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Murad the Unlucky and Other Tales by Maria Edgeworth

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firmness of this lady's answers to a brutal interrogatory was
termed insolence--she was pronounced a refractory aristocrat,
dangerous to the state; and an order was made out to seal up her
goods, and to keep her a prisoner in her own house.


"Alas! full oft on Guilt's victorious car
The spoils of Virtue are in triumph borne,
While the fair captive, marked with many a scar,
In lone obscurity, oppressed, forlorn,
Resigns to tears her angel form."--BEATTIE.

A close prisoner in her own house, Madame de Fleury was now guarded
by men suddenly become soldiers, and sprung from the dregs of the
people; men of brutal manners, ferocious countenances, and more
ferocious minds. They seemed to delight in the insolent display of
their newly-acquired power. One of those men had formerly been
convicted of some horrible crime, and had been sent to the galleys
by M. de Fleury. Revenge actuated this wretch under the mask of
patriotism, and he rejoiced in seeing the wife of the man he hated
a prisoner in his custody. Ignorant of the facts, his associates
were ready to believe him in the right, and to join in the
senseless cry against all who were their superiors in fortune,
birth, and education. This unfortunate lady was forbidden all
intercourse with her friends, and it was in vain she attempted to
obtain from her gaolers intelligence of what was passing in Paris.

"Tu verras--Tout va bien--Ca ira," were the only answers they
deigned to make; frequently they continued smoking their pipes in
obdurate silence. She occupied the back rooms of her house,
because her guards apprehended that she might from the front
windows receive intelligence from her friends. One morning she was
awakened by an unusual noise in the streets; and, upon her
inquiring the occasion of it, her guards told her she was welcome
to go to the front windows and satisfy her curiosity. She went,
and saw an immense crowd of people surrounding a guillotine that
had been erected the preceding night. Madame de Fleury started
back with horror--her guards burst into an inhuman laugh, and asked
whether her curiosity was satisfied. She would have left the room;
but it was now their pleasure to detain her, and to force her to
continue the whole day in this apartment. When the guillotine
began its work, they had even the barbarity to drag her to the
window, repeating, "It is there you ought to be!--It is there your
husband ought to be!--You are too happy, that your husband is not
there this moment. But he will be there--the law will overtake
him--he will be there in time--and you too!"

The mild fortitude of this innocent, benevolent woman made no
impression upon these cruel men. When at night they saw her
kneeling at her prayers, they taunted her with gross and impious
mockery; and when she sank to sleep, they would waken her by their
loud and drunken orgies--if she remonstrated, they answered, "The
enemies of the constitution should have no rest."

Madame de Fleury was not an enemy to any human being; she had never
interfered in politics; her life had been passed in domestic
pleasures, or employed for the good of her fellow-creatures. Even
in this hour of personal danger she thought of others more than of
herself: she thought of her husband, an exile in a foreign
country, who might be reduced to the utmost distress now that she
was deprived of all means of remitting him money. She thought of
her friends, who, she knew, would exert themselves to obtain her
liberty, and whose zeal in her cause might involve them and their
families in distress. She thought of the good Sister Frances, who
had been exposed by her means to the unrelenting persecution of the
malignant and powerful Tracassier. She thought of her poor little
pupils, now thrown upon the world without a protector. Whilst
these ideas were revolving in her mind one night as she lay awake,
she heard the door of her chamber open softly, and a soldier, one
of her guards, with a light in his hand, entered; he came to the
foot of her bed, and, as she started up, laid his finger upon his

"Don't make the least noise," said he in a whisper; "those without
are drunk, and asleep. Don't you know me?--don't you remember my

"Not in the least; yet I have some recollection of your voice."

The man took off the bonnet-rouge--still she could not guess who he
was. "You never saw me in a uniform before nor without a black

She looked again, and recollected the smith to whom Maurice was
bound apprentice, and remembered his patois accent.

"I remember you," said he, "at any rate; and your goodness to that
poor girl the day her arm was broken, and all your goodness to
Maurice. But I've no time for talking of that now--get up, wrap
this great coat round you--don't be in a hurry, but make no noise--
and follow me."

She followed him; and he led her past the sleeping sentinels,
opened a back door into the garden, hurried her (almost carried
her) across the garden to a door at the furthest end of it, which
opened into Les Champs Elysees--"La voila!" cried he, pushing her
through the half-opened door. "God be praised!" answered a voice,
which Madame de Fleury knew to be Victoire's, whose arms were
thrown round her with a transport of joy.

"Softly; she is not safe yet--wait till we get her home, Victoire,"
said another voice, which she knew to be that of Maurice. He
produced a dark lantern, and guided Madame de Fleury across the
Champs Elysees, and across the bridge, and then through various by-
streets, in perfect silence, till they arrived safely at the house
where Victoire's mother lodged, and went up those very stairs which
she had ascended in such different circumstances several years
before. The mother, who was sitting up waiting most anxiously for
the return of her children, clasped her hands in an ecstasy when
she saw them return with Madame de Fleury.

"Welcome, madame! Welcome, dear madame! but who would have thought
of seeing you here in such a way? Let her rest herself--let her
rest; she is quite overcome. Here, madame, can you sleep on this
poor bed?"

"The very same bed you laid me upon the day my arm was broken,"
said Victoire.

"Ay, Lord bless her!" said the mother; "and though it's seven good
years ago, it seemed but yesterday that I saw her sitting on that
bed beside my poor child looking like an angel. But let her rest,
let her rest--we'll not say a word more, only God bless her; thank
Heaven, she's safe with us at last!"

Madame de Fleury expressed unwillingness to stay with these good
people, lest she should expose them to danger; but they begged most
earnestly that she would remain with them without scruple.

"Surely, madame," said the mother, "you must think that we have
some remembrance of all you have done for us, and some touch of

"And surely, madame, you can trust us, I hope," said Maurice.

