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

My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Gaskell

Part 2 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 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.

peaceful welcome in their magnificent houses. Of course, there was
sin enough and suffering enough behind the scenes; but we English
visitors to Paris had seen little or nothing of that,--and I had
sometimes thought, indeed, how even death seemed loth to choose his
victims out of that brilliant throng whom I had known. Madame de
Crequy's one boy lived; while three out of my six were gone since we
had met! I do not think all lots are equal, even now that I know the
end of her hopes; but I do say that whatever our individual lot is,
it is our duty to accept it, without comparing it with that of

"The times were thick with gloom and terror. 'What next?' was the
question we asked of every one who brought us news from Paris. Where
were these demons hidden when, so few years ago, we danced and
feasted, and enjoyed the brilliant salons and the charming
friendships of Paris?

"One evening, I was sitting alone in Saint James's Square; my lord
off at the club with Mr. Fox and others: he had left me, thinking
that I should go to one of the many places to which I had been
invited for that evening; but I had no heart to go anywhere, for it
was poor Urian's birthday, and I had not even rung for lights, though
the day was fast closing in, but was thinking over all his pretty
ways, and on his warm affectionate nature, and how often I had been
too hasty in speaking to him, for all I loved him so dearly; and how
I seemed to have neglected and dropped his dear friend Clement, who
might even now be in need of help in that cruel, bloody Paris. I say
I was thinking reproachfully of all this, and particularly of Clement
de Crequy in connection with Urian, when Fenwick brought me a note,
sealed with a coat-of-arms I knew well, though I could not remember
at the moment where I had seen it. I puzzled over it, as one does
sometimes, for a minute or more, before I opened the letter. In a
moment I saw it was from Clement de Crequy. 'My mother is here,' he
said: 'she is very ill, and I am bewildered in this strange country.
May I entreat you to receive me for a few minutes?' The bearer of
the note was the woman of the house where they lodged. I had her
brought up into the anteroom, and questioned her myself, while my
carriage was being brought round. They had arrived in London a
fortnight or so before: she had not known their quality, judging
them (according to her kind) by their dress and their luggage; poor
enough, no doubt. The lady had never left her bedroom since her
arrival; the young man waited upon her, did everything for her, never
left her, in fact; only she (the messenger) had promised to stay
within call, as soon as she returned, while he went out somewhere.
She could hardly understand him, he spoke English so badly. He had
never spoken it, I dare say, since he had talked to my Urian."


"In the hurry of the moment I scarce knew what I did. I bade the
housekeeper put up every delicacy she had, in order to tempt the
invalid, whom yet I hoped to bring back with me to our house. When
the carriage was ready I took the good woman with me to show us the
exact way, which my coachman professed not to know; for, indeed, they
were staying at but a poor kind of place at the back of Leicester
Square, of which they had heard, as Clement told me afterwards, from
one of the fishermen who had carried them across from the Dutch coast
in their disguises as a Friesland peasant and his mother. They had
some jewels of value concealed round their persons; but their ready
money was all spent before I saw them, and Clement had been unwilling
to leave his mother, even for the time necessary to ascertain the
best mode of disposing of the diamonds. For, overcome with distress
of mind and bodily fatigue, she had reached London only to take to
her bed in a sort of low, nervous fever, in which her chief and only
idea seemed to be that Clement was about to be taken from her to some
prison or other; and if he were out of her sight, though but for a
minute, she cried like a child, and could not be pacified or
comforted. The landlady was a kind, good woman, and though she but
half understood the case, she was truly sorry for them, as
foreigners, and the mother sick in a strange land.

"I sent her forwards to request permission for my entrance. In a
moment I saw Clement--a tall, elegant young man, in a curious dress
of coarse cloth, standing at the open door of a room, and evidently--
even before he accosted me--striving to soothe the terrors of his
mother inside. I went towards him, and would have taken his hand,
but he bent down and kissed mine.

"'May I come in, madame?' I asked, looking at the poor sick lady,
lying in the dark, dingy bed, her head propped up on coarse and dirty
pillows, and gazing with affrighted eyes at all that was going on.

"'Clement! Clement! come to me!' she cried; and when he went to the
bedside she turned on one side, and took his hand in both of hers,
and began stroking it, and looking up in his face. I could scarce
keep back my tears.

"He stood there quite still, except that from time to time he spoke
to her in a low tone. At last I advanced into the room, so that I
could talk to him, without renewing her alarm. I asked for the
doctor's address; for I had heard that they had called in some one,
at their landlady's recommendation: but I could hardly understand
Clement's broken English, and mispronunciation of our proper names,
and was obliged to apply to the woman herself. I could not say much
to Clement, for his attention was perpetually needed by his mother,
who never seemed to perceive that I was there. But I told him not to
fear, however long I might be away, for that I would return before
night; and, bidding the woman take charge of all the heterogeneous
things the housekeeper had put up, and leaving one of my men in the
house, who could understand a few words of French, with directions
that he was to hold himself at Madame de Crequy's orders until I sent
or gave him fresh commands, I drove off to the doctor's. What I
wanted was his permission to remove Madame de Crequy to my own house,
and to learn how it best could be done; for I saw that every movement
in the room, every sound except Clement's voice, brought on a fresh
access of trembling and nervous agitation.

"The doctor was, I should think, a clever man; but he had that kind
of abrupt manner which people get who have much to do with the lower

"I told him the story of his patient, the interest I had in her, and
the wish I entertained of removing her to my own house.

"'It can't be done,' said he. 'Any change will kill her.'

"'But it must be done,' I replied. 'And it shall not kill her.'

"'Then I have nothing more to say,' said he, turning away from the
carriage door, and making as though he would go back into the house.

"'Stop a moment. You must help me; and, if you do, you shall have
reason to be glad, for I will give you fifty pounds down with
pleasure. If you won't do it, another shall.'

"He looked at me, then (furtively) at the carriage, hesitated, and
then said: 'You do not mind expense, apparently. I suppose you are
a rich lady of quality. Such folks will not stick at such trifles as
the life or death of a sick woman to get their own way. I suppose I
must e'en help you, for if I don't, another will.'

"I did not mind what he said, so that he would assist me. I was
pretty sure that she was in a state to require opiates; and I had not
forgotten Christopher Sly, you may be sure, so I told him what I had
in my head. That in the dead of night--the quiet time in the
streets,--she should be carried in a hospital litter, softly and
warmly covered over, from the Leicester Square lodging-house to rooms
that I would have in perfect readiness for her. As I planned, so it
was done. I let Clement know, by a note, of my design. I had all
prepared at home, and we walked about my house as though shod with
velvet, while the porter watched at the open door. At last, through
the darkness, I saw the lanterns carried by my men, who were leading
the little procession. The litter looked like a hearse; on one side
walked the doctor, on the other Clement; they came softly and swiftly
along. I could not try any farther experiment; we dared not change
her clothes; she was laid in the bed in the landlady's coarse night-
gear, and covered over warmly, and left in the shaded, scented room,
with a nurse and the doctor watching by her, while I led Clement to
the dressing-room adjoining, in which I had had a bed placed for him.
Farther than that he would not go; and there I had refreshments
brought. Meanwhile, he had shown his gratitude by every possible
action (for we none of us dared to speak): he had kneeled at my
feet, and kissed my hand, and left it wet with his tears. He had
thrown up his arms to Heaven, and prayed earnestly, as I could see by
the movement of his lips. I allowed him to relieve himself by these
dumb expressions, if I may so call them,--and then I left him, and
went to my own rooms to sit up for my lord, and tell him what I had

"Of course, it was all right; and neither my lord nor I could sleep
for wondering how Madame de Crequy would bear her awakening. I had
engaged the doctor, to whose face and voice she was accustomed, to
remain with her all night: the nurse was experienced, and Clement
was within call. But it was with the greatest relief that I heard
from my own woman, when she brought me my chocolate, that Madame de
Crequy (Monsieur had said) had awakened more tranquil than she had
been for many days. To be sure, the whole aspect of the bed-chamber
must have been more familiar to her than the miserable place where I
had found her, and she must have intuitively felt herself among

"My lord was scandalized at Clement's dress, which, after the first
moment of seeing him I had forgotten, in thinking of other things,
and for which I had not prepared Lord Ludlow. He sent for his own
tailor, and bade him bring patterns of stuffs, and engage his men to
work night and day till Clement could appear as became his rank. In
short, in a few days so much of the traces of their flight were
removed, that we had almost forgotten the terrible causes of it, and
rather felt as if they had come on a visit to us than that they had
been compelled to fly their country. Their diamonds, too, were sold
well by my lord's agents, though the London shops were stocked with
jewellery, and such portable valuables, some of rare and curious
fashion, which were sold for half their real value by emigrants who
could not afford to wait. Madame de Crequy was recovering her
health, although her strength was sadly gone, and she would never be
equal to such another flight, as the perilous one which she had gone
through, and to which she could not bear the slightest reference.
For some time things continued in this state--the De Crequys still
our honoured visitors,--many houses besides our own, even among our
own friends, open to receive the poor flying nobility of France,
driven from their country by the brutal republicans, and every
freshly-arrived emigrant bringing new tales of horror, as if these
revolutionists were drunk with blood, and mad to devise new
atrocities. One day Clement--I should tell you he had been presented
to our good King George and the sweet Queen, and they had accosted
him most graciously, and his beauty and elegance, and some of the
circumstances attendant on his flight, made him be received in the
world quite like a hero of romance; he might have been on intimate
terms in many a distinguished house, had he cared to visit much; but
he accompanied my lord and me with an air of indifference and
languor, which I sometimes fancied made him be all the more sought
after: Monkshaven (that was the title my eldest son bore) tried in
vain to interest him in all young men's sports. But no! it was the
same through all. His mother took far more interest in the on-dits
of the London world, into which she was far too great an invalid to
venture, than he did in the absolute events themselves, in which he
might have been an actor. One day, as I was saying, an old Frenchman
of a humble class presented himself to our servants, several of them,
understood French; and through Medlicott, I learnt that he was in
some way connected with the De Crequys; not with their Paris-life;
but I fancy he had been intendant of their estates in the country;
estates which were more useful as hunting-grounds than as adding to
their income. However, there was the old man and with him, wrapped
round his person, he had brought the long parchment rolls, and deeds
relating to their property. These he would deliver up to none but
Monsieur de Crequy, the rightful owner; and Clement was out with
Monkshaven, so the old man waited; and when Clement came in, I told
him of the steward's arrival, and how he had been cared for by my
people. Clement went directly to see him. He was a long time away,
and I was waiting for him to drive out with me, for some purpose or
another, I scarce know what, but I remember I was tired of waiting,
and was just in the act of ringing the bell to desire that he might
be reminded of his engagement with me, when he came in, his face as
white as the powder in his hair, his beautiful eyes dilated with
horror. I saw that he had heard something that touched him even more
closely than the usual tales which every fresh emigrant brought.

"'What is it, Clement?' I asked.

"He clasped his hands, and looked as though he tried to speak, but
could not bring out the words.

"'They have guillotined my uncle!' said he at last. Now, I knew that
there was a Count de Crequy; but I had always understood that the
elder branch held very little communication with him; in fact, that
he was a vaurien of some kind, and rather a disgrace than otherwise
to the family. So, perhaps, I was hard-hearted but I was a little
surprised at this excess of emotion, till I saw that peculiar look in
his eyes that many people have when there is more terror in their
hearts than they dare put into words. He wanted me to understand
something without his saying it; but how could I? I had never heard
of a Mademoiselle de Crequy.

"'Virginie!' at last he uttered. In an instant I understood it all,
and remembered that, if Urian had lived, he too might have been in

"'Your uncle's daughter?' I inquired.

"'My cousin,' he replied.

"I did not say, 'your betrothed,' but I had no doubt of it. I was
mistaken, however.

"'O madame!' he continued, 'her mother died long ago--her father now-
-and she is in daily fear,--alone, deserted--'

"'Is she in the Abbaye?' asked I.

