Part 6 out of 6
"Oh, good gracious, yes! They can flatter themselves this moment that
they all inspire me with a deadly hatred."
"Do not make any noise," said his friend, as he carefully opened the
Marillac pressed his hand for the last time, and went out. When he
reached the end of the corridor, he stopped a moment, then went back.
"Above all things," said he, as he passed his head through the half-open
door, "no foolish proceedings. Remember that it is necessary that one of
you should fall, and that if you fail; he will not. Take your time--aim
--and fire at him as you would at a rabbit."
After this last piece of advice, he went away; ten minutes after he had
left, Gerfaut saw him riding out of the courtyard as fast as Beverley's
four legs would carry him.
THE WILD BOAR
The most radiant sun that ever gilded a beautiful September day had
arisen upon the castle. The whole valley was as fresh and laughing as
a young girl who had just left her bath. The rocks seemed to have a band
of silver surrounding them; the woods a mantle of green draped over their
There was an unusual excitement in the courtyard of the chateau. The
servants were coming and going, the dogs were starting a concert of
irregular barks, and the horses were jumping about, sharing their
instinctive presentiment and trying to break away from the bridles which
The Baron, seated in his saddle with his usual military attitude, and a
cigar in his mouth, went from one to another, speaking in a joking tone
which prevented anybody from suspecting his secret thoughts. Gerfaut had
imposed upon his countenance that impassible serenity which guards the
heart's inner secrets, but had not succeeded so well. His affectation of
gayety betrayed continual restraint; the smile which he forced upon his
lips left the rest of his face cold, and never removed the wrinkle
between his brows. An incident, perhaps sadly longed for, but unhoped
for, increased this gloomy, melancholy expression. Just as the cavalcade
passed before the English garden, which separated the sycamore walk from
the wing of the chateau occupied by Madame de Bergenheim, Octave
slackened the pace of his horse and lingered behind the rest of his
companions; his eyes closely examined each of the windows; the blinds of
her sleeping-room were only half closed; behind the panes he saw the
curtains move and then separate. A pale face appeared for a moment
between the blue folds, like an angel who peeps through the sky to gaze
upon the earth. Gerfaut raised himself on his stirrups so as to drink in
this apparition as long as possible, but he dared not make one gesture of
adieu. As he was still endeavoring to obtain one more glance, he saw
that the Baron was at his side.
"Play your role better," said he to him; "we are surrounded by spies. De
Camier has already made an observation about your preoccupied demeanor."
"You are right," said Octave; "and you join example to advice. I admire
your coolness, but I despair of equalling it."
"You must mingle with my guests and talk with them," Christian replied.
He started off at a trot; Gerfaut followed his example, stifling a sigh
as he darted a last glance toward the chateau. They soon rejoined the
cart which carried several of the hunters, and which Monsieur de Camier
drove with the assurance of a professional coachman.
There was a moment's silence, broken only by the trot of the horses and
the sound of the wheels upon the level ground.
"What the devil ails your dogs?" exclaimed Monsieur de Camier suddenly,
as he turned to the Baron, who was riding behind him. "There they are
all making for the river." Just at this moment the dogs, who could be
seen in the distance, hurried to the water-side, in spite of all that
their leader could do to prevent them. They almost disappeared behind
the willows that bordered the river, and one could hear them barking
furiously; their barks sounded like rage mingled with terror.
"It is some duck that they have scented," observed the prosecutor.
"They wouldn't bark like that," said Monsieur de Camier, with the
sagacity of a professional hunter; "if it were a wolf, they could not
make a greater uproar. Is it by chance some wild boar who is taking a
bath, in order to receive us more ceremoniously?"
He gave the horses a vigorous blow from the whip, and they all rapidly
approached the spot where a scene was taking place which excited to the
highest pitch everybody's curiosity. Before they reached the spot, the
keeper, who had run after the dogs to call them together, came out of a
thicket, waving his hat to stop the hunters, exclaiming:
"A body! a body!"
"A body! a drowned man!" he exclaimed, when the vehicle stopped.
This time it was the public prosecutor who arose and jumped from the cart
with the agility of a deer.
"A drowned man!" said he. "In the name of the law, let nobody touch the
body. Call back the dogs."
As he said these words he hastened to the spot which the servant pointed
out to him. Everybody dismounted and followed him. Octave and
Bergenheim had exchanged strange glances when they heard the servant's
It was, as the servant had announced, the battered body of a man, thrown
by the current against the trunk of the tree, and there caught between
two branches of the willow as if in a vise.