"And surely you are not too proud to let us do something for you.
The lion was not too proud to be served by the poor little mouse,"
said Victoire. "As to danger for us," continued she, "there can be
none; for Maurice and I have contrived a hiding-place for you,
madame, that can never be found out--let them come spying here as
often as they please, they will never find her out, will they,
Maurice? Look, madame, into this lumber-room; you see it seems to
be quite full of wood for firing; well, if you creep in behind, you
can hide yourself quite sung in the loft above, and here's a trap-
door into the loft that nobody ever would think of, for we have
hung these old things from the top of it, and who could guess it
was a trap-door? So you see, dear madame, you may sleep in peace
here, and never fear for us."

Though but a girl of fourteen, Victoire showed at this time all the
sense and prudence of a woman of thirty. Gratitude seemed at once
to develop all the powers of her mind. It was she and Maurice who
had prevailed upon the smith to effect Madame de Fleury's escape
from her own house. She had invented, she had foreseen, she had
arranged everything; she had scarcely rested night or day since the
imprisonment of her benefactress, and now that her exertions had
fully succeeded, her joy seemed to raise her above all feeling of
fatigue; she looked as fresh and moved as briskly, her mother said,
as if she were preparing to go to a ball.

"Ah! my child," said she, "your cousin Manon, who goes to those
balls every night, was never so happy as you are this minute."

But Victoire's happiness was not of long continuance; for the next
day they were alarmed by intelligence that Tracassier was enraged
beyond measure at Madame de Fleury's escape, that all his
emissaries were at work to discover her present hiding-place, that
the houses of all the parents and relations of her pupils were to
be searched, and that the most severe denunciations were issued
against all by whom she should be harboured. Manon was the person
who gave this intelligence, but not with any benevolent design; she
first came to Victoire, to display her own consequence; and to
terrify her, she related all she knew from a soldier's wife, who
was M. Tracassier's mistress. Victoire had sufficient command over
herself to conceal from the inquisitive eyes of Manon the agitation
of her heart; she had also the prudence not to let any one of her
companions into her secret, though, when she saw their anxiety, she
was much tempted to relieve them, by the assurance that Madame de
Fleury was in safety. All the day was passed in apprehension.
Madame de Fleury never stirred from her place of concealment: as
the evening and the hour of the domiciliary visits approached,
Victoire and Maurice were alarmed by an unforeseen difficulty.
Their mother, whose health had been broken by hard work, in vain
endeavoured to suppress her terror at the thoughts of this
domiciliary visit; she repeated incessantly that she knew they
should all be discovered, and that her children would be dragged to
the guillotine before her face. She was in such a distracted
state, that they dreaded she would, the moment she saw the
soldiers, reveal all she knew.

"If they question me, I shall not know what to answer," cried the
terrified woman. "What can I say?--What can I do?"

Reasoning, entreaties, all were vain; she was not in a condition to
understand, or even to listen to, anything that was said. In this
situation they were when the domiciliary visitors arrived--they
heard the noise of the soldiers' feet on the stairs--the poor woman
sprang from the arms of her children; but at the moment the door
was opened, and she saw the glittering of the bayonets, she fell at
full length in a swoon on the floor--fortunately before she had
power to utter a syllable. The people of the house knew, and said,
that she was subject to fits on any sudden alarm; so that her being
affected in this manner did not appear surprising. They threw her
on a bed, whilst they proceeded to search the house: her children
stayed with her; and, wholly occupied in attending to her, they
were not exposed to the danger of betraying their anxiety about
Madame de Fleury. They trembled, however, from head to foot when
they heard one of the soldiers swear that all the wood in the
lumber-room must be pulled out, and that he would not leave the
house till every stick was moved; the sound of each log, as it was
thrown out, was heard by Victoire; her brother was now summoned to
assist. How great was his terror when one of the searchers looked
up to the roof, as if expecting to find a trap door; fortunately,
however, he did not discover it. Maurice, who had seized the
light, contrived to throw the shadows so as to deceive the eye.
The soldiers at length retreated; and with inexpressible
satisfaction Maurice lighted them down stairs, and saw them fairly
out of the house. For some minutes after they were in safety, the
terrified mother, who had recovered her senses, could scarcely
believe that the danger was over. She embraced her children by
turns with wild transport; and with tears begged Madame de Fleury
to forgive her cowardice, and not to attribute it to ingratitude,
or to suspect that she had a bad heart. She protested that she was
now become so courageous, since she found that she had gone through
this trial successfully, and since she was sure that the hiding-
place was really so secure, that she should never be alarmed at any
domiciliary visit in future. Madame de Fleury, however, did not
think it either just or expedient to put her resolution to the
trial. She determined to leave Paris; and, if possible, to make
her escape from France. The master of one of the Paris diligences
was brother to Francois, her footman: he was ready to assist her
at all hazards, and to convey her safely to Bourdeaux, if she could
disguise herself properly; and if she could obtain a pass from any
friend under a feigned name.

Victoire--the indefatigable Victoire--recollected that her friend
Annette had an aunt, who was nearly of Madame de Fleury's size, and
who had just obtained a pass to go to Bourdeaux, to visit some of
her relations. The pass was willingly given up to Madame de
Fleury; and upon reading it over it was found to answer tolerably
well--the colour of the eyes and hair at least would do; though the
words un nez gros were not precisely descriptive of this lady's.
Annette's mother, who had always worn the provincial dress of
Auvergne, furnished the high cornette, stiff stays, bodice, &c.;
and equipped in these, Madame de Fleury was so admirably well
disguised, that even Victoire declared she should scarcely have
known her. Money, that most necessary passport in all countries,
was still wanting: as seals had been put upon all Madame de
Fleury's effects the day she had been first imprisoned in her own
house, she could not save even her jewels. She had, however, one
ring on her finger of some value. How to dispose of it without
exciting suspicion was the difficulty. Babet, who was resolved to
have her share in assisting her benefactress, proposed to carry the
ring to a colporteur--a pedlar, or sort of travelling jeweller--who
had come to lay in a stock of hardware at Paris: he was related to
one of Madame de Fleury's little pupils, and readily disposed of
the ring for her: she obtained at least two-thirds of its value--a
great deal in those times.