"'No! she is in hiding with the widow of her father's old concierge.
Any day they may search the house for aristocrats. They are seeking
them everywhere. Then, not her life alone, but that of the old
woman, her hostess, is sacrificed. The old woman knows this, and
trembles with fear. Even if she is brave enough to be faithful, her
fears would betray her, should the house be searched. Yet, there is
no one to help Virginie to escape. She is alone in Paris.'

"I saw what was in his mind. He was fretting and chafing to go to
his cousin's assistance; but the thought of his mother restrained
him. I would not have kept back Urian from such on errand at such a
time. How should I restrain him? And yet, perhaps, I did wrong in
not urging the chances of danger more. Still, if it was danger to
him, was it not the same or even greater danger to her?--for the
French spared neither age nor sex in those wicked days of terror. So
I rather fell in with his wish, and encouraged him to think how best
and most prudently it might be fulfilled; never doubting, as I have
said, that he and his cousin were troth-plighted.

"But when I went to Madame de Crequy--after he had imparted his, or
rather our plan to her--I found out my mistake. She, who was in
general too feeble to walk across the room save slowly, and with a
stick, was going from end to end with quick, tottering steps; and, if
now and then she sank upon a chair, it seemed as if she could not
rest, for she was up again in a moment, pacing along, wringing her
hands, and speaking rapidly to herself. When she saw me, she
stopped: 'Madame,' she said, 'you have lost your own boy. You might
have left me mine.'

"I was so astonished--I hardly knew what to say. I had spoken to
Clement as if his mother's consent were secure (as I had felt my own
would have been if Urian had been alive to ask it). Of coarse, both
he and I knew that his mother's consent must be asked and obtained,
before he could leave her to go on such an undertaking; but, somehow,
my blood always rose at the sight or sound of danger; perhaps,
because my life had been so peaceful. Poor Madame de Crequy! it was
otherwise with her; she despaired while I hoped, and Clement trusted.

"'Dear Madame de Crequy,' said I, 'he will return safely to us; every
precaution shall be taken, that either he or you, or my lord, or
Monkshaven can think of; but he cannot leave a girl--his nearest
relation save you--his betrothed, is she not?'

"'His betrothed!' cried she, now at the utmost pitch of her
excitement. 'Virginie betrothed to Clement?--no! thank heaven, not
so bad as that! Yet it might have been. But mademoiselle scorned my
son! She would have nothing to do with him. Now is the time for him
to have nothing to do with her!"

"Clement had entered at the door behind his mother as she thus spoke.
His face was set and pale, till it looked as gray and immovable as if
it had been carved in stone. He came forward and stood before his
mother. She stopped her walk, threw back her haughty head, and the
two looked each other steadily in the face. After a minute or two in
this attitude, her proud and resolute gaze never flinching or
wavering, he went down upon one knee, and, taking her hand--her hard,
stony hand, which never closed on his, but remained straight and

"'Mother,' he pleaded, 'withdraw your prohibition. Let me go!'

"'What were her words?' Madame de Crequy replied, slowly, as if
forcing her memory to the extreme of accuracy. 'My cousin,' she
said, 'when I marry, I marry a man, not a petit-maitre. I marry a
man who, whatever his rank may be will add dignity to the human race
by his virtues, and not be content to live in an effeminate court on
the traditions of past grandeur.' She borrowed her words from the
infamous Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the friend of her scarce less
infamous father--nay! I will say it,--if not her words, she borrowed
her principles. And my son to request her to marry him!'

"'It was my father's written wish,' said Clement.

"'But did you not love her? You plead your father's words,--words
written twelve years before,--and as if that were your reason for
being indifferent to my dislike to the alliance. But you requested
her to marry you,--and she refused you with insolent contempt; and
now you are ready to leave me,--leave me desolate in a foreign land--

"'Desolate! my mother! and the Countess Ludlow stands there!'

"'Pardon, madame! But all the earth, though it were full of kind
hearts, is but a desolation and a desert place to a mother when her
only child is absent. And you, Clement, would leave me for this
Virginie,--this degenerate De Crequy, tainted with the atheism of the
Encyclopedistes! She is only reaping some of the fruit of the
harvest whereof her friends have sown the seed. Let her alone!
Doubtless she has friends--it may be lovers--among these demons, who,
under the cry of liberty, commit every licence. Let her alone,
Clement! She refused you with scorn: be too proud to notice her

"'Mother, I cannot think of myself; only of her.'

"'Think of me, then! I, your mother, forbid you to go.'

"Clement bowed low, and went out of the room instantly, as one
blinded. She saw his groping movement, and, for an instant, I think
her heart was touched. But she turned to me, and tried to exculpate
her past violence by dilating upon her wrongs, and they certainly
were many. The Count, her husband's younger brother, had invariably
tried to make mischief between husband and wife. He had been the
cleverer man of the two, and had possessed extraordinary influence
over her husband. She suspected him of having instigated that clause
in her husband's will, by which the Marquis expressed his wish for
the marriage of the cousins. The Count had had some interest in the
management of the De Crequy property during her son's minority.
Indeed, I remembered then, that it was through Count de Crequy that
Lord Ludlow had first heard of the apartment which we afterwards took
in the Hotel de Crequy; and then the recollection of a past feeling
came distinctly out of the mist, as it were; and I called to mind
how, when we first took up our abode in the Hotel de Crequy, both
Lord Ludlow and I imagined that the arrangement was displeasing to
our hostess; and how it had taken us a considerable time before we
had been able to establish relations of friendship with her. Years
after our visit, she began to suspect that Clement (whom she could
not forbid to visit at his uncle's house, considering the terms on
which his father had been with his brother; though she herself never
set foot over the Count de Crequy's threshold) was attaching himself
to mademoiselle, his cousin; and she made cautious inquiries as to
the appearance, character, and disposition of the young lady.
Mademoiselle was not handsome, they said; but of a fine figure, and
generally considered as having a very noble and attractive presence.
In character she was daring and wilful (said one set); original and
independent (said another). She was much indulged by her father, who
had given her something of a man's education, and selected for her
intimate friend a young lady below her in rank, one of the
Bureaucracie, a Mademoiselle Necker, daughter of the Minister of
Finance. Mademoiselle de Crequy was thus introduced into all the
free-thinking salons of Paris; among people who were always full of
plans for subverting society. 'And did Clement affect such people?'
Madame de Crequy had asked with some anxiety. No! Monsieur de
Crequy had neither eyes nor ears, nor thought for anything but his
cousin, while she was by. And she? She hardly took notice of his
devotion, so evident to every one else. The proud creature! But
perhaps that was her haughty way of concealing what she felt. And so
Madame de Crequy listened, and questioned, and learnt nothing
decided, until one day she surprised Clement with the note in his
hand, of which she remembered the stinging words so well, in which
Virginie had said, in reply to a proposal Clement had sent her
through her father, that 'When she married she married a man, not a

"Clement was justly indignant at the insulting nature of the answer
Virginie had sent to a proposal, respectful in its tone, and which
was, after all, but the cool, hardened lava over a burning heart. He
acquiesced in his mother's desire, that he should not again present
himself in his uncle's salons; but he did not forget Virginie, though
he never mentioned her name.

"Madame de Crequy and her son were among the earliest proscrits, as
they were of the strongest possible royalists, and aristocrats, as it
was the custom of the horrid Sansculottes to term those who adhered
to the habits of expression and action in which it was their pride to
have been educated. They had left Paris some weeks before they had
arrived in England, and Clement's belief at the time of quitting the
Hotel de Crequy had certainly been, that his uncle was not merely
safe, but rather a popular man with the party in power. And, as all
communication having relation to private individuals of a reliable
kind was intercepted, Monsieur de Crequy had felt but little anxiety
for his uncle and cousin, in comparison with what he did for many
other friends of very different opinions in politics, until the day
when he was stunned by the fatal information that even his
progressive uncle was guillotined, and learnt that his cousin was
imprisoned by the licence of the mob, whose rights (as she called
them) she was always advocating.

"When I had heard all this story, I confess I lost in sympathy for
Clement what I gained for his mother. Virginie's life did not seem
to me worth the risk that Clement's would run. But when I saw him--
sad, depressed, nay, hopeless--going about like one oppressed by a
heavy dream which he cannot shake off; caring neither to eat, drink,
nor sleep, yet bearing all with silent dignity, and even trying to
force a poor, faint smile when he caught my anxious eyes; I turned
round again, and wondered how Madame de Crequy could resist this mute
pleading of her son's altered appearance. As for my Lord Ludlow and
Monkshaven, as soon as they understood the case, they were indignant
that any mother should attempt to keep a son out of honourable
danger; and it was honourable, and a clear duty (according to them)
to try to save the life of a helpless orphan girl, his next of kin.
None but a Frenchman, said my lord, would hold himself bound by an
old woman's whimsies and fears, even though she were his mother. As
it was, he was chafing himself to death under the restraint. If he
went, to be sure, the wretches might make an end of him, as they had
done of many a fine fellow: but my lord would take heavy odds, that,
instead of being guillotined, he would save the girl, and bring her
safe to England, just desperately in love with her preserver, and
then we would have a jolly wedding down at Monkshaven. My lord
repeated his opinion so often that it became a certain prophecy in
his mind of what was to take place; and, one day seeing Clement look
even paler and thinner than he had ever done before, he sent a
message to Madame de Crequy, requesting permission to speak to her in

"'For, by George!' said he, 'she shall hear my opinion, and not let
that lad of hers kill himself by fretting. He's too good for that,
if he had been an English lad, he would have been off to his
sweetheart long before this, without saying with your leave or by
your leave; but being a Frenchman, he is all for AEneas and filial
piety,--filial fiddle-sticks!' (My lord had run away to sea, when a
boy, against his father's consent, I am sorry to say; and, as all had
ended well, and he had come back to find both his parents alive, I do
not think he was ever as much aware of his fault as he might have
been under other circumstances.) 'No, my lady,' he went on, 'don't
come with me. A woman can manage a man best when he has a fit of
obstinacy, and a man can persuade a woman out of her tantrums, when
all her own sex, the whole army of them, would fail. Allow me to go
alone to my tete-a-tete with madame."

"What he said, what passed, he never could repeat; but he came back
graver than he went. However, the point was gained; Madame de Crequy
withdrew her prohibition, and had given him leave to tell Clement as

"'But she is an old Cassandra,' said he. 'Don't let the lad be much
with her; her talk would destroy the courage of the bravest man; she
is so given over to superstition.' Something that she had said had
touched a chord in my lord's nature which he inherited from his
Scotch ancestors. Long afterwards, I heard what this was. Medlicott
told me.

"However, my lord shook off all fancies that told against the
fulfilment of Clement's wishes. All that afternoon we three sat
together, planning; and Monkshaven passed in and out, executing our
commissions, and preparing everything. Towards nightfall all was
ready for Clement's start on his journey towards the coast.

"Madame had declined seeing any of us since my lord's stormy
interview with her. She sent word that she was fatigued, and desired
repose. But, of course, before Clement set off, he was bound to wish
her farewell, and to ask for her blessing. In order to avoid an
agitating conversation between mother and son, my lord and I resolved
to be present at the interview. Clement was already in his
travelling-dress, that of a Norman fisherman, which Monkshaven had,
with infinite trouble, discovered in the possession of one of the
emigres who thronged London, and who had made his escape from the
shores of France in this disguise. Clement's plan was, to go down to
the coast of Sussex, and get some of the fishing or smuggling boats
to take him across to the French coast near Dieppe. There again he
would have to change his dress. Oh, it was so well planned! His
mother was startled by his disguise (of which we had not thought to
forewarn her) as he entered her apartment. And either that, or the
being suddenly roused from the heavy slumber into which she was apt
to fall when she was left alone, gave her manner an air of wildness
that was almost like insanity.

