratory?" added her brother.

"Left standing," said Lomaque. "Here is a letter with all the
particulars. You may depend upon them, for the writer is the
person charged with the letting of the house."

Trudaine looked over the letter eagerly.

"The price is not beyond our means," he said. "After our three
years' economy here, we can afford to give something for a great
pleasure."

"Oh, what a day of happiness it will be when we go home again!"
cried Rose. "Pray write to your friend at once," she added,
addressing Lomaque, "and say we take the house, before any one
else is beforehand with us!"

He nodded, and folding up the letter mechanically in the old
official form, made a note on it in the old official manner.
Trudaine observed the action, and felt its association with past
times of trouble and terror. His face grew grave again as he said
to Lomaque, "And is this good news really all the news of
importance you have to tell us?"

Lomaque hesitated, and fidgeted in his chair. "What other news I
have will bear keeping," he replied. "There are many questions I
should like to ask first, about your sister and yourself. Do you
mind allowing me to refer for a moment to the time when we last
met?"

He addressed this inquiry to Rose, who answered in the negative;
but her voice seemed to falter, even in saying the one word "No."
She turned her head away when she spoke; and Lomaque noticed that
her hands trembled as she took up some work lying on a table
near, and hurriedly occupied herself with it.

"We speak as little about that time as possible," said Trudaine,
looking significantly toward his sister; "but we have some
questions to ask you in our turn; so the allusion, for this once,
is inevitable. Your sudden disappearance at the very crisis of
that time of danger has not yet been fully explained to us. The
one short note which you left behind you helped us to guess at
what had happened rather than to understand it."

"I can easily explain it now," answered Lomaque. "The sudden
overthrow of the Reign of Terror, which was salvation to you, was
destruction to me. The new republican reign was a reign of mercy,
except for the tail of Robespierre, as the phrase ran then. Every
man who had been so wicked or so unfortunate as to be involved,
even in the meanest capacity, with the machinery of the
government of Terror, was threatened, and justly, with the fate
of Robespierre. I, among others, fell under this menace of death.
I deserved to die, and should have resigned myself to the
guillotine but for you. From the course taken by public events, I
knew you would be saved; and although your safety was the work of
circumstances, still I had a hand in rendering it possible at the
outset; and a yearning came over me to behold you both free again
with my own eyes--a selfish yearning to see in you a living,
breathing, real result of the one good impulse of my heart, which
I could look back on with satisfaction. This desire gave me a new
interest in life. I resolved to escape death if it were possible.
For ten days I lay hidden in Paris. After that--thanks to certain
scraps of useful knowledge which my experience in the office of
secret police had given me--I succeeded in getting clear of Paris
and in making my way safely to Switzerland. The rest of my story
is so short and so soon told that I may as well get it over at
once. The only relation I knew of in the world to apply to was a
cousin of mine (whom I had never seen before), established as a
silk-mercer at Berne. I threw myself on this man's mercy. He
discovered that I was likely, with my business habits, to be of
some use to him, and he took me into his house. I worked for what
he pleased to give me, traveled about for him in Switzerland,
deserved his confidence, and won it. Till within the last few
months I remained with him; and only left my employment to enter,
by my master's own desire, the house of his brother, established
also as a silk-mercer, at Chalons-sur-Marne. In the
counting-house of this merchant I am corresponding clerk, and am
only able to come and see you now by offering to undertake a
special business mission for my employer at Paris. It is
drudgery, at my time of life, after all I have gone through--but
my hard work is innocent work. I am not obliged to cringe for
every crown-piece I put in my pocket--not bound to denounce,
deceive, and dog to death other men, before I can earn my bread,
and scrape together money enough to bury me. I am ending a bad,
base life harmlessly at last. It is a poor thing to do, but it is
something done--and even that contents a man at my age. In short,
I am happier than I used to be, or at least less ashamed when I
look people like you in the face."

"Hush! hush!" interrupted Rose, laying her hand on his arm. "I
cannot allow you to talk of yourself in that way, even in jest."

"I was speaking in earnest," answered Lomaque, quietly; "but I
won't weary you with any more words about myself. My story is
told."

"All?" asked Trudaine. He looked searchingly, almost
suspiciously, at Lomaque, as he put the question. "All?" he
repeated. "Yours is a short story, indeed, my good friend!
Perhaps you have forgotten some of it?"

Again Lomaque fidgeted and hesitated.

"Is it not a little hard on an old man to be always asking
questions of him, and never answering one of his inquiries in
return?" he said to Rose, very gayly as to manner, but rather
uneasily as to look.

"He will not speak out till we two are alone," thought Trudaine.
"It is best to risk nothing, and to humor him."

"Come, come," he said aloud; "no grumbling. I admit that it is
your turn to hear our story now; and I will do my best to gratify
you. But before I begin," he added, turnin g to his sister, "let
me suggest, Rose, that if you have any household matters to
settle upstairs--"

"I know what you mean," she interrupted, hurriedly, taking up the
work which, during the last few minutes, she had allowed to drop
into her lap; "but I am stronger than you think; I can face the
worst of our recollections composedly. Go on, Louis; pray go
on--I am quite fit to stop and hear you."

"You know what we suffered in the first days of our suspense,
after the success of your stratagem," said Trudaine, turning to
Lomaque. "I think it was on the evening after we had seen you for
the last time at St. Lazare that strange, confused rumors of an
impending convulsion in Paris first penetrated within our prison
walls. During the next few days the faces of our jailers were
enough to show us that those rumors were true, and that the Reign
of Terror was actually threatened with overthrow at the hands of
the Moderate Party. We had hardly time to hope everything from
this blessed change before the tremendous news of Robespierre's
attempted suicide, then of his condemnation and execution,
reached us. The confusion produced in the prison was beyond all
description. The accused who had been tried and the accused who
had not been tried got mingled together. From the day of
Robespierre's arrest, no orders came to the authorities, no
death-lists reached the prison. The jailers, terrified by rumors
that the lowest accomplices of the tyrant would be held
responsible, and be condemned with him, made no attempt to
maintain order. Some of them--that hunchback man among the
rest--deserted their duties altogether. The disorganization was
so complete, that when the commissioners from the new Government
came to St. Lazare, some of us were actually half starving from
want of the bare necessities of life. To inquire separately into
our cases was found to be impossible. Sometimes the necessary
papers were lost; sometimes what documents remained were
incomprehensible to the new commissioners. They were obliged, at
last, to make short work of it by calling us up before them in
dozens. Tried or not tried, we had all been arrested by the
tyrant, had all been accused of conspiracy against him, and were
all ready to hail the new Government as the salvation of France.
In nine cases out of ten, our best claim to be discharged was
derived from these circumstances. We were trusted by Tallien and
the men of the Ninth Thermidor, because we had been suspected by
Robespierre, Couthon, and St. Just. Arrested informally, we were
now liberated informally. When it came to my sister's turn and
mine, we were not under examination five minutes. No such thing
as a searching question was asked of us; I believe we might even
have given our own names with perfect impunity. But I had
previously instructed Rose that we were to assume our mother's
maiden name--Maurice. As the citizen and citoyenne Maurice,
accordingly, we passed out of prison--under the same name we have
lived ever since in hiding here. Our past repose has depended,
our future happiness will depend, on our escape from death being
kept the profoundest secret among us three. For one all
sufficient reason, which you can easily guess at, the brother and
sister Maurice must still know nothing of Louis Trudaine and Rose
Danville, except that they were two among the hundreds of victims
guillotined during the Reign of Terror."

He spoke the last sentence with a faint smile, and with the air
of a man trying, in spite of himself, to treat a grave subject
lightly. His face clouded again, however, in a moment, when he
looked toward his sister, as he ceased. Her work had once more
dropped on her lap, her face was turned away so that he could not
see it; but he knew by the trembling of her clasped hands, as
they rested on her knee, and by the slight swelling of the veins
on her neck which she could not hide from him, that her boasted
strength of nerve had deserted her. Three years of repose had not
yet enabled her to hear her marriage name uttered, or to be
present when past times of deathly suffering and terror were
referred to, without betraying the shock in her face and manner.
Trudaine looked saddened, but in no way surprised by what he saw.
Making a sign to Lomaque to say nothing, he rose and took up his
sister's hood, which lay on a window-seat near him.

"Come, Rose," he said, "the sun is shining, the sweet spring air
is inviting us out. Let us have a quiet stroll along the banks of
the stream. Why should we keep our good friend here cooped up in
this narrow little room, when we have miles and miles of
beautiful landscape to show him on the other side of the
threshold? Come, it is high treason to Queen Nature to remain
indoors on such a morning as this."

Without waiting for her to reply, he put on her hood, drew her
arm through his, and led the way out. Lomaque's face grew grave
as he followed them.

"I am glad I only showed the bright side of my budget of news in
her presence," thought he. "She is not well at heart yet. I might
have hurt her, poor thing! I might have hurt her again sadly, if
I had not held my tongue!"

They walked for a little while down the banks of the stream,
talking of indifferent matters; then returned to the cottage. By
that time Rose had recovered her spirits, and could listen with
interest and amusement to Lomaque's dryly-humorous description of
his life as a clerk at Chalons-sur-Marte. They parted for a
little while at the cottage door. Rose retired to the upstairs
room from which she had been summoned by her brother. Trudaine
and Lomaque returned to wander again along the banks of the
stream.