The proofs of integrity, attachment, and gratitude which she
received in these days of peril, from those whom she had obliged in
her prosperity, touched her generous heart so much, that she has
often since declared she could not regret having been reduced to
distress. Before she quitted Paris she wrote letters to her
friends, recommending her pupils to their protection; she left
these letters in the care of Victoire, who to the last moment
followed her with anxious affection. She would have followed her
benefactress into exile, but that she was prevented by duty and
affection from leaving her mother, who was in declining health.

Madame de Fleury successfully made her escape from Paris. Some of
the municipal officers in the towns through which she passed on her
road were as severe as their ignorance would permit in scrutinising
her passport. It seldom happened that more than one of these petty
committees of public safety could read. One usually spelled out
the passport as well as he could, whilst the others smoked their
pipes, and from time to time held a light up to the lady's face to
examine whether it agreed with the description.

"Mais toi! tu n'as pas le nez gros!" said one of her judges to her.
"Son nez est assez gros, et c'est moi qui le dit," said another.
The question was put to the vote; and the man who had asserted what
was contrary to the evidence of his senses was so vehement in
supporting his opinion, that it was carried in spite of all that
could be said against it. Madame de Fleury was suffered to proceed
on her journey. She reached Bordeaux in safety. Her husband's
friends--the good have always friends in adversity--her husband's
friends exerted themselves for her with the most prudent zeal. She
was soon provided with a sum of money sufficient for her support
for some time in England; and she safely reached that free and
happy country, which has been the refuge of so many illustrious


"Cosi rozzo diamante appena splende
Dalla rupe natia quand' esce fuora,
E a poco a poco lucido se rende
Sotto l'attenta che lo lavora."

Madame de Fleury joined her husband, who was in London, and they
both lived in the most retired and frugal manner. They had too
much of the pride of independence to become burthensome to their
generous English friends. Notwithstanding the variety of
difficulties they had to encounter, and the number of daily
privations to which they were forced to submit, yet they were
happy--in a tranquil conscience, in their mutual affection, and the
attachment of many poor but grateful friends. A few months after
she came to England, Madame de Fleury received, by a private hand,
a packet of letters from her little pupils. Each of them, even the
youngest, who had but just begun to learn joining-hand, would write
a few lines in this packet.

In various hands, of various sizes, the changes were rung upon
these simple words:-


"I love you--I wish you were here again--I will be VERY VERY good
whilst you are away. If you stay away ever so long, I shall never
forget you, nor your goodness; but I hope you will soon be able to
come back, and this is what I pray for every night. Sister Frances
says I may tell you that I am very good, and Victoire thinks so

This was the substance of several of their little letters.
Victoire's contained rather more information:-

"You will be glad to learn that dear Sister Frances is safe, and
that the good chestnut-woman, in whose cellar she took refuge, did
not get into any difficulty. After you were gone, M. T- said that
he did not think it worth while to pursue her, as it was only you
he wanted to humble. Manon, who has, I do not know how, means of
knowing, told me this. Sister Frances is now with her abbess, who,
as well as everybody else that knows her, is very fond of her.
What was a convent is no longer a convent--the nuns are turned out
of it. Sister Frances' health is not so good as it used to be,
though she never complains. I am sure she suffers much; she has
never been the same person since that day when we were driven from
our happy school-room. It is all destroyed--the garden and
everything. It is now a dismal sight. Your absence also afflicts
Sister Frances much, and she is in great anxiety about all of us.
She has the six little ones with her every day in her own
apartment, and goes on teaching them as she used to do. We six
eldest go to see her as often as we can. I should have begun, my
dear Madame de Fleury, by telling you, that, the day after you left
Paris, I went to deliver all the letters you were so very kind to
write for us in the midst of your hurry. Your friends have been
exceedingly good to us, and have got places for us all. Rose is
with Madame la Grace, your mantua-maker, who says she is more handy
and more expert at cutting out than girls she has had these three
years. Marianne is in the service of Madame de V-, who has lost a
great part of her large fortune, and cannot afford to keep her
former waiting-maid. Madame de V- is well pleased with Marianne,
and bids me tell you that she thanks you for her. Indeed,
Marianne, though she is only fourteen, can do everything her lady
wants. Susanne is with a confectioner. She gave Sister Frances a
box of bonbons of her own making this morning; and Sister Frances,
who is a judge, says they are excellent--she only wishes you could
taste them. Annette and I (thanks to your kindness!) are in the
same service with Madame Feuillot, the brodeuse, to whom you
recommended us. She is not discontented with our work, and,
indeed, sent a very civil message yesterday to Sister Frances on
this subject; but believe it is too flattering for me to repeat in
this letter. We shall do our best to give her satisfaction. She
is glad to find that we can write tolerably, and that we can make
out bills and keep accounts, this being particularly convenient to
her at present, as the young man she had in the shop is become an
orator, and good for nothing but la chose publique; her son, who
could have supplied his place, is ill; and Madame Feuillot herself,
not having had, as she says, the advantage of such a good education
as we have been blessed with, writes but badly, and knows nothing
of arithmetic. Dear Madame de Fleury, how much, how very much we
are obliged to you! We feel it every day more and more; in these
times what would have become of us if we could do nothing useful?
Who would, who could be burdened with us? Dear madame, we owe
everything to you--and we can do nothing, not the least thing for
you! My mother is still in bad health, and I fear will never
recover; Babet is with her always, and Sister Frances is very good
to her. My brother Maurice is now so good a workman that he earns
a louis a week. He is very steady to his business, and never goes
to the revolutionary meetings, though once he had a great mind to
be an orator of the people, but never since the day that you
explained to him that he knew nothing about equality and the rights
of men, &c. How could I forget to tell you, that his master the
smith, who was one of your guards, and who assisted you to escape,
has returned without suspicion to his former trade? and he declares
that he will never more meddle with public affairs. I gave him the
money you left with me for him. He is very kind to my brother.
Yesterday Maurice mended for Annette's mistress the lock of an
English writing-desk, and he mended it so astonishingly well, that
an English gentleman, who saw it, could not believe the work was
done by a Frenchman; so my brother was sent for, to prove it, and
they were forced to believe it. To-day he has more work than he
can finish this twelve-month--all this we owe to you. I shall
never forget the day when you promised that you would grant my
brother's wish to be apprenticed to the smith, if I was not in a
passion for a month; that cured me of being so passionate.