"'Go, go!' she said to him, almost pushing him away as he knelt to
kiss her hand. 'Virginie is beckoning to you, but you don't see what
kind of a bed it is--'

"'Clement, make haste!' said my lord, in a hurried manner, as if to
interrupt madame. 'The time is later than I thought, and you must
not miss the morning's tide. Bid your mother good-bye at once, and
let us be off.' For my lord and Monkshaven were to ride with him to
an inn near the shore, from whence he was to walk to his destination.
My lord almost took him by the arm to pull him away; and they were
gone, and I was left alone with Madame de Crequy. When she heard the
horses' feet, she seemed to find out the truth, as if for the first
time. She set her teeth together. 'He has left me for her!' she
almost screamed. 'Left me for her!' she kept muttering; and then, as
the wild look came back into her eyes, she said, almost with
exultation, 'But I did not give him my blessing!'"


"All night Madame de Crequy raved in delirium. If I could I would
have sent for Clement back again. I did send off one man, but I
suppose my directions were confused, or they were wrong, for he came
back after my lord's return, on the following afternoon. By this
time Madame de Crequy was quieter: she was, indeed, asleep from
exhaustion when Lord Ludlow and Monkshaven came in. They were in
high spirits, and their hopefulness brought me round to a less
dispirited state. All had gone well: they had accompanied Clement
on foot along the shore, until they had met with a lugger, which my
lord had hailed in good nautical language. The captain had responded
to these freemason terms by sending a boat to pick up his passenger,
and by an invitation to breakfast sent through a speaking-trumpet.
Monkshaven did not approve of either the meal or the company, and had
returned to the inn, but my lord had gone with Clement and
breakfasted on board, upon grog, biscuit, fresh-caught fish--'the
best breakfast he ever ate,' he said, but that was probably owing to
the appetite his night's ride had given him. However, his good
fellowship had evidently won the captain's heart, and Clement had set
sail under the best auspices. It was agreed that I should tell all
this to Madame de Crequy, if she inquired; otherwise, it would be
wiser not to renew her agitation by alluding to her son's journey.

"I sat with her constantly for many days; but she never spoke of
Clement. She forced herself to talk of the little occurrences of
Parisian society in former days: she tried to be conversational and
agreeable, and to betray no anxiety or even interest in the object of
Clement's journey; and, as far as unremitting efforts could go, she
succeeded. But the tones of her voice were sharp and yet piteous, as
if she were in constant pain; and the glance of her eye hurried and
fearful, as if she dared not let it rest on any object.

"In a week we heard of Clement's safe arrival on the French coast.
He sent a letter to this effect by the captain of the smuggler, when
the latter returned. We hoped to hear again; but week after week
elapsed, and there was no news of Clement. I had told Lord Ludlow,
in Madame de Crequy's presence, as he and I had arranged, of the note
I had received from her son, informing us of his landing in France.
She heard, but she took no notice, and evidently began to wonder that
we did not mention any further intelligence of him in the same manner
before her; and daily I began to fear that her pride would give way,
and that she would supplicate for news before I had any to give her.

"One morning, on my awakening, my maid told me that Madame de Crequy
had passed a wretched night, and had bidden Medlicott (whom, as
understanding French, and speaking it pretty well, though with that
horrid German accent, I had put about her) request that I would go to
madame's room as soon as I was dressed.

"I knew what was coming, and I trembled all the time they were doing
my hair, and otherwise arranging me. I was not encouraged by my
lord's speeches. He had heard the message, and kept declaring that
he would rather be shot than have to tell her that there was no news
of her son; and yet he said, every now and then, when I was at the
lowest pitch of uneasiness, that he never expected to hear again:
that some day soon we should see him walking in and introducing
Mademoiselle de Crequy to us.

"However at last I was ready, and go I must.

"Her eyes were fixed on the door by which I entered. I went up to
the bedside. She was not rouged,--she had left it off now for
several days,--she no longer attempted to keep up the vain show of
not feeling, and loving, and fearing.

"For a moment or two she did not speak, and I was glad of the

"'Clement?' she said at length, covering her mouth with a
handkerchief the minute she had spoken, that I might not see it

"'There has been no news since the first letter, saying how well the
voyage was performed, and how safely he had landed--near Dieppe, you
know,' I replied as cheerfully as possible. 'My lord does not expect
that we shall have another letter; he thinks that we shall see him

"There was no answer. As I looked, uncertain whether to do or say
more, she slowly turned herself in bed, and lay with her face to the
wall; and, as if that did not shut out the light of day and the busy,
happy world enough, she put out her trembling hands, and covered her
face with her handkerchief. There was no violence: hardly any

I told her what my lord had said about Clement's coming in some day,
and taking us all by surprise. I did not believe it myself, but it
was just possible,--and I had nothing else to say. Pity, to one who
was striving so hard to conceal her feelings, would have been
impertinent. She let me talk; but she did not reply. She knew that
my words were vain and idle, and had no root in my belief; as well as
I did myself.

"I was very thankful when Medlicott came in with Madame's breakfast,
and gave me an excuse for leaving.

"But I think that conversation made me feel more anxious and
impatient than ever. I felt almost pledged to Madame de Crequy for
the fulfilment of the vision I had held out. She had taken entirely
to her bed by this time: not from illness, but because she had no
hope within her to stir her up to the effort of dressing. In the
same way she hardly cared for food. She had no appetite,--why eat to
prolong a life of despair? But she let Medlicott feed her, sooner
than take the trouble of resisting.

"And so it went on,--for weeks, months--I could hardly count the
time, it seemed so long. Medlicott told me she noticed a
preternatural sensitiveness of ear in Madame de Crequy, induced by
the habit of listening silently for the slightest unusual sound in
the house. Medlicott was always a minute watcher of any one whom she
cared about; and, one day, she made me notice by a sign madame's
acuteness of hearing, although the quick expectation was but evinced
for a moment in the turn of the eye, the hushed breath--and then,
when the unusual footstep turned into my lord's apartments, the soft
quivering sigh, and the closed eyelids.

"At length the intendant of the De Crequy estates--the old man, you
will remember, whose information respecting Virginie de Crequy first
gave Clement the desire to return to Paris,--came to St. James's
Square, and begged to speak to me. I made haste to go down to him in
the housekeeper's room, sooner than that he should be ushered into
mine, for fear of madame hearing any sound.

"The old man stood--I see him now--with his hat held before him in
both his hands; he slowly bowed till his face touched it when I came
in. Such long excess of courtesy augured ill. He waited for me to

"'Have you any intelligence?' I inquired. He had been often to the
house before, to ask if we had received any news; and once or twice I
had seen him, but this was the first time he had begged to see me.

"'Yes, madame,' he replied, still standing with his head bent down,
like a child in disgrace.

"'And it is bad!' I exclaimed.

"'It is bad.' For a moment I was angry at the cold tone in which my
words were echoed; but directly afterwards I saw the large, slow,
heavy tears of age falling down the old man's cheeks, and on to the
sleeves of his poor, threadbare coat.

"I asked him how he had heard it: it seemed as though I could not
all at once bear to hear what it was. He told me that the night
before, in crossing Long Acre, he had stumbled upon an old
acquaintance of his; one who, like himself had been a dependent upon
the De Crequy family, but had managed their Paris affairs, while
Flechier had taken charge of their estates in the country. Both were
now emigrants, and living on the proceeds of such small available
talents as they possessed. Flechier, as I knew, earned a very fair
livelihood by going about to dress salads for dinner parties. His
compatriot, Le Febvre, had begun to give a few lessons as a dancing-
master. One of them took the other home to his lodgings; and there,
when their most immediate personal adventures had been hastily talked
over, came the inquiry from Flechier as to Monsieur de Crequy

"'Clement was dead--guillotined. Virginie was dead--guillotined.'

"When Flechier had told me thus much, he could not speak for sobbing;
and I, myself, could hardly tell how to restrain my tears
sufficiently, until I could go to my own room and be at liberty to
give way. He asked my leave to bring in his friend Le Febvre, who
was walking in the square, awaiting a possible summons to tell his
story. I heard afterwards a good many details, which filled up the
account, and made me feel--which brings me back to the point I
started from--how unfit the lower orders are for being trusted
indiscriminately with the dangerous powers of education. I have made
a long preamble, but now I am coming to the moral of my story."

My lady was trying to shake off the emotion which she evidently felt
in recurring to this sad history of Monsieur de Crequy's death. She
came behind me, and arranged my pillows, and then, seeing I had been
crying--for, indeed, I was weak-spirited at the time, and a little
served to unloose my tears--she stooped down, and kissed my forehead,
and said "Poor child!" almost as if she thanked me for feeling that
old grief of hers.

"Being once in France, it was no difficult thing for Clement to get
into Paris. The difficulty in those days was to leave, not to enter.
He came in dressed as a Norman peasant, in charge of a load of fruit
and vegetables, with which one of the Seine barges was freighted. He
worked hard with his companions in landing and arranging their
produce on the quays; and then, when they dispersed to get their
breakfasts at some of the estaminets near the old Marche aux Fleurs,
he sauntered up a street which conducted him, by many an odd turn,
through the Quartier Latin to a horrid back alley, leading out of the
Rue l'Ecole de Medecine; some atrocious place, as I have heard, not
far from the shadow of that terrible Abbaye, where so many of the
best blood of France awaited their deaths. But here some old man
lived, on whose fidelity Clement thought that he might rely. I am
not sure if he had not been gardener in those very gardens behind the
Hotel Crequy where Clement and Urian used to play together years
before. But whatever the old man's dwelling might be, Clement was
only too glad to reach it, you may be sure, he had been kept in
Normandy, in all sorts of disguises, for many days after landing in
Dieppe, through the difficulty of entering Paris unsuspected by the
many ruffians who were always on the look-out for aristocrats.

"The old gardener was, I believe, both faithful and tried, and
sheltered Clement in his garret as well as might be. Before he could
stir out, it was necessary to procure a fresh disguise, and one more
in character with an inhabitant of Paris than that of a Norman carter
was procured; and after waiting in-doors for one or two days, to see
if any suspicion was excited, Clement set off to discover Virginie.

"He found her at the old concierge's dwelling. Madame Babette was
the name of this woman, who must have been a less faithful--or
rather, perhaps, I should say, a more interested--friend to her guest
than the old gardener Jaques was to Clement.

"I have seen a miniature of Virginie, which a French lady of quality
happened to have in her possession at the time of her flight from
Paris, and which she brought with her to England unwittingly; for it
belonged to the Count de Crequy, with whom she was slightly
acquainted. I should fancy from it, that Virginie was taller and of
a more powerful figure for a woman than her cousin Clement was for a
man. Her dark-brown hair was arranged in short curls--the way of
dressing the hair announced the politics of the individual, in those
days, just as patches did in my grandmother's time; and Virginie's
hair was not to my taste, or according to my principles: it was too
classical. Her large, black eyes looked out at you steadily. One
cannot judge of the shape of a nose from a full-face miniature, but
the nostrils were clearly cut and largely opened. I do not fancy her
nose could have been pretty; but her mouth had a character all its
own, and which would, I think, have redeemed a plainer face. It was
wide, and deep set into the cheeks at the corners; the upper lip was
very much arched, and hardly closed over the teeth; so that the whole
face looked (from the serious, intent look in the eyes, and the sweet
intelligence of the mouth) as if she were listening eagerly to
something to which her answer was quite ready, and would come out of
those red, opening lips as soon as ever you had done speaking, and
you longed to know what she would say.