With one accord, and without a word passing between them, they
left the neighborhood of the cottage hurriedly; then stopped on a
sudden, and attentively looked each other in the face--looked in
silence for an instant. Trudaine spoke first.

"I thank you for having spared her," he began, abruptly. "She is
not strong enough yet to bear hearing of a new misfortune, unless
I break the tidings to her first."

"You suspect me, then, of bringing bad news?" said Lomaque.

"I know you do. When I saw your first look at her, after we were
all seated in the cottage parlor, I knew it. Speak without fear,
without caution, without one useless word of preface. After three
years of repose, if it pleases God to afflict us again, I can
bear the trial calmly; and, if need be, can strengthen her to
bear it calmly, too. I say again, Lomaque, speak at once, and
speak out! I know your news is bad, for I know beforehand that it
is news of Danville."

"You are right; my bad news is news of him."

"He has discovered the secret of our escape from the guillotine?"

"No--he has not a suspicion of it. He believes--as his mother, as
every one does--that you were both executed the day after the
Revolutionary Tribunal sentenced you to death."

"Lomaque, you speak positively of that belief of his--but you
cannot be certain of it."

"I can, on the most indisputable, the most startling evidence--on
the authority of Danville's own act. You have asked me to speak
out--"

"I ask you again--I insist on it! Your news, Lomaque--your news,
without another word of preface!"

"You shall have it without another word of preface. Danville is
on the point of being married."

As the answer was given they both stopped by the bank of the
stream, and again looked each other in the face. There was a
minute of dead silence between them. During that minute, the
water bubbling by happily over its bed of pebbles seemed
strangely loud, the singing of birds in a little wood by the
stream-side strangely near and shrill, in both their ears. The
light breeze, for all its midday warmth, touched their cheeks
coldly; and the spring sunlight pouring on their faces felt as if
it were glimmering on them through winter clouds.

"Let us walk on," said Trudaine, in a low voice. "I was prepared
for bad news, yet not for that. Are you certain of what you have
just told me?"

"As certain as that the stream here is flowing by our side. Hear
how I made the discovery, and you will doubt no longer. Before
last week I knew nothing of Danville, except that his arrest on
suspicion by Robes pierre's order was, as events turned out, the
saving of his life. He was imprisoned, as I told you, on the
evening after he had heard your names read from the death-list at
the prison grate. He remained in confinement at the Temple,
unnoticed in the political confusion out-of-doors, just as you
remained unnoticed at St. Lazare, and he profited precisely in
the same manner that you profited by the timely insurrection
which overthrew the Reign of Terror. I knew this, and I knew that
he walked out of prison in the character of a persecuted victim
of Robespierre's--and, for better than three years past, I knew
no more. Now listen. Last week I happened to be waiting in the
shop of my employer, Citizen Clairfait, for some papers to take
into the counting-house, when an old man enters with a sealed
parcel, which he hands to one of the shopmen, saying:

" 'Give that to Citizen Clairfait.'

" 'Any name?' says the shopman.

" 'The name is of no consequence,' answers the old man; 'but if
you please, you can give mine. Say the parcel came from Citizen
Dubois;' and then he goes out. His name, in connection with his
elderly look, strikes me directly.

" 'Does that old fellow live at Chalons?' I ask

" 'No,' says the shopman. 'He is here in attendance on a customer
of ours--an old ex-aristocrat named Danville. She is on a visit
in our town.'

"I leave you to imagine how that reply startles and amazes me.
The shopman can answer none of the other questions I put to him;
but the next day I am asked to dinner by my employer (who, for
his brother's sake, shows me the utmost civility). On entering
the room, I find his daughter just putting away a
lavender-colored silk scarf, on which she has been embroidering
in silver what looks to me very like a crest and coat-of-arms.

" 'I don't mind your seeing what I am about, Citizen Lomaque,'
says she; 'for I know my father can trust you. That scarf is sent
back to us by the purchaser, an ex-emigrant lady of the old
aristocratic school, to have her family coat-of-arms embroidered
on it.'

" 'Rather a dangerous commission even in these mercifully
democratic times, is it not?' says I.

" 'The old lady, you must know,' says she, 'is as proud as
Lucifer; and having got back safely to France in these days of
moderate republicanism, thinks she may now indulge with impunity
in all her old-fashioned notions. She has been an excellent
customer of ours, so my father thought it best to humor her,
without, however, trusting her commission to any of the workroom
women to execute. We are not living under the Reign of Terror
now, certainly; still there is nothing like being on the safe
side.'

" 'Nothing,' I answer. 'Pray what is this ex-emigrant's name?'

" 'Danville,' replies the citoyenne Clairfait. 'She is going to
appear in that fine scarf at her son's marriage.'

" 'Marriage!' I exclaim, perfectly thunderstruck.

" 'Yes,' says she. 'What is there so amazing in that? By all
accounts, the son, poor man, deserves to make a lucky marriage
this time. His first wife was taken away from him in the Reign of
Terror by the guillotine.'

" 'Who is he going to marry?' I inquire, still breathless.

" 'The daughter of General Berthelin--an ex-aristocrat by family,
like the old lady; but by principle as good a republican as ever
lived--a hard-drinking, loud-swearing, big-whiskered old soldier,
who snaps his fingers at his ancestors and says we are all
descended from Adam, the first genuine sans-culotte in the
world.'

"In this way the citoyenne Ciairfait gossips on all dinner-time,
but says nothing more of any importance. I, with my old
police-office habits, set to the next day, and try to make some
discoveries for myself. The sum of what I find out is this:
Danville's mother is staying with General Berthelin's sister and
daughter at Chalons, and Danville himself is expected to arrive
every day to escort them all three to Paris, where the
marriage-contract is to be signed at the general's house.
Discovering this, and seeing that prompt action is now of the
most vital importance, I undertake, as I told you, my employer's
commission for Paris, depart with all speed, and stop here on my
way. Wait! I have not done yet. All the haste I can make is not
haste enough to give me a good start of the wedding party. On my
road here, the diligence by which I travel is passed by a
carriage, posting along at full speed. I cannot see inside that
carriage; but I look at the box-seat, and recognize on it the old
man Dubois. He whirls by in a cloud of dust, but I am certain of
him; and I say to myself what I now say again to you, no time is
to be lost!"

"No time _shall_ be lost," answers, Trudaine, firmly. "Three
years have passed," he continued, in a lower voice, speaking to
himself rather than to Lomaque; "three years since the day when I
led my sister out of the gates of the prison--three years since I
said in my heart, 'I will be patient, and will not seek to avenge
myself. Our wrongs cry from earth to heaven; from man who
inflicts to God who redresses. When the day of reckoning comes,
let it be the day of his vengeance, not of mine.' In my heart I
said those words--I have been true to them--I have waited. The
day has come, and the duty it demands of me shall be fulfilled."

There was a moment's silence before Lomaque spoke again. "Your
sister?" he began, hesitatingly.

"It is there only that my purpose falters," said the other,
earnestly. "If it were but possible to spare her all knowledge of
this last trial, and to leave the accomplishment of the terrible
task to me alone?"

"I think it is possible," interposed Lomaque. "Listen to what I
advise. We must depart for Paris by the diligence to-morrow
morning, and we must take your sister with us--to-morrow will be
time enough; people don't sign marriage-contracts on the evening
after a long day's journey. We must go then, and we must take
your sister. Leave the care of her in Paris, and the
responsibility of keeping her in ignorance of what you are doing,
to me. Go to this General Berthelin's house at a time when you
know Danville is there (we can get that knowledge through the
servants); confront him without a moment's previous warning;
confront him as a man risen from the dead; confront him before
every soul in the room though the room should be full of
people--and leave the rest to the self-betrayal of a
panic-stricken man. Say but three words, and your duty will be
done; you may return to your sister, and may depart with her in
safety to your old retreat at Rouen, or where else you please, on
the very day when you have put it out of her infamous husband's
power to add another to the list of his crimes."

"You forget the suddenness of the journey to Paris," said
Trudaine. "How are we to account for it without the risk of
awakening my sister's suspicions?"

"Trust that to me," answered Lomaque. "Let us return to the
cottage at once. No, not you," he added, suddenly, as they turned
to retrace their steps. "There is that in your face which would
betray us. Leave me to go back alone--I will say that you have
gone to give some orders at the inn. Let us separate immediately.
You will recover your self-possession--you will get to look
yourself again sooner--if you are left alone. I know enough of
you to know that. We will not waste another minute in
explanations; even minutes are precious to us on such a day as
this. By the time you are fit to meet your sister again, I shall
have had time to say all I wish to her, and shall be waiting at
the cottage to tell you the result."

He looked at Trudaine, and his eyes seemed to brighten again with
something of the old energy and sudden decision of the days when
he was a man in office under the Reign of Terror. "Leave it to
me," he said; and, waving his hand, turned away quickly in the
direction of the cottage.

Nearly an hour passed before Trudaine ventured to follow him.
When he at length entered the path which led to the garden gate,
he saw his sister waiting at the cottage door. Her face looked
unusually animated; and she ran forward a step or two to meet
him.