"Dear Madame de Fleury, I have written you too long a letter, and
not so well as I can write when I am not in a hurry; but I wanted
to tell you everything at once, because, may be, I shall not for a
long time have so safe an opportunity of sending a letter to you.


Several months elapsed before Madame do Fleury received another
letter from Victoire; it was short and evidently written in great
distress of mind. It contained an account of her mother's death.
She was now left at the early age of sixteen an orphan. Madame
Feuillot, the brodeuse, with whom she lived, added few lines to her
letter, penned with difficulty and strangely spelled, but,
expressive of her being highly pleased with both the girls
recommended to her by Madame de Fleury, especially Victoire, who
she said was such a treasure to her, that she would not part with
her on any account, and should consider her as a daughter. "I tell
her not to grieve so much; for though she has lost one mother she
has gained another for herself, who will always love her; and
besides she is so useful, and in so many ways, with her pen and her
needle, in accounts, and everything that is wanted in a family or a
shop; she can never want employment or friends in the worst times,
and none can be worse than these, especially for such pretty girls
as she is, who have all their heads turned, and are taught to
consider nothing a sin that used to be sins. Many gentlemen, who
come to our shop, have found out that Victoire is very handsome,
and tell her so; but she is so modest and prudent that I am not
afraid for her. I could tell you, madame, a good anecdote on this
subject, but my paper will not allow, and, besides, my writing is
so difficult."

Above a year elapsed before Madame de Fleury received another
letter from Victoire: this was in a parcel, of which an emigrant
took charge; it contained a variety of little offerings from her
pupils, instances of their ingenuity, their industry, and their
affection; the last thing in the packet was a small purse labelled
in this manner -

"Savings from our wages and earnings for her who taught us all we


"Dans sa pompe elegante, admirez Chantilly,
De heros en heros, d'age en age, embelli."--DE LILLE.

The health of the good Sister Frances, which had suffered much from
the shock her mind received at the commencement of the revolution,
declined so rapidly in the course of the two succeeding years, that
she was obliged to leave Paris, and she retired to a little village
in the neighbourhood of Chantilly. She chose this situation
because here she was within a morning's walk of Madame de Fleury's
country-seat. The Chateau de Fleury had not yet been seized as
national property, nor had it suffered from the attacks of the mob,
though it was in a perilous situation, within view of the high road
to Paris. The Parisian populace had not yet extended their
outrages to this distance from the city, and the poor people who
lived on the estate of Fleury, attached from habit, principle, and
gratitude, to their lord, were not disposed to take advantage of
the disorder of the times, to injure the property of those from
whom they had all their lives received favours and protection. A
faithful old steward had the care of the castle and the grounds.
Sister Frances was impatient to talk to him and to visit the
chateau, which she had never seen; but for some days after her
arrival in the village she was so much fatigued and so weak that
she could not attempt so long a walk. Victoire had obtained
permission from her mistress to accompany the nun for a few days to
the country, as Annette undertook to do all the business of the
shop during the absence of her companion. Victoire was fully as
eager as Sister Frances to see the faithful steward and the Chateau
de Fleury, and the morning was now fixed for their walk; but in the
middle of the night they were awakened by the shouts of a mob, who
had just entered the village fresh from the destruction of a
neighbouring castle. The nun and Victoire listened; but in the
midst of the horrid yells of joy no human voice, no intelligible
word could be distinguished; they looked through a chink in the
window-shutter and they saw the street below filled with a crowd of
men, whose countenances were by turns illuminated by the glare of
the torches which they brandished.

"Good Heavens!" whispered the nun to Victoire: "I should know the
face of that man who is loading his musket--the very man whom I
nursed ten years ago when he was ill with a gaol fever!"

This man, who stood in the midst of the crowd, taller by the head
than the others, seemed to be the leader of the party; they were
disputing whether they should proceed further, spend the remainder
of the night in the village alehouse, or return to Paris. Their
leader ordered spirits to be distributed to his associates, and
exhorted them in a loud voice to proceed in their glorious work.
Tossing his firebrand over his head he declared that he would never
return to Paris till he had razed to the ground the Chateau de
Fleury. At these words, Victoire, forgetful of all personal
danger, ran out into the midst of the mob, pressed her way up to
the leader of these ruffians, caught him by the arm, exclaiming,
"You will not touch a stone in the Chateau de Fleury--I have my
reasons--I say you will not suffer a stone in the Chateau de Fleury
to be touched."

"And why not?" cried the man, turning astonished; "and who are you
that I should listen to you?"

"No matter who I am," said Victoire; "follow me and I will show you
one to whom you will not refuse to listen. Here!--here she is,"
continued Victoire, pointing to the nun, who had followed her in
amazement; here is one to whom you will listen--yes, look at her
well: hold the light to her face."

The nun, in a supplicating attitude, stood in speechless

"Ay, I see you have gratitude, I know you will have mercy," cried
Victoire, watching the workings in the countenance of the man; "you
will save the Chateau de Fleury for her sake--who saved your life."

"I will," cried this astonished chief of a mob, fired with sudden
generosity. "By my faith you are a brave girl, and a fine girl,
and know how to speak to the heart, and in the right moment.
Friends, citizens, this nun, though she is a nun, is good for
something. When I lay ill with a fever, and not a soul else to
help me, she came and gave me medicines and food--in short, I owe
my life to her. 'Tis ten years ago, but I remember it well, and
now it is our turn to rule, and she shall be paid as she deserves.
Not a stone of the Chateau de Fleury shall be touched!"