"Well: this Virginie de Crequy was living with Madame Babette in the
conciergerie of an old French inn, somewhere to the north of Paris,
so, far enough from Clement's refuge. The inn had been frequented by
farmers from Brittany and such kind of people, in the days when that
sort of intercourse went on between Paris and the provinces which had
nearly stopped now. Few Bretons came near it now, and the inn had
fallen into the hands of Madame Babette's brother, as payment for a
bad wine debt of the last proprietor. He put his sister and her
child in, to keep it open, as it were, and sent all the people he
could to occupy the half-furnished rooms of the house. They paid
Babette for their lodging every morning as they went out to
breakfast, and returned or not as they chose, at night. Every three
days, the wine-merchant or his son came to Madame Babette, and she
accounted to them for the money she had received. She and her child
occupied the porter's office (in which the lad slept at nights) and a
little miserable bed-room which opened out of it, and received all
the light and air that was admitted through the door of
communication, which was half glass. Madame Babette must have had a
kind of attachment for the De Crequys--her De Crequys, you
understand--Virginie's father, the Count; for, at some risk to
herself, she had warned both him and his daughter of the danger
impending over them. But he, infatuated, would not believe that his
dear Human Race could ever do him harm; and, as long as he did not
fear, Virginie was not afraid. It was by some ruse, the nature of
which I never heard, that Madame Babette induced Virginie to come to
her abode at the very hour in which the Count had been recognized in
the streets, and hurried off to the Lanterne. It was after Babette
had got her there, safe shut up in the little back den, that she told
her what had befallen her father. From that day, Virginie had never
stirred out of the gates, or crossed the threshold of the porter's
lodge. I do not say that Madame Babette was tired of her continual
presence, or regretted the impulse which made her rush to the De
Crequy's well-known house--after being compelled to form one of the
mad crowds that saw the Count de Crequy seized and hung--and hurry
his daughter out, through alleys and backways, until at length she
had the orphan safe in her own dark sleeping-room, and could tell her
tale of horror: but Madame Babette was poorly paid for her porter's
work by her avaricious brother; and it was hard enough to find food
for herself and her growing boy; and, though the poor girl ate little
enough, I dare say, yet there seemed no end to the burthen that
Madame Babette had imposed upon herself: the De Crequys were
plundered, ruined, had become an extinct race, all but a lonely
friendless girl, in broken health and spirits; and, though she lent
no positive encouragement to his suit, yet, at the time, when Clement
reappeared in Paris, Madame Babette was beginning to think that
Virginie might do worse than encourage the attentions of Monsieur
Morin Fils, her nephew, and the wine merchant's son. Of course, he
and his father had the entree into the conciergerie of the hotel that
belonged to them, in right of being both proprietors and relations.
The son, Morin, had seen Virginie in this manner. He was fully aware
that she was far above him in rank, and guessed from her whole aspect
that she had lost her natural protectors by the terrible guillotine;
but he did not know her exact name or station, nor could he persuade
his aunt to tell him. However, he fell head over ears in love with
her, whether she were princess or peasant; and though at first there
was something about her which made his passionate love conceal itself
with shy, awkward reserve, and then made it only appear in the guise
of deep, respectful devotion; yet, by-and-by,--by the same process of
reasoning, I suppose, that his aunt had gone through even before him-
-Jean Morin began to let Hope oust Despair from his heart. Sometimes
he thought--perhaps years hence--that solitary, friendless lady, pent
up in squalor, might turn to him as to a friend and comforter--and
then--and then--. Meanwhile Jean Morin was most attentive to his
aunt, whom he had rather slighted before. He would linger over the
accounts; would bring her little presents; and, above all, he made a
pet and favourite of Pierre, the little cousin, who could tell him
about all the ways of going on of Mam'selle Cannes, as Virginie was
called. Pierre was thoroughly aware of the drift and cause of his
cousin's inquiries; and was his ardent partisan, as I have heard,
even before Jean Morin had exactly acknowledged his wishes to

"It must have required some patience and much diplomacy, before
Clement de Crequy found out the exact place where his cousin was
hidden. The old gardener took the cause very much to heart; as,
judging from my recollections, I imagine he would have forwarded any
fancy, however wild, of Monsieur Clement's. (I will tell you
afterwards how I came to know all these particulars so well.)

"After Clement's return, on two succeeding days, from his dangerous
search, without meeting with any good result, Jacques entreated
Monsieur de Crequy to let him take it in hand. He represented that
he, as gardener for the space of twenty years and more at the Hotel
de Crequy, had a right to be acquainted with all the successive
concierges at the Count's house; that he should not go among them as
a stranger, but as an old friend, anxious to renew pleasant
intercourse; and that if the Intendant's story, which he had told
Monsieur de Crequy in England, was true, that mademoiselle was in
hiding at the house of a former concierge, why, something relating to
her would surely drop out in the course of conversation. So he
persuaded Clement to remain indoors, while he set off on his round,
with no apparent object but to gossip.

"At night he came home,--having seen mademoiselle. He told Clement
much of the story relating to Madame Babette that I have told to you.
Of course, he had heard nothing of the ambitious hopes of Morin
Fils,--hardly of his existence, I should think. Madame Babette had
received him kindly; although, for some time, she had kept him
standing in the carriage gateway outside her door. But, on his
complaining of the draught and his rheumatism, she had asked him in:
first looking round with some anxiety, to see who was in the room
behind her. No one was there when he entered and sat down. But, in
a minute or two, a tall, thin young lady, with great, sad eyes, and
pale cheeks, came from the inner room, and, seeing him, retired. 'It
is Mademoiselle Cannes,' said Madame Babette, rather unnecessarily;
for, if he had not been on the watch for some sign of Mademoiselle de
Crequy, he would hardly have noticed the entrance and withdrawal.

"Clement and the good old gardener were always rather perplexed by
Madame Babette's evident avoidance of all mention of the De Crequy
family. If she were so much interested in one member as to be
willing to undergo the pains and penalties of a domiciliary visit, it
was strange that she never inquired after the existence of her
charge's friends and relations from one who might very probably have
heard something of them. They settled that Madame Babette must
believe that the Marquise and Clement were dead; and admired her for
her reticence in never speaking of Virginie. The truth was, I
suspect, that she was so desirous of her nephews success by this
time, that she did not like letting any one into the secret of
Virginie's whereabouts who might interfere with their plan. However,
it was arranged between Clement and his humble friend, that the
former, dressed in the peasant's clothes in which he had entered
Paris, but smartened up in one or two particulars, as if, although a
countryman, he had money to spare, should go and engage a sleeping-
room in the old Breton Inn; where, as I told you, accommodation for
the night was to be had. This was accordingly done, without exciting
Madame Babette's suspicions, for she was unacquainted with the
Normandy accent, and consequently did not perceive the exaggeration
of it which Monsieur de Crequy adopted in order to disguise his pure
Parisian. But after he had for two nights slept in a queer dark
closet, at the end of one of the numerous short galleries in the
Hotel Duguesclin, and paid his money for such accommodation each
morning at the little bureau under the window of the conciergerie, he
found himself no nearer to his object. He stood outside in the
gateway: Madame Babette opened a pane in her window, counted out the
change, gave polite thanks, and shut to the pane with a clack, before
he could ever find out what to say that might be the means of opening
a conversation. Once in the streets, he was in danger from the
bloodthirsty mob, who were ready in those days to hunt to death every
one who looked like a gentleman, as an aristocrat: and Clement,
depend upon it, looked a gentleman, whatever dress he wore. Yet it
was unwise to traverse Paris to his old friend the gardener's
grenier, so he had to loiter about, where I hardly know. Only he did
leave the Hotel Duguesclin, and he did not go to old Jacques, and
there was not another house in Paris open to him. At the end of two
days, he had made out Pierre's existence; and he began to try to make
friends with the lad. Pierre was too sharp and shrewd not to suspect
something from the confused attempts at friendliness. It was not for
nothing that the Norman farmer lounged in the court and doorway, and
brought home presents of galette. Pierre accepted the galette,
reciprocated the civil speeches, but kept his eyes open. Once,
returning home pretty late at night, he surprised the Norman studying
the shadows on the blind, which was drawn down when Madame Babette's
lamp was lighted. On going in, he found Mademoiselle Cannes with his
mother, sitting by the table, and helping in the family mending.

"Pierre was afraid that the Norman had some view upon the money which
his mother, as concierge, collected for her brother. But the money
was all safe next evening, when his cousin, Monsieur Morin Fils, came
to collect it. Madame Babette asked her nephew to sit down, and
skilfully barred the passage to the inner door, so that Virginie, had
she been ever so much disposed, could not have retreated. She sat
silently sewing. All at once the little party were startled by a
very sweet tenor voice, just close to the street window, singing one
of the airs out of Beaumarchais' operas, which, a few years before,
had been popular all over Paris. But after a few moments of silence,
and one or two remarks, the talking went on again. Pierre, however,
noticed an increased air of abstraction in Virginie, who, I suppose,
was recurring to the last time that she had heard the song, and did
not consider, as her cousin had hoped she would have done, what were
the words set to the air, which he imagined she would remember, and
which would have told her so much. For, only a few years before,
Adam's opera of Richard le Roi had made the story of the minstrel
Blondel and our English Coeur de Lion familiar to all the opera-going
part of the Parisian public, and Clement had bethought him of
establishing a communication with Virginie by some such means.

"The next night, about the same hour, the same voice was singing
outside the window again. Pierre, who had been irritated by the
proceeding the evening before, as it had diverted Virginie's
attention from his cousin, who had been doing his utmost to make
himself agreeable, rushed out to the door, just as the Norman was
ringing the bell to be admitted for the night. Pierre looked up and
down the street; no one else was to be seen. The next day, the
Norman mollified him somewhat by knocking at the door of the
conciergerie, and begging Monsieur Pierre's acceptance of some knee-
buckles, which had taken the country farmer's fancy the day before,
as he had been gazing into the shops, but which, being too small for
his purpose, he took the liberty of offering to Monsieur Pierre.
Pierre, a French boy, inclined to foppery, was charmed, ravished by
the beauty of the present and with monsieur's goodness, and he began
to adjust them to his breeches immediately, as well as he could, at
least, in his mother's absence. The Norman, whom Pierre kept
carefully on the outside of the threshold, stood by, as if amused at
the boy's eagerness.

"'Take care,' said he, clearly and distinctly; 'take care, my little
friend, lest you become a fop; and, in that case, some day, years
hence, when your heart is devoted to some young lady, she may be
inclined to say to you'--here he raised his voice--'No, thank you;
when I marry, I marry a man, not a petit-maitre; I marry a man, who,
whatever his position may be, will add dignity to the human race by
his virtues.' Farther than that in his quotation Clement dared not
go. His sentiments (so much above the apparent occasion) met with
applause from Pierre, who liked to contemplate himself in the light
of a lover, even though it should be a rejected one, and who hailed
the mention of the words 'virtues' and 'dignity of the human race' as
belonging to the cant of a good citizen.

"But Clement was more anxious to know how the invisible Lady took his
speech. There was no sign at the time. But when he returned at
night, he heard a voice, low singing, behind Madame Babette, as she
handed him his candle, the very air he had sung without effect for
two nights past. As if he had caught it up from her murmuring voice,
he sang it loudly and clearly as he crossed the court.

"'Here is our opera-singer!' exclaimed Madame Babette. 'Why, the
Norman grazier sings like Boupre,' naming a favourite singer at the
neighbouring theatre.

"Pierre was struck by the remark, and quietly resolved to look after
the Norman; but again, I believe, it was more because of his mother's
deposit of money than with any thought of Virginie.

"However, the next morning, to the wonder of both mother and son,
Mademoiselle Cannes proposed, with much hesitation, to go out and
make some little purchase for herself. A month or two ago, this was
what Madame Babette had been never weary of urging. But now she was
as much surprised as if she had expected Virginie to remain a
prisoner in her rooms all the rest of her life. I suppose she had
hoped that her first time of quitting it would be when she left it
for Monsieur Morin's house as his wife.

"A quick look from Madame Babette towards Pierre was all that was
needed to encourage the boy to follow her. He went out cautiously.
She was at the end of the street. She looked up and down, as if
waiting for some one. No one was there. Back she came, so swiftly
that she nearly caught Pierre before he could retreat through the
porte-cochere. There he looked out again. The neighbourhood was low
and wild, and strange; and some one spoke to Virginie,--nay, laid his
hand upon her arm,--whose dress and aspect (he had emerged out of a
side-street) Pierre did not know; but, after a start, and (Pierre
could fancy) a little scream, Virginie recognised the stranger, and
the two turned up the side street whence the man had come. Pierre
stole swiftly to the corner of this street; no one was there: they
had disappeared up some of the alleys. Pierre returned home to
excite his mother's infinite surprise. But they had hardly done
talking, when Virginie returned, with a colour and a radiance in her
face, which they had never seen there since her father's death."