"It is the carpenter!" exclaimed Monsieur de Camier as he parted the
foliage, which had prevented the head from being seen until then, for he
recognized the workman's livid, swollen features. "It is that poor devil
of a Lambernier, is it not, Bergenheim?"
"It is true!" stammered Christian, who, in spite of his boldness, could
not help turning away his eyes.
"The carpenter!--drowned!--this is frightful!--I never should have
recognized him--how disfigured he is!" exclaimed the others, as they
pressed forward to gaze at this horrible spectacle.
"This is a sad way to escape justice," observed the notary, in a
The Baron seized this opening with avidity.
"He must have crossed the river to escape," said he, "and in his haste he
made a misstep and fell."
The public prosecutor shook his head with an air of doubt.
"That is not probable," said he; "I know the place. If he tried to cross
the river a little above or a little below the rock--it doesn't matter
which--the current would have carried him into the little bay above the
rock and not here. It is evident that he must have drowned himself or
been drowned farther down. I say, been drowned, for you can see that he
has a wound upon the left side of his forehead, as if he had received a
violent blow, or his head had, hit against a hard substance. Now, if he
had been drowned accidentally while crossing the river, he would not have
been wounded in this manner."
This remark silenced the Baron; and while the others exhausted
conjectures to explain the way in which this tragic event had taken
place, he stood motionless, with his eyes fastened upon the river and
avoiding a glance at the dead body. During this time the public
prosecutor had taken from his pocket some paper and a pen, which he
usually carried with him.
"Gentlemen," said he, seating himself upon the trunk of a tree opposite
the drowned man, "two of you will do me the favor to act as witnesses
while I draw up my official report. If any of you have a statement to
make in regard to this affair, I beg of him to remain here, so that I may
receive his deposition."
Nobody stirred, but Gerfaut threw such a penetrating glance at the Baron
that the latter turned away his eyes.
"Gentlemen," continued the magistrate, "I do not wish any of you to
renounce the sport on account of this untoward incident. There is
nothing attractive about this spectacle, and I assure you that if my duty
did not keep me here, I should be the first to withdraw. Baron, I beg of
you to send me two men and a stretcher in order to have the body carried
away; I will have it taken to one of your farms, so as not to frighten
"The prosecutor is right," said Christian, whom these words delivered
from a terrible anxiety.
After a deliberation, presided over by Monsieur de Camier, the
'tragueurs' and the dogs left in silence to surround the thickets where
the animal had been found to be hidden. At the same time the hunters
turned their steps in the opposite direction in order to take their
positions. They soon reached the ditch alongside of which they were to
place themselves. From time to time, as they advanced, one of them left
the party and remained mute and motionless like a sentinel at his post.
This manoeuvre gradually reduced their numbers, and at last there were
only three remaining.
"You remain here, Camier," said the Baron, when they were about sixty
steps from the last position.
That gentleman, who knew the ground, was hardly flattered by this
"By Jove!" said he, "you are on your own grounds; you ought at least to
do the honors of your woods and let us choose our own positions. I think
you wish to place yourself upon the outskirts, because it is always about
that region that the animal first appears; but there will be two of us,
for I shall go also."
This determination annoyed Christian considerably, since it threatened to
ruin the plan so prudently laid out.
"I am going to put our friend Gerfaut at this post," said he, whispering
to the refractory hunter; "I shall be very much pleased if he has an
opportunity to fire. What difference does one boar more or less make to
an old hunter like you?"
"Well and good; just as you like," retorted Monsieur de Carrier, striking
the ground with the butt-end of his gun, and beginning to whistle in
order to cool off his anger.
When the adversaries found themselves side by side and alone,
Bergenheim's countenance changed suddenly; the smiling look he had
assumed, in order to convince the old hunter of his cheerful disposition,
gave place to deep gravity.
"You remember our agreement," he said, as they walked along; "I feel sure
that the boar will come in our direction. At the moment when I call out,
'Take care!' I shall expect you to fire; if, at the end of twenty
seconds, you have not done so, I warn you that I shall fire myself."
"Very well, Monsieur," said Gerfaut, looking at him fixedly; "you also
doubtless remember my words; the discovery of this body will give them
still more weight. The public prosecutor has already begun his
preliminary proceedings; remember that it depends on me how they shall be
completed. The deposition which I spoke to you about is in the hands of
a safe person, who is fully instructed to make use of it if necessary."