With loud acclamations the mob joined in the generous enthusiasm of
the moment and followed their leader peaceably out of the village.
All this passed with such rapidity as scarcely to leave the
impression of reality upon the mind. As soon as the sun rose in
the morning Victoire looked out for the turrets of the Chateau de
Fleury, and she saw that they were safe--safe in the midst of the
surrounding devastation. Nothing remained of the superb palace of
Chantilly but the white arches of its foundation.


"When thy last breath, ere Nature sank to rest
Thy meek submission to thy God expressed;
When thy last look, ere thought and feeling fled,
A mingled gleam of hope and triumph shed;
What to thy soul its glad assurance gave -
Its hope in death, its triumph o'er the grave?
The sweet remembrance of unblemished youth,
Th' inspiring voice of innocence and truth!"--ROGERS.

The good Sister Frances, though she had scarcely recovered from the
shock of the preceding night, accompanied Victoire to the Chateau
de Fleury. The gates were opened for them by the old steward and
his son Basile, who welcomed them with all the eagerness with which
people welcome friends in time of adversity. The old man showed
them the place; and through every apartment of the castle went on
talking of former times, and with narrative fondness told anecdotes
of his dear master and mistress. Here his lady used to sit and
read--here was the table at which she wrote--this was the sofa on
which she and the ladies sat the very last day she was at the
castle, at the open windows of the hall, whilst all the tenants and
people of the village were dancing on the green.

"Ay, those were happy times," said the old man; "but they will
never return."

"Never! Oh do not say so," cried Victoire.

"Never during my life, at least," said the nun in a low voice, and
with a look of resignation.

Basile, as he wiped the tears from his eyes, happened to strike his
arm against the chord of Madame de Fleury's harp, and the sound
echoed through the room.

"Before this year is at an end," cried Victoire, "perhaps that harp
will be struck again in this Chateau by Madame de Fleury herself.
Last night we could hardly have hoped to see these walls standing
this morning, and yet it is safe--not a stone touched! Oh, we
shall all live, I hope, to see better times!"

Sister Frances smiled, for she would not depress Victoire's
enthusiastic hope: to please her, the good nun added, that she
felt better this morning than she had felt for months, and Victoire
was happier than she had been since Madame de Fleury left France.
But, alas! it was only a transient gleam. Sister Frances relapsed
and declined so rapidly, that even Victoire, whose mind was almost
always disposed to hope, despaired of her recovery. With placid
resignation, or rather with mild confidence, this innocent and
benevolent creature met the approach of death. She seemed attached
to earth only by affection for those whom she was to leave in this
world. Two of the youngest of the children who had formerly been
placed under her care, and who were not yet able to earn their own
subsistence, she kept with her, and in the last days of her life
she continued her instructions to them with the fond solicitude of
a parent. Her father confessor, an excellent man, who never even
in these dangerous times shrank from his duty, came to Sister
Frances in her last moments, and relieved her mind from all
anxiety, by promising to place the two little children with the
lady who had been abbess of her convent, who would to the utmost of
her power protect and provide for them suitably. Satisfied by this
promise, the good Sister Frances smiled upon Victoire, who stood
beside her bed, and with that smile upon her countenance expired.--
It was some time before the little children seemed to comprehend,
or to believe, that Sister Frances was dead: they had never before
seen any one die; they had no idea what it was to die, and their
first feeling was astonishment; they did not seem to understand why
Victoire wept. But the next day when no Sister Frances spoke to
them, when every hour they missed some accustomed kindness from
her,--when presently they saw the preparations for her funeral,--
when they heard that she was to be buried in the earth, and that
they should never see her more,--they could neither play nor eat,
but sat in a corner holding each other's hands, and watching
everything that was done for the dead by Victoire.

In those times, the funeral of a nun, with a priest attending,
would not have been permitted by the populace. It was therefore
performed as secretly as possible: in the middle of the night the
coffin was carried to the burial-place of the Fleury family; the
old steward, his son Basile, Victoire, and the good father
confessor, were the only persons present. It is necessary to
mention this, because the facts were afterwards misrepresented.


"The character is lost!
Her head adorned with lappets, pinned aloft,
And ribands streaming gay, superbly raised,
Indebted to some smart wig-weaver's hand
For more than half the tresses it sustains."--COWPER.

Upon her return to Paris, Victoire felt melancholy; but she exerted
herself as much as possible in her usual occupation; finding that
employment and the consciousness of doing her duty were the best
remedies for sorrow.

One day as she was busy settling Madame Feuillot's accounts a
servant came into the shop and inquired for Mademoiselle Victoire:
he presented her a note, which she found rather difficult to
decipher. It was signed by her cousin Manon, who desired to see
Victoire at her hotel. "HER HOTEL!" repeated Victoire with
astonishment. The servant assured her that one of the finest
hotels in Paris belonged to his lady, and that he was commissioned
to show her the way to it. Victoire found her cousin in a
magnificent house, which had formerly belonged to the Prince de
Salms. Manon, dressed in the disgusting, indecent extreme of the
mode, was seated under a richly-fringed canopy. She burst into a
loud laugh as Victoire entered.

"You look just as much astonished as I expected," cried she.
"Great changes have happened since I saw you last--I always told
you, Victoire, I knew the world better than you did. What has come
of all your schooling, and your mighty goodness, and your gratitude
truly? Your patroness is banished and a beggar, and you a drudge
in the shop of a brodeuse, who makes you work your fingers to the
bone, no doubt. Now you shall see the difference. Let me show you
my house; you know it was formerly the hotel of the Prince de
Salms, he that was guillotined the other day; but you know nothing,
for you have been out of Paris this month, I understand. Then I
must tell you that my friend Villeneuf has acquired an immense
fortune! by assignats made in the course of a fortnight. I say an
immense fortune! and has bought this fine house. Now do you begin
to understand?"

"I do not clearly know whom you mean by 'your friend Villeneuf,'"
said Victoire.