"Oh, Louis!" she said, "I have a confession to make, and I must
beg you to hear it patiently to the end.
You must know that our good Lomaque, though he came in tired
from his walk, occupied himself the first thing, at my request,
in writing the letter which is to secure to us our dear old home
by the banks of the Seine. When he had done, he looked at me, and
said, 'I should like to be present at your happy return to the
house where I first saw you.' 'Oh, come, come with us!' I said
directly. 'I am not an independent man,' he answered; 'I have a
margin of time allowed me at Paris, certainly, but it is not
long--if I were only my own master--' and then he stopped. Louis,
I remembered all we owed to him; I remembered that there was no
sacrifice we ought not to be too glad to make for his sake; I
felt the kindness of the wish he had expressed; and perhaps I was
a little influenced by my own impatience to see once more my
flower-garden and the rooms where we used to be so happy. So I
said to him, 'I am sure Louis will agree with me that our time is
yours, and that we shall be only too glad to advance our
departure so as to make traveling leisure enough for you to come
with us to Rouen. We should be worse than ungrateful--' He
stopped me. 'You have always been good to me,' he said. 'I must
not impose on your kindness now. No, no, you have formalities to
settle before you can leave this place.' 'Not one,' I said--for
we have not, as you know, Louis? 'Why, here is your furniture to
begin with,' he said. 'A few chairs and tables hired from the
inn,' I answered; 'we have only to give the landlady our key, to
leave a letter for the owner of the cottage, and then--' He
laughed. 'Why, to hear you talk, one would think you were as
ready to travel as I am!' 'So we are,' I said, 'quite as ready,
living in the way we do here.' He shook his head; but you will
not shake yours, Louis, I am sure, now you have heard all my long
story? You can't blame me can you?"

Before Trudaine could answer, Lomaque looked out of the cottage
window.

"I have just been telling my brother every thing," said Rose,
turning round toward him.

"And what does he say?" asked Lomaque.

"He says what I say," replied Rose, answering for her brother;
"that our time is your time--the time of our best and dearest
friend."

"Shall it be done, then?" asked Lomaque, with a meaning look at
Trudaine.

Rose glanced anxiously at her brother; his face was much graver
than she had expected to see it, but his answer relieved her from
all suspense.

"You are quite right, love, to speak as you did," he said,
gently. Then, turning to Lomaque, he added, in a firmer voice,
"It shall be done!"

CHAPTER II.

TWO days after the traveling-carriage described by Lomaque had
passed the diligence on the road to Paris, Madame Danville sat in
the drawing-room of an apartment in the Rue de Grenelle,
handsomely dressed for driving out. After consulting a large gold
watch that hung at her side, and finding that it wanted a quarter
of an hour only to two o'clock, she rang her hand-bell, and said
to the maid-servant who answered the summons, "I have five
minutes to spare. Send Dubois here with my chocolate."

The old man made his appearance with great alacrity. After
handing the cup of chocolate to his mistress, he ventured to use
the privilege of talking, to which his long and faithful services
entitled him, and paid the old lady a compliment. "I am rejoiced
to see madame looking so young and in such good spirits this
morning," he said, with a low bow and a mild, deferential smile.

"I think I have some reason for being in good spirits on the day
when my son's marriage-contract is to be signed," said Madame
Danville, with a gracious nod of the head. "Ha, Dubois, I shall
live yet to see him with a patent of nobility in his hand. The
mob has done its worst; the end of this infamous revolution is
not far off; our order will have its turn again soon, and then
who will have such a chance at court as my son? He is noble
already through his mother, he will then be noble also through
his wife. Yes, yes; let that coarse-mannered, passionate, old
soldier-father of hers be as unnaturally republican as he
pleases, he has inherited a name which will help my son to a
peerage! The Vicomte D'Anville (D with an apostrophe, Dubois, you
understand?), the Vicomte D'Anville--how prettily it sounds!"

"Charmingly, madame--charmingly. Ah! this second marriage of my
young master's begins under much better auspices than the first."

The remark was an unfortunate one. Madame Danville frowned
portentously, and rose in a great hurry from her chair.

"Are your wits failing you, you old fool?" she exclaimed,
indignantly. "What do you mean by referring to such a subject as
that, on this day, of all others? You are always harping on those
two wretched people who were guillotined, as if you thought I
could have saved their lives. Were you not present when my son
and I met, after the time of the Terror? Did you not hear my
first words to him, when he told me of the catastrophe? Were they
not 'Charles, I love you; but if I thought you had let those two
unfortunates, who risked themselves to save me, die without
risking your life in return to save them, I would break my heart
rather than ever look at you or speak to you again!' Did I not
say that? And did he not answer, 'Mother, my life was risked for
them. I proved my devotion by exposing myself to arrest--I was
imprisoned for my exertions--and then I could do no more!' Did
you not stand by and hear him give that answer, overwhelmed while
he spoke by generous emotion? Do you not know that he really was
imprisoned in the Temple? Do you dare to think that we are to
blame after that? I owe you much, Dubois, but if you are to take
liberties with me--"

"Oh, madame! I beg pardon a thousand times. I was
thoughtless--only thoughtless--"

"Silence! Is my coach at the door? Very well. Get ready to
accompany me. Your master will not have time to return here. He
will meet me, for the signing of the contract, at General
Berthelin's house at two precisely. Stop! Are there many people
in the street? I can't be stared at by the mob as I go to my
carriage."

Dubois hobbled penitently to the window and looked out, while his
mistress walked to the door.

"The street is almost empty, madame," he said. "Only a man with a
woman on his arm, stopping and admiring your carriage. They seem
like decent people, as well as I can tell without my spectacles.
Not mob, I should say, madame; certainly not mob!"

"Very well. Attend me downstairs; and bring some loose silver
with you, in case those two decent people should be fit objects
for charity. No orders for the coachman, except that he is to go
straight to the general's house."

The party assembled at General Berthelin's to witness the
signature of the marriage-contract, comprised, besides the
persons immediately interested in the ceremony of the day, some
young ladies, friends of the bride, and a few officers, who had
been comrades of her father's in past years. The guests were
distributed, rather unequally, in two handsome apartments opening
into each other--one called in the house the drawing-room, and
the other the library. In the drawing-room were assembled the
notary, with the contract ready, the bride, the young ladies, and
the majority of General Berthelin's friends. In the library, the
remainder of the military guests were amusing themselves at a
billiard-table until the signing of the contract should take
place, while Danville and his future father-in-law walked up and
down the room together, the first listening absently, the last
talking with all his accustomed energy, and with more than his
accustomed allowance of barrack-room expletives. The general had
taken it into his head to explain some of the clauses in the
marriage-contract to the bridegroom, who, though far better
acquainted with their full scope and meaning than his
father-in-law, was obliged to listen for civility's sake. While
the old soldier was still in the midst of his long and confused
harangue, a clock struck on the library mantel-piece.

"Two o'clock!" exclaimed Danville, glad of any pretext for
interrupting the talk about the contract. "Two o'clock; and my
mother not here yet! What can be delayi ng her?"

"Nothing," cried the general. "When did you ever know a woman
punctual, my lad? If we wait for your mother--and she's such a
rabid aristocrat that she would never forgive us for not
waiting--we shan't sign the contract yet this half-hour. Never
mind! let's go on with what we were talking about. Where the
devil was I when that cursed clock struck and interrupted us? Now
then, Black Eyes, what's the matter?"

This last question was addressed to Mademoiselle Berthelin, who
at that moment hastily entered the library from the drawing-room.
She was a tall and rather masculine-looking girl, with superb
black eyes, dark hair growing low on her forehead, and something
of her father's decision and bluntness in her manner of speaking.

"A stranger in the other room, papa, who wants to see you. I
suppose the servants showed him upstairs, thinking he was one of
the guests. Ought I to have had him shown down again?"

"A nice question! How should I know? Wait till I have seen him,
miss, and then I'll tell you!" With these words the general
turned on his heel, and went into the drawing-room.

His daughter would have followed him, but Danville caught her by
the hand.

"Can you be hard-hearted enough to leave me here alone?" he
asked.

"What is to become of all my bosom friends in the next room, you
selfish man, if I stop here with you?" retorted mademoiselle,
struggling to free herself.

"Call them in here," said Danville gayly, making himself master
of her other hand.

She laughed, and drew him away toward the drawing-room.

"Come," she cried, "and let all the ladies see what a tyrant I am
going to marry. Come, and show them what an obstinate,
unreasonable, wearisome--"

Her voice suddenly failed her; she shuddered, and turned faint.
Danville's hand had in one instant grown cold as death in hers;
the momentary touch of his fingers, as she felt their grasp
loosen, struck some mysterious chill through her from head to
foot. She glanced round at him affrightedly, and saw his eyes
looking straight into the drawing-room. They were fixed in a
strange, unwavering, awful stare, while, from the rest of his
face, all expression, all character, all recognizable play and
movement of feature, had utterly gone. It was a breathless,
lifeless mask--a white blank. With a cry of terror, she looked
where he seemed to be looking; and could see nothing but the
stranger standing in the middle of the drawing-room. Before she
could ask a question--before she could speak even a single
word--her father came to her, caught Danville by the arm, and
pushed her roughly back into the library.

"Go there, and take the women with you," he said, in a quick,
fierce whisper. "Into the library!" he continued, turning to the
ladies, and raising his voice. "Into the library, all of you,
along with my daughter."

The women, terrified by his manner, obeyed him in the greatest
confusion. As they hurried past him into the library, he signed
to the notary to follow; and then closed the door of
communication between the two rooms.

"Stop where you are!" he cried, addressing the old officers, who
had risen from their chairs. "Stay, I insist on it! Whatever
happens, Jacques Berthelin has done nothing to be ashamed of in
the presence of his old friends and companions. You have seen the
beginning, now stay and see the end."