"Marillac, I suppose," said Christian, in an evil tone; "he is your
confidant. It is a fatal secret that you have confided to him, Monsieur.
If I survive today, I shall have to secure his silence. May all this
blood, past, present, and future, be on your head!"
Deeply affected by this reproach, the Vicomte bowed his head in silence.
"Here is my place," said the Baron, stopping before the trunk of an old
oak, "and there is the elm where you are to station yourself."
Gerfaut stopped, and said, in a trembling voice:
"Monsieur, one of us will not leave these woods alive. In the presence
of death, one tells the truth. I hope for your peace of mind, and my
own, that you will believe my last words. I swear to you, upon my honor
and by all that is sacred, that Madame de Bergenheim is innocent."
He bowed, and withdrew from Christian without waiting for a response.
Bergenheim and Gerfaut were out of sight of the others, and stood at
their posts with eyes fastened upon each other. The ditch was wide
enough to prevent the branches of the trees from troubling them; at the
distance of sixty feet, which separated them, each could see his
adversary standing motionless, framed by the green foliage. Suddenly,
barking was heard in the distance, partially drowned by the firing of a
gun. A few seconds later, two feeble reports were heard, followed by an
imprecation from Monsieur de Camier, whose caps flashed in the pan. The
Baron, who had just leaned forward that he might see better through the
thicket, raised his hand to warn Octave to hold himself in readiness.
He then placed himself in position. An extreme indecision marked
Gerfaut's attitude. After raising his gun, he dropped it to the ground
with a despondent gesture, as if his resolution to fire had suddenly
abandoned him; the pallor of death could not be more terrible than that
which overspread his features. The howling of the dogs and shouts of the
hunters increased. Suddenly another sound was heard. Low, deep growls,
followed by the crackling of branches, came from the woods opposite our
adversaries. The whole thicket seemed to tremble as if agitated by a
"Take care!" exclaimed Bergenheim, in a firm voice.
At the same moment an enormous head appeared, and the report of a gun was
heard. When Gerfaut looked through the smoke caused by his gun, at the
farther end of the ditch, nothing was to be seen but the foliage.
The boar, after crossing the clearing, vanished like a flash, leaving
behind him a trail of broken branches--and Bergenheim lay behind the
trunk of the old oak, upon which large drops of blood had already fallen.
On the same morning the drawing-room of the Bergenheim castle was the
theatre of a quiet home scene very much like the one we described at the
beginning of this story. Mademoiselle de Corandeuil was seated in her
armchair reading the periodicals which had just arrived; Aline was
practising upon the piano, and her sister-in-law was seated before one of
the windows embroidering. By the calm attitude of these three ladies,
and the interest they seemed to show in their several occupations, one
would have supposed that they were all equally peaceful at heart. Madame
de Bergenheim, upon rising, had resumed her usual habits; she managed to
find the proper words to reply when spoken to, her dejection did not
differ from her usual melancholy enough for it to become the subject of
remark. A rather bright color in her cheeks heightened her beauty; her
eyes never had sparkled with more brilliancy; but if a hand had been
placed upon her forehead, one would have soon discovered by its burning
the secret of all this unwonted color. In fact, in the midst of this
sumptuous room, surrounded by her friends, and bending over her
embroidery with most exquisite grace, Madame de Bergenheim was slowly
dying. A wasting fever was circulating like poison through her veins.
She felt that an unheard-of sorrow was hanging over her head, and that no
effort of hers could prevent it.
At this very moment, either the man she belonged to or the one she loved
was about to die; whatever her widowhood might be, she felt that her
mourning would be brief; young, beautiful, surrounded by all the
privileges of rank and fortune, life was closing around her, and left but
one pathway open, which was full of blood; she would have to bathe her
feet in it in order to pass through.
"What is that smoke above the Montigny rock?" Aline exclaimed with
surprise; "it looks as if there were a fire in the woods."
Madame de Bergenheim raised her eyes, shivered from head to foot as she
saw the stream of smoke which stood out against the horizon, and then let
her head droop upon her breast. Mademoiselle de Corandeuil stopped her
reading as she heard Aline's remark, and turned slowly to look out of the
"That's some of the shepherds' work," said she; "they have built a fire
in the bushes at the risk of setting fire to the whole woods. Really, I
do not know what to think of your husband, Clemence; he takes everybody
away to the hunt with him, and does not leave a soul here to prevent his
dwelling from being devastated."
Clemence made no reply, and her sister-in-law, who expected she would say
something to keep the conversation alive, returned and seated herself at
the piano with a pouting air.