"The hairdresser who lived in our street," said Manon; "he became a
great patriot, you know, and orator; and, what with his eloquence
and his luck in dealing in assignats, he has made his fortune and

"And yours! then he is your husband?"

"That does not follow--that is not necessary--but do not look so
shocked--everybody goes on the sane way now; besides, I had no
other resource--I must have starved--I could not earn my bread as
you do. Besides, I was too delicate for hard work of any sort--and
besides--but come, let me show you my house--you have no idea how
fine it is."

With anxious ostentation Manon displayed all her riches to excite
Victoire's envy.

"Confess, Victoire," said she at last, "that you think me the
happiest person you have ever known.--You do not answer; whom did
you ever know that was happier?"

"Sister Frances, who died last week, appeared to be much happier,"
said Victoire.

"The poor nun!" said Manon, disdainfully. "Well, and whom do you
think the next happiest?"

"Madame de Fleury."

"An exile and a beggar!--Oh, you are jesting now, Victoire--or--
envious. With that sanctified face, citoyenne--perhaps I should
say Mademoiselle--Victoire you would be delighted to change places
with me this instant. Come, you shall stay with me a week to try
how you like it."

"Excuse me," said Victoire, firmly; "I cannot stay with you, Manon;
you have chosen one way of life and I another--quite another. I do
not repent my choice--may you never repent yours!--Farewell!"

"Bless me! what airs! and with what dignity she looks! Repent of
my choice!--a likely thing, truly. Am not I at the top of the

"And may not the wheel turn?" said Victoire.

"Perhaps it may," said Manon; "but till it does I will enjoy
myself. Since you are of a different humour, return to Madame
Feuillot, and figure upon cambric and muslin, and make out bills,
and nurse old nuns all the days of your life. You will never
persuade me, however, that you would not change places with me if
you could. Stay till you are tried, Mademoiselle Victoire. Who
was ever in love with you or your virtues?--Stay till you are


"But beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree,
Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
Of dragon watch with unenchanted eye
To save her blossoms, or defend her fruit."--MILTON.

The trial was nearer than either Manon or Victoire expected. Manon
had scarcely pronounced the last words when the ci-devant
hairdresser burst into the room, accompanied by several of his
political associates, who met to consult measures for the good of
the nation. Among these patriots was the Abbe Tracassier.

"Who is that pretty girl who is with you, Manon?" whispered he; "a
friend of yours, I hope?"

Victoire left the room immediately, but not before the profligate
abbe had seen enough to make him wish to see more. The next day he
went to Madame Feuillot's under pretence of buying some embroidered
handkerchiefs; he paid Victoire a profusion of extravagant
compliments, which made no impression upon her innocent heart, and
which appeared ridiculous to her plain good sense. She did not
know who he was, nor did Madame Feuillot; for though she had often
heard of the abbe, yet she had never seen him. Several succeeding
days he returned, and addressed himself to Victoire, each time with
increasing freedom. Madame Feuillot, who had the greatest
confidence in her, left her entirely to her own discretion.
Victoire begged her friend Annette to do the business of the shop,
and stayed at work in the back parlour. Tracassier was much
disappointed by her absence; but as he thought no great ceremony
necessary in his proceedings, he made his name known in a haughty
manner to Madame de Feuillot, and desired that he might be admitted
into the back parlour, as he had something of consequence to say to
Mademoiselle Victoire in private. Our readers will not require to
have a detailed account of this tete-a-tete; it is sufficient to
say that the disappointed and exasperated abbe left the house
muttering imprecations. The next morning a note came to Victoire
apparently from Manon: it was directed by her, but the inside was
written by an unknown hand, and continued these words:-

"You are a charming, but incomprehensible girl--since you do not
like compliments, you shall not be addressed with empty flattery.
It is in the power of the person who dictates this, not only to
make you as rich and great as your cousin Manon, but also to
restore to fortune and to their country the friends for whom, you
are most interested. Their fate as well as your own is in your
power: if you send a favourable answer to this note, the persons
alluded to will, to-morrow, be struck from the list of emigrants,
and reinstated in their former possessions. If your answer is
decidedly unfavourable, the return of your friends to France will
be thenceforward impracticable, and their chateau, as well as their
house in Paris, will be declared national property, and sold
without delay to the highest bidder. To you, who have as much
understanding as beauty, it is unnecessary to say more. Consult
your heart, charming Victoire! be happy, and make others happy.
This moment is decisive of your fate and of theirs, for you have to
answer a man of a most decided character."

Victoire's answer was as follows:-

"My friends would not, I am sure, accept of their fortune, or
consent to return to their country, upon the conditions proposed;
therefore I have no merit in rejecting them."

Victoire had early acquired good principles, and that plain steady
good sense, which goes straight to its object, without being
dazzled or imposed upon by sophistry. She was unacquainted with
the refinements of sentiment, but she distinctly knew right from
wrong, and had sufficient resolution to abide by the right.
Perhaps many romantic heroines might have thought it a generous
self-devotion to have become in similar circumstances the mistress
of Tracassier; and those who are skilled "to make the worst appear
the better cause" might have made such an act of heroism the
foundation of an interesting, or at least a fashionable novel.
Poor Victoire had not received an education sufficiently refined to
enable her to understand these mysteries of sentiment. She was
even simple enough to flatter herself that this libertine patriot
would not fulfil his threats, and that these had been made only
with a view to terrify her into compliance. In this opinion,
however, she found herself mistaken. M. Tracassier was indeed a
man of the most decided character, if this form may properly be
applied to those who act uniformly in consequence of their ruling
passion. The Chateau de Fleury was seized as national property.
Victoire heard this bad news from the old steward, who was turned
out of the castle, along with his son, the very day after her
rejection of the proposed conditions.

"I could not have believed that any human creature could be so
wicked!" exclaimed Victoire, glowing with indignation: but
indignation gave way to sorrow.

"And the Chateau de Fleury is really seized?--and you, good old
man, are turned out of the place where you were born?--and you too,
Basile?--and Madame de Fleury will never come back again!--and
perhaps she may be put into prison in a foreign country, and may
die for want--and I might have prevented all this!"