While he spoke, he walked into the middle of the room. He had
never quitted his hold of Danville's arm; step by step they
advanced together to the place where Trudaine was standing.

"You have come into my house, and asked me for my daughter in
marriage--and I have given her to you," said the general,
addressing Danville, quietly. "You told me that your first wife
and her brother were guillotined three years ago in the time of
the Terror--and I believed you. Now look at that man--look him
straight in the face. He has announced himself to me as the
brother of your wife, and he asserts that his sister is alive at
this moment. One of you two has deceived me. Which is it?"

Danville tried to speak, but no sound passed his lips; tried to
wrench his arm from the grasp that was on it, but could not stir
the old soldier's steady hand.

"Are you afraid? are you a coward? Can't you look him in the
face?" asked the general, tightening his hold sternly.

"Stop! stop!" interposed one of the old officers, coming forward.
"Give him time. This may be a case of strange accidental
resemblance, which would be enough, under the circumstances, to
discompose any man. You will excuse me, citizen," he continued,
turning to Trudaine; "but you are a stranger. You have given us
no proof of your identity."

"There is the proof," said Trudaine, pointing to Danville's face.

"Yes, yes," pursued the other; "he looks pale and startled
enough, certainly. But I say again, let us not be too hasty;
there are strange cases on record of accidental resemblances, and
this may be one of them!"

As he repeated those words, Danville looked at him with a faint,
cringing gratitude, stealing slowly over the blank terror of his
face. He bowed his head, murmured something, and gesticulated
confusedly with the hand that he was free to use.

"Look!" cried the old officer; "look, Berthelin; he denies the
man's identity."

"Do you hear that?" said the general, appealing to Trudaine.
"Have you proofs to confute him? If you have, produce them
instantly."

Before the answer could be given the door leading into the
drawing-room from the staircase was violently flung open, and
Madame Danville--her hair in disorder, her face in its colorless
terror looking like the very counterpart of her son's--appeared
on the threshold, with the old man Dubois and a group of amazed
and startled servants behind her.

"For God's sake, don't sign! for God's sake, come away!" she
cried. "I have seen your wife--in the spirit, or in the flesh, I
know not which--but I have seen her. Charles! Charles! as true as
Heaven is above us, I have seen your wife!"

"You have seen her in the flesh, living and breathing as you see
her brother yonder," said a firm, quiet voice, from among the
servants on the landing outside.

"Let that man enter, whoever he is!" cried the general.

Lomaque passed Madame Danville on the threshold. She trembled as
he brushed by her; then, supporting herself by the wall, followed
him a few paces into the room. She looked first at her son--after
that, at Trudaine--after that back again at her son. Something in
her presence silenced every one. There fell a sudden stillness
over all the assembly--a stillness so deep that the eager,
frightened whispering, and sharp rustling of dresses among the
women in the library, became audible from the other side of the
closed door.

"Charles," she said, slowly advancing; "why do you look--" She
stopped, and fixed her eyes again on her son more earnestly than
before; then turned them suddenly on Trudaine. "You are looking
at my son, sir," she said, "and I see contempt in your face. By
what right do you insult a man whose grateful sense of his
mother's obligations to you made him risk his life for the saving
of yours and your sister's? By what right have you kept the
escape of my son's wife from death by the guillotine--an escape
which, for all I know to the contrary, his generous exertions
were instrumental in effecting--a secret from my son? By what
right, I demand to know, has your treacherous secrecy placed us
in such a position as we now stand in before the master of this
house?"

An expression of sorrow and pity passed over Trudaine's face
while she spoke. He retired a few steps, and gave her no answer.
The general looked at him with eager curiosity, and, dropping his
hold of Danville's arm, seemed about to speak; but Lomaque
stepped forward at the same time, and held up his hand to claim
attention.

"I think I shall express the wishes of Citizen Trudaine," he
said, addressing Madame Danville, "if I recommend this lady not
to press for too public an answer to her questions."

"Pray who are you, sir, who take it on yourself to advise me?"
she retorted, haughtily. "I have nothing to say to you, except
that I repeat those questions, and that I insist on their being
answered."

"Who is this man?"
asked the general, addressing Trudaine, and pointing to Lomaque.

"A man unworthy of credit," cried Danville, speaking audibly for
the first time, and darting a look of deadly hatred at Lomaque.
"An agent of police under Robespierre."

"And in that capacity capable of answering questions which refer
to the transactions of Robespierre's tribunals," remarked the
ex-chief agent, with his old official self-possession.

"True!" exclaimed the general; "the man is right--let him be
heard."

"There is no help for it," said Lomaque, looking at Trudaine;
"leave it to me--it is fittest that I should speak. I was
present," he continued, in a louder voice, "at the trial of
Citizen Trudaine and his sister. They were brought to the bar
through the denunciation of Citizen Danville. Till the confession
of the male prisoner exposed the fact, I can answer for
Danville's not being aware of the real nature of the offenses
charged against Trudaine and his sister. When it became known
that they had been secretly helping this lady to escape from
France, and when Danville's own head was consequently in danger,
I myself heard him save it by a false assertion that he had been
aware of Trudaine's conspiracy from the first--"

"Do you mean to say," interrupted the general, "that he
proclaimed himself in open court as having knowingly denounced
the man who was on trial for saving his mother?"

"I do," answered Lomaque. (A murmur of horror and indignation
rose from all the strangers present at that reply.) "The reports
of the Tribunal are existing to prove the truth of what I say,"
he went on. "As to the escape of Citizen Trudaine and the wife of
Danville from the guillotine, it was the work of political
circumstances, which there are persons living to speak to if
necessary; and of a little stratagem of mine, which need not be
referred to now. And, last, with reference to the concealment
which followed the escape, I beg to inform you that it was
abandoned the moment we knew of what was going on here; and that
it was only persevered in up to this time, as a natural measure
of precaution on the part of Citizen Trudaine. From a similar
motive we now abstain from exposing his sister to the shock and
the peril of being present here. What man with an atom of feeling
would risk letting her even look again on such a husband as
that?"

He glanced round him, and pointed to Danville, as he put the
question. Before a word could be spoken by any one else in the
room, a low wailing cry of "My mistress! my dear, dear mistress!"
directed all eyes first on the old man Dubois, then on Madame
Danville.

She had been leaning against the wall, before Lomaque began to
speak; but she stood perfectly upright now. She neither spoke nor
moved. Not one of the light gaudy ribbons flaunting on her
disordered head-dress so much as trembled. The old servant Dubois
was crouched on his knees at her side, kissing her cold right
hand, chafing it in his, reiterating his faint, mournful cry,
"Oh! my mistress! my dear, dear mistress!" but she did not appear
to know that he was near her. It was only when her son advanced a
step or two toward her that she seemed to awaken suddenly from
that death-trance of mental pain. Then she slowly raised the hand
that was free, and waved him back from her. He stopped in
obedience to the gesture, and endeavored to speak. She waved her
hand again, and the deathly stillness of her face began to grow
troubled. Her lips moved a little--she spoke.

"Oblige me, sir, for the last time, by keeping silence. You and I
have henceforth nothing to say to each other. I am the daughter
of a race of nobles, and the widow of a man of honor. You are a
traitor and a false witness--a thing from which all true men and
true women turn with contempt. I renounce you! Publicly, in the
presence of these gentlemen, I say it--I have no son."

She turned her back on him; and, bowing to the other persons in
the room with the old formal courtesy of by-gone times, walked
slowly and steadily to the door. Stopping there, she looked back;
and then the artificial courage of the moment failed her. With a
faint, suppressed cry she clutched at the hand of the old
servant, who still kept faithfully at her side; he caught her in
his arms, and her head sank on his shoulder.

"Help him!" cried the general to the servants near the door.
"Help him to take her into the next room!"

The old man looked up suspiciously from his mistress to the
persons who were assisting him to support her. With a strange,
sudden jealousy he shook his hand at them. "Home," he cried; "she
shall go home, and I will take care of her. Away! you
there--nobody holds her head but Dubois. Downstairs! downstairs
to her carriage! She has nobody but me now, and I say that she
shall be taken home."

As the door closed, General Berthelin approached Trudaine, who
had stood silent and apart, from the time when Lomaque first
appeared in the drawing-room.

"I wish to ask your pardon," said the old soldier, "because I
have wronged you by a moment of unjust suspicion. For my
daughter's sake, I bitterly regret that we did not see each other
long ago; but I thank you, nevertheless, for coming here, even at
the eleventh hour."

While he was speaking, one of his friends came up, and touching
him on the shoulder, said: "Berthelin, is that scoundrel to be
allowed to go?"

The general turned on his heel directly, and beckoned
contemptuously to Danville to follow him to the door. When they
were well out of ear-shot, he spoke these words:

"You have been exposed as a villain by your brother-in-law, and
renounced as a liar by your mother. They have done their duty by
you, and now it only remains for me to do mine. When a man enters
the house of another under false pretenses, and compromises the
reputation of his daughter, we old army men have a very
expeditious way of making him answer for it. It is just three
o'clock now; at five you will find me and one of my friends--"

He stopped, and looked round cautiously--then whispered the rest
in Danville's ear--threw open the door, and pointed downstairs.

"Our work here is done," said Lomaque, laying his hand on
Trudaine's arm. "Let us give Danville time to get clear of the
house, and then leave it too."

"My sister! where is she?" asked Trudaine, eagerly.