"I have told you that I heard much of this story from a friend of the
Intendant of the De Crequys, whom he met with in London. Some years
afterwards--the summer before my lord's death--I was travelling with
him in Devonshire, and we went to see the French prisoners of war on
Dartmoor. We fell into conversation with one of them, whom I found
out to be the very Pierre of whom I had heard before, as having been
involved in the fatal story of Clement and Virginie, and by him I was
told much of their last days, and thus I learnt how to have some
sympathy with all those who were concerned in those terrible events;
yes, even with the younger Morin himself, on whose behalf Pierre
spoke warmly, even after so long a time had elapsed.

"For when the younger Morin called at the porter's lodge, on the
evening of the day when Virginie had gone out for the first time
after so many months' confinement to the conciergerie, he was struck
with the improvement in her appearance. It seems to have hardly been
that he thought her beauty greater: for, in addition to the fact
that she was not beautiful, Morin had arrived at that point of being
enamoured when it does not signify whether the beloved one is plain
or handsome--she has enchanted one pair of eyes, which henceforward
see her through their own medium. But Morin noticed the faint
increase of colour and light in her countenance. It was as though
she had broken through her thick cloud of hopeless sorrow, and was
dawning forth into a happier life. And so, whereas during her grief,
he had revered and respected it even to a point of silent sympathy,
now that she was gladdened, his heart rose on the wings of
strengthened hopes. Even in the dreary monotony of this existence in
his Aunt Babette's conciergerie, Time had not failed in his work, and
now, perhaps, soon he might humbly strive to help Time. The very
next day he returned--on some pretence of business--to the Hotel
Duguesclin, and made his aunt's room, rather than his aunt herself, a
present of roses and geraniums tied up in a bouquet with a tricolor
ribbon. Virginie was in the room, sitting at the coarse sewing she
liked to do for Madame Babette. He saw her eyes brighten at the
sight of the flowers: she asked his aunt to let her arrange them; he
saw her untie the ribbon, and with a gesture of dislike, throw it on
the ground, and give it a kick with her little foot, and even in this
girlish manner of insulting his dearest prejudices, he found
something to admire.

"As he was coming out, Pierre stopped him. The lad had been trying
to arrest his cousin's attention by futile grimaces and signs played
off behind Virginie's back: but Monsieur Morin saw nothing but
Mademoiselle Cannes. However, Pierre was not to be baffled, and
Monsieur Morin found him in waiting just outside the threshold. With
his finger on his lips, Pierre walked on tiptoe by his companion's
side till they would have been long past sight or hearing of the
conciergerie, even had the inhabitants devoted themselves to the
purposes of spying or listening.

"'Chut!' said Pierre, at last. 'She goes out walking.'

"'Well?' said Monsieur Morin, half curious, half annoyed at being
disturbed in the delicious reverie of the future into which he longed
to fall.

"'Well! It is not well. It is bad.'

"'Why? I do not ask who she is, but I have my ideas. She is an
aristocrat. Do the people about here begin to suspect her?'

"'No, no!' said Pierre. 'But she goes out walking. She has gone
these two mornings. I have watched her. She meets a man--she is
friends with him, for she talks to him as eagerly as he does to her--
mamma cannot tell who he is.'

"'Has my aunt seen him?'

"'No, not so much as a fly's wing of him. I myself have only seen
his back. It strikes me like a familiar back, and yet I cannot think
who it is. But they separate with sudden darts, like two birds who
have been together to feed their young ones. One moment they are in
close talk, their heads together chuckotting; the next he has turned
up some bye-street, and Mademoiselle Cannes is close upon me--has
almost caught me.'

"'But she did not see you?' inquired Monsieur Morin, in so altered a
voice that Pierre gave him one of his quick penetrating looks. He
was struck by the way in which his cousin's features--always coarse
and common-place--had become contracted and pinched; struck, too, by
the livid look on his sallow complexion. But as if Morin was
conscious of the manner in which his face belied his feelings, he
made an effort, and smiled, and patted Pierre's head, and thanked him
for his intelligence, and gave him a five-franc piece, and bade him
go on with his observations of Mademoiselle Cannes' movements, and
report all to him.

"Pierre returned home with a light heart, tossing up his five-franc
piece as he ran. Just as he was at the conciergerie door, a great
tall man bustled past him, and snatched his money away from him,
looking back with a laugh, which added insult to injury. Pierre had
no redress; no one had witnessed the impudent theft, and if they had,
no one to be seen in the street was strong enough to give him
redress. Besides, Pierre had seen enough of the state of the streets
of Paris at that time to know that friends, not enemies, were
required, and the man had a bad air about him. But all these
considerations did not keep Pierre from bursting out into a fit of
crying when he was once more under his mother's roof; and Virginie,
who was alone there (Madame Babette having gone out to make her daily
purchases), might have imagined him pommeled to death by the loudness
of his sobs.

"'What is the matter?' asked she. 'Speak, my child. What hast thou

"'He has robbed me! he has robbed me!' was all Pierre could gulp out.

"'Robbed thee! and of what, my poor boy?' said Virginie, stroking his
hair gently.

"'Of my five-franc piece--of a five-franc piece,' said Pierre,
correcting himself, and leaving out the word my, half fearful lest
Virginie should inquire how he became possessed of such a sum, and
for what services it had been given him. But, of course, no such
idea came into her head, for it would have been impertinent, and she
was gentle-born.

"'Wait a moment, my lad,' and going to the one small drawer in the
inner apartment, which held all her few possessions, she brought back
a little ring--a ring just with one ruby in it--which she had worn in
the days when she cared to wear jewels. 'Take this,' said she, 'and
run with it to a jeweller's. It is but a poor, valueless thing, but
it will bring you in your five francs, at any rate. Go! I desire

"'But I cannot,' said the boy, hesitating; some dim sense of honour
flitting through his misty morals.

"'Yes, you must!' she continued, urging him with her hand to the
door. 'Run! if it brings in more than five francs, you shall return
the surplus to me.'

"Thus tempted by her urgency, and, I suppose, reasoning with himself
to the effect that he might as well have the money, and then see
whether he thought it right to act as a spy upon her or not--the one
action did not pledge him to the other, nor yet did she make any
conditions with her gift--Pierre went off with her ring; and, after
repaying himself his five francs, he was enabled to bring Virginie
back two more, so well had he managed his affairs. But, although the
whole transaction did not leave him bound, in any way, to discover or
forward Virginie's wishes, it did leave him pledged, according to his
code, to act according to her advantage, and he considered himself
the judge of the best course to be pursued to this end. And,
moreover, this little kindness attached him to her personally. He
began to think how pleasant it would be to have so kind and generous
a person for a relation; how easily his troubles might be borne if he
had always such a ready helper at hand; how much he should like to
make her like him, and come to him for the protection of his
masculine power! First of all his duties, as her self-appointed
squire, came the necessity of finding out who her strange new
acquaintance was. Thus, you see, he arrived at the same end, via
supposed duty, that he was previously pledged to via interest. I
fancy a good number of us, when any line of action will promote our
own interest, can make ourselves believe that reasons exist which
compel us to it as a duty.

"In the course of a very few days, Pierre had so circumvented
Virginie as to have discovered that her new friend was no other than
the Norman farmer in a different dress. This was a great piece of
knowledge to impart to Morin. But Pierre was not prepared for the
immediate physical effect it had on his cousin. Morin sat suddenly
down on one of the seats in the Boulevards--it was there Pierre had
met with him accidentally--when he heard who it was that Virginie
met. I do not suppose the man had the faintest idea of any
relationship or even previous acquaintanceship between Clement and
Virginie. If he thought of anything beyond the mere fact presented
to him, that his idol was in communication with another, younger,
handsomer man than himself, it must have been that the Norman farmer
had seen her at the conciergerie, and had been attracted by her, and,
as was but natural, had tried to make her acquaintance, and had
succeeded. But, from what Pierre told me, I should not think that
even this much thought passed through Morin's mind. He seems to have
been a man of rare and concentrated attachments; violent, though
restrained and undemonstrative passions; and, above all, a capability
of jealousy, of which his dark oriental complexion must have been a
type. I could fancy that if he had married Virginie, he would have
coined his life-blood for luxuries to make her happy; would have
watched over and petted her, at every sacrifice to himself, as long
as she would have been content to live with him alone. But, as
Pierre expressed it to me: 'When I saw what my cousin was, when I
learned his nature too late, I perceived that he would have strangled
a bird if she whom he loved was attracted by it from him.'

"When Pierre had told Morin of his discovery, Morin sat down, as I
said, quite suddenly, as if he had been shot. He found out that the
first meeting between the Norman and Virginie was no accidental,
isolated circumstance. Pierre was torturing him with his accounts of
daily rendezvous: if but for a moment, they were seeing each other
every day, sometimes twice a day. And Virginie could speak to this
man, though to himself she was coy and reserved as hardly to utter a
sentence. Pierre caught these broken words while his cousin's
complexion grew more and more livid, and then purple, as if some
great effect were produced on his circulation by the news he had just
heard. Pierre was so startled by his cousin's wandering, senseless
eyes, and otherwise disordered looks, that he rushed into a
neighbouring cabaret for a glass of absinthe, which he paid for, as
he recollected afterwards, with a portion of Virginie's five francs.
By-and-by Morin recovered his natural appearance; but he was gloomy
and silent; and all that Pierre could get out of him was, that the
Norman farmer should not sleep another night at the Hotel Duguesclin,
giving him such opportunities of passing and repassing by the
conciergerie door. He was too much absorbed in his own thoughts to
repay Pierre the half franc he had spent on the absinthe, which
Pierre perceived, and seems to have noted down in the ledger of his
mind as on Virginie's balance of favour.

"Altogether, he was much disappointed at his cousin's mode of
receiving intelligence, which the lad thought worth another five-
franc piece at least; or, if not paid for in money, to be paid for in
open-mouthed confidence and expression of feeling, that he was, for a
time, so far a partisan of Virginie's--unconscious Virginie--against
his cousin, as to feel regret when the Norman returned no more to his
night's lodging, and when Virginie's eager watch at the crevice of
the closely-drawn blind ended only with a sigh of disappointment. If
it had not been for his mother's presence at the time, Pierre thought
he should have told her all. But how far was his mother in his
cousin's confidence as regarded the dismissal of the Norman?

"In a few days, however, Pierre felt almost sure that they had
established some new means of communication. Virginie went out for a
short time every day; but though Pierre followed her as closely as he
could without exciting her observation, he was unable to discover
what kind of intercourse she held with the Norman. She went, in
general, the same short round among the little shops in the
neighbourhood; not entering any, but stopping at two or three.
Pierre afterwards remembered that she had invariably paused at the
nosegays displayed in a certain window, and studied them long: but,
then, she stopped and looked at caps, hats, fashions, confectionery
(all of the humble kind common in that quarter), so how should he
have known that any particular attraction existed among the flowers?
Morin came more regularly than ever to his aunt's; but Virginie was
apparently unconscious that she was the attraction. She looked
healthier and more hopeful than she had done for months, and her
manners to all were gentler and not so reserved. Almost as if she
wished to manifest her gratitude to Madame Babette for her long
continuance of kindness, the necessity for which was nearly ended,
Virginie showed an unusual alacrity in rendering the old woman any
little service in her power, and evidently tried to respond to
Monsieur Morin's civilities, he being Madame Babette's nephew, with a
soft graciousness which must have made one of her principal charms;
for all who knew her speak of the fascination of her manners, so
winning and attentive to others, while yet her opinions, and often
her actions, were of so decided a character. For, as I have said,
her beauty was by no means great; yet every man who came near her
seems to have fallen into the sphere of her influence. Monsieur
Morin was deeper than ever in love with her during these last few
days: he was worked up into a state capable of any sacrifice, either
of himself or others, so that he might obtain her at last. He sat
'devouring her with his eyes' (to use Pierre's expression) whenever
she could not see him; but, if she looked towards him, he looked to
the ground--anywhere--away from her and almost stammered in his
replies if she addressed any question to him.'