Unable to shed a tear, Victoire stood in silent consternation,
whilst Annette explained to the good steward and his son the whole
transaction. Basile, who was naturally of an impetuous temper, was
so transported with indignation, that he would have gone instantly
with the note from Tracassier to denounce him before the whole
National Convention, if he had not been restrained by his more
prudent father. The old steward represented to him, that as the
note was neither signed nor written by the hand of Tracassier, no
proof could be brought home to him, and the attempt to convict one
of so powerful a party would only bring certain destruction upon
the accusers. Besides, such was at this time the general depravity
of manners, that numbers would keep the guilty in countenance.
There was no crime which the mask of patriotism could not cover.
"There is one comfort we have in our misfortunes, which these men
can never have," said the old man; "when their downfall comes, and
come it will most certainly, they will not feel as we do, INNOCENT.
Victoire, look up! and do not give way to despair--all will yet be

"At all events, you have done what is right--so do not reproach
yourself," said Basile. "Everybody--I mean everybody who is good
for anything--must respect, admire, and love you, Victoire."


"Ne mal cio che v'annoja,
Quello e vero gioire
Che nasce da virtude dopo il soffrire."

Basile had not seen without emotion the various instances of
goodness which Victoire showed during the illness of Sister
Frances. Her conduct towards M. Tracassier increased his esteem
and attachment; but he forbore to declare his affection, because he
could not, consistently with prudence, or with gratitude to his
father, think of marrying, now that he was not able to maintain a
wife and family. The honest earnings of many years of service had
been wrested from the old steward at the time the Chateau de Fleury
was seized, and he now depended on the industry of his son for the
daily support of his age. His dependence was just, and not likely
to be disappointed; for he had given his son an education suitable
to his condition in life. Basile was an exact arithmetician, could
write an excellent hand, and was a ready draughtsman and surveyor.
To bring these useful talents into action, and to find employment
for them with men by whom they would be honestly rewarded, was the
only difficulty--a difficulty which Victoire's brother Maurice soon
removed. His reputation as a smith had introduced him, among his
many customers, to a gentleman of worth and scientific knowledge,
who was at this time employed to make models and plans of all the
fortified places in Europe; he was in want of a good clerk and
draughtsman, of whose integrity he could be secure. Maurice
mentioned his friend Basile; and upon inquiry into his character,
and upon trial of his abilities, he was found suited to the place,
and was accepted. By his well-earned salary he supported himself
and his father; and began, with the sanguine hopes of a young man,
to flatter himself that he should soon be rich enough to marry, and
that then he might declare his attachment to Victoire.
Notwithstanding all his boasted prudence, he had betrayed
sufficient symptoms of his passion to have rendered a declaration
unnecessary to any clear-sighted observer: but Victoire was not
thinking of conquests; she was wholly occupied with a scheme of
earning a certain sum of money for her benefactress, who was now,
as she feared, in want. All Madame de Fleury's former pupils
contributed their share to the common stock; and the mantua-maker,
the confectioner, the servants of different sorts, who had been
educated at her school, had laid by, during the years of her
banishment, an annual portion of their wages and savings: with the
sum which Victoire now added to the fund, it amounted to ten
thousand livres. The person who undertook to carry this money to
Madame de Fleury, was Francois, her former footman, who had
procured a pass to go to England as a hairdresser. The night
before he set out was a happy night for Victoire, as all her
companions met, by Madame Feuillot's invitation, at her house; and
after tea they had the pleasure of packing up the little box, in
which each, besides the money, sent some token their gratitude, and
some proof of their ingenuity. They would with all their hearts
have sent twice as many souvenirs as Francois could carry.

"D'abord c'est impossible!" cried he, when he saw the box that was
prepared for him to carry to England: but his good nature was
unable to resist the entreaties of each to have her offering
carried, "which would take up no room."

He departed--arrived safe in England--found out Madame de Fleury,
who was in real distress, in obscure lodgings at Richmond. He
delivered the money, and all the presents of which he had taken
charge: but the person to whom she entrusted a letter, in answer
to Victoire, was not so punctual, or was more unlucky: for the
letter never reached her, and she and her companions were long
uncertain whether their little treasure had been received. They
still continued, however, with indefatigable gratitude, to lay by a
portion of their earnings for their benefactress; and the pleasure
they had in this perseverance made them more than amends for the
loss of some little amusements, and for privations to which they
submitted in consequence of their resolution.

In the meantime, Basile, going on steadily with his employments,
advanced every day in the favour of his master, and his salary was
increased in proportion to his abilities and industry; so that he
thought he could now, without any imprudence, marry. He consulted
his father, who approved of his choice; he consulted Maurice as to
the probability of his being accepted by Victoire; and encouraged
by both his father and his friend, he was upon the eve of
addressing himself to Victoire, when he was prevented by a new and
unforeseen misfortune. His father was taken up, by an emissary of
Tracassier's, and brought before one of their revolutionary
committees, where he was accused of various acts of incivisme.
Among other things equally criminal, it was proved that one Sunday,
when he went to see Le Petit Trianon, then a public-house, he
exclaimed, "C'est ici que le canaille danse, et que les honnetes
gens pleurent!"

Basile was present at this mock examination of his father--he saw
him on the point of being dragged to prison--when a hint was given
that he might save his father by enlisting immediately, and going
with the army out of France. Victoire was full in Basile's
recollection; but there was no other means of saving his father.
He enlisted, and in twenty-four hours left Paris.

What appear to be the most unfortunate circumstances of life often
prove ultimately the most advantageous--indeed, those who have
knowledge, activity, and integrity, can convert the apparent blanks
in the lottery of fortune into prizes. Basile was recommended to
his commanding officer by the gentleman who had lately employed him
as a clerk; his skill in drawing plans, and in taking rapid surveys
of the country through which they passed, was extremely useful to
his general, and his integrity made it safe to trust him as a
secretary. His commanding officer, though a brave man, was
illiterate, and a secretary was to him a necessary of life. Basile
was not only useful, but agreeable; without any mean arts, or
servile adulation, he pleased by simply showing the desire to
oblige and the ability to serve.

"Diable!" exclaimed the general one day, as he looked at Basile's
plan of a town which the army was besieging. "How comes it that
you are able to do all these things? But you have a genius for
this sort of work, apparently."

"No, sir," said Basile, "these things were taught to me when I was
a child by a good friend."

"A good friend he was, indeed! he did more for you than if he had
given you a fortune; for, in these times, that might have been soon
taken from you; but now you have the means of making a fortune for

This observation of the general's, obvious as it may seem, is
deserving of the serious consideration of those who have children
of their own to educate, or who have the disposal of money for
public charities. In these times no sensible person will venture
to pronounce that a change of fortune and station may not await the
highest and the lowest; whether we rise or fall in the scale of
society, personal qualities and knowledge will be valuable. Those
who fall cannot be destitute, and those who rise cannot be
ridiculous or contemptible, if they have been prepared for their
fortune by proper education. In shipwreck those who carry their
all in their minds are the most secure.

But to return to Basile. He had sense enough not to make his
general jealous of him by any unseasonable display of his talents,
or any officious intrusion of advice, even upon subjects which he
best understood.

The talents of the warrior and the secretary were in such different
lines, that there was no danger of competition; and the general,
finding in his secretary the soul of all the arts, good sense,
gradually acquired the habit of asking his opinion on every subject
that came within his department. It happened that the general
received orders from the Directory at Paris to take a certain town,
let it cost what it would, within a given time: in his perplexity
he exclaimed before Basile against the unreasonableness of these
orders, and declared his belief that it was impossible he should
succeed, and that this was only a scheme of his enemies to prepare
his ruin. Basile had attended to the operations of the engineer
who acted under the general, and perfectly recollected the model of
the mines of this town, which he had seen when he was employed as
draughtsman by his Parisian friend. He remembered that there was
formerly an old mine that had been stopped up somewhere near the
place where the engineer was at work; he mentioned in private his
suspicions to the general, who gave orders in consequence. The old
mine was discovered, cleared out, and by these means the town was
taken the day before the time appointed. Basile did not arrogate
to himself any of the glory of this success; he kept his general's
secret and his confidence. Upon their return to Paris, after a
fortunate campaign, the general was more grateful than some others
have been, perhaps because more room was given by Basile's prudence
for the exercise of this virtue.

"My friend," said he to Basile, "you have done me a great service
by your counsel, and a greater still by holding your tongue. Speak
now, and tell me freely if there is anything I can do for you. You
see, as a victorious general, I have the upper hand amongst these
fellows--Tracassier's scheme to ruin me missed--whatever I ask will
at this moment be granted; speak freely, therefore."

Basile asked what he knew Victoire most desired--that Monsieur and
Madame de Fleury should be struck from the list of emigrants, and
that their property now in the hands of the nation should be
restored to them. The general promised that this should be done.
A warm contest ensued upon the subject between him and Tracassier,
but the general stood firm; and Tracassier, enraged, forgot his
usual cunning, and quarrelling irrevocably with a party now more
powerful than his own, he and his adherents were driven from that
station in which they had so long tyrannised. From being the
rulers of France, they in a few hours became banished men, or, in
the phrase of the times, des deportes.

We must not omit to mention the wretched end of Manon. The man
with whom she lived perished by the guillotine. From his splendid
house she went upon the stage, did not succeed, sank from one
degree of profligacy to another, and at last died in an hospital.

In the meantime, the order for the restoration of the Fleury
property, and for permission for the Fleury family to return to
France, was made out in due form, and Maurice begged to be the
messenger of these good tidings--he set out for England with the

Victoire immediately went down to the Chateau de Fleury, to get
everything in readiness for the reception of the family.

Exiles are expeditious in their return to their native country.
Victoire had but just time to complete her preparations, when
Monsieur and Madame de Fleury arrived at Calais. Victoire had
assembled all her companions, all Madame de Fleury's former pupils;
and the hour when she was expected home, they, with the peasants of
the neighbourhood, were all in their holiday clothes, and,
according to the custom of the country, singing and dancing.
Without music and dancing there is no perfect joy in France. Never
was fete du village or fete du Seigneur more joyful than this.

The old steward opened the gate, the carriage drove in. Madame de
Fleury saw that home which she had little expected evermore to
behold, but all other thoughts were lost in the pleasure of meeting
her beloved pupils.

"My children!" cried she, as they crowded round her the moment she
got out of her carriage--"my dear, GOOD children!"

It was all she could say. She leaned on Victoire's arm as she went
into the house, and by degrees recovering from the almost painful
excess of pleasure, began to enjoy what she yet only confusedly

Several of her pupils were so much grown and altered in their
external appearance, that she could scarcely recollect them till
they spoke, and then their voices and the expression of their
countenances brought their childhood fully to her memory.
Victoire, she thought, was changed the least, and at this she

The feeling and intelligent reader will imagine all the pleasure
that Madame de Fleury enjoyed this day; nor was it merely the
pleasure of a day. She heard from all her friends, with prolonged
satisfaction, repeated accounts of the good conduct of these young
people during her absence. She learned with delight how her
restoration to her country and her fortune had been effected; and
is it necessary to add, that Victoire consented to marry Basile,
and that she was suitably portioned, and, what is better still,
that she was perfectly happy? Monsieur de Fleury rewarded the
attachment and good conduct of Maurice by taking him into his
service, and making him his manager under the old steward at the
Chateau de Fleury.

On Victoire's wedding-day Madame de Fleury produced all the little
offerings of gratitude which she had received from her and her
companions during her exile. It was now her turn to confer
favours, and she knew how to confer them both with grace and

"No gratitude in human nature! No gratitude in the lower classes
of the people!" cried she; "how much those are mistaken who think
so! I wish they could know my history, and the history of these my
children, and they would acknowledge their error."


{1} "Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first deprive of

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