"Thanks, that will do for to-day!" exclaimed the old lady at the first
notes; "you have split our heads long enough. You would do better to
study your history of France."
Aline closed the piano angrily; but instead of obeying this last piece of
advice, she remained seated upon the stool with the sulky air of a pupil
in disgrace. A deep silence reigned. Madame de Bergenheim had dropped
her embroidery without noticing it. From time to time she trembled as if
a chill passed over her, her eyes were raised to watch the smoke
ascending above the rock, or else she seemed to listen to some imaginary
"Truly," said Mademoiselle de Corandeuil, as she laid her journal down in
her lap, "good morals have made great progress since the July revolution.
Yesterday a woman twenty years of age ran away to Montpelier with her
lover; to-day, here is another, in Lyons, who poisons her husband and
kills herself afterward. If I were superstitious, I should say that the
world was coming to an end. What do you think of such atrocious doings,
Clemence raised her head with an effort, and answered, in a gloomy voice:
"You must pardon her, since she is dead."
"You are very indulgent," replied the old aunt; "such creatures ought to
be burned alive, like the Brinvilliers."
"They often speak in the papers of husbands who kill their wives, but not
so often of wives killing their husbands," said Aline, with the partisan
feeling natural to the fair sex.
"It is not proper that you should talk of such horrid things," said the
old lady, in a severe tone; "behold the fruits of all the morals of the
age! It is the effect of all the disgusting stuff that is acted nowadays
upon the stage and written in novels. When one thinks of the fine
education that is given youth at the present time, it is enough to make
one tremble for the future!"
"Mon Dieu! Mademoiselle, you may be sure that I shall never kill my
husband," replied the young girl, to whom this remark seemed particularly
A stifled groan, which Madame de Bergenheim could not suppress, attracted
the attention of the two ladies.
"What is the matter with you?" asked Mademoiselle de Corandeuil,
noticing for the first time her niece's dejected air and the frightened
expression in her eyes.
"Nothing," murmured the latter; "I think it is the heat of the room."
Aline hastily opened a window, then went and took her sister-in-law's
hands in her own.
"You have a fever," said she; "your hands burn and your forehead also; I
did not dare tell you, but your beautiful color--"
A frightful cry which Madame de Bergenheim uttered made the young girl
draw back in fright.
"Clemence! Clemence!" exclaimed Mademoiselle de Corandeuil, who thought
that her niece had gone insane.
"Did you not hear?" she cried, with an accent of terror impossible to
describe. She darted suddenly toward the drawing-room door; but, instead
of opening it, she leaned against it with arms crossed. Then she ran two
or three times around the room in a sort of frenzy, and ended by falling
upon her knees before the sofa and burying her head in its cushions.
This scene bewildered the two women. While Mademoiselle de Corandeuil
tried to raise Clemence, Aline, still more frightened, ran out of the
room to call for aid. A rumor which had just begun to arise in the
courtyard was distinctly heard when the door was thrown open. A moment
more, and a piercing shriek was heard, and the young girl rushed into the
parlor; throwing herself on her knees beside her sister-in-law she
pressed her to her breast with convulsive energy.
As she felt herself seized in this fashion, Clemence raised her head and,
placing her hands upon Aline's shoulders, she pushed her backward and
gazed at her with eyes that seemed to devour her.
"Which? which?" she asked, in a harsh voice.
"My brother--covered with blood!" stammered Aline.
Madame de Bergenheim pushed her aside and threw herself upon the sofa.
Her first feeling was a horrible joy at not hearing the name of Octave;
but she tried to smother her hysterical utterances by pressing her mouth
against the cushion upon which her face was leaning.
A noise of voices was heard in the vestibule; the greatest confusion
seemed to reign among the people outside. At last, several men entered
the drawing room; at their head was Monsieur de Camier, whose ruddy face
had lost all its color.
"Do not be frightened, ladies," said he, in a trembling voice; "do not be
frightened. It is only a slight accident, without any danger. Monsieur
de Bergenheim was wounded in the hunt," he continued, addressing
Mademoiselle de Corandeuil.
At last, the folding-doors were thrown open, and two servants appeared,
bearing the Baron upon a mattress.
When the servants had deposited their burden in front of one of the
windows, Aline threw herself upon her brother's body, uttering
heartrending cries. Madame de Bergenheim did not stir; she lay upon the
sofa with eyes and ears buried in the cushions, and seemed deaf and blind
to all that surrounded her. Mademoiselle de Corandeuil was the only one
who preserved her presence of mind. Controlling her emotion, she leaned
over the Baron and sought for some sign of life.
"Is he dead?" she asked, in a low voice, of Monsieur de Camier.
"No, Mademoiselle," replied the latter, in a tone which announced that he
had little hope.
"Has a physician been sent for?"
"To Remiremont, Epinal, everywhere."
At this moment Aline uttered a cry of joy. Bergenheim had just stirred,
brought to life, perhaps, by the pressure of his sister's arms. He
opened his eyes and, closed them several times; at last his energy
triumphed over his sufferings; he sat up on his improvised cot and,
leaning upon his left elbow, he glanced around the room.
"My wife!" said he, in a weak voice.
Madame de Bergenheim arose and forced her way through the group that
surrounded the mattress, and silently took her place beside her husband.
Her features had changed so terribly within a few moments that a murmur
of pity ran through the group of men that filled the room.
"Take my sister away," said Christian, disengaging his hand from the
young girl, who was covering it with kisses and tears.
"My brother! I can not leave my brother!" exclaimed Aline, as she was
dragged away rather than led to her room.
"Leave me for a moment," continued the Baron; "I wish to speak to my
Mademoiselle de Corandeuil gave Monsieur de Gamier a questioning glance,
as if to ask if it were best to grant this request.
"We can do nothing before the doctors arrive," said the latter, in a low
voice, "and perhaps it would be imprudent to oppose him."
Mademoiselle de Corandeuil recognized the correctness of this
observation, and left the room, asking the others to follow her. During
this time, Madame de Bergenheim remained motionless in her place,
apparently insensible to all that surrounded her. The noise of the
closing door aroused her from her stupor. She looked around the room as
if she were seeking the others; her eyes, which were opened with the
fixed look of a somnambulist, did not change their expression when they
fell upon her husband.
"Come nearer," said he, "I have not strength enough to speak loud."
She obeyed mechanically. When she saw the large red stain which had
soaked Christian's right sleeve, she closed her eyes, threw back her
head, and her features contracted with a horrified expression.
"You women are wonderfully fastidious," said the Baron, as he noticed
this movement; "you delight in causing a murder, but the slightest
scratch frightens you. Pass over to the left side; you will not see so
much blood-besides, it is the side where the heart is."
There was something terrible in the irony of the voice in which he spoke
at this moment. Clemence fell upon her knees beside him and took his
The dying man took away his hand, raised his wife's head, and, looking at
her a few moments attentively, he said at last:
"Your eyes are very dry. No tears! What! not one tear when you see me
"I can not weep," replied she; "I shall die!"
"It is very humiliating for me to be so poorly regretted, and it does you
little honor--try to shed a few tears, Madame--it will be remarked--a
widow who does not weep!"
"A widow--never!" she said, with energy.
"It would be convenient if they sold tears as they sell crape, would it
not? Ah! only you women have a real talent for that--all women know how
"You will not die, Christian--oh! tell me that you will not die--and
that you will forgive me."
"Your lover has killed me," said Bergenheim, slowly; "I have a bullet in
my chest--I feel it--I am the one who is to die--in less than an hour I
shall be a corpse--don't you see how hard it is already for me to talk?"
In reality his voice was becoming weaker and weaker. His breath grew
shorter with each word; a wheezing sound within his chest indicated the
extent of the lesion and the continued extravasation of blood.
"Mercy! pardon!" exclaimed the unhappy woman, prostrating herself upon
"More air--open the windows--" said the Baron, as he fell back upon the
mattress, exhausted by the efforts he had just made to talk.
Madame de Bergenheim obeyed his order with the precision of an automaton.
A fresh, pure breeze entered the room; when the curtains were raised,
floods of light illuminated the floor, and the old portraits, suddenly
lighted up, looked like ghosts who had left their graves to witness the
death agonies of the last of their descendants. Christian, refreshed by
the air which swept over his face, sat up again. He gazed with a
melancholy eye at the radiant sun and the green woods which lay stretched
out in front of the chateau.
"I lost my father on such a day as this," said he, as if talking to
himself--"all our family die during the beautiful weather--ah! do you
see that smoke over the Montigny rock?" he exclaimed, suddenly.
After opening the windows, Clemence stepped out upon the balcony.
Leaning upon the balustrade, she gazed at the deep, rapid river which
flowed at her feet. Her husband's voice calling her aroused her from
this gloomy contemplation. When she returned to Christian, his eyes were
flaming, a flush like that of fever had overspread his cheeks, and a
writhing, furious indignation was depicted upon his face. "Were you
looking at that smoke?" said he, angrily; "it is your lover's signal;
he is there--he is waiting to take you away--and I, your husband, forbid
you to go--you must not leave me--your place is here--close by me."
"Close by you," she repeated, not understanding what he said.
"Wait at least until I am dead," he continued, while his eyes flashed
more and more--"let my body get cold--when you are a widow you can do as
you like--you will be free--and even then--I forbid it--I order you to
wear mourning for me--above all, try to weep--"
"Strike me with a knife! At least I should bleed," said she, bending
toward him and tearing open her dress to lay bare her bosom.
He seized her by the arm, and, exerting all his wasting strength to reach
her, he said, in a voice whose harshness was changed almost into
"Clemence, do not dishonor me by giving yourself to him when I am dead--
I would curse you if I thought that you would do that."
"Oh! do not curse me!" she exclaimed; "do not drive me mad. Do you not
know that I am about to die?"
"There are women who do not see their husband's blood upon their lover's
hands--but I would curse you--"
He dropped Clemence's arm and fell back upon the mattress with a sob.
His eyes closed, and some unintelligible words died on his lips, which
were covered with a bloody froth. He was dying.
Madame de Bergenheim, crouched down upon the floor, heard him repeating
in his expiring voice:
"I would curse you--I would curse you!"
She remained motionless for some time, her eyes fastened upon the dying
man before her with a look of stupefied curiosity. Then she arose and
went to the mirror; she gazed at herself for a moment as if obeying the
whim of an insane woman, pushing aside, in order to see herself better,
the hair which covered her forehead. Suddenly a flash of reason came to
her; she uttered a horrible cry as she saw some blood upon her face; she
looked at herself from head to foot; her dress was stained with it; she
wrung her hands in horror, and felt that they were wet. Her husband's
blood was everywhere. Then, her brain filled with the fire of raving
madness, she rushed out upon the balcony, and Bergenheim, before his last
breath escaped him, heard the noise of her body as it fell into the
Several days later, the Sentinelle des Vosges contained the following
paragraph, written with the official sorrow found in all death-notices at
thirty sous per line
"A frightful event, which has just thrown two of our best families into
mourning, has caused the greatest consternation throughout the Remiremont
district. Monsieur le Baron de Bergenheim, one of the richest land-
owners in our province, was killed by accident at a wild-boar hunt on his
own domains. It was by the hand of one of his best friends, Monsieur de
Gerfaut, well known by, his important literary work, which has given its
author a worldwide reputation, that he received his death-blow. Nothing
could equal the grief of the involuntary cause of this catastrophe.
Madame de Bergenheim, upon learning of this tragic accident, was unable
to survive the death of her adored husband, and drowned herself in her
despair. Thus the same grave received this couple, still in the bloom of
life, to whom their great mutual affection seemed to promise a most happy
Twenty-eight months later the Parisian journals, in their turn, inserted,
with but slight variations, the following article:
"Nothing could give any idea of the enthusiasm manifested at the Theatre-
Francais last evening, at the first representation of Monsieur de
Gerfaut's new drama. Never has this writer, whose silence literature has
deplored for too long a time, distinguished himself so highly. His early
departure for the East is announced. Let us hope that this voyage will
turn to the advantage of art, and that the beautiful and sunny countries
of Asia will be a mine for new inspirations for this celebrated poet, who
has taken, in such a glorious manner, his place at the heal of our
Bergenheim's last wish had been realized; his honor was secure; nobody
outraged by even an incredulous smile the purity of Clemence's winding-
sheet; and the world did not refuse to their double grave the commonplace
consideration that had surrounded their lives.
Clemence's death did not destroy the future of the man who loved her so
passionately, but the mourning he wears for her, to this day, is of the
kind that is never put aside. And, as the poet's heart was always
reflected in his works, the world took part in this mourning without
being initiated into its mystery. When the bitter cup of memory
overflowed in them, they believed it to be a new vein which had opened in
the writer's brain. Octave received, every day, congratulations upon
this sadly exquisite tone of his lyre, whose vibrations surpassed in
supreme intensity the sighs of Rene or Obermann's Reveries. Nobody knew
that those sad pages were written under the inspiration of the most
mournful of visions, and that this dark and melancholy tinge, which was
taken for a caprice of the imagination, had its source in blood and in
the spasms of a broken heart.
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