"He had been, I should think, ashamed of his extreme agitation on the
Boulevards, for Pierre thought that he absolutely shunned him for
these few succeeding days. He must have believed that he had driven
the Norman (my poor Clement!) off the field, by banishing him from
his inn; and thought that the intercourse between him and Virginie,
which he had thus interrupted, was of so slight and transient a
character as to be quenched by a little difficulty.

"But he appears to have felt that he had made but little way, and he
awkwardly turned to Pierre for help--not yet confessing his love,
though; he only tried to make friends again with the lad after their
silent estrangement. And Pierre for some time did not choose to
perceive his cousin's advances. He would reply to all the roundabout
questions Morin put to him respecting household conversations when he
was not present, or household occupations and tone of thought,
without mentioning Virginie's name any more than his questioner did.
The lad would seem to suppose, that his cousin's strong interest in
their domestic ways of going on was all on account of Madame Babette.
At last he worked his cousin up to the point of making him a
confidant: and then the boy was half frightened at the torrent of
vehement words he had unloosed. The lava came down with a greater
rush for having been pent up so long. Morin cried out his words in a
hoarse, passionate voice, clenched his teeth, his fingers, and seemed
almost convulsed, as he spoke out his terrible love for Virginie,
which would lead him to kill her sooner than see her another's; and
if another stepped in between him and her!--and then he smiled a
fierce, triumphant smile, but did not say any more.

"Pierre was, as I said, half-frightened; but also half-admiring.
This was really love--a 'grande passion,'--a really fine dramatic
thing,--like the plays they acted at the little theatre yonder. He
had a dozen times the sympathy with his cousin now that he had had
before, and readily swore by the infernal gods, for they were far too
enlightened to believe in one God, or Christianity, or anything of
the kind,--that he would devote himself, body and soul, to forwarding
his cousin's views. Then his cousin took him to a shop, and bought
him a smart second-hand watch, on which they scratched the word
Fidelite, and thus was the compact sealed. Pierre settled in his own
mind, that if he were a woman, he should like to be beloved as
Virginie was, by his cousin, and that it would be an extremely good
thing for her to be the wife of so rich a citizen as Morin Fils,--and
for Pierre himself, too, for doubtless their gratitude would lead
them to give him rings and watches ad infinitum.

"A day or two afterwards, Virginie was taken ill. Madame Babette
said it was because she had persevered in going out in all weathers,
after confining herself to two warm rooms for so long; and very
probably this was really the cause, for, from Pierre's account, she
must have been suffering from a feverish cold, aggravated, no doubt,
by her impatience at Madame Babette's familiar prohibitions of any
more walks until she was better. Every day, in spite of her
trembling, aching limbs, she would fain have arranged her dress for
her walk at the usual time; but Madame Babette was fully prepared to
put physical obstacles in her way, if she was not obedient in
remaining tranquil on the little sofa by the side of the fire. The
third day, she called Pierre to her, when his mother was not
attending (having, in fact, locked up Mademoiselle Cannes' out-of-
door things).

"'See, my child,' said Virginie. 'Thou must do me a great favour.
Go to the gardener's shop in the Rue des Bons-Enfans, and look at the
nosegays in the window. I long for pinks; they are my favourite
flower. Here are two francs. If thou seest a nosegay of pinks
displayed in the window, if it be ever so faded--nay, if thou seest
two or three nosegays of pinks, remember, buy them all, and bring
them to me, I have so great a desire for the smell.' She fell back
weak and exhausted. Pierre hurried out. Now was the time; here was
the clue to the long inspection of the nosegay in this very shop.

"Sure enough, there was a drooping nosegay of pinks in the window.
Pierre went in, and, with all his impatience, he made as good a
bargain as he could, urging that the flowers were faded, and good for
nothing. At last he purchased them at a very moderate price. And
now you will learn the bad consequences of teaching the lower orders
anything beyond what is immediately necessary to enable them to earn
their daily bread! The silly Count de Crequy,--he who had been sent
to his bloody rest, by the very canaille of whom he thought so much,-
-he who had made Virginie (indirectly, it is true) reject such a man
as her cousin Clement, by inflating her mind with his bubbles of
theories,--this Count de Crequy had long ago taken a fancy to Pierre,
as he saw the bright sharp child playing about his court--Monsieur de
Crequy had even begun to educate the boy himself to try work out
certain opinions of his into practice,--but the drudgery of the
affair wearied him, and, beside, Babette had left his employment.
Still the Count took a kind of interest in his former pupil; and made
some sort of arrangement by which Pierre was to be taught reading and
writing, and accounts, and Heaven knows what besides,--Latin, I dare
say. So Pierre, instead of being an innocent messenger, as he ought
to have been--(as Mr. Horner's little lad Gregson ought to have been
this morning)--could read writing as well as either you or I. So
what does he do, on obtaining the nosegay, but examine it well. The
stalks of the flowers were tied up with slips of matting in wet moss.
Pierre undid the strings, unwrapped the moss, and out fell a piece of
wet paper, with the writing all blurred with moisture. It was but a
torn piece of writing-paper, apparently, but Pierre's wicked
mischievous eyes read what was written on it,--written so as to look
like a fragment,--'Ready, every and any night at nine. All is
prepared. Have no fright. Trust one who, whatever hopes he might
once have had, is content now to serve you as a faithful cousin;' and
a place was named, which I forget, but which Pierre did not, as it
was evidently the rendezvous. After the lad had studied every word,
till he could say it off by heart, he placed the paper where he had
found it, enveloped it in moss, and tied the whole up again
carefully. Virginie's face coloured scarlet as she received it. She
kept smelling at it, and trembling: but she did not untie it,
although Pierre suggested how much fresher it would be if the stalks
were immediately put into water. But once, after his back had been
turned for a minute, he saw it untied when he looked round again, and
Virginie was blushing, and hiding something in her bosom.

"Pierre was now all impatience to set off and find his cousin, But
his mother seemed to want him for small domestic purposes even more
than usual; and he had chafed over a multitude of errands connected
with the Hotel before he could set off and search for his cousin at
his usual haunts. At last the two met and Pierre related all the
events of the morning to Morin. He said the note off word by word.
(That lad this morning had something of the magpie look of Pierre--it
made me shudder to see him, and hear him repeat the note by heart.)
Then Morin asked him to tell him all over again. Pierre was struck
by Morin's heavy sighs as he repeated the story. When he came the
second time to the note, Morin tried to write the words down; but
either he was not a good, ready scholar, or his fingers trembled too
much. Pierre hardly remembered, but, at any rate, the lad had to do
it, with his wicked reading and writing. When this was done, Morin
sat heavily silent. Pierre would have preferred the expected
outburst, for this impenetrable gloom perplexed and baffled him. He
had even to speak to his cousin to rouse him; and when he replied,
what he said had so little apparent connection with the subject which
Pierre had expected to find uppermost in his mind, that he was half
afraid that his cousin had lost his wits.

"'My Aunt Babette is out of coffee.'

"'I am sure I do not know,' said Pierre.

"'Yes, she is. I heard her say so. Tell her that a friend of mine
has just opened a shop in the Rue Saint Antoine, and that if she will
join me there in an hour, I will supply her with a good stock of
coffee, just to give my friend encouragement. His name is Antoine
Meyer, Number One hundred and Fifty at the sign of the Cap of

"'I could go with you now. I can carry a few pounds of coffee better
than my mother,' said Pierre, all in good faith. He told me he
should never forget the look on his cousin's face, as he turned
round, and bade him begone, and give his mother the message without
another word. It had evidently sent him home promptly to obey his
cousins command. Morin's message perplexed Madame Babette.

"'How could he know I was out of coffee?' said she. 'I am; but I
only used the last up this morning. How could Victor know about it?'

"'I am sure I can't tell,' said Pierre, who by this time had
recovered his usual self-possession. 'All I know is, that monsieur
is in a pretty temper, and that if you are not sharp to your time at
this Antoine Meyer's you are likely to come in for some of his black

"'Well, it is very kind of him to offer to give me some coffee, to be
sure! But how could he know I was out?'

"Pierre hurried his mother off impatiently, for he was certain that
the offer of the coffee was only a blind to some hidden purpose on
his cousin's part; and he made no doubt that when his mother had been
informed of what his cousin's real intention was, he, Pierre, could
extract it from her by coaxing or bullying. But he was mistaken.
Madame Babette returned home, grave, depressed, silent, and loaded
with the best coffee. Some time afterwards he learnt why his cousin
had sought for this interview. It was to extract from her, by
promises and threats, the real name of Mam'selle Cannes, which would
give him a clue to the true appellation of The Faithful Cousin. He
concealed the second purpose from his aunt, who had been quite
unaware of his jealousy of the Norman farmer, or of his
identification of him with any relation of Virginie's. But Madame
Babette instinctively shrank from giving him any information: she
must have felt that, in the lowering mood in which she found him, his
desire for greater knowledge of Virginie's antecedents boded her no
good. And yet he made his aunt his confidante--told her what she had
only suspected before--that he was deeply enamoured of Mam'selle
Cannes, and would gladly marry her. He spoke to Madame Babette of
his father's hoarded riches; and of the share which he, as partner,
had in them at the present time; and of the prospect of the
succession to the whole, which he had, as only child. He told his
aunt of the provision for her (Madame Babette's) life, which he would
make on the day when he married Mam'selle Cannes. And yet--and yet--
Babette saw that in his eye and look which made her more and more
reluctant to confide in him. By-and-by he tried threats. She should
leave the conciergerie, and find employment where she liked. Still
silence. Then he grew angry, and swore that he would inform against
her at the bureau of the Directory, for harbouring an aristocrat; an
aristocrat he knew Mademoiselle was, whatever her real name might be.
His aunt should have a domiciliary visit, and see how she liked that.
The officers of the Government were the people for finding out
secrets. In vain she reminded him that, by so doing, he would expose
to imminent danger the lady whom he had professed to love. He told
her, with a sullen relapse into silence after his vehement outpouring
of passion, never to trouble herself about that. At last he wearied
out the old woman, and, frightened alike of herself and of him, she
told him all,--that Mam'selle Cannes was Mademoiselle Virginie de
Crequy, daughter of the Count of that name. Who was the Count?
Younger brother of the Marquis. Where was the Marquis? Dead long
ago, leaving a widow and child. A son? (eagerly). Yes, a son.
Where was he? Parbleu! how should she know?--for her courage
returned a little as the talk went away from the only person of the
De Crequy family that she cared about. But, by dint of some small
glasses out of a bottle of Antoine Meyer's, she told him more about
the De Crequys than she liked afterwards to remember. For the
exhilaration of the brandy lasted but a very short time, and she came
home, as I have said, depressed, with a presentiment of coming evil.
She would not answer Pierre, but cuffed him about in a manner to
which the spoilt boy was quite unaccustomed. His cousin's short,
angry words, and sudden withdrawal of confidence,--his mother's
unwonted crossness and fault-finding, all made Virginie's kind,
gentle treatment, more than ever charming to the lad. He half
resolved to tell her how he had been acting as a spy upon her
actions, and at whose desire he had done it. But he was afraid of
Morin, and of the vengeance which he was sure would fall upon him for
any breach of confidence. Towards half-past eight that evening--
Pierre, watching, saw Virginie arrange several little things--she was
in the inner room, but he sat where he could see her through the
glazed partition. His mother sat--apparently sleeping--in the great
easy-chair; Virginie moved about softly, for fear of disturbing her.
She made up one or two little parcels of the few things she could
call her own: one packet she concealed about herself--the others she
directed, and left on the shelf. 'She is going,' thought Pierre, and
(as he said in giving me the account) his heart gave a spring, to
think that he should never see her again. If either his mother or
his cousin had been more kind to him, he might have endeavoured to
intercept her; but as it was, he held his breath, and when she came
out he pretended to read, scarcely knowing whether he wished her to
succeed in the purpose which he was almost sure she entertained, or
not. She stopped by him, and passed her hand over his hair. He told
me that his eyes filled with tears at this caress. Then she stood
for a moment looking at the sleeping Madame Babette, and stooped down
and softly kissed her on the forehead. Pierre dreaded lest his
mother should awake (for by this time the wayward, vacillating boy
must have been quite on Virginie's side), but the brandy she had
drunk made her slumber heavily. Virginie went. Pierre's heart beat
fast. He was sure his cousin would try to intercept her; but how, he
could not imagine. He longed to run out and see the catastrophe,--
but he had let the moment slip; he was also afraid of reawakening his
mother to her unusual state of anger and violence."