"Make your mind easy about her. I will tell you more when we get
out."

"You will excuse me, I know," said General Berthelin, speaking to
all the persons present, with his hand on the library door, "if I
leave you. I have bad news to break to my daughter, and private
business after that to settle with a friend."

He saluted the company, with his usual bluff nod of the head, and
entered the library. A few minutes afterward, Trudaine and
Lomaque left the house.

"You will find your sister waiting for you in our apartment at
the hotel," said the latter. "She knows nothing, absolutely
nothing, of what has passed."

"But the recognition?" asked Trudaine, amazedly. "His mother saw
her. Surely she--"

"I managed it so that she should be seen, and should not see. Our
former experience of Danville suggested to me the propriety of
making the experiment, and my old police-office practice came in
useful in carrying it out. I saw the carriage standing at the
door, and waited till the old lady came down. I walked your
sister away as she got in, and walked her back again past the
window as the carriage drove off. A moment did it, and it turned
out as useful as I thought it would. Enough of that! Go back now
to your sister. Keep indoors till the night mail starts for
Rouen. I have had two places taken for you on speculation. Go!
resume possession of your house, and leave me here to transact
the business which my employer has intrusted to me, and to see
how matters end with Danville and his mother. I will make time
somehow to come and bid you good-by at Rouen, though it should be
only for a single day. Bah! no thanks. Give us your hand. I was
ashamed to take it eight years ago--I can give it a hearty shake
now! There is your way; here is mine. Leave me to my business in
silks and satins, and go you back to your sister, and help her to
pack up for the night mail."

CHAPTER III.

THR EE more days have passed. It is evening. Rose, Trudaine and
Lomaque are seated together on the bench that overlooks the
windings of the Seine. The old familiar scene spreads before
them, beautiful as ever--unchanged, as if it was but yesterday
since they had all looked on it for the last time.

They talk together seriously and in low voices. The same
recollections fill their hearts--recollections which they refrain
from acknowledging, but the influence of which each knows by
instinct that the other partakes. Sometimes one leads the
conversation, sometimes another; but whoever speaks, the topic
chosen is always, as if by common consent, a topic connected with
the future.

The evening darkens in, and Rose is the first to rise from the
bench. A secret look of intelligence passes between her and her
brother, and then she speaks to Lomaque.

"Will you follow me into the house," she asks, "with as little
delay as possible? I have something that I very much wish to show
you."

Her brother waits till she is out of hearing, then inquires
anxiously what has happened at Paris since the night when he and
Rose left it.

"Your sister is free," Lomaque answers.

"The duel took place, then?"

"The same day. They were both to fire together. The second of his
adversary asserts that he was paralyzed with terror; his own
second declares that he was resolved, however he might have
lived, to confront death courageously by offering his life at the
first fire to the man whom he had injured. Which account is true,
I know not. It is only certain that he did not discharge his
pistol, that he fell by his antagonist's first bullet, and that
he never spoke afterward."

"And his mother?"

"It is hard to gain information. Her doors are closed; the old
servant guards her with jealous care. A medical man is in
constant attendance, and there are reports in the house that the
illness from which she is suffering affects her mind more than
her body. I could ascertain no more."

After that answer they both remain silent for a little while,
then rise from the bench and walk toward the house.

"Have you thought yet about preparing your sister to hear of all
that has happened?" Lomaque asks, as he sees the lamp-light
glimmering in the parlor window.

"I shall wait to prepare her till we are settled again here--till
the first holiday pleasure of our return has worn off, and the
quiet realities of our every-day life of old have resumed their
way," answers Trudaine.

They enter the house. Rose beckons to Lomaque to sit down near
her, and places pen and ink and an open letter before him.

"I have a last favor to ask of you," she says, smiling.

"I hope it will not take long to grant," he rejoins; "for I have
only tonight to be with you. To-morrow morning, before you are
up, I must be on my way back to Chalons."

"Will you sign that letter?" she continues, still smiling, "and
then give it to me to send to the post? It was dictated by Louis,
and written by me, and it will be quite complete, if you will put
your name at the end of it."

"I suppose I may read it?"

She nods, and Lomaque reads these lines:

"CITIZEN--I beg respectfully to apprise you that the commission
you intrusted to me at Paris has been performed.

"I have also to beg that you will accept my resignation of the
place I hold in your counting-house. The kindness shown me by you
and your brother before you, emboldens me to hope that you will
learn with pleasure the motive of my withdrawal. Two friends of
mine, who consider that they are under some obligations to me,
are anxious that I should pass the rest of my days in the quiet
and protection of their home. Troubles of former years have knit
us together as closely as if we were all three members of one
family. I need the repose of a happy fireside as much as any man,
after the life I have led; and my friends assure me so earnestly
that their whole hearts are set on establishing the old man's
easy-chair by their hearth, that I cannot summon resolution
enough to turn my back on them and their offer.

"Accept, then, I beg of you, the resignation which this letter
contains, and with it the assurance of my sincere gratitude and
respect.

"To Citizen Clairfait,
Silk-mercer,
"Chalons-sur-Marne."

After reading these lines, Lomaque turned round to Trudaine and
attempted to speak; but the words would not come at command. He
looked up at Rose, and tried to smile; but his lip only trembled.
She dipped the pen in the ink, and placed it in his hand. He bent
his head down quickly over the paper, so that she could not see
his face; but still he did not write his name. She put her hand
caressingly on his shoulder, and whispered to him:

"Come, come, humor 'Sister Rose.' She must have her own way now
she is back again at home."

He did not answer--his head sank lower--he hesitated for an
instant--then signed his name in faint, trembling characters, at
the end of the letter.

She drew it away from him gently. A few tear-drops lay on the
paper. As she dried them with her handkerchief she looked at her
brother.

"They are the last he shall ever shed, Louis; you and I will take
care of that!"

EPILOGUE TO THE THIRD STORY.

I HAVE now related all that is eventful in the history of SISTER
ROSE. To the last the three friends dwelt together happily in the
cottage on the river bank. Mademoiselle Clairfait was fortunate
enough to know them, before Death entered the little household
and took away, in the fullness of time, the eldest of its
members. She describes Lomaque, in her quaint foreign English, as
"a brave, big heart"; generous, affectionate, and admirably free
from the small obstinacies and prejudices of old age, except on
one point: he could never be induced to take his coffee, of an
evening, from any other hand than the hand of Sister Rose.

I linger over these final particulars with a strange
unwillingness to separate myself from them, and give my mind to
other thoughts. Perhaps the persons and events that have occupied
my attention for so many nights past have some peculiar interest
for me that I cannot analyze. Perhaps the labor and time which
this story has cost me have especially endeared it to my
sympathies, now that I have succeeded in completing it. However
that may be, I have need of some resolution to part at last with
Sister Rose, and return, in the interests of my next and Fourth
Story, to English ground.

I have experienced so much difficulty, let me add, in deciding on
the choice of a new narrative out of my collection, that my wife
has lost all patience, and has undertaken, on her own
responsibility, to relieve me of my unreasonable perplexities. By
her advice--given, as usual, without a moment's hesitation--I
cannot do better than tell the story of

THE LADY OF GLENWITH GRANGE.

PROLOGUE TO THE FOURTH STORY.

MY practice in the art of portrait-painting, if it has done
nothing else, has at least fitted me to turn my talents (such as
they are) to a great variety of uses. I have not only taken the
likenesses of men, women, and children, but have also extended
the range of my brush, under stress of circumstances, to horses,
dogs, houses, and in one case even to a bull--the terror and
glory of his parish, and the most truculent sitter I ever had.
The beast was appropriately named "Thunder and Lightning," and
was the property of a gentleman-farmer named Garthwaite, a
distant connection of my wife's family.

How it was that I escaped being gored to death before I had
finished my picture is more than I can explain to this day.
"Thunder and Lightning" resented the very sight of me and my
color-box, as if he viewed the taking of his likeness in the
light of a personal insult. It required two men to coax him,
while a third held him by a ring in his nostrils, before I could
venture on beginning to work. Even then he always lashed his
tail, and jerked his huge head, and rolled his fiery eyes with a
devouring anxiety to have me on his horns for daring to sit down
quietly and look at him. Never, I can honestly say, did I feel
more heartily grateful for the blessings of soundness of limb and
wholeness of skin, than wh en I had completed the picture of the
bull!

One morning, when I had but little more than half done my
unwelcome task, my friend and I were met on our way to the bull's
stable by the farm bailiff, who informed us gravely that "Thunder
and Lightning" was just then in such an especially surly state of
temper as to render it quite unsafe for me to think of painting
him. I looked inquiringly at Mr. Garthwaite, who smiled with an
air of comic resignation, and said, "Very well, then, we have
nothing for it but to wait till to-morrow. What do you say to a
morning's fishing, Mr. Kerby, now that my bull's bad temper has
given us a holiday?"

I replied, with perfect truth, that I knew nothing about fishing.
But Mr. Garthwaite, who was as ardent an angler in his way as
Izaak Walton himself, was not to be appeased even by the best of
excuses. "It is never too late to learn," cried he. "I will make
a fisherman of you in no time, if you will only attend to my
directions." It was impossible for me to make any more apologies,
without the risk of appealing discourteous. So I thanked my host
for his friendly intentions, and, with some secret misgivings,
accepted the first fishing-rod that he put into my hands.

"We shall soon get there," said Mr. Garthwaite. "I am taking you
to the best mill-stream in the neighborhood." It was all one to
me whether we got there soon or late and whether the stream was
good or bad. However, I did my best to conceal my
unsportsman-like apathy; and tried to look quite happy and very
impatient to begin, as we drew near to the mill, and heard louder
and louder the gushing of many waters all round it.

Leading the way immediately to a place beneath the falling
stream, where there was a deep, eddying pool, Mr. Garthwaite
baited and threw in his line before I had fixed the joints of my
fishing-rod. This first difficulty overcome, I involuntarily
plunged into some excellent, but rather embarrassing, sport with
my line and hook. I caught every one of my garments, from head to
foot; I angled for my own clothes with the dexterity and success
of Izaak Walton himself. I caught my hat, my jacket, my
waistcoat, my trousers, my fingers, and my thumbs--some devil
possessed my hook; some more than eel-like vitality twirled and
twisted in every inch of my line. By the time my host arrived to
assist me, I had attached myself to my fishing-rod, apparently
for life. All difficulties yielded, however, to his patience and
skill; my hook was baited for me, and thrown in; my rod was put
into my hand; my friend went back to his place; and we began at
last to angle in earnest.

We certainly caught a few fish (in _my_ case, I mean, of course,
that the fish caught themselves); but they were scanty in number
and light in weight. Whether it was the presence of the miller's
foreman--a gloomy personage, who stood staring disastrously upon
us from a little flower-garden on the opposite bank--that cast
adverse influence over our sport; or whether my want of faith and
earnestness as an angler acted retributively on my companion as
well as myself, I know not; but it is certain that he got almost
as little reward for his skill as I got for my patience. After
nearly two hours of intense expectation on my part, and intense
angling on his, Mr. Garthwaite jerked his line out of the water
in a rage, and bade me follow him to another place, declaring
that the stream must have been netted by poachers in the night,
who had taken all the large fish away with them, and had thrown
in the small ones to grow until their next visit. We moved away,
further down the bank, leaving the imperturbable foreman still in
the flower-garden, staring at us speechlessly on our departure,
exactly as he had already stared at us on our approach.

"Stop a minute," said Mr. Garthwaite suddenly, after we had
walked some distance in silence by the side of the stream, "I
have an idea. Now we are out for a day's angling, we won't be
balked. Instead of trying the water here again, we will go where
I know, by experience, that the fishing is excellent. And what is
more, you shall be introduced to a lady whose appearance is sure
to interest you, and whose history, I can tell you beforehand, is
a very remarkable one."

"Indeed," I said. "May I ask in what way?"

"She is connected," answered Mr. Garthwaite, "with an
extraordinary story, which relates to a family once settled in an
old house in this neighborhood. Her name is Miss Welwyn; but she
is less formally known an among the poor people about here, who
love her dearly, and honor her almost superstitiously, as the
Lady of Glenwith Grange. Wait till you have seen her before you
ask me to say anything more. She lives in the strictest
retirement; I am almost the only visitor who is admitted. Don't
say you had rather not go in. Any friend of mine will be welcome
at the Grange (the scene of the story, remember), for my
sake--the more especially because I have never abused my
privilege of introduction. The place is not above two miles from
here, and the stream (which we call, in our county dialect,
Glenwith Beck) runs through the ground."

As we walked on, Mr. Garthwaite's manner altered. He became
unusually silent and thoughtful. The mention of Miss Welwyn's
name had evidently called up some recollections which were not in
harmony with his every-day mood. Feeling that to talk to him on
any indifferent subject would be only to interrupt his thoughts
to no purpose, I walked by his side in perfect silence, looking
out already with some curiosity and impatience for a first view
of Glenwith Grange. We stopped at last close by an old church,
standing on the outskirts of a pretty village. The low wall of
the churchyard was bounded on one side by a plantation, and was
joined by a park paling, in which I noticed a small wicket-gate.
Mr. Garthwaite opened it, and led me along a shrubbery path,
which conducted us circuitously to the dwelling-house.

We had evidently entered by a private way, for we approached the
building by the back. I looked up at it curiously, and saw
standing at one of the windows on the lower floor a little girl
watching us as we advanced. She seemed to be about nine or ten
years old. I could not help stopping a moment to look up at her,
her clear complexion and her long dark hair were so beautiful.
And yet there was something in her expression--a dimness and
vacancy in her large eyes--a changeless, unmeaning smile on her
parted lips--which seemed to jar with all that was naturally
attractive in her face; which perplexed, disappointed, and even
shocked me, though I hardy knew why. Mr. Garthwaite, who had been
walking along thoughtfully, with his eyes on the ground, turned
back when he found me lingering behind him; looked up where I was
looking; started a little, I thought; then took my arm, whispered
rather impatiently, "Don't say anything about having seen that
poor child when you are introduced to Miss Welwyn; I'll tell you
why afterward," and led me round hastily to the front of the
building.

It was a very dreary old house, with a lawn in front thickly
sprinkled with flower-beds, and creepers of all sorts climbing in
profusion about the heavy stone porch and the mullions of the
lower windows. In spite of these prettiest of all ornaments
clustering brightly round the building--in spite of the perfect
repair in which it was kept from top to bottom--there was
something repellent to me in the aspect of the whole place: a
deathly stillness hung over it, which fell oppressively on my
spirits. When my companion rang the loud, deep-toned bell, the
sound startled me as if we had been committing a crime in
disturbing the silence. And when the door was opened by an old
female servant (while the hollow echo of the bell was still
vibrating in the air), I could hardly imagine it possible that we
should be let in. We were admited, however, without the slightest
demur. I remarked that there was the same atmosphere of dreary
repose inside the house which I had already observed, or rather
felt, outside it. No dogs barked at our approach--no doors banged
in the servants' offices--no heads peeped over the banisters--not
one of the ordinary domestic conseque nces of an unexpected visit
in the country met either eye or ear. The large shadowy
apartment, half library, half breakfast-room, into which we were
ushered, was as solitary as the hall of entrance; unless I except
such drowsy evidences of life as were here presented to us in the
shape of an Angola cat and a gray parrot--the first lying asleep
in a chair, the second sitting ancient, solemn, and voiceless, in
a large cage.

Mr. Galthwaite walked to the window when we entered, without
saying a word. Determining to let his taciturn humor have its
way, I asked him no questions, but looked around the room to see
what information it would give me (and rooms often do give such
information) about the character and habits of the owner of the
house.

Two tables covered with books were the first objects that
attracted me. On approaching them, I was surprised to find that
the all-influencing periodical literature of the present
day--whose sphere is already almost without limit; whose readers,
even in our time, may be numbered by millions--was entirely
unrepresented on Miss Welwyn's table. Nothing modern, nothing
contemporary, in the world of books, presented itself. Of all the
volumes beneath my hand, not one bore the badge of the
circulating library, or wore the flaring modern livery of gilt
cloth. Every work that I took up had been written at least
fifteen or twenty years since. The prints hanging round the walls
(toward which I next looked) were all engraved from devotional
subjects by the old masters; the music-stand contained no music
of later date than the compositions of Haydn and Mozart. Whatever
I examined besides, told me, with the same consistency, the same
strange tale. The owner of these possessions lived in the by-gone
time; lived among old recollections and old associations--a
voluntary recluse from all that was connected with the passing
day. In Miss Welwyn's house, the stir, the tumult, the "idle
business" of the world evidently appealed in vain to sympathies
which grew no longer with the growing hour.

As these thoughts were passing through my mind, the door opened
and the lady herself appeared.

She looked certainly past the prime of life; longer past it, as I
afterward discovered, than she really was. But I never remember,
in any other face, to have seen so much of the better part of the
beauty of early womanhood still remaining, as I saw in hers.
Sorrow had evidently passed over the fair, calm countenance
before me, but had left resignation there as its only trace. Her
expression was still youthful--youthful in its kindness and its
candor especially. It was only when I looked at her hair, that
was now growing gray--at her wan, thin hands--at the faint lines
marked round her mouth--at the sad serenity of her eyes, that I
fairly detected the mark of age; and, more than that, the token
of some great grief, which had been conquered, but not banished.
Even from her voice alone--from the peculiar uncertainty of its
low, calm tones when she spoke--it was easy to conjecture that
she must have passed through sufferings, at some time of her
life, which had tried to the quick the noble nature that they
could not subdue.

Mr. Garthwaite and she met each other almost like brother and
sister; it was plain that the friendly intimacy between them had
been of very long duration. Our visit was a short one. The
conversation never advanced beyond the commonplace topics suited
to the occasion. It was, therefore, from what I saw, and not from
what I heard, that I was enabled to form my judgment of Miss
Welwyn. Deeply as she had interested me--far more deeply than I
at all know how to explain in fitting words--I cannot say that I
was unwilling to depart when we rose to take leave. Though
nothing could be more courteous and more kind than her manner
toward me during the whole interview, I could still perceive that
it cost her some effort to repress in my presence the shades of
sadness and reserve which seemed often ready to steal over her.
And I must confess that when I once or twice heard the half-sigh
stifled, and saw the momentary relapse into thoughtfulness
suddenly restrained, I felt an indefinable awkwardness in my
position which made me ill at ease; which set me doubting
whether, as a perfect stranger, I had done right in suffering
myself to be introduced where no new faces could awaken either
interest or curiosity; where no new sympathies could ever be
felt, no new friendships ever be formed.

As soon as we had taken leave of Miss Welwyn, and were on our way
to the stream in her grounds, I more than satisfied Mr.
Garthwaite that the impression the lady had produced on me was of
no transitory kind, by overwhelming him with questions about
her--not omitting one or two incidental inquiries on the subject
of the little girl whom I had seen at the back window. He only
rejoined that his story would answer all my questions; and that
he would begin to tell it as soon as we had arrived at Glenwith
Beck, and were comfortably settled to fishing.

Five minutes more of walking brought us to the bank of the
stream, and showed us the water running smoothly and slowly,
tinged with the softest green luster from the reflections of
trees which almost entirely arched it over. Leaving me to admire
the view at my ease, Mr. Garthwaite occupied himself with the
necessary preparations for angling, baiting my hook as well as
his own. Then, desiring me to sit near him on the bank, he at
last satisfied my curiosity by beginning his story. I shall
relate it in his own manner, and, as nearly as possible, in his
own words.

THE ANGLER'S STORY

of

THE LADY OF GLENWITH GRANGE.

I HAVE known Miss Welwyn long enough to be able to bear personal
testimony to the truth of many of the particulars which I am now
about to relate. I knew her father, and her younger sister
Rosamond; and I was acquainted with the Frenchman who became
Rosamond's husband. These are the persons of whom it will be
principally necessary for me to speak. They are the only
prominent characters in my story.

Miss Welwyn's father died some years since. I remember him very
well--though he never excited in me, or in any one else that I
ever heard of, the slightest feeling of interest. When I have
said that he inherited a very large fortune, amassed during his
father's time, by speculations of a very daring, very fortunate,
but not always very honorable kind, and that he bought this old
house with the notion of raising his social position, by making
himself a member of our landed aristocracy in these parts, I have
told you as much about him, I suspect, as you would care to hear.
He was a thoroughly commonplace man, with no great virtues and no
great vices in him. He had a little heart, a feeble mind, an
amiable temper, a tall figure, and a handsome face. More than
this need not, and cannot, be said on the subject of Mr. Welwyn's
character.

I must have seen the late Mrs. Welwyn very often as a child; but
I cannot say that I remember anything more of her than that she
was tall and handsome, and very generous and sweet-tempered
toward me when I was in her company. She was her husband's
superior in birth, as in everything else; was a great reader of
books in all languages; and possessed such admirable talents as a
musician, that her wonderful playing on the organ is remembered
and talked of to this day among the old people in our country
houses about here. All her friends, as I have heard, were
disappointed when she married Mr. Welwyn, rich as he was; and
were afterward astonished to find her preserving the appearance,
at least, of being perfectly happy with a husband who, neither in
mind nor heart, was worthy of her.

It was generally supposed (and I have no doubt correctly) that
she found her great happiness and her great consolation in her
little girl Ida--now the lady from whom we have just parted. The
child took after her mother from the first--inheriting her
mother's fondness for books, her mother's love of music, her
mother's quick sensibilities, and, more than all, her mother's
quiet firmness, patience, and loving kindness of disposition.
From Ida's earliest years, Mrs. Welwyn undertook the whole
superintend ence of her education. The two were hardly ever
apart, within doors or without. Neighbors and friends said that
the little girl was being brought up too fancifully, and was not
enough among other children, was sadly neglected as to all
reasonable and practical teaching, and was perilously encouraged
in those dreamy and imaginative tendencies of which she had
naturally more than her due share. There was, perhaps, some truth
in this; and there might have been still more, if Ida had
possessed an ordinary character, or had been reserved for an
ordinary destiny. But she was a strange child from the first, and
a strange future was in store for her.

Little Ida reached her eleventh year without either brother or
sister to be her playfellow and companion at home. Immediately
after that period, however, her sister Rosamond was born. Though
Mr. Welwyn's own desire was to have had a son, there were,
nevertheless, great rejoicings yonder in the old house on the
birth of this second daughter. But they were all turned, only a
few months afterward, to the bitterest grief and despair: the
Grange lost its mistress. While Rosamond was still an infant in
arms, her mother died.

Mrs. Welwyn had been afflicted with some disorder after the birth
of her second child, the name of which I am not learned enough in
medical science to be able to remember. I only know that she
recovered from it, to all appearance, in an unexpectedly short
time; that she suffered a fatal relapse, and that she died a
lingering and a painful death. Mr. Welwyn (who, in after years,
had a habit of vaingloriously describing his marriage as "a
love-match on both sides") was really fond of his wife in his own
frivolous, feeble way, and suffered as acutely as such a man
could suffer, during the latter days of her illness, and at the
terrible time when the doctors, one and all, confessed that her
life was a thing to be despaired of. He burst into irrepressible
passions of tears, and was always obliged to leave the sick-room
whenever Mrs. Welwyn spoke of her approaching end. The last
solemn words of the dying woman, the tenderest messages that she
could give, the dearest parting wishes that she could express,
the most earnest commands that she could leave behind her, the
gentlest reasons for consolation that she could suggest to the
survivors among those who loved her, were not poured into her
husband's ear, but into her child's. From the first period of her
illness, Ida had persisted in remaining in the sick-room, rarely
speaking, never showing outwardly any signs of terror or grief,
except when she was removed from it; and then bursting into
hysterical passions of weeping, which no expostulations, no
arguments, no commands--nothing, in short, but bringing her back
to the bedside--ever availed to calm. Her mother had been her
playfellow, her companion her dearest and most familiar friend;
and there seemed something in the remembrance of this which,
instead of overwhelming the child with despair, strengthened her
to watch faithfully and bravely by her dying parent to the very
last.

When the parting moment was over, and when Mr. Welwyn, unable to
bear the shock of being present in the house of death at the time
of his wife's funeral, left home and went to stay with one of his
relations in a distant part of England, Ida, whom it had been his
wish to take away with him, petitioned earnestly to be left
behind. "I promised mamma before she died that I would be as good
to my little sister Rosamond as she had been to me," said the
child, simply; "and she told me in return that I might wait here
and see her laid in her grave." There happened to be an aunt of
Mrs. Welwyn, and an old servant of the family, in the house at
this time, who understood Ida much better than her father did,
and they persuaded him not to take her away. I have heard my
mother say that the effect of the child's appearance at the
funeral on her, and on all who went to see it, was something that
she could never think of without the tears coming into her eyes,
and could never forget to the last day of her life.

It must have been very shortly after this period that I saw Ida
for the first time.

I remember accompanying my mother on a visit to the old house we
have just left, in the summer, when I was at home for the
holidays. It was a lovely, sunshiny morning. There was nobody
indoors, and we walked out into the garden. As we approached that
lawn yonder, on the other side of the shrubbery, I saw, first, a
young woman in mourning (apparently a servant) sitting reading;
then a little girl, dressed all in black, moving toward us slowly
over the bright turf, and holding up before her a baby, whom she
was trying to teach to walk. She looked, to my ideas, so very
young to be engaged in such an occupation as this, and her gloomy
black frock appeared to be such an unnaturally grave garment for
a mere child of her age, and looked so doubly dismal by contrast
with the brilliant sunny lawn on which she stood, that I quite
started when I first saw her, and eagerly asked my mother who she
was. The answer informed me of the sad family story, which I have
been just relating to you. Mrs. Welwyn had then been buried about
three months; and Ida, in her childish way, was trying, as she
had promised, to supply her mother's place to her infant sister
Rosamond.

I only mention this simple incident, because it is necessary,
before I proceed to the eventful part of my narrative, that you
should know exactly in what relation the sisters stood toward one
another from the first. Of all the last parting words that Mrs.
Welwyn had spoken to her child, none had been oftener repeated,
none more solemnly urged, than those which had commended the
little Rosamond to Ida's love and care. To other persons, the
full, the all-trusting dependence which the dying mother was
known to have placed in a child hardly eleven years old, seemed
merely a proof of that helpless desire to cling even to the
feeblest consolations, which the approach of death so often
brings with it. But the event showed that the trust so strangely
placed had not been ventured vainly when it was committed to
young and tender hands. The whole future existence of the child
was one noble proof that she had been worthy of her mother's
dying confidence, when it was first reposed in her. In that
simple incident which I have just mentioned the new life of the
two motherless sisters was all foreshadowed.

Time passed. I left school--went to college--traveled in Germany,
and stayed there some time to learn the language. At every
interval when I came home, and asked about the Welwyns, the
answer was, in substance, almost always the same. Mr. Welwyn was
giving his regular dinners, performing his regular duties as a
county magistrate, enjoying his regular recreations as an a
amateur farmer and an eager sportsman. His two daughters were
never separate. Ida was the same strange, quiet, retiring girl,
that she had always been; and was still (as the phrase went)
"spoiling" Rosamond in every way in which it was possible for an
elder sister to spoil a younger by too much kindness.

I myself went to the Grange occasionally, when I was in this
neighborhood, in holiday and vacation time; and was able to test
the correctness of the picture of life there which had been drawn
for me. I remember the two sisters, when Rosamond was four or
five years old; and when Ida seemed to me, even then, to be more
like the child's mother than her sister. She bore with her little
caprices as sisters do not bear with one another. She was so
patient at lesson-time, so anxious to conceal any weariness that
might overcome her in play hours, so proud when Rosamond's beauty
was noticed, so grateful for Rosamond's kisses when the child
thought of bestowing them, so quick to notice all that Rosamond
did, and to attend to all that Rosamond said, even when visitors
were in the room, that she seemed, to my boyish observation,
altogether different from other elder sisters in other family
circles into which I was then received.

I remember then, again, when Rosamond was just growing to
womanhood, and was in high spirits at the prospect of spending a
s eason in London, and being presented at court. She was very
beautiful at that time--much handsomer than Ida. Her
"accomplishments" were talked of far and near in our country
circles. Few, if any, of the people, however, who applauded her
playing and singing, who admired her water-color drawings, who
were delighted at her fluency when she spoke French, and amazed
at her ready comprehension when she read German, knew how little
of all this elegant mental cultivation and nimble manual
dexterity she owed to her governess and masters, and how much to
her elder sister. It was Ida who really found out the means of
stimulating her when she was idle; Ida who helped her through all
her worst difficulties; Ida who gently conquered her defects of
memory over her books, her inaccuracies of ear at the piano, her
errors of taste when she took the brush and pencil in hand. It
was Ida alone who worked these marvels, and whose all-sufficient
reward for her hardest exertions was a chance word of kindness
from her sister's lips. Rosamond was not unaffectionate, and not
ungrateful; but she inherited much of her father's commonness and
frivolity of character. She became so accustomed to owe
everything to her sister--to resign all her most trifling
difficulties to Ida's ever-ready care--to have all her tastes
consulted by Ida's ever-watchful kindness--that she never
appreciated, as it deserved, the deep, devoted love of which she
was the object. When Ida refused two good offers of marriage,
Rosamond was as much astonished as the veriest strangers, who
wondered why the elder Miss Welwyn seemed bent on remaining
single all her life.

When the journey to London, to which I have already alluded, took
place, Ida accompanied her father and sister. If she had
consulted her own tastes, she would have remained in the country;
but Rosamond declared that she should feel quite lost and
helpless twenty times a day, in town, without her sister. It was
in the nature of Ida to sacrifice herself to any one whom she
loved, on the smallest occasions as well as the greatest. Her
affection was as intuitively ready to sanctify Rosamond's
slightest caprices as to excuse Rosamond's most thoughtless
faults. So she went to London cheerfully, to witness with pride
all the little triumphs won by her sister's beauty; to hear, and
never tire of hearing, all that admiring friends could say in her
sister's praise.

At the end of the season Mr. Welwyn and his daughters returned
for a short time to the country; then left home again to spend
the latter part of the autumn and the beginning of the winter in
Paris.

They took with them excellent letters of introduction, and saw a
great deal of the best society in Paris, foreign as well as
English. At one of the first of the evening parties which they
attended, the general topic of conversation was the conduct of a
certain French nobleman, the Baron Franval, who had returned to
his native country after a long absence, and who was spoken of in
terms of high eulogy by the majority of the guests present. The
history of who Franval was, and of what he had done, was readily
communicated to Mr. Welwyn and his daughters, and was briefly
this:

The baron inherited little from his ancestors besides his high
rank and his ancient pedigree. On the death of his parents, he
and his two unmarried sisters (their only surviving children)
found the small territorial property of the Franvals, in
Normandy, barely productive enough to afford a comfortable
subsistence for the three. The baron, then a young man of
three-and-twenty endeavored to obtain such military or civil
employment as might become his rank; but, although the Bourbons
were at that time restored to the throne of France, his efforts
were ineffectual. Either his interest at court was bad, or secret
enemies were at work to oppose his advancement. He failed to
obtain even the slightest favor; and, irritated by undeserved
neglect, resolved to leave France, and seek occupation for his
energies in foreign countries, where his rank would be no bar to
his bettering his fortunes, if he pleased, by engaging in
commercial pursuits.

An opportunity of the kind that he wanted unexpectedly offered
itself. He left his sisters in care of an old male relative of
the family at the chateau in Normandy, and sailed, in the first
instance, to the West Indies; afterward extending his wanderings
to the continent of South America, and there engaging in mining
transactions on a very large scale. After fifteen years of
absence (during the latter part of which time false reports of
his death had reached Normandy), he had just returned to France,
having realized a handsome independence, with which he proposed
to widen the limits of his ancestral property, and to give his
sisters (who were still, like himself, unmarried) all the
luxuries and advantages that affluence could bestow. The baron's
independent spirit and generous devotion to the honor of his
family and the happiness of his surviving relatives were themes
of general admiration in most of the social circles of Paris. He
was expected to arrive in the capital every day; and it was
naturally enough predicted that his reception in society there
could not fail to be of the most flattering and most brilliant
kind.

The Welwyns listened to this story with some little interest;
Rosamond, who was very romantic, being especially attracted by
it, and openly avowing to her father and sister, when they got
back to their hotel, that she felt as ardent a curiosity as
anybody to see the adventurous and generous baron. The desire was
soon gratified. Franval came to Paris, as had been
anticipated--was introduced to the Welwyns--met them constantly
in society--made no favorable impression on Ida, but won the good
opinion of Rosamond from the first; and was regarded with such
high approval by their father, that when he mentioned his
intentions of visiting England in the spring of the new year, he
was cordially invited to spend the hunting season at Glenwith
Grange.

I came back from Germany about the same time that the Welwyns
returned from Paris, and at once set myself to improve my
neighborly intimacy with the family. I was very fond of Ida; more
fond, perhaps, than my vanity will now allow me to--; but that is
of no consequence. It is much more to the purpose to tell you
that I heard the whole of the baron's story enthusiastically
related by Mr. Welwyn and Rosamond; that he came to the Grange at
the appointed time; that I was introduced to him; and that he
produced as unfavorable an impression upon me as he had already
produced upon Ida.

It was whimsical enough; but I really could not tell why I
disliked him, though I could account very easily, according to my
own notions, for his winning the favor and approval of Rosamond
and her father. He was certainly a handsome man as far as
features went; he had a winning gentleness and graceful respect
in his manner when he spoke to women; and he sang remarkably
well, with one of the sweetest tenor voices I ever heard. These
qualities alone were quite sufficient to attract any girl of
Rosamond's disposition; and I certainly never wondered why he was
a favorite of hers.

Then, as to her father, the baron was not only fitted to win his
sympathy and regard in the field, by proving himself an ardent
sportsman and an excellent rider; but was also, in virtue of some
of his minor personal peculiarities, just the man to gain the
friendship of his host. Mr. Welwyn was as ridiculously prejudiced
as most weak-headed Englishmen are, on the subject of foreigners
in general. In spite of his visit to Paris, the vulgar notion of
a Frenchman continued to be _his_ notion, both while he was in
France and when he returned from it. Now, the baron was as unlike
the traditional "Mounseer" of English songs, plays, and satires,
as a man could well be; and it was on account of this very
dissimilarity that Mr. Welwyn first took a violent fancy to him,
and then invited him to his house. Franval spoke English
remarkably well; wore neither beard, mustache, nor whiskers; kept
his hair cut almost unbecomingly short; dressed in the extreme of
plainness and modest good taste; talked
little in general society; uttered his words, when he did speak,
with singular calmness and deliberation; and, to crown all, had
the greater part of his acquired property invested in English
securities. In Mr. Welwyn's estimation, such a man as this was a
perfect miracle of a Frenchman, and he admired and encouraged him
accordingly.

I have said that I disliked him, yet could not assign a reason
for my dislike; and I can only repeat it now. He was remarkably
polite to me; we often rode together in hunting, and sat near
each other at the Grange table; but I could never become familiar
with him. He always gave me the idea of a man who had some mental
reservation in saying the most trifling thing. There was a
constant restraint, hardly perceptible to most people, but
plainly visible, nevertheless, to me, which seemed to accompany
his lightest words, and to hang about his most familiar manner.
This, however, was no just reason for my secretly disliking and
distrusting him as I did. Ida said as much to me, I remember,
when I confessed to her what my feelings toward him were, and
tried (but vainly) to induce her to be equally candid with me in
return. She seemed to shrink from the tacit condemnation of
Rosamond's opinion which such a confidence on her part would have
implied. And yet she watched the growth of that opinion--or, in
other words, the growth of her sister's liking for the
baron--with an apprehension and sorrow which she tried
fruitlessly to conceal. Even her father began to notice that her
spirits were not so good as usual, and to suspect the cause of
her melancholy. I remember he jested, with all the dense
insensibility of a stupid man, about Ida having invariably been
jealous, from a child, if Rosamond looked kindly upon anybody
except her elder sister.

The spring began to get far advanced toward summer. Franval paid
a visit to London; came back in the middle of the season to
Glenwith Grange; wrote to put off his departure for France; and
at last (not at all to the surprise of anybody who was intimate
with the Welwyns) proposed to Rosamond, and was accepted. He was
candor and generosity itself when the preliminaries of the
marriage-settlement were under discussion. He quite overpowered
Mr. Welwyn and the lawyers with references, papers, and
statements of the distribution and extent of his property, which
were found to be perfectly correct. His sisters were written to,
and returned the most cordial answers; saying that the state of
their health would not allow them to come to England for the
marriage; but adding a warm invitation to Normandy for the bride
and her family. Nothing, in short, could be more straightforward
and satisfactory than the baron's behavior, and the testimonies
to his worth and integrity which the news of the approaching
marriage produced from his relatives and his friends.

The only joyless face at the Grange now was Ida's. At any time it
would have been a hard trial to her to resign that first and
foremost place which she had held since childhood in her sister's
heart, as she knew she must resign it when Rosamond married. But,
secretly disliking and distrusting Franval as she did, the
thought that he was soon to become the husband of her beloved

Book of the day: