Part 6 out of 9
here. It was the proprietor of a wretched lodging-house who, for fear that
they would die in his abode, applied for their admission."
"And where is she?"
"There, in the bed opposite to yours."
"And only fifteen?"
"At the most."
"The age of my eldest daughter!" said Jeanne, unable to restrain her tears.
"Pardon me," said La Lorraine, sadly, "pardon me, if I cause you pain,
unintentionally, by speaking of your children. Perhaps they are sick also?"
"Alas! I do not know what will become of them if I stay here more than a
"And your husband?"
After a pause, Jeanne answered, drying her tears, "Since we are friends
together, La Lorraine, I can tell you my troubles, as you have told me
yours--it will solace me. My husband was a good workman; he has become
dissipated; he abandoned me and my children, after having sold all that we
possessed; I worked hard; charitable people aided me; I began again to
raise my head; I brought up my little family as well as I could, when my
husband came back, with a bad woman, and again took all I had, leaving me
to commence anew."
"Poor Jeanne! could you not prevent that?"
"I could have procured a separation by law, but the law is too dear, as my
brother says. Alas! you shall see what effect this has upon us poor folks;
some days since, I returned to see my brother: he gave me three francs,
which he had collected from those who listened to his stories in prison."
"It is plain to see that you are a kind-hearted family," said La Lorraine,
who, from a rare instinctive delicacy, did not interrogate Jeanne as to the
cause of her brother's imprisonment.
"I took courage, then; I thought that my husband would not return for a
long time, for he had taken from me all that he could take. No, I am
mistaken," added the unhappy mother, shuddering: "there remained my
daughter--my poor Catharine."
"You shall see--you shall see. Three days since, I was at work, with my
children around me; my husband came in. I saw at once that he been
drinking. 'I come after Catharine,' said he. I caught my daughter by the
arm, and asked Duport, 'Where do you wish to take her?' 'That does not
concern you--she is my daughter; let her tie up some clothes and follow
me.' At these words my blood curdled in my veins; for, imagine, La
Lorraine, that this woman who is with my husband--it makes me shudder to
say it, but--"
"Ah! yes, she is a real monster."
"'Take Catharine away!' I answered to Duport: 'never!' 'Now,' said my
husband, whose lips were already white with rage,'do not provoke me, or
I'll knock you down!' Then he took my child by the arm, saying, Come with
me, Catharine.' The poor little thing threw her arms around my neck;
bursting into tears, she cried, 'I wish to stay with mamma!' Seeing this,
Duport became furious: he tore my child from me, giving me a blow with his
fist, which knocked me down; and once down--but, do you see, La Lorraine,"
said poor Jeanne, interrupting herself, "it is very certain he would not
have been so cruel, except he had been drinking in fine, he trampled upon
me, loading me with curses."
"How bad he must be!"
"My poor children fell on their knees, begging for mercy; Catharine also.
Then he said to my daughter, swearing like a madman, 'If you do not come
with me, I will finish the job with your mother!' I vomited blood. I felt
myself half dead; but I cried to Catharine, 'Rather let him kill me! but do
not follow your father!' 'Will you not be silent, then?' said Duport,
giving me another blow, which made me lose all consciousness."
"What misery! what misery!"
"When I came to myself I found my two little boys beside me weeping."
"And your daughter?"
"Gone!" cried the poor mother, sobbing convulsively; "yes, gone! My other
children told me that their father had struck her, threatening to take what
life I had remaining on the spot. Then, what could you expect? the poor
child was bewildered; she threw herself upon me for a last embrace, kissed
her little brothers, and then my husband carried her off! Ah! that bad
woman waited for them at the door, I am sure!"
"And could you not complain to the police?"
"At first I could think of nothing but Catharine's departure, but I soon
felt great pains all over my body, I could not walk. Alas! what I had so
much dreaded arrived. Yes--I had said to my brother, 'Some day my husband
will beat me so hard--so hard, that I shall be obliged to go to a hospital.
Then, my children, what will become of them?' And now here I am, at the
hospital, and I say, What will become of my children?"
"But is there not any justice, then, my God! for the poor?"
"Too dear! too dear for us, as my brother said," answered Jeanne Duport,
with bitterness. "My neighbors went to seek the police, they came: it was
painful for me to denounce Duport, but on account of my daughter it was
necessary. I said only that, in a quarrel I had with him about taking away
my daughter, he had pushed me; that it was nothing, but that I wanted my
daughter back again."
"And what did he reply?"
"That my husband had a right to take away his child, not being separated
from me. 'You have only one way,' said the officer to me: 'commence a civil
suit, demand a separation of body, and then the blows which your husband
has given you, his conduct with this vile woman, will be in your favor, and
they will force him to deliver up your daughter; otherwise, he can keep her
in his own right.' 'But to commence a suit! I have not the means! I have my
children to feed.' 'What can I do?' said he; 'so it is.' Yes," repeated
Jeanne, sobbing, "he was right; so it is; and because that so it is, in
three months, perhaps, my daughter will be a street-walker! while, if I had
had the means to commence a suit, it would not have happened."
"But that will never happen, your daughter must love you so much."
"But she is so young! At that age, fear, bad treatment, bad counsels, bad
examples! Poor Catharine! so gentle, so loving! and I, who only this year
wished her to renew her first communion!"
"Oh! you have much sorrow. And I complained of mine!" said Lorraine, wiping
her eyes. "And your other children?"
"On their account I did what I could to keep out of the hospital. I was
obliged to give up. I vomit blood three or four times a day; I have a fever
which prostrates me; I am unable to work. At least, by being cured quickly,
I can return to my children, if, before this, they are not dead with hunger
or imprisoned as beggars. I here--who will they have to take care of them,
and feed them?"
"Oh! this is terrible! You have no good neighbors, then?"
"They are as poor as I am, and they have five children of their own; thus
two children more is a heavy burden; however, they have promised me to feed
them a little, during eight days. It is all they can do; it is taking from
them bread, of which they themselves have none too much; so I must be cured
in eight days; oh yes! cured or not, I shall go out, all the same."
"But why have you not thought of this good Miss Rigolette, whom you met in
prison? She would surely have taken care of them."
"I did think of her; and, although the dear little soul has, perhaps, as
much as she can do to get along, I sent her word by a neighbor of my
troubles. Unfortunately, she is in the country, where she is going to be
married; so the porter of the house said."
"Thus, in eight days, your poor children--but no, your neighbors will not
have the heart to send them away."
"But what would you have them to do? They do not eat now as much as they
want, and they are obliged to take it out of the mouths of their own to
give it to mine. No, no--do you see, I must be cured in eight days. I have
already demanded it from all the doctors I have seen since yesterday, but
they answered me, laughing, 'You must address yourself to the chief
physician for that.' When will he come, La Lorraine?"
"Chut! I think he is there. We must not talk while he is making his visit,"
answered La Lorraine.
During the conversation of the two women the day commenced to dawn. A
confused movement announced the arrival of Dr. Griffon, who soon entered
the hall, accompanied by his friend the Count de Saint Rémy, who, having a
deep interest in Madame de Fermont and her daughter, was far from expecting
to find the latter unfortunate girl in the hospital. As he came into the
ward, the cold and stern features of Dr. Griffon seemed to light up with a
glow of satisfaction. Casting around him a look of complacency and
authority, he answered with a patronizing bend of the head the eager
greetings of the sisters. The rough and austere physiognomy of the Count de
Saint Rémy was stamped with deep sadness. The fruitlessness of his attempts
to discover traces of Madame de Fermont, the ignominious conduct of his
son, who had preferred an infamous life to death, crushed him to the ground
"Well!" said Dr. Griffon to the count with a triumphant air, "what do you
think of my hospital?"
"In truth," answered Saint Rémy, "I do not know why I have yielded to your
desire; nothing is more heart-rending than the aspect of these wards filled
with sick. Since my entrance here my feelings quite overcome me."
"Bah! bah! in fifteen minutes you will think no more about it; you, who are
a philosopher, will find ample matter for observation: and then it would
have been a shame that you, one of my oldest friends, should not visit the
theater of my labors--of my glory, that you should not see me at my work.
All my pride is in my profession; is it wrong?"
"No, certainly not; and after your excellent care of Fleur-de-Marie, whom
you have saved, I could refuse you nothing. Poor child! what touching
charms her features have preserved, notwithstanding her dangerous illness!"
"She has furnished me with a very curious medical fact; I am enchanted with
her! By the bye, how has she passed this night? Did you see her this
morning before you left Asnières?"
"No, but La Louve, who nurses her with unceasing assiduity, told me that
she had slept perfectly well. Can we allow her to write today?"
After a moment's hesitation, the doctor answered, "Yes. As long as the
subject was not completely convalescent, I feared the slightest emotion for
her, the slightest application of mind; but now I do not see that any
inconvenience can arise from her writing."
"At least she could inform her friends."
"Doubtless. Have you heard nothing more concerning the fate of Madame de
Fermont and her daughter?"
"Nothing," said Saint Rémy, sighing. "My constant researches have no
success. I have no more hope but in Lady d'Harville, who, as I am told,
also takes a lively interest in these unfortunates; perhaps she may have
some information which might lead to her discovery. Three days ago I went
to her residence; she was expected to arrive every moment. I have written
to her on this subject, begging her to answer me as soon as possible."
During the conversation of Saint Rémy and Dr. Griffon, several persons had
slowly assembled around a large table occupying the middle of the hall; on
this table was a register, where the students attached to the hospital, who
might be recognized by their long white aprons, came in turn to sign their
names as being present; a large number of young students arrived
successively to swell the scientific retinue of Dr. Griffon, who, arriving
a few moments in advance of his usual hour, waited until it struck.
"You see, my dear Saint Rémy, that my staff is quite considerable," said
Dr. Griffon, with pride, pointing to the crowd who came to attend to his
"And these young men follow you to the bed of each patient?"
"They only come for that."
"But all these beds are occupied by women."
"The presence of so many men must cause them much painful confusion?"
"Tush, a patient has no sex."
"In your eyes, perhaps; but in their own--modesty, shame."
"All these fine things must be left at the door, my dear Alceste; here we
commence on the living experiments and studies which we finish in the
dissecting room on the corpse."
"Hold, doctor; you are the best and the most honest of men; I owe you my
life; I recognize your excellent qualities; but habit and the love of your
profession make you view certain questions in a manner that is revolting to
me. I leave you," said Saint Rémy, turning to leave the hall.
"What childishness!" cried the doctor, detaining him.
"No, no--there are some things which wound me and make me indignant; I
foresee that it will be torture for me to accompany you. I will not go, but
I will await you here, near this table."
"What a man you are with your scruples! But I will not let you off. I admit
it may be unpleasant for you to go from bed to bed; remain, then, there; I
will call you for two or three cases which are very curious."
"Very well; since you are so very urgent, that will be enough, and more
The clock struck half-past seven.
"Come, gentlemen," said Dr. Griffon, and he commenced his visits, followed
by a numerous train.
On arriving at the first bed of the range of the night, of which the
curtains were closed, the sister said to the doctor,
"Sir, number one died this morning at half-past four."
"So late? that surprises me; yesterday morning I would not have given her
the day: has the body been claimed?"
"So much the better--we can proceed with the autopsy; I can make some one
happy;" then, addressing one of the students, the doctor added, "My dear
Dunnoyer, you have wished for a subject for a long time; you are the first
on the list; this one is yours."
"Ah! sir, how kind you are!"
"I could wish oftener to recompense your zeal, my dear friend; but mark the
subject, and take possession."
And the doctor passed on. The student, with the aid of a scalpel, cut very
delicately on the arm of the actress an F and a D, in order to take
possession, as the doctor said.
"La Lorraine," whispered Jeanne Duport to her neighbor, "who are all these
people that follow the doctor?"
"They are pupils and students."
"Oh! will all these young men be there when he examines me?"
"But it is on my chest I am injured. Will they examine me before all these
"Yes, yes, it must be so--they wish it. I wept enough the first time--I was
dying with shame; I resisted, they threatened to turn me away; I was
obliged to summit, but it affected me so much that I was worse. Judge,
then, almost naked before so many people--it is very painful."
"Before the physician alone--I comprehend that--if it is necessary--and
even that costs much. But why before all these young men?"
"They are learning; they teach them with us. What would we have? we are
here for that; it is on this condition that we are received here."
"Ah! I comprehend," said Jeanne Duport, with bitterness; "they do not give
us something for nothing. But yet, there are occasions where this could not
be. Thus, if my poor daughter Catharine, who is but fifteen, should come to
a hospital, would they dare before all these young men? Oh! no, I think I
would prefer to see her die at home."
"If she came here, she would have to obey the rules, like you, like me."
"Hush, La Lorraine; if this poor little lady who is opposite should hear
us--she who was rich, who perhaps has never before left her mother--it is
going to be her turn--judge how confused and unhappy she will be."
"It is true, it is true; I shudder when I think of it, poor child!"
"Silence, Jeanne, here is the doctor!" said La Lorraine.
CLAIRE DE FERMONT.
After having rapidly visited several patients whose cases presented no
great interest, the doctor at length reached the bed of Jeanne Duport.
At the sight of the eager crowd, who, anxious to see and to know, to
understand and to learn, pressed around her bed, the unhappy woman, seized
with a tremor of fear and shame, wrapped herself closely in the covering.
The severe and intelligent face of Dr. Griffon, his penetrating look, his
brow habitually contracted, his rough manner of speaking, augmented still
more the alarm of Jeanne.
"A new subject!" said the doctor, casting his eye on the card where was
inscribed the nature of the malady of the new-comer. He preserved a
profound silence, while his assistants, imitating the prince of science,
fixed their eyes on the patient with curiosity. She, to throw aside as much
as possible all the painful emotions caused by so many spectators, looked
steadily at the doctor, with deep anguish.
After an examination of several minutes, the doctor, remarking something
anomalous in the yellowish tint of the eyeball, approached nearer to her,
and with the end of his finger pushing back the eyelid, he examined the
crystalline lens. Then several students, answering to a kind of mute
invitation of their professor, went, in turn, to observe the appearance of
the eye. Afterward the doctor proceeded to this interrogatory: "Your name?"
"Jeanne Duport," murmured the patient, more and more alarmed.
"Thirty-six and a half."
"Louder. Born in--"
"Alas! yes, sir," answered Jeanne, with a deep sigh.
"How long since?"
"Any children?" Here, instead of answering, the unhappy mother gave vent to
her tears, for a long time restrained.
"We do not want tears, but an answer. Have you any children?"
"Yes, sir, two little boys and a girl."
"How long have you been sick?"
"For four days, sir," said Jeanne, wiping her eyes.
"Tell me how you became sick."
"Sir, there are so many people, I do not dare."
"Where do you come from, my dear?" said the doctor, impatiently. "Would you
not like me to bring a confessional here? Come, speak, and be quick. Be
composed, we are quite a family party--quite a large family, as you see,"
added the prince of science, who was on that day in a gay humor. "Come, let
More and more intimidated, Jeanne said, stammering and hesitating at each
word, "I had, sir, a quarrel with my husband, on the subject of my
children; I mean to say, of my eldest daughter. He wished take her away.
I--you comprehend, sir,--I did not wish it, on account of a vile woman, who
might give bad advice to my child; then my husband, who was drunk--oh! yes,
sir, except for that he would not have done it--my husband pushed me very
hard; I fell, and--then, a short time after, I began to throw up blood."
"Ta, ta, ta; your husband pushed you, and you fell. You set it off very
nicely. He has certainly done more than push you; he must have struck you
very hard, and what is more, several times. Perhaps, also, he has trampled
you under foot. Come, answer! tell the truth."
"Ah! sir, I assure you he was drunk, otherwise he would not have been so
"Good or wicked, drunk or sober, it has nothing to do with present matters;
I am not a magistrate, my good woman; I only wish to establish a fact. You
have been knocked down and trampled upon, have you not?"
"Alas! yes, sir," said Jeanne, bursting into tears; "and yet I have never
given him cause for complaint. I work as much as I can, and I--"
"The epigastrium must be painful? you must feel a great heat there?" said
the doctor, interrupting Jeanne; "you must experience lassitude,
"Yes, sir. I only came here at the last extremity, otherwise I would not
have abandoned my children, for whom I am so much worried; and then
Catharine--ah! it is on her account I fear the most. If you knew--"
"Your tongue!" said the doctor, again interrupting the patient.
This order appeared so strange to Jeanne, who had thought to excite
feelings of compassion in the doctor, that she did not at first comply with
it, but looked at him with amazement.
"Let us see this tongue, of which you make so good use," said the doctor,
smiling; then he held down, with the end of his finger, her under jaw.
After causing the students to examine the tongue closely, in order to
ascertain its color and dryness, the doctor stepped back a moment. Jeanne,
overcoming her fear, cried in a trembling voice:
"Sir, I am going to tell you. Some neighbors, as poor as myself, have been
kind enough to take charge of my Children, but for eight days only. That is
a great deal. At the end of this time I must return home. Thus, I entreat
you, for the love of heaven! cure me as soon as possible--or _almost_
cure me, so that I can get up and work. I have only a week before me,
"Face discolored--state of prostration complete; yet the pulse hard,
strong, and frequent," said the imperturbable doctor, looking at Jeanne.
"Remark it well, gentlemen: oppression--heat at the epigastrium, all these
symptoms certainly announce _hematemesis_, probably complicated with
hepatitis, caused by domestic sorrows, as the yellowish coloration of the
globe of the eye indicates; the subject has received violent blows in the
regions of epigastrium and abdomen; the vomiting of blood is necessarily
caused by some organic lesion of certain viscera. On this subject I will
call your attention to a very curious point--very curious. The
_post-mortem_ examinations of those who die with the complaint of
which this _subject_ is attacked, offer results singularly variable;
often the malady, very acute and very serious, carries off the patient in a
few days, and leaves no traces of its existence; at other times, the
spleen, the liver, the pancreas, present lesions more or less serious. It
is probable that the _subject_ before us has suffered some of these
lesions; we are going, then, to try to assure ourselves of this fact, and
you--you will also assure yourselves by an attentive examination of the
patient." And, with a rapid movement, Dr. Griffon, throwing the bed-clothes
back, almost entirely uncovered Jeanne. It is repugnant to our feelings to
depict the piteous struggles of this poor creature, who wept bitterly from
shame, imploring the doctor and his auditory to leave her.
But at the threat, "You will be turned out of the hospital if you do not
submit to the established usages"--a threat so overwhelming for those to
whom the hospital is the last resource, Jeanne submitted to a public
investigation, which lasted for a long time--a very long time; for the
doctor analyzed and explained each symptom, and the more studious of the
assistants wished to join practice to theory, and have an ocular assurance
of the state of the patient. As a consequence of this cruel scene, Jeanne
experienced an emotion so violent that she had a severe nervous attack, for
which Dr. Griffon gave an additional prescription. The visit was continued.
The doctor soon reached the bed of Claire de Fermont, a victim, as well as
her mother, of the cupidity of Jacques Ferrand. Miss de Fermont wearing the
linen cap furnished by the hospital, leaned her head in a languishing
manner on the bolster of her bed; through the ravages of sickness could be
traced, on this ingenuous and sweet face, the remains of distinguished
beauty. After a night of bitter anguish, the poor child had fallen into a
kind of feverish stupor before the doctor and his scientific cortège
entered the hall; thus the noise attending his visit had not yet awakened
"A new _subject_, gentlemen," said the prince of the science, running
his eye over the card which a student presented to him. "Disease, _slow
fever_--nervous. Plague on it!" cried the doctor, with an expression of
profound satisfaction; "if the attending physician is not mistaken in his
diagnostic, it is a most excellent windfall; I have desired a slow nervous
fever for a long time, as this is not a malady of the poor. These
affections are caused in almost every case by serious perturbations in the
social position of the _subject_; and it cannot be denied that the
more the position is elevated, the more profound are the perturbations. It
is, besides, an affection the more to be remarked from its peculiar
character. It is traced back to the highest antiquity; the writings of
Hippocrates leave no doubt on this subject--it is very plain; this fever,
as I have said, is almost always caused by violent sorrows. Now, sorrow is
as old as the world; yet, what is singular, before the eighteenth century,
this malady was not described by any author; it is Huxman who did so much
honor to the profession at this epoch--it is Huxman, I say, who was the
first to give a monograph of the nervous fever--a monograph which has
become classic; and yet it was a malady of the old school," added the
doctor, laughing. "It belongs to this grand, ancient, and illustrious
_febris_ family, of which the origin is lost in the night of time. But
do not let us rejoice too much; let us, in effect, see if we have the
happiness to possess a specimen of this curious affection. It would be
doubly desirable, for I have wished for a long time to test the internal
use of phosphorus--yes, gentlemen," repeated the doctor, on hearing a kind
of murmur of curiosity among his auditory, "yes, gentlemen, phosphorus; it
is a very curious experiment which I wish to make--it is bold! but
_audaces fortuna juvant_--and the occasion will be excellent. We are
going, in the first place, to examine if the _subject_ presents on all
parts of the body, and especially on the breast, this miliary eruption, so
symptomatic, according to Huxman: and you will assure yourselves, by
feeling the subject, of the kind of rugosity this eruption causes. But do
not let us sell the skin of the bear before we bring him to the ground,"
added the prince of science, who was unusually jocular.
And he slightly touched her shoulder to arouse her. The girl started and
opened her large eyes, sunken by disease. Let her terror and alarm be
imagined. While a crowd of men surrounded her bed and followed her every
motion with their eyes, she felt the hand of the doctor throw back the
covering, and slip into the bed in order to feel her pulse.
Collecting all her strength, with a voice of anguish and affright, she
cried: "Mother! help, mother!"
By a chance almost providential, at the moment when the cries of Miss de
Fermont made the old Count de Saint Rerny start from his chair, for he
recognized the voice, the door of the hall opened, and a young woman,
dressed in mourning, entered precipitately, accompanied by the director of
the hospital. This was Lady d'Harville.
"In mercy, sir," said she to the director, with the greatest anxiety,
"conduct me to Miss de Fermont."
"Be good enough to follow me, my lady," answered the director,
respectfully. "She is at No. 17, in this hall."
"Unfortunate child! here, here!" said Lady d'Harville, wiping her eyes;
"oh, it is frightful!"
Preceded by the director, she advanced rapidly toward the group assembled
around the bed, when these words were heard, pronounced with indignation:
"I tell you that it is murder--you will kill her, sir."
"But, my dear Saint Reiny, listen then--"
"I repeat to you, sir, that your conduct is atrocious. I regard Miss de
Fermont as my daughter. I forbid you to approach her; I will have her
immediately removed hence."
"But, my dear friend, it is a case of slow nervous fever, very rare. I wish
to try phosphorus. It is a unique occasion. Promise me at least that I
shall take care of her. What matters it where you take her, since you
deprive my clinique of a _subject_ so precious?"
"If you were not mad, you would be a monster," answered the Count de Saint
Clémence listened to these words with increasing anguish; but the crowd was
so dense that the director was obliged to say in a loud voice: "Make room,
gentlemen, if you please--make room for her ladyship, the most noble the
Marchioness d'Harville, who comes to see No. 17."
At these words the students fell back with as much eagerness as respectful
admiration, on seeing the charming face of Clémence, to which emotion had
given a most lively color.
"Madame d'Harville," cried the Count de Saint Rémy, pushing the doctor
rudely aside, and advancing toward Clémence. "Oh! it is heaven who sends
here one of its angels. Madame, I knew that you had interested yourself for
these unfortunates. More fortunate than I, you have found them; as for me,
it was chance which brought me here, to behold a scene of unheard-of
barbarity. Unfortunate child! Do you see, madame--do you see! And you,
gentlemen, in the name of your daughters, or your sisters, have pity on a
child of sixteen, I entreat you; leave me alone with madame and the good
sisters. As soon as she recovers a little, I will have her removed hence."
"So be it. I will sign an order for her departure; but I will follow her
steps--I will cling fast to her. It is a _subject_ which belongs to
me, and she will do well. I will take care of her. I will not experiment
with the phosphorus--well understood--I will pass the night with her if it
is necessary, as I have passed them with you, ungrateful Saint Rémy; for
this fever is quite as singular as yours. They are two sisters, who have
the same claim to my interest."
"Confounded man, why have you so much science?" said the count, knowing
that in truth he could not confide Miss de Fermont to more skillful hands.
"Eh! it is very plain," whispered the doctor in his ear. "I have much
science, because I experiment, because I risk and practice much on my
_subjects_. Now, shall I have my slow fever, old growler?"
"Yes, but can this lady be removed?"
"Then, for heaven's sake! retire."
"Come, sirs," said the prince of science, "we shall be deprived of a
precious study, but I'll keep you informed of the case."
And Dr. Griffon, accompanied by his numerous attendants, continued his
rounds, leaving Saint Rémy and Madame d'Harville with Claire de Fermont.
During the scene which we have just described, Claire, Still in her
fainting fit, was delivered to the tender care and attentions of Clémence
and the sisters; one of the latter sustained her drooping head, while Lady
d'Harville, leaning over the bed, wiped away with her handkerchief the cold
sweat from the brow of the patient. Profoundly affected, Saint Rémy
contemplated this touching picture, when a sudden thought struck him, and
he drew near Clémence, and said in a low tone: "And the mother of this
The marchioness turned toward Saint Rémy, and answered, with sadness, "She
has no longer a mother, my lord."
"I only learned last night, on my return, the address of Madame de Fermont,
and her alarming situation. At one o'clock in the morning I was with her,
accompanied by my physician. Oh! sir, what a picture! poverty in all its
horrors--and no hope of saving the expiring mother!"
"Oh! how frightful must have been her agony, if the thought of her daughter
"Her last words were--my daughter!"
"What a death! she, the tender mother, so devoted. It is terrible!"
Here one of the sisters entered, interrupting the conversation, and said to
the lady: "The young lady is very feeble--she scarcely has any
consciousness; in a short time she may revive. If you do not fear to remain
here, madame, and wait until she comes to herself, I will offer you my
"Give it to me," said Clémence, taking a seat along-side of the bed. "I
will not take my eyes from her; I wish that she should, at least, see a
friendly face when she recovers; then I will take her with me, since the
doctor decides that she can be removed without danger."
"Oh! madame, may God bless you for what you do," said Saint Rémy; "but
pardon me for not having told you my name--so much sorrow! so much
emotion!--I am the Count de Saint Rémy; the husband of Madame de Fermont
was my most intimate friend. I live at Angers. I left that city because I
was uneasy at not having received any news from these two noble and worthy
women. I have since heard that they have been completely ruined."
"Oh! sir, you do not know all. Madame Fermont has been most cruelly
"By her notary, perhaps? For a moment I had such a suspicion."
"The man was a monster, sir! Alas! this cruel crime is not his only one.
But, happily," said Clémence, thinking of Rudolph, "he has been compelled
to make restitution; and while closing the eyes of Madame de Fermont, I
have been able to assure her that her daughter is provided for. Her death
thus had fewer pangs."
"I comprehend; knowing that her daughter was under your protection, madame,
my poor friend died more tranquilly."
"Not only is my protection forever secured to Miss de Fermont, but her
fortune will also be restored."
"Her fortune! How? The notary--"
"Has been forced to restore her money, which he had appropriated to himself
by a horrid crime!"
"This man assassinated the brother of Madame de Fermont, and made her
believe that this unfortunate man had committed suicide, after having
dissipated her fortune."
"This is horrible; it can hardly be credited; and yet I have had my doubts
about this notary, for Renneville was honor itself. And this money--"
"Is deposited with a venerable priest, M. le Curé of Bonne-Nouvelle; he
will hand it to Miss de Fermont."
"This restitution is not sufficient for human justice, madame! The scaffold
claims this notary, for he has not only committed one murder, but two. The
death of Madame de Fermont, the sufferings which her daughter has endured
on this hospital bed, have been caused by the infamous abuse of confidence
of this wretch!"
"And this wretch has committed another murder, quite as frightful!"
"What do you say, madame?"
"If he made away with the brother of Madame de Fermont by a pretended
suicide, only a few days since he cruelly murdered a young girl, in whose
destruction he was interested, by causing her to be drowned, certain that
this would be attributed to accident."
Saint Rémy shuddered, looked at Madame d'Harville with surprise, and
thinking of Fleur-de-Marie, cried: "Oh! what a strange coincidence!"
"What is the matter, my lord?"
"That young girl! Where was it he wished to drown her?"
"In the Seine, near Asnières, I am told."
"It is she! it is the same!" cried Saint Rémy.
"Of whom do you speak, my lord?"
"Of the girl this monster had an interest in."
"Do you know her, my lady?"
"Poor child! I loved her tenderly. Ah! if you had known how beautiful she
was! But how did your lordship--"
"Dr. Griffon and myself gave her the first assistance."
"The first assistance? to her? where?"
"On Ravageurs' Island, where she was saved."
"Saved! Fleur-de-Marie! saved?"
"By a good creature, who, at the risk of her life, drew her out of the
Seine. But what is the matter, madame?"
"Oh! sir, I dare not believe in so much happiness. I entreat you, tell
me--describe the girl!"
"Of admirable beauty, and angelic face--"
"Large blue eyes--flaxen hair?"
"Yes, my lady."
"And when they tried to drown her, was she with an aged woman?"
"In fact it was only yesterday she could speak. She then mentioned that an
old woman accompanied her."
"God be praised!" cried Clémence, clasping her hands fervently. "I can
inform him that his favorite still lives. What joy for him, who in his last
letter spoke of this poor child with such painful regret! Pardon me, sir;
but if your lordship only knew how happy your information makes me, as well
as another, who, still more than myself, has loved and protected
Fleur-de-Marie! But I pray you, where is she at this moment?"
"Near Asnières, in the house of one of the physicians of this hospital--Dr.
Griffon, who, notwithstanding some oddities which I deplore, has excellent
"And she is now out of danger?"
"Yes, madame; but only since two or three days. Today she is allowed to
write to her protectors."
"Oh! it is I, my lord, I who will do this, or rather, it is I who will have
the joy of conducting her to those, who, believing her dead, regret her so
"I appreciate those regrets, madame; for it is impossible to know
Fleur-de-Marie without being charmed with her angelic qualities: her grace
and sweetness exercise on all those who approach her an unbounded
influence. The woman who saved her, and who has since watched her night and
day, as she would have watched her own child, is a courageous and
determined person, but of a temper so habitually violent, that she has been
called La Louve--judge! Well! a word from Fleur-de-Marie can calm her. I
have heard her sob and utter cries of despair, when, at one time, Dr.
Griffon had but little hopes of saving Fleur-de-Marie."
"That does not astonish me--I know La Louve."
"You, madame?" said Saint Rémy, surprised; "you know La Louve?"
"It must surprise you, truly, my lord," said the marchioness, smiling
sweetly, for Clémence was happy--oh! very happy--in thinking of the joyful
surprise she would cause the prince. What would have been her delight, if
she had known that it was a daughter whom he believed dead--that she was
about to restore to Rudolph. "Oh! this is so joyful a day for me, that I
wish it to be so for others; it seems to me that there must be many
unfortunate persons here to succor; this would be an excellent way to
express my gratitude, my joy, for the news you have given me." Then,
addressing one of the sisters, who had just given a drink to Miss de
Fermont, she said, "Well, sister, is she yet sensible?"
[Illustration: THE CONVALESCENT]
"Not yet, madame--she is so weak. Poor thing! her pulse can hardly be
"I will wait until she is able to be removed in my carriage. But tell me,
sister, among all these unhappy sick, do you not know some who particularly
merit my interest and pity, and to whom I can be useful before I leave the
"Oh! madame, it is heaven sends you," said the sister; "there is," added
she, pointing to the bed of Pique-Vinaigre's sister, "a poor woman, very
sick, and very much to be pitied; she mourns continually about two small
children, who have no one to look to for support but herself. She told the
doctor just now that she would leave here, cured or not cured, in a week,
as her neighbor had promised to take care of her children for that time
"Conduct me to her bed, I pray you, sister," said Lady d'Harville, rising,
and following the nun.
Jeanne Duport, scarcely recovered from the violent attack caused by the
treatment of Dr. Griffon, had not perceived the entrance of the noble lady
into the hospital. What was her surprise, then, when the latter, lifting up
the curtains of her bed, said to her, with a look full of kindness and
commiseration, "My good mother, you must not be any longer uneasy about
your children; I will take care of them; only think of being soon cured, so
that you can join them."
Jeanne Duport thought that she was in a dream. In the same place where Dr.
Griffon and his students had made her submit to such a cruel ordeal, she
saw a lady of surpassing beauty come to her with words of pity,
consolation, and hope.
The emotion of Pique-Vinaigre's sister was so great that she could not
utter a word; she clasped her hands as if in prayer, looking at her unknown
benefactress with adoration.
"Jeanne, Jeanne," whispered La Lorraine, "speak to this good lady." Then,
addressing the marchioness, she said, "Ah! madame, you save her; she would
have died with despair in thinking of her poor destitute children."
"Once more reassure yourself, my good mother--have no uneasiness," repeated
the marchioness, pressing in her small white hand the burning one of Jeanne
Duport. "Reassure yourself; be no longer uneasy concerning your children;
and if you prefer it, you shall leave the hospital today; you shall be
nursed at home--nothing shall be wanting. in this way you shall not leave
your dear children; from this time I will see that you do not want for
work, and I will attend to the future welfare of your children."
"Ah! what do I hear? The cherubim descend, then, from heaven, as is written
in the church books," said Jeanne Duport, trembling, and scarcely daring to
look at her benefactress. "Why so much goodness for me? How have I deserved
this? It cannot be possible! I leave the hospital, where I have wept so
much, suffered so much! not leave my children any more! have a nurse! why,
it is a miracle from above!"
And the poor woman spoke the truth. If one only knew how sweet and easy it
is to perform often, and at a small expense, such miracles! Alas! for those
poor unfortunates, abandoned and repulsed on all sides--an instantaneous,
unhoped-for assistance, accompanied by benevolent words of consideration,
tenderly commiserative, may easily wear the supernatural appearance of a
"It is not a miracle, my good mother," answered Clémence, much affected;
"that which I do for you," added she, slightly blushing at the recollection
of Rudolph, "that which I do for you is inspired by a generous being, who
has taught me to relieve the unfortunate; it is he whom you must bless and
"Ah! madame! I shall bless you and yours," said Jeanne Duport, weeping. "I
ask your pardon for expressing myself so badly. I am not accustomed to such
great joy; it is the first time it has happened to me."
"Well! do you see, Jeanne," said La Lorraine, weeping, "there are also
among the sick some Rigolettes and Goualeuses--on a large scale, it is
true; but as to the good heart, it is the same thing!"
Lady d'Harville turned toward La Lorraine, much surprised at hearing her
pronounce these two names.
"You know La Goualeuse and a young workwoman named Rigolette?" demanded
Clémence of La Lorraine.
"Yes, madame. La Goualeuse--dear little angel--did last year for me--bless
her! according to her poor means--that which you do for poor Jeanne. Yes,
madame--oh! it does me good to say and repeat to every one, that La
Goualeuse took me from a cellar where I was confined on some straw; and the
dear little angel removed me and my child to a room where there was a good
bed and a cradle. La Goualeuse did this out of pure charity; for she
scarcely knew me, and was very poor herself. That was very kind, was it
not, madame?" said La Lorraine excited.
"Oh! yes; the charity of the poor toward the poor is holy," said Clémence,
her eyes bathed in tears.
"It was just the same with Rigolette, who, according to her means," replied
La Lorraine, "offered her services, a few days since, to Jeanne."
"What a singular coincidence!" said Clémence to herself, more and more
affected, for each of these two names, La Goualeuse and Rigolette, recalled
a noble action of Rudolph. "And you, my child--what can I do for you?" said
she to La Lorraine. "I wish the names that you have just pronounced with so
much gratitude may bring you good fortune."
"Thank you, madame," said La Lorraine, with a smile of bitter resignation.
"I had a child--it is dead. I am in a consumption, and am in a hopeless
state. I have no longer need of anything."
"What gloomy thoughts! At your age--so young--there is always some
"Oh! no, madame, I know my fate: I do not complain. I saw a person die last
night--here--with the same disease; it is an easy death I thank you for
"You may magnify your danger."
"I am not mistaken, madame, I know it well. But since you are so kind--a
great lady like you is all-powerful--"
"Speak--say, what do you wish?"
"I have asked a service of Jeanne; but, since, thanks to the good God and
you, she is going away--"
"Ah! well, this service--can I not render it?"
"Certainly, madame; one word from you to the sisters, or to the physician,
would arrange all."
"This word? I will speak it, be assured."
"Since I have seen the actress who is dead, so tormented by the fear of
being cut up after her death, I have had the same fear. Jeanne promised to
come and claim my body, and have me buried."
"Ah! it is horrible!" said Clémence, shuddering with affright. "One must
come here to know that there are, for the poor, misery and alarms even
beyond the tomb."
"Pardon, madame," said La Lorraine, timidly; "for a great lady, rich and
happy as you deserve to be, this request is a very sad one; I ought not to
have made it!"
"I thank you, on the contrary, my child; it teaches me a misery of which I
was ignorant, and this knowledge shall not be fruitless. Be comforted;
although this fatal moment may be far off, when it does arrive, you may be
sure to repose in holy ground."
"Oh! thank you, madame!" cried La Lorraine. "If I might dare to ask
permission to kiss your hand."
Clémence presented her hand to the parched lips of La Lorraine.
"Oh! thank you, madame. I shall have some one to pray for and bless to the
end, with La Goualeuse, and shall be no longer sad, for after my death---"
This resignation, and the fears far beyond the grave, had painfully
affected Lady d'Harville; she whispered to the sister who came to inform
her that Miss de Fermont was completely restored, "Is the condition of this
young woman really desperate?"
"Alas! yes, madame; La Lorraine is given up; she has not perhaps, a week to
Half an hour afterward, Madame d'Harville, accompanied by Saint Rémy, took
with her, to her own house, the young orphan, from whom she had concealed
the death of her mother.
The same day an agent of Lady d'Harville, after having visited in the Rue
de Barillerie the miserable abode of Jeanne Duport, and having received the
most favorable accounts of this worthy woman, immediately hired on the Quai
de l'École two large rooms and a bedroom; thanks to the resources of the
Temple, they were furnished in two hours, and the same evening, Jeanne
Duport was removed to this dwelling, where she found her children and an
excellent nurse. The same agent was instructed to claim the body of La
Lorraine, whenever she should sink under her malady, and have it decently
interred. After having installed Claire de Fermont in her apartment, Lady
d'Harville set out at once for Asnières, accompanied by Saint Rémy, in
order to conduct Fleur-de-Marie to Rudolph.
The early days of spring approached, the sun began to resume his power, the
sky was pure, the air soft and mild. Fleur-de-Marie, leaning on the arm of
La Louve, tried her strength by walking in Dr Griffon's garden. The
vivifying warmth of the sun and the action of walking colored with a rosy
tint the pale, thin cheeks of Goualeuse; her peasant's costume having been
torn in the agitation attending the first assistance that had been rendered
her, she wore a dress of dark-blue merino, made loose, and only confined
around her delicate and slender waist by a woolen girdle.
"How pleasant the sun is!" said she to La Louve, stopping at the foot of a
hedge of green trees exposed to the south, and which surrounded a stone
bench. "Will you sit down here a moment, La Louve?"
"Is there any need of asking me if I will?" answered the wife of Martial,
shrugging her shoulders.
Then, taking from her neck her shawl, she folded it carefully, knelt down,
laid it on the slightly damp gravel of the walk, and said to La Goualeuse:
"Place yourself there."
"But, La Louve," said Fleur-de-Marie, who had perceived the design of her
companion too late to prevent its execution, "but, La Louve, you will ruin
"None of your arguments! the ground is damp," said La Louve, and taking the
small feet of Fleur-de-Marie in her hands, she placed them on the shawl.
"How you spoil me, La Louve!"
"Hum! do you not deserve it; always contending against that which I wish to
do for your good. Are you not fatigued? here is a good half-hour that we
have been walking. Noon has just struck at Asnières."
"I am slightly tired; but I feel that this walk has done me good."
"You see, you were tired--you could not ask me sooner to sit down!"
"Do not scold me--I did not know that I was so weak. It is so pleasant to
walk after having been confined to the bed so long--to see the sun, the
trees, the country, when one has thought never to see them again!"
"The fact is, that you have been in a very dangerous state for two days.
Poor Goualeuse! Yes, now we can tell you that your life was dispaired of."
"And then imagine, that on finding myself under the water, the recollection
flashed across my mind that a wicked woman, who had badly treated me when I
was very little, had always threatened to throw me to the fishes. Then I
said to myself, 'I have no good fortune--it is fated that I shall not
"Poor Goualeuse! was this your last thought when you supposed yourself
"Oh, no!" said Fleur-de-Marie, warmly; "when I felt myself about to die, my
last thought was of him whom I regard as my 'Dieu;' so, also, when I was
recalled back to life, my first thought was of him."
"It is a pleasure to confer benefits on you; you do not forget."
"Oh, no! it is so pleasant to fall asleep and dream of one's gratitude, and
on awakening to remember it still!"
"Ah! one would go through fire to serve you."
"Good Louve! Hold; I assure you that one of the causes which render me
desirous to live, is the hope of conferring happiness on you--of
accomplishing my promise; you remember our castles in the air at Saint
"As to that, there is time enough; now you are on your feet again, I have
made my expenses, as Martial says."
"I hope that the Count of Saint Rémy will tell me, directly, that the
physician will allow me to write to Madame George. She must be so uneasy!
And, perhaps, M. Rudolph also!" added Fleur-de-Marie casting down her eyes,
and blushing anew at the thought of her preserver. "Perhaps they think me
"As those believe, also, who ordered you to be drowned, poor dear! Oh, the
"You always suppose, then, that it was not an accident, La Louve?"
"An accident? Yes, the Martials call them _accidents_. When I say the
Martials, it is without counting my man for he is not of that family, no
more than François and Amandine shall be."
"But what interest could any one have in my death! I have never harmed any
one--no one knows me."
"It's all one, if the Martials are scoundrels enough to drown some one,
they are not fools enough to do it for nothing. Some words which the widow
made use of in prison, to my Martial, proves this."
"He has been to see his mother, then? this terrible woman!"
"Yes, and there is no more hope for her, nor for Calabash, nor for
Nicholas. Many things have been discovered, but Nicholas, in the hope of
saving his life, has denounced his mother and sister for another
assassination. On this account they will all be executed; the lawyers have
no hope, the judges say that an example is necessary."
"Ah! it is frightful--almost a whole family!"
"Yes, unless Nicholas makes his escape; he is in the same prison with a
monster called Skeleton, who has a plot on foot to escape. Nicholas told
this to a prisoner who was discharged, and he informed Martial; for my
Martial has been weak enough to go and see his rascally brother at La
Force. Then, encouraged by this visit, this wretch has had the impudence to
send word to his brother that any moment he may escape, and that Martial
should hold himself ready, at Micou's, with money, and clothes for a
"Your Martial has so kind a heart!"
"Kind heart as much as you please, La Goualeuse, but hang me if I let my
husband aid an assassin who wished to kill him! Martial will not denounce
the plot--that is already a great deal. Besides, now that you are nearly
well, La Goualeuse, we are going to start with the children on our tour
through France; we will never plant our feet in Paris again; it was painful
enough for Martial to be called son of the guillotined--what will it be
when mother, brother, and sister are also executed!"
"You will wait, at least, until I have spoken to M. Rudolph concerning you,
if I see him again. You have become changed; I told you that I would reward
you, and I wish to keep my word; otherwise how can I pay the debt I owe
you? You have saved my life; and during my illness you overwhelmed me with
"Exactly; now I should seem self-interested if I allowed you to ask
anything for me from your protector. You are saved; I repeat to you that I
have made my expenses."
"Good Louve, reassure yourself; it is not you who are self-interested, it
is I who am grateful."
"Listen, then!" said La Louve, suddenly rising; "it sounds like the noise
of a carriage. Yes, yes, it approaches; hold! there it is; did you see it
pass before the gate? there is a lady within."
"Oh! goodness!" cried Fleur-de-Marie, with emotion; "I thought I
"A handsome lady whom I saw at Saint Lazare, who was very kind to me."
"Is she aware that you are here?"
"I do not know; but she is acquainted with the person of whom I have spoken
and who (if he wish, and he will, I hope) can make a reality of our Saint
Lazare castles in the air."
A noise of footsteps approaching rapidly was heard behind the hedge;
François and Amandine, who, thanks to the kindnss of Saint Rémy, had not
left La Louve, came rushing into the garden, crying:
"La Louve, here is a fine lady with my lord: they want to see
Fleur-de-Marie at once."
"I was not mistaken," said Goualeuse.
Almost at the same moment, Saint Rémy appeared, accompanied by Lady
Hardly had she perceived Fleur-de-Marie, than she cried, running toward her
and pressing her in her arms:
"Poor dear child! I see you again. Ah! saved! saved miraculously from a
horrible death! With what happiness I find you--I, who, as well as your
friends, thought you were lost forever!"
"I am also very happy to see you again, madame; for I have never forgotten
your kindness to me," said Fleur-de-Marie, returning the tender caresses of
Lady d'Harville with charming modesty.
"Ah! you do not know what will be the surprise, the wild joy of your
friends, who, at this moment, weep for you so bitterly."
Fleur-de-Marie, taking the hand of La Louve, who had withdrawn a short
distance, said to Lady d'Harville, presenting her:
"Since my safety is so dear to my benefactors, lady, permit me to bespeak,
through you, their kindness for my companion, who saved me at the risk of
"Be assured, my child; your friends will prove to the brave Louve that they
know it is to her they owe the happiness of seeing you again."
La Louve, blushing, confused, daring neither to answer nor raise her eyes
toward Lady d'Harville, so much did the presence of a woman of her rank
abash her, could not conceal her astonishment at hearing Clémence pronounce
"But there is not a moment to lose," said the marchioness. "I am dying with
impatience to take you with me, Fleur-de-Marie; I have brought in my
carriage a shawl and a warm cloak; come, come, my child." Then, addressing
the count, she added, "Will your lordship be good enough to give my address
to this courageous woman, so that she can come to-morrow and say farewell
to Fleur-de-Marie? So, you will be obliged to come and see us," she said to
"Oh! lady, I will come, very sure," answered she, "since it is to say adieu
to La Goualeuse; I should be very sad not to be able to see her once more."
A few moments afterward Lady d'Harville and La Goualeuse were on the road
* * * * *
Rudolph, after having beheld the death of Jacques Ferrand, so terribly
punished for his crime, had returned home in a state of deep dejection.
After a long and sleepless night, he had sent for Sir Walter Murphy, to
confide to this old and faithful friend the heartrending discovery
concerning Fleur-de-Marie that he had made the previous evening. The worthy
Englishman was overwhelmed; better than any other person, he could
comprehend and partake of the profound grief of the prince. The latter,
pale, prostrated, his eyes red from weeping, had just made Murphy this
"Take courage," said the latter, wiping his eyes; for, notwithstanding his
firmness, he had also wept. "Yes, take courage, my lord--much courage. I
offer no vain consolations--this sorrow has no cure."
"You are right. What I felt yesterday is nothing compared to my present
"Yesterday your highness felt the shock, but the reaction will each day be
more grievous. Therefore, call up all your energy. The future is sad--very
"And then, yesterday, the contempt and horror with which this woman
inspired me! But may God have pity on her, for at this moment she is before
him. Yesterday, in fine, surprise, hatred, fright, so many violent
passions, smothered within me these elements of despairing tenderness, that
at present I can restrain myself no longer--I can hardly weep. And yet now,
with you, I can. Hold! you see, I have no strength--I am cowardly--pardon
me. Tears again--always--oh! my child! my poor child!"
"Weep, weep, your highness. Alas! the loss is irreparable."
"And so many dreadful miseries to make her forget," cried Rudolph, in a
touching tone, "after all that she has suffered! Think of the fate which
"Perhaps this transition might have been too abrupt for the unfortunate,
already so cruelly tried."