"Pierre went on pretending to read, but in reality listening with
acute tension of ear to every little sound. His perceptions became
so sensitive in this respect that he was incapable of measuring time,
every moment had seemed so full of noises, from the beating of his
heart up to the roll of the heavy carts in the distance. He wondered
whether Virginie would have reached the place of rendezvous, and yet
he was unable to compute the passage of minutes. His mother slept
soundly: that was well. By this time Virginie must have met the
'faithful cousin:' if, indeed, Morin had not made his appearance.

"At length, he felt as if he could no longer sit still, awaiting the
issue, but must run out and see what course events had taken. In
vain his mother, half-rousing herself, called after him to ask
whither he was going: he was already out of hearing before she had
ended her sentence, and he ran on until, stopped by the sight of
Mademoiselle Cannes walking along at so swift a pace that it was
almost a run; while at her side, resolutely keeping by her, Morin was
striding abreast. Pierre had just turned the corner of the street,
when he came upon them. Virginie would have passed him without
recognizing him, she was in such passionate agitation, but for
Morin's gesture, by which he would fain have kept Pierre from
interrupting them. Then, when Virginie saw the lad, she caught at
his arm, and thanked God, as if in that boy of twelve or fourteen she
held a protector. Pierre felt her tremble from head to foot, and was
afraid lest she would fall, there where she stood, in the hard rough

"'Begone, Pierre!' said Morin.

"'I cannot,' replied Pierre, who indeed was held firmly by Virginie.
'Besides, I won't,' he added. 'Who has been frightening mademoiselle
in this way?' asked he, very much inclined to brave his cousin at all

"'Mademoiselle is not accustomed to walk in the streets alone,' said
Morin, sulkily. 'She came upon a crowd attracted by the arrest of an
aristocrat, and their cries alarmed her. I offered to take charge of
her home. Mademoiselle should not walk in these streets alone. We
are not like the cold-blooded people of the Faubourg Saint Germain.'

"Virginie did not speak. Pierre doubted if she heard a word of what
they were saying. She leant upon him more and more heavily.

"'Will mademoiselle condescend to take my arm?' said Morin, with
sulky, and yet humble, uncouthness. I dare say he would have given
worlds if he might have had that little hand within his arm; but,
though she still kept silence, she shuddered up away from him, as you
shrink from touching a toad. He had said something to her during
that walk, you may be sure, which had made her loathe him. He marked
and understood the gesture. He held himself aloof while Pierre gave
her all the assistance he could in their slow progress homewards.
But Morin accompanied her all the same. He had played too desperate
a game to be baulked now. He had given information against the ci-
devant Marquis de Crequy, as a returned emigre, to be met with at
such a time, in such a place. Morin had hoped that all sign of the
arrest would have been cleared away before Virginie reached the spot-
-so swiftly were terrible deeds done in those days. But Clement
defended himself desperately: Virginie was punctual to a second;
and, though the wounded man was borne off to the Abbaye, amid a crowd
of the unsympathising jeerers who mingled with the armed officials of
the Directory, Morin feared lest Virginie had recognized him; and he
would have preferred that she should have thought that the 'faithful
cousin' was faithless, than that she should have seen him in bloody
danger on her account. I suppose he fancied that, if Virginie never
saw or heard more of him, her imagination would not dwell on his
simple disappearance, as it would do if she knew what he was
suffering for her sake.

"At any rate, Pierre saw that his cousin was deeply mortified by the
whole tenor of his behaviour during their walk home. When they
arrived at Madame Babette's, Virginie fell fainting on the floor; her
strength had but just sufficed for this exertion of reaching the
shelter of the house. Her first sign of restoring consciousness
consisted in avoidance of Morin. He had been most assiduous in his
efforts to bring her round; quite tender in his way, Pierre said; and
this marked, instinctive repugnance to him evidently gave him extreme
pain. I suppose Frenchmen are more demonstrative than we are; for
Pierre declared that he saw his cousin's eyes fill with tears, as she
shrank away from his touch, if he tried to arrange the shawl they had
laid under her head like a pillow, or as she shut her eyes when he
passed before her. Madame Babette was urgent with her to go and lie
down on the bed in the inner room; but it was some time before she
was strong enough to rise and do this.

"When Madame Babette returned from arranging the girl comfortably,
the three relations sat down in silence; a silence which Pierre
thought would never be broken. He wanted his mother to ask his
cousin what had happened. But Madame Babette was afraid of her
nephew, and thought it more discreet to wait for such crumbs of
intelligence as he might think fit to throw to her. But, after she
had twice reported Virginie to be asleep, without a word being
uttered in reply to her whispers by either of her companions, Morin's
powers of self-containment gave way.

"'It is hard!' he said.

"'What is hard?' asked Madame Babette, after she had paused for a
time, to enable him to add to, or to finish, his sentence, if he

"'It is hard for a man to love a woman as I do,' he went on--'I did
not seek to love her, it came upon me before I was aware--before I
had ever thought about it at all, I loved her better than all the
world beside. All my life, before I knew her, seems a dull blank. I
neither know nor care for what I did before then. And now there are
just two lives before me. Either I have her, or I have not. That is
all: but that is everything. And what can I do to make her have me?
Tell me, aunt,' and he caught at Madame Babette's arm, and gave it so
sharp a shake, that she half screamed out, Pierre said, and evidently
grew alarmed at her nephew's excitement.

"'Hush, Victor!' said she. 'There are other women in the world, if
this one will not have you.'

"'None other for me,' he said, sinking back as if hopeless. 'I am
plain and coarse, not one of the scented darlings of the aristocrats.
Say that I am ugly, brutish; I did not make myself so, any more than
I made myself love her. It is my fate. But am I to submit to the
consequences of my fate without a struggle? Not I. As strong as my
love is, so strong is my will. It can be no stronger,' continued he,
gloomily. 'Aunt Babette, you must help me--you must make her love
me.' He was so fierce here, that Pierre said he did not wonder that
his mother was frightened.

"'I, Victor!' she exclaimed. 'I make her love you? How can I? Ask
me to speak for you to Mademoiselle Didot, or to Mademoiselle
Cauchois even, or to such as they, and I'll do it, and welcome. But
to Mademoiselle de Crequy, why you don't know the difference! Those
people--the old nobility I mean--why they don't know a man from a
dog, out of their own rank! And no wonder, for the young gentlemen
of quality are treated differently to us from their very birth. If
she had you to-morrow, you would be miserable. Let me alone for
knowing the aristocracy. I have not been a concierge to a duke and
three counts for nothing. I tell you, all your ways are different to
her ways.'

"'I would change my "ways," as you call them.'

"'Be reasonable, Victor.'

"'No, I will not be reasonable, if by that you mean giving her up. I
tell you two lives are before me; one with her, one without her. But
the latter will be but a short career for both of us. You said,
aunt, that the talk went in the conciergerie of her father's hotel,
that she would have nothing to do with this cousin whom I put out of
the way to-day?'

"'So the servants said. How could I know? All I know is, that he
left off coming to our hotel, and that at one time before then he had
never been two days absent.'

"'So much the better for him. He suffers now for having come between
me and my object--in trying to snatch her away out of my sight. Take
you warning, Pierre! I did not like your meddling to-night.' And so
he went off, leaving Madam Babette rocking herself backwards and
forwards, in all the depression of spirits consequent upon the
reaction after the brandy, and upon her knowledge of her nephew's
threatened purpose combined.

"In telling you most of this, I have simply repeated Pierre's
account, which I wrote down at the time. But here what he had to say
came to a sudden break; for, the next morning, when Madame Babette
rose, Virginie was missing, and it was some time before either she,
or Pierre, or Morin, could get the slightest clue to the missing

"And now I must take up the story as it was told to the Intendant
Flechier by the old gardener Jacques, with whom Clement had been
lodging on his first arrival in Paris. The old man could not, I dare
say, remember half as much of what had happened as Pierre did; the
former had the dulled memory of age, while Pierre had evidently
thought over the whole series of events as a story--as a play, if one
may call it so--during the solitary hours in his after-life, wherever
they were passed, whether in lonely camp watches, or in the foreign
prison, where he had to drag out many years. Clement had, as I said,
returned to the gardener's garret after he had been dismissed from
the Hotel Duguesclin. There were several reasons for his thus
doubling back. One was, that he put nearly the whole breadth of
Paris between him and an enemy; though why Morin was an enemy, and to
what extent he carried his dislike or hatred, Clement could not tell,
of course. The next reason for returning to Jacques was, no doubt,
the conviction that, in multiplying his residences, he multiplied the
chances against his being suspected and recognized. And then, again,
the old man was in his secret, and his ally, although perhaps but a
feeble kind of one. It was through Jacques that the plan of
communication, by means of a nosegay of pinks, had been devised; and
it was Jacques who procured him the last disguise that Clement was to
use in Paris--as he hoped and trusted. It was that of a respectable
shopkeeper of no particular class; a dress that would have seemed
perfectly suitable to the young man who would naturally have worn it;
and yet, as Clement put it on, and adjusted it--giving it a sort of
finish and elegance which I always noticed about his appearance and
which I believed was innate in the wearer--I have no doubt it seemed
like the usual apparel of a gentleman. No coarseness of texture, nor
clumsiness of cut could disguise the nobleman of thirty descents, it
appeared; for immediately on arriving at the place of rendezvous, he
was recognized by the men placed there on Morin's information to
seize him. Jacques, following at a little distance, with a bundle
under his arm containing articles of feminine disguise for Virginie,
saw four men attempt Clement's arrest--saw him, quick as lightning,
draw a sword hitherto concealed in a clumsy stick--saw his agile
figure spring to his guard,--and saw him defend himself with the
rapidity and art of a man skilled in arms. But what good did it do?
as Jacques piteously used to ask, Monsieur Flechier told me. A great
blow from a heavy club on the sword-arm of Monsieur de Crequy laid it
helpless and immovable by his side. Jacques always thought that that
blow came from one of the spectators, who by this time had collected
round the scene of the affray. The next instant, his master--his
little marquis--was down among the feet of the crowd, and though he
was up again before he had received much damage--so active and light
was my poor Clement--it was not before the old gardener had hobbled
forwards, and, with many an old-fashioned oath and curse, proclaimed
himself a partisan of the losing side--a follower of a ci-devant
aristocrat. It was quite enough. He received one or two good blows,
which were, in fact, aimed at his master; and then, almost before he
was aware, he found his arms pinioned behind him with a woman's
garter, which one of the viragos in the crowd had made no scruple of
pulling off in public, as soon as she heard for what purpose it was
wanted. Poor Jacques was stunned and unhappy,--his master was out of
sight, on before; and the old gardener scarce knew whither they were
taking him. His head ached from the blows which had fallen upon it;
it was growing dark--June day though it was,--and when first he seems
to have become exactly aware of what had happened to him, it was when
he was turned into one of the larger rooms of the Abbaye, in which
all were put who had no other allotted place wherein to sleep. One
or two iron lamps hung from the ceiling by chains, giving a dim light
for a little circle. Jacques stumbled forwards over a sleeping body
lying on the ground. The sleeper wakened up enough to complain; and
the apology of the old man in reply caught the ear of his master,
who, until this time, could hardly have been aware of the straits and
difficulties of his faithful Jacques. And there they sat,--against a
pillar, the live-long night, holding one another's hands, and each
restraining expressions of pain, for fear of adding to the other's
distress. That night made them intimate friends, in spite of the
difference of age and rank. The disappointed hopes, the acute
suffering of the present, the apprehensions of the future, made them
seek solace in talking of the past. Monsieur de Crequy and the
gardener found themselves disputing with interest in which chimney of
the stack the starling used to build,--the starling whose nest
Clement sent to Urian, you remember, and discussing the merits of
different espalier-pears which grew, and may grow still, in the old
garden of the Hotel de Crequy. Towards morning both fell asleep.
The old man wakened first. His frame was deadened to suffering, I
suppose, for he felt relieved of his pain; but Clement moaned and
cried in feverish slumber. His broken arm was beginning to inflame
his blood. He was, besides, much injured by some kicks from the
crowd as he fell. As the old man looked sadly on the white, baked
lips, and the flushed cheeks, contorted with suffering even in his
sleep, Clement gave a sharp cry which disturbed his miserable
neighbours, all slumbering around in uneasy attitudes. They bade him
with curses be silent; and then turning round, tried again to forget
their own misery in sleep. For you see, the bloodthirsty canaille
had not been sated with guillotining and hanging all the nobility
they could find, but were now informing, right and left, even against
each other; and when Clement and Jacques were in the prison, there
were few of gentle blood in the place, and fewer still of gentle
manners. At the sound of the angry words and threats, Jacques
thought it best to awaken his master from his feverish uncomfortable
sleep, lest he should provoke more enmity; and, tenderly lifting him
up, he tried to adjust his own body, so that it should serve as a
rest and a pillow for the younger man. The motion aroused Clement,
and he began to talk in a strange, feverish way, of Virginie, too,--
whose name he would not have breathed in such a place had he been
quite himself. But Jacques had as much delicacy of feeling as any
lady in the land, although, mind you, he knew neither how to read nor
write,--and bent his head low down, so that his master might tell him
in a whisper what messages he was to take to Mademoiselle de Crequy,
in case--Poor Clement, he knew it must come to that! No escape for
him now, in Norman disguise or otherwise! Either by gathering fever
or guillotine, death was sure of his prey. Well! when that happened,
Jacques was to go and find Mademoiselle de Crequy, and tell her that
her cousin loved her at the last as he had loved her at the first;
but that she should never have heard another word of his attachment
from his living lips; that he knew he was not good enough for her,
his queen; and that no thought of earning her love by his devotion
had prompted his return to France, only that, if possible, he might
have the great privilege of serving her whom he loved. And then he
went off into rambling talk about petit-maitres, and such kind of
expressions, said Jacques to Flechier, the intendant, little knowing
what a clue that one word gave to much of the poor lad's suffering.