"Oh! no, no! not so. If you knew with what delicacy--with what reserve, I
should have apprised her of her birth; how gently I should have prepared
her for this revelation--it was so simple, so easy. Oh! if this were the
only question, do you see," added the prince, with a bitter smile, "I
should have been composed, and not embarrassed. Throwing myself on my knees
before the idolized child, I would have said, 'You who have been until now
so cruelly treated, be at length happy--and forever happy. You are my
daughter.' But no," said Rudolph, "no, that is not it--that would have been
too hasty, too rash. Yes, I would have restrained myself and said to her,
in a calm manner, 'My child, I must tell you something that will astonish
you much. Yes; imagine that they have discovered traces of your parents;
your father lives, and your father is--I am your father.'" Here the prince
again interrupted himself. "No, no; this is also too sudden, too abrupt;
but it is not my fault that this revelation is always springing to my lips;
one must have more self-command--you comprehend, my friend, you comprehend?
To be there before your daughter, and restrain your feelings!" Then, giving
way again to despair, Rudolph cried, "But to what purpose these vain words?
I shall never speak to her again. Oh! that which is frightful--frightful to
think of, is, that I have had my daughter near me during a whole day--yes,
that day, forever accursed, on which I took her to the farm; that day when
all the treasures of her angelic mind were revealed to me in all their
purity, and nothing in my heart whispered, 'She is your daughter!'
nothing--nothing! Oh! how blind, stupid I was, not to imagine this. I was
unworthy to be a father."
"But, in truth," cried the prince, "did it not depend upon myself whether I
should ever leave her? Why did I not adopt her? I, who lament so much for
my child? Why, instead of sending this unfortunate child to Madame George,
did I not keep her with me? To-day I should only have had to extend my arms
to her. Why have I not done that? Why? Ah! because one only does good by
halves; because one only values treasures when they have disappeared
forever: because instead of raising at once to her true level this
admirable young girl, who, in spite of misery and abandonment, was, through
her mind and heart, greater, nobler, perhaps, than she ever would have been
by the advantages of birth and education. I thought I was doing much for
her by placing her at a farm with some good people, as I would for the
first interesting beggar that I met in the streets. It is my fault--it is
my fault. If I had done that she would not have been dead. Oh! yes, I am
punished--I have deserved it--bad son, bad father!"
Murphy knew that such grief was inconsolable, and remained silent.
"I shall not remain here--Paris is hateful to me; to-morrow I go--"
"You are right, my lord."
"We will stop at the farm of Bouqueval. I will shut myself up for some
hours in her chamber, where she passed the only happy days of her life. I
will have collected with religious care all that belonged to her--the books
she commenced to read; the paper she had written on; the clothes she has
worn--all, even to the furniture--even to the tapestry of her rooms, of
which I myself will take an exact delineation. And at Gerolstein, in the
private park where I have raised a monument to the memory of my outraged
father, I will have a small house built, in which shall be rebuilt
_this_ room; there I will go to weep for my daughter. Of these two
funeral monuments, one will recall my crime to my father, the other the
chastisement which reached me through my child. Thus, then, let everything
be prepared to-morrow morning."
Murphy, willing to try if he could not turn the prince a moment from his
gloomy thoughts, said, "All shall be ready, sir; only you forget that
to-morrow the marriage of Germain, the son of Madame George, and Rigolette
takes place. Not only have you made a provision for Germain, and
munificently endowed the bride, but you have also promised to be present at
the wedding as a witness. Then are they to be informed of the name of their
"It is true I have promised. They are at the farm, and I cannot go there
to-morrow without being present at the ceremony, and I will confess I have
not the courage."
"The sight of the happiness of these young people will, perhaps, calm your
"No, no, grief is selfish, and seeks retirement. To-morrow you will go in
my place; and you will beg Madame George to collect everything belonging to
my daughter. Let a plan of her room be made, and sent to me in Germany.
"Will your highness depart without seeing Lady d'Harville?"
At the name of Clémence, Rudolph started; he still cherished for her a
sincere attachment, but at this moment it was, thus to speak, drowned in
the wave of bitterness which inundated his heart. By a strange
contradiction, the prince felt that the tender affection of Lady d'Harville
would alone have aided him to support the grief which overwhelmed him, and
he reproached this thought as unworthy the fervency of his paternal grief.
"I shall go without seeing the lady," answered Rudolph. "A few days since I
wrote her how much I sorrowed for the death of Fleur-de-Marie. When she
knows that Fleur-de-Marie was my daughter, she will comprehend the grief
that seeks to be alone--yes, alone, so that it may be expiatory; and it is
terrible, that expiation which fate imposes on me--terrible! for it
commences, for me, at the time when the decline of life also commences."
Some one knocked lightly and discreetly at the door; Rudolph started in
impatience; Murphy rose and went to see who was there. Through the
half-open door an aid-de-camp of the prince said a few words to the knight,
in a low tone. He answered by a sign, and, turning toward Rudolph, said,
"Will your highness permit me to be absent for a moment? Some one wishes to
speak to me on business of importance."
"Go," answered the prince.
Hardly had Murphy departed, than Rudolph, uttering a heavy sigh concealed
his face in his hands.
"Oh!" cried he, "that which I feel alarms me. My heart overflows with
hatred; the presence of my best friend weighs me down; the memory of a pure
and noble love importunes and troubles me, and then--it is cowardly and
unworthy. But last night I learned, with savage joy, the death of Sarah--of
this unnatural mother, who has caused the death of my child. I amused
myself in beholding the ravings and torments of the horrid monster who
killed my daughter--oh, madness!--I arrived too late. Yet, yesterday I did
not suffer so; and yesterday, as to-day, I thought my child dead--oh! yes;
but I did not say to myself these words which henceforth will imbitter my
life: 'I have seen my daughter; I have spoken to her; I have admired all
that was adorable in her. Oh! how much time I might have passed at that
farm! When I think that I only went there three times; yes, no more; and I
could have gone there every day--to see my child every day! What do I say
to keep her ever with me!' Oh! such shall be my punishment."
Suddenly the door of the cabinet opened, and Murphy entered; he was very
pale--so pale that the prince half arose, and cried, "Murphy, what is the
"Nothing, my lord."
"You are very pale."
"It is astonishment."
"Madame d'Harville? Some new misfortune!"
"No, no, my lord, reassure yourself; she is there in the parlor."
"She here! in my house! it is impossible!"
"I tell your highness, the surprise---"
"Such a step on her part--but what is the matter, in the name of heaven?"
"I do not know--I cannot explain what I feel."
"You conceal something from me."
"On my honor, no. I do not know what she meant?"
"But what did she say?"
"'Sir Walter,' and although her voice trembled, her face was beaming with
joy, 'my presence here must surprise you very much; but there are certain
circumstances so important, that they leave no time to think of
appearances. Entreat his highness to grant me, immediately, an audience in
your presence; for I know that the prince has no better friend. I should
have begged him to come to my own house, but that would have delayed our
interview for an hour, which the prince will confess should not have been
retarded a moment,' added she, with an expression which made me tremble."
"But," said Rudolph, in a broken voice, and becoming still paler than
Murphy, "I cannot imagine the cause of your trouble--of your emotion--of
your looks; there is something else--this interview--"
"On my honor, I do not know anything more. These words alone, of the
marchioness, have unsettled me. Why, I am ignorant. But you yourself--you
are very pale, sir."
"I?" said Rudolph, supporting himself on a chair, for he felt his knees
giving way under him.
"I tell your highness, that you are as much disturbed as I am. What is the
"Although I should die under the blow, beg Madame d'Harville to enter,"
cried the prince. By a strange sympathy, the visit, so unexpected, so
extraordinary, had awakened in both Murphy and Rudolph a certain vague and
indefinite hope; but this hope seemed so extravagant, that neither one nor
the other dared to avow it.
Madame d'Harville, followed by Murphy, entered the cabinet. Ignorant, as we
have said, that Fleur-de-Marie was the daughter of the prince, Madame
d'Harville, in her joy at bringing back his protégée, had not thought she
would be able to present her to him without previous preparation: she had
left her in the carriage at the door, as she did not know whether the
prince was willing to make himself known to the young girl, and receive her
in his own house. But perceiving the great alteration in the looks of
Rudolph, and remarking in his eyes the traces of recent tears, Clémence
thought he had met with some misfortune more severe than the death of La
Goualeuse; thus forgetting the object of her visit, she cried, "What is the
matter with your highness?"
"Are you ignorant, madame? Ah! all hope is lost. Your haste--the interview
you have so earnestly demanded--I thought----"
"Oh! I entreat you, let us not speak of the object of my visit. In the name
of my father, whose life you saved, I have almost the right to demand from
you the cause of the affliction in which you are plunged. Your state of
dejection, your paleness, alarms me. Oh! speak, my lord; be
generous--speak--have pity on my distress."
"For what good, madame? my wound is incurable."
"These words redouble my alarm, my lord; explain yourself--Sir Walter, what
"Well!" said Rudolph, in a hollow voice, making a violent effort to
restrain himself, "since I informed you of the death of Fleur-de-Marie, I
have learned that she was my child."
"Fleur-de-Marie your child!" cried Clémence, in a tone impossible to be
"Yes; and just now, when you asked to see me immediately, to inform me of
something that would overwhelm me with joy--have pity on my weakness--but a
father, mad with grief at the loss of his child, is capable of indulging in
many mad hopes. For a moment I thought--that--but no, no; I see I deceived
myself. Pardon me; I am but a miserable, foolish man."
Rudolph, exhausted by the violence of his feelings, fell back in his chair,
covering his face with his hands. Madame d'Harville remained stupefied,
immovable, dumb, breathing with difficulty--in turns a prey to joy, to
fear, for the effect which the revelation she was about to make might have
upon the prince--in fine, exalted by a holy gratitude toward Providence,
who intrusted her--_her_--to announce to Rudolph that his daughter
lived, and she had brought her back to him. Clémence, agitated by these
emotions, so violent, so diverse, could not utter a word. Murphy, after
having for a moment partaken of the mad hopes of the prince, seemed quite
as much overcome as he was. Suddenly the marchioness, yielding to an
unexpected and involuntary emotion, forgetting the presence of Murphy and
Rudolph, sunk on her knees, clasped her hands, and cried, with an
expression of fervent piety and ineffable gratitude:
"Thanks, my God! be praised! I acknowledge Thy sovereign will. Thanks once
more, for Thou hast chosen me to inform him that his child is saved!"
Although said in a low voice, these words, pronounced in a tone of sincere
and holy fervor, reached the ears of Murphy and the prince. The latter
raised his head quickly at the moment Clémence arose from the ground. It is
impossible to describe the look, action, and expression of Rudolph, on
contemplating Madame d'Harville, whose charming features, stamped with a
celestial joy, shone at this moment with superhuman beauty. Leaning with
one hand on the marble table, and compressing with the other the rapid
pulsations of her heart, she gave an affirmative nod of the head in answer
to a look from Rudolph, which once more we are unable to describe.
"Below--in my carriage."
Save for the presence of Murphy, who, quick as lightning, threw himself
before Rudolph, he would have rushed at once to the street.
"My lord, you would kill her!" cried the squire, holding back the prince.
"Only since yesterday she is convalescent. For her life, no imprudence, my
lord," added Clémence.
"You are right," said Rudolph, restraining himself with difficulty; "you
are right--I will be calm--I will not see her yet--I will wait--let my
first emotions be controlled. Ah! it is too much--too much in one day!"
added he, in a broken voice. Then, addressing Madame d'Harville, and
extending his hand toward her, he cried, with a burst of inexpressible
gratitude, "I am pardoned! You are the angel of mercy!"
"Your highness restored to me my father--Heaven willed that I should bring
back your child," answered Clémence. "But, in my turn, I ask your pardon
for my weakness. This revelation--so sudden, so unexpected--has confused
me. I confess that I have not the courage to go for Fleur-de-Marie--my
agitation would alarm her."
"And how was she saved?" cried Rudolph. "See my ingratitude. I have not yet
asked you this question."
"At the moment she was drowning, she was rescued from a watery grave by a
"Do you know her?"
"To-morrow she will come to see me."
"The debt is immense," said the prince, "but I shall know how to pay it."
"What a happy circumstance, my God! that I did not bring Fleur-de-Marie
with me," said the marchioness; "this scene would have been fatal to her."
"It is true, madame," said Murphy; "it is a providential chance that she is
"Now," said the prince, who had for a few moments been endeavoring to
conquer his emotions, "now I have self-command, I assure you. Murphy, go
and seek _my daughter._" These words, _my daughter_, were
pronounced by the prince with an accent we will not attempt to express.
"Are you quite sure of yourself?" said Clémence. "No imprudence."
"Oh! be tranquil. I know the danger there would be for her--I will not
expose her to it. My good Murphy, I entreat you--go--go!"
"Reassure yourself, madame," answered the squire, who had attentively
observed the prince; "she can come. My lord will restrain himself."
"Then go--go quickly, my old friend."
"Yes, my lord; I ask but for a moment--one is not made of iron," said the
good man, wiping away the traces of his tears; "she must not see that I
have been weeping."
"Excellent man!" replied Rudolph, cordially pressing his hand.
"I am ready. I did not wish to pass through the servants' lines all in
tears, like a Magadalen. But what shall I say?"
"Yes, what shall he say?" demanded the prince from Clémence.
"That M. Ruldolph wishes to see her--nothing more, it seems to me."
"Undoubtedly. Say that M. Rudolph wishes to see her, nothing more. Come,
"It is certainly the very best thing that can be said to her," answered the
squire. "I will merely say that M. Rudolph wishes to see her; that will not
cause her to conjecture anything--to foresee anything: it is the most
reasonable way, truly."
But Sir Walter did not stir.
"Sir Walter," said Clémence, smiling, "you are afraid."
"It is true, my lady; in spite of my six-foot stature and my rough
exterior, I am still under the influence of violent emotions."
"My friend, take care," said Rudolph; "wait a moment longer, if you are not
sure of your self-possession."
"This time, my lord, I am victorious," said the baronet, after having
passed over his eyes his Herculean hand. "Really, at my age, this weakness
is perfectly ridiculous. Fear nothing now."
And Murphy left the apartment with a firm step and tranquillized air. A
moment of silence ensued; then Clémence, blushing, remembered that she was
in Rudolph's house, and alone with him. The prince approached her, and
said, almost timidly, "If I choose this day--this moment--to make you a
sincere avowal, it is because the solemnity of this day--this moment--will
add still more to the gravity of the confession. Ever since I have known
you I have loved you. So long as concealment of this love was necessary, I
concealed it; now that you are free, and have restored me my daughter, will
you be to her a mother?"
"I, my lord!" cried Madame d'Harville. "What do you say?"
"I entreat you, do not refuse me; let this day decide my future happiness,"
said Rudolph tenderly.
Clémence also had loved the prince for a long time; she thought she was in
a dream. The avowal of Rudolph, at once so simple, so serious, so
touching--made under such circumstances, transported her with an
unhoped-for happiness; she answered, hesitatingly, "My lord, it is for you
to recall to mind the difference of rank--the interest of your
"First let me think of the interest of my heart--of that of my cherished
daughter; make us both happy--oh! very happy. Permit me, who but now was
without family, to say, 'My wife--my daughter;' allow this poor child--also
without family--to say, 'My father--my mother--my sister;' for you have a
daughter, who will become mine."
"Oh! my lord, to such noble words one can only answer by grateful tears,"
cried Clémence. Then, composing herself, she added, "My lord, some one
comes; it is your child."
"Oh! do not refuse me," cried Rudolph, in a supplicating voice; "in the
name of my love, say our child."
"Our child," murmured Clémence; at the same moment Murphy opened the door,
leading in Fleur-de-Marie.
The girl, descending from the carriage, had crossed an ante-chamber, filled
with footmen in full livery; a waiting-room, where valets attended; then
the ushers' saloon; and, finally, the waiting-rooms, occupied by a
chamberlain and the aides of the prince in full uniform. Let the reader
imagine the astonishment of the poor Goualeuse, who knew no other splendors
than those of the farm at Bouqueval, on traversing these princely
apartments, resplendent with gold, mirrors, and paintings.
As soon as she appeared, Lady d'Harville ran toward her, took her by the
hand, and placing her arm around her for support, she conducted her toward
the prince, who, standing near the chimney, had not been able to move.
Murphy, after having confided Fleur-de Marie to the care of Lady
d'Harville, hastily disappeared behind the folds of one of the immense
window-curtains, finding that he was not altogether sure of his
self-possession. At the sight of her benefactor, her savior, who regarded
her with silent ecstasy, Fleur-de-Marie, already so agitated, began to
"Compose yourself, my child," said Lady d'Harville; "there is your friend,
M. Rudolph, who awaits you impatiently; he has been very uneasy about you."
"Oh! yes, very--very uneasy," said Rudolph, still immovable, his heart
almost breaking at the sight of the sweet pale face of his child.
Thus, in spite of his resolution, the prince was for a moment obliged to
turn his head to conceal his emotion.
"Stay, my child, you are still very weak; sit down there," said Clémence,
to turn her attention from the prince; and she led her to a large arm-chair
of bronze and gilt, in which the Goualeuse seated herself. Her agitation
increased every moment: she was oppressed, speech failed her; she had not a
word of gratitude for Rudolph.
At length, on a sign from Lady d'Harville, who was leaning on the back of
the chair, and holding one of Fleur-de-Marie's hands in her own, the prince
approached softly to the other side of the seat. With more self-command, he
then said to Fleur-de-Marie, who turned toward him her enchanting face:
"At length, my child, you are once more reunited to your friends, and
forever! You never shall leave them more Now you must forget what you have
"Yes, my child, the best way to prove that you love us," added Clémence,
"is to forget the past."
"Believe me, M. Rudolph--believe me, my lady, that if I do recall it
sometimes, it will only be to say to myself, that, without you, I should
still be very unhappy."
"Yes; but we will take care that you have no more such gloomy thoughts. Our
tenderness will not leave you the time, my dear Marie," answered Rudolph,
"for you know that I gave you this name at the farm."
"Yes, M. Rudolph. And is Madame George, who allowed me to call her mother,
"Very well, my child. But I have important news to tell you."
"Me, M. Ruldoph?"
"Since I have seen you, great discoveries have been made concerning your
"It is known who were your parents--who was your father."
Rudolph was so much choked by his tears on his pronouncing these words,
that Fleur-de-Marie, very much affected, turned quickly toward him: he had
turned away his head. An incident, half burlesque, diverted the attention
of La Goualeuse, and prevented her from remarking more closely the emotion
of her father: the worthy squire, who still remained behind the curtain,
and, apparently was very attentively looking into the garden of the hotel,
could not refrain from blowing his nose with a most formidable noise, for
he wept like a child.
"Yes, my dear Marie," Clémence hastened to say, "your father is known--he
"My father!" cried the Goualeuse, with an outburst which put the composure
of Rudolph to a new trial.
"And some day," resumed Clémence, "very soon, perhaps, you will see him.
What will doubtless surprise you very much is, that he is of high
"And my mother, madame-shall I see her?"
"Your father will answer this question, my child; but shall you not be very
happy to see him?"
"Oh! yes, madame," answered Fleur-de-Marie, casting down her eyes.
"How much you will love him, when you know him," said the marchioness.
"From that day forward, a new life will commence for you, Marie," added the
"Oh! no, M. Rudolph," answered the Goualeuse, unaffectedly.
"My new life commenced on the day when you took pity on me--when you sent
me to the farm."
"But your father will cherish you," said the prince.
"I do not know him, and to you I owe all, M. Rudolph."
"Then you love me as much--more, perhaps, than you would love your father?"
"I bless you, and I respect you as I do God. M. Rudolph, because you have
done for me that which God alone else could have done," answered the
Goualeuse, with enthusiasm, forgetting her habitual timidity. "When my lady
had the goodness to speak to me in prison, I said to her what I said to
everybody--yes, M. Rudolph; to those who were very unfortunate, I said,
'Hope! M. Rudolph succors the unfortunate.' To those who hesitated between
good and evil, I said, 'Courage, be virtuous; M. Rudolph rewards those who
are virtuous.' To those who were wicked, I said, 'Take care! M. Rudolph
punishes the wicked.' In fine, when I thought I was about to die, I said to
myself, 'God will have mercy upon me, for M. Rudolph has judged me worthy
of his interest.'"
Fleur-de-Marie, carried away by her gratitude toward her benefactor, had
overcome her fears: a slight carnation tinged her cheeks, and her beautiful
blue eyes, which she raised toward heaven as if in prayer, shone with the
softest luster. A silence of some seconds succeeded the enthusiastic words
of Fleur-de-Marie; the emotions which affected the actors in this scene
"I see, my child," resumed Rudolph, hardly containing his joy, "that in
your heart I have almost taken the place of your father."
"It is not my fault, M. Rudolph. It is, perhaps, wrong in me; but, as I
have told you, I know you, and I do not know my father, and," added she,
holding down her head in confusion, "and then you know the past, M.
Rudolph; and yet you have overwhelmed me with favors; but my father does
not know it. Perhaps he will regret having found me," added the unfortunate
child, shuddering, "and since he is, as my lady said, of high birth,
doubtless he will be ashamed--he will blush for me!"
"_Blush_ for you!" cried Rudolph, drawing himself up proudly.
"Reassure yourself, poor child; your father will place you in a position so
brilliant, so lofty, that the greatest among the great of this world will
regard you henceforth with the utmost respect. Blush for you! no, no; you
will rank with the noblest princesses of Europe."
"My lord!" cried Murphy and Clémence at the same time, alarmed at the
vehemence of Rudolph and the increasing pallor of Fleur-de-Marie, who
looked at her father with surprise.
"Blush for you!" continued he; "oh! if I ever rejoiced and felt pride in my
sovereign rank it is that, thanks to this rank, I can elevate you as much
as you have heretofore been abased. Do you hear, my darling child--my
beloved daughter? for it is I--I, who am your father!"
And the prince, no longer able to conquer his emotion, threw himself at the
feet of Fleur-de-Marie, whom he covered with tears and caresses.
"God be praised!" cried Fleur-de-Marie, clasping her hands. "I am permitted
to love my benefactor as much as I would have loved him. He is my father. I
can cherish him without remorse. Be praised, my---"
She could not finish--the shock was too violent; Fleur-de-Marie fainted in
the arms of her father.
Murphy ran to the door, opened it, and said, "Dr David instantly for his
royal highness; some one is ill!"
"Curses on me? I have killed her," cried Rudolph--in tears, kneeling before
his daughter. "Marie, my child, listen to me; it is your father.
Pardon--Oh! pardon for not having retained this secret longer. I have
"Calm yourself, my lord," said Clémence; "there is, doubtless, no danger.
See her cheeks are tinged with color; it is the shock--only the shock."
"But hardly convalescent, she will die. Woe is me!"
At this moment, David, the black physician, entered precipitately: holding
in his hands a small box filled with vials, and a paper, which he handed to
"David, my child is dying. I have saved your life--you must save my child!"
Although amazed at these words of the prince, who spoke of his child, the
doctor ran to Fleur-de-Marie, whom Lady d'Harville held in her arms, took
hold of the young girl's pulse, placed his hand on her forehead, and
turning toward Rudolph, who, pained and alarmed, awaited his doom, he said:
"There is no danger, let your highness be assured."
"You speak the truth--no danger--none?"
"Not any, your highness. A few drops of ether, and this attack will pass
"Oh! thank you, David--my good David!" cried the prince, warmly. Then
turning toward Clémence, Rudolph added, "She lives--our daughter will
Murphy had just cast his eyes over the note which David had placed in his
hand; he shuddered, and looked at the prince with affright.
"Yes, my old friend," said Rudolph, "in a short time my daughter will say
to Lady d'Harville," My mother!'"
"My lord," said Murphy, trembling, "the news of yesterday was false."
"What do you say?"
"A violent attack, followed by a fainting fit, had caused them to think
that the Countess M'Gregor was dead."
"This morning there are hopes of saving her."
"Oh!" cried the prince, while Clémence looked at him with surprise, not
comprehending his altered appearance.
"My lord," said David, still occupied with Fleur-de Marie, "there is no
cause for the slightest uneasiness. But fresh air is necessary; the chair
can be rolled on the terrace by opening the door of the garden, she will
then soon recover."
Murphy ran immediately to open the glass door, and aided by David, he
gently rolled the chair into the garden, leaving Rudolph and Clémence
"Ah! madame," cried Rudolph, as soon as Murphy and David had departed, "you
do not know that the Countess M'Gregor is the mother of Fleur-de-Marie!"
"I thought her dead; and what you are still ignorant of," added Rudolph,
with bitterness, "is that this woman, as selfish as ambitious, loving me
only as a prince, had, in my younger days, contrived to lead me into a
marriage, which was afterward dissolved. Wishing then to marry again, the
countess has caused all the misfortunes of her child by abandoning her to
"Ah! now I understand the aversion that your highness had for her."
"You comprehend also why she wished to ruin you by infamous anonymous
communications! Always impelled by her implacable ambition, she thought to
force me to return to her by isolating me from all endearments."
"Oh! what a wicked intention!"
"And she is not dead!"
"This regret is not worthy of your highness."
"It is because you are not aware of all the injury she has caused! At this
time, when, on finding my daughter again, I was about to give her a mother
worthy of her--oh! no, no--this woman is a demon of vengeance in my path!"
"Come, your highness, take courage!" said Clémence, wiping away the tears,
which fell in spite of her: "you have a great and holy duty to fulfill. You
said yourself, that henceforth the fate of your daughter should be as happy
as it had been miserable; that she should be as elevated as she had been
abased. For that you must legitimatize her birth; for that, your highness,
you must espouse the Countess M'Gregor."
"Never--never! It would be to reward perjury, selfishness and the mad
ambition of this unnatural mother. I will acknowledge my daughter; you will
adopt her, and thus, as I hoped, she will find in you maternal affection."
"No, you will not do that; no, you will not leave the birth of your child
in the shade. The countess is of a noble and ancient house; for you,
doubtless, this alliance is disproportionate, but it is honorable. By this
marriage, your daughter will not be legitimatized, but legitimate; and
thus, whatever may happen to her, she can be proud of her father, and
openly acknowledge her mother."
"But to renounce you--is impossible. Oh! you do not think what happiness it
would have been for me, divided between you and my child--my only love in
[Illustration: THE PLEA FOR CHARITY]
"Your child remains to your highness: heaven has miraculously restored her
to you. Not to be perfectly happy will be ingratitude!"
"Oh! you do not love me as I love you."
"Believe it, your highness, believe it; the sacrifice that you make to duty
will seem less painful."
"But if you love me--if your regrets are as bitter as mine, you will be
very unhappy. What will remain for you?"
"Charity, your highness! that admirable sentiment which you have awakened
in my heart; that sentiment which has caused me to forget so many sorrows,
and to which I am indebted for so many sweet and tender consolations."
"Pray listen to me. Be it so: I will marry this woman; but once the
sacrifice accomplished, will it be possible for me to live with her, with
her who only inspires me with aversion and contempt? No, no; we shall
remain forever separated; never shall she see my child. Thus Fleur-de-Marie
will lose in you the most tender of mothers."
"But there will remain for her the most tender of fathers. By the marriage,
she will be the legitimate daughter of a sovereign prince of Europe; and
thus, as your highness has said, her position will be as splendid as it was
"You are without pity. I am very unhappy."
"Dare you speak thus--you, so great, so just--you, who so nobly comprehend
duty, devotion, and self-denial? A short time since, before this
providential revelation, when you wept for your child with such bitter
tears, if any one had said to you, 'Make one wish--one alone, and it shall
be realized,' you would have cried, 'My daughter!--oh! my daughter--let
her live!' This is accomplished; your daughter is restored to you, and you
call yourself unhappy. Ah! may Fleur-de-Marie not hear your highness."
"You are right," said Rudolph, after, a long silence; "so much happiness
would have been heaven upon earth; but I do not deserve that. I will do my
duty. I do not regret my hesitation. I owe to it a new proof of the beauty
and noble sentiments of your mind."
"This mind--it is you who have exalted and elevated it. If that which I do
is well, it is you whom I praise for it. Courage, my lord; as soon as
Fleur-de-Marie can stand the fatigue of traveling, take her with you. Once
in Germany, a country so calm and grave, her transformation will be
complete, and the past will only be to her a sad and distant dream."
"But you? but you?"
"I--I can well tell you that now, because I shall always say it with joy
and pride: my love for you shall be my guardian angel, my savior, my
virtue, my future. Every day I will write you; pardon me this demand--it is
the only one I shall make. Your highness, you will reply to me sometimes,
to give me news of her, who, for a moment at least, I called my daughter,"
said Clémence, without being able to restrain her tears; "and who shall
always be so, at least in my thoughts; in fine, when time shall have given
us the right openly to avow the unalterable affection which binds us--ah,
well! I swear it in the name of your daughter, if you desire it, I will go
and live in Germany--in the same city with you--never more to part; and
thus terminate a life which might have been more happy, but which will have
been at least worthy and honorable."
"My lord!" cried Murphy, entering precipitately, "she whom God has restored
to you has recovered her senses. Her first words were, 'My father!' She
asks to see you."
A few moments after, Lady d'Harville left the mansion. Accompanied by
Murphy, Baron de Graun, and an aid-de-camp, the prince went in great haste
to the residence of the Countess M'Gregor.