"The summer morning came slowly on in that dark prison, and when
Jacques could look round--his master was now sleeping on his
shoulder, still the uneasy, starting sleep of fever--he saw that
there were many women among the prisoners. (I have heard some of
those who have escaped from the prisons say, that the look of despair
and agony that came into the faces of the prisoners on first
wakening, as the sense of their situation grew upon them, was what
lasted the longest in the memory of the survivors. This look, they
said, passed away from the women's faces sooner than it did from
those of the men.)

"Poor old Jacques kept falling asleep, and plucking himself up again
for fear lest, if he did not attend to his master, some harm might
come to the swollen, helpless arm. Yet his weariness grew upon him
in spite of all his efforts, and at last he felt as if he must give
way to the irresistible desire, if only for five minutes. But just
then there was a bustle at the door. Jacques opened his eyes wide to

"'The gaoler is early with breakfast,' said some one, lazily.

"'It is the darkness of this accursed place that makes us think it
early,' said another.

"All this time a parley was going on at the door. Some one came in;
not the gaoler--a woman. The door was shut to and locked behind her.
She only advanced a step or two, for it was too sudden a change, out
of the light into that dark shadow, for any one to see clearly for
the first few minutes. Jacques had his eyes fairly open now, and was
wide awake. It was Mademoiselle de Crequy, looking bright, clear,
and resolute. The faithful heart of the old man read that look like
an open page. Her cousin should not die there on her behalf, without
at least the comfort of her sweet presence.

"'Here he is,' he whispered as her gown would have touched him in
passing, without her perceiving him, in the heavy obscurity of the

"'The good God bless you, my friend!' she murmured, as she saw the
attitude of the old man, propped against a pillar, and holding
Clement in his arms, as if the young man had been a helpless baby,
while one of the poor gardener's hands supported the broken limb in
the easiest position. Virginie sat down by the old man, and held out
her arms. Softly she moved Clement's head to her own shoulder;
softly she transferred the task of holding the arm to herself.
Clement lay on the floor, but she supported him, and Jacques was at
liberty to arise and stretch and shake his stiff, weary old body. He
then sat down at a little distance, and watched the pair until he
fell asleep. Clement had muttered 'Virginie,' as they half-roused
him by their movements out of his stupor; but Jacques thought he was
only dreaming; nor did he seem fully awake when once his eyes opened,
and he looked full at Virginie's face bending over him, and growing
crimson under his gaze, though she never stirred, for fear of hurting
him if she moved. Clement looked in silence, until his heavy eyelids
came slowly down, and he fell into his oppressive slumber again.
Either he did not recognize her, or she came in too completely as a
part of his sleeping visions for him to be disturbed by her
appearance there.

"When Jacques awoke it was full daylight--at least as full as it
would ever be in that place. His breakfast--the gaol-allowance of
bread and vin ordinaire--was by his side. He must have slept
soundly. He looked for his master. He and Virginie had recognized
each other now,--hearts, as well as appearance. They were smiling
into each other's faces, as if that dull, vaulted room in the grim
Abbaye were the sunny gardens of Versailles, with music and festivity
all abroad. Apparently they had much to say to each other; for
whispered questions and answers never ceased.

"Virginie had made a sling for the poor broken arm; nay, she had
obtained two splinters of wood in some way, and one of their fellow-
prisoners--having, it appeared, some knowledge of surgery--had set
it. Jacques felt more desponding by far than they did, for he was
suffering from the night he had passed, which told upon his aged
frame; while they must have heard some good news, as it seemed to
him, so bright and happy did they look. Yet Clement was still in
bodily pain and suffering, and Virginie, by her own act and deed, was
a prisoner in that dreadful Abbaye, whence the only issue was the
guillotine. But they were together: they loved: they understood
each other at length.

"When Virginie saw that Jacques was awake, and languidly munching his
breakfast, she rose from the wooden stool on which she was sitting,
and went to him, holding out both hands, and refusing to allow him to
rise, while she thanked him with pretty eagerness for all his
kindness to Monsieur. Monsieur himself came towards him, following
Virginie, but with tottering steps, as if his head was weak and
dizzy, to thank the poor old man, who now on his feet, stood between
them, ready to cry while they gave him credit for faithful actions
which he felt to have been almost involuntary on his part,--for
loyalty was like an instinct in the good old days, before your
educational cant had come up. And so two days went on. The only
event was the morning call for the victims, a certain number of whom
were summoned to trial every day. And to be tried was to be
condemned. Every one of the prisoners became grave, as the hour for
their summons approached. Most of the victims went to their doom
with uncomplaining resignation, and for a while after their departure
there was comparative silence in the prison. But, by-and-by--so said
Jacques--the conversation or amusements began again. Human nature
cannot stand the perpetual pressure of such keen anxiety, without an
effort to relieve itself by thinking of something else. Jacques said
that Monsieur and Mademoiselle were for ever talking together of the
past days,--it was 'Do you remember this?' or, 'Do you remember
that?' perpetually. He sometimes thought they forgot where they
were, and what was before them. But Jacques did not, and every day
he trembled more and more as the list was called over.

"The third morning of their incarceration, the gaoler brought in a
man whom Jacques did not recognize, and therefore did not at once
observe; for he was waiting, as in duty bound, upon his master and
his sweet young lady (as he always called her in repeating the
story). He thought that the new introduction was some friend of the
gaoler, as the two seemed well acquainted, and the latter stayed a
few minutes talking with his visitor before leaving him in prison.
So Jacques was surprised when, after a short time had elapsed, he
looked round, and saw the fierce stare with which the stranger was
regarding Monsieur and Mademoiselle de Crequy, as the pair sat at
breakfast,--the said breakfast being laid as well as Jacques knew
how, on a bench fastened into the prison wall,--Virginie sitting on
her low stool, and Clement half lying on the ground by her side, and
submitting gladly to be fed by her pretty white fingers; for it was
one of her fancies, Jacques said, to do all she could for him, in
consideration of his broken arm. And, indeed, Clement was wasting
away daily; for he had received other injuries, internal and more
serious than that to his arm, during the melee which had ended in his
capture. The stranger made Jacques conscious of his presence by a
sigh, which was almost a groan. All three prisoners looked round at
the sound. Clement's face expressed little but scornful
indifference; but Virginie's face froze into stony hate. Jacques
said he never saw such a look, and hoped that he never should again.
Yet after that first revelation of feeling, her look was steady and
fixed in another direction to that in which the stranger stood,--
still motionless--still watching. He came a step nearer at last.

"'Mademoiselle,' he said. Not the quivering of an eyelash showed
that she heard him. 'Mademoiselle!' he said again, with an intensity
of beseeching that made Jacques--not knowing who he was--almost pity
him, when he saw his young lady's obdurate face.

"There was perfect silence for a space of time which Jacques could
not measure. Then again the voice, hesitatingly, saying, 'Monsieur!'
Clement could not hold the same icy countenance as Virginie; he
turned his head with an impatient gesture of disgust; but even that
emboldened the man.

"'Monsieur, do ask mademoiselle to listen to me,--just two words.'

"'Mademoiselle de Crequy only listens to whom she chooses.' Very
haughtily my Clement would say that, I am sure.

"'But, mademoiselle,'--lowering his voice, and coming a step or two
nearer. Virginie must have felt his approach, though she did not see
it; for she drew herself a little on one side, so as to put as much
space as possible between him and her.--'Mademoiselle, it is not too
late. I can save you: but to-morrow your name is down on the list.
I can save you, if you will listen.'

"Still no word or sign. Jacques did not understand the affair. Why
was she so obdurate to one who might be ready to include Clement in
the proposal, as far as Jacques knew?

"The man withdrew a little, but did not offer to leave the prison.
He never took his eyes off Virginie; he seemed to be suffering from
some acute and terrible pain as he watched her.

"Jacques cleared away the breakfast-things as well as he could.
Purposely, as I suspect, he passed near the man.

"'Hist!' said the stranger. 'You are Jacques, the gardener, arrested
for assisting an aristocrat. I know the gaoler. You shall escape,
if you will. Only take this message from me to mademoiselle. You
heard. She will not listen to me: I did not want her to come here.
I never knew she was here, and she will die to-morrow. They will put
her beautiful round throat under the guillotine. Tell her, good old
man, tell her how sweet life is; and how I can save her; and how I
will not ask for more than just to see her from time to time. She is
so young; and death is annihilation, you know. Why does she hate me
so? I want to save her; I have done her no harm. Good old man, tell
her how terrible death is; and that she will die to-morrow, unless
she listens to me.'

"Jacques saw no harm in repeating this message. Clement listened in
silence, watching Virginie with an air of infinite tenderness.

"'Will you not try him, my cherished one?' he said. 'Towards you he
may mean well' (which makes me think that Virginie had never repeated
to Clement the conversation which she had overheard that last night
at Madame Babette's); 'you would be in no worse a situation than you
were before!'

"'No worse, Clement! and I should have known what you were, and have
lost you. My Clement!' said she, reproachfully.

"'Ask him,' said she, turning to Jacques, suddenly, 'if he can save
Monsieur de Crequy as well,--if he can?--O Clement, we might escape
to England; we are but young.' And she hid her face on his shoulder.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest