Part 9 out of 9
not the first time that these thoughts have troubled you. I have perceived
your moments of melancholy, and sometimes I have accused the past as
causing your sadness. But, as I was uncertain, I dared not even attempt to
combat the sad influence of these remembrances--to show you the
uselessness, the injustice of them--for if your grief had arisen from
another cause, if the past had been to you what it ought to be, a vain, bad
dream, I should risk awakening in you painful ideas that I should wish to
"How good you are! how these fears show me your ineffable tenderness."
"What do you mean? My position was so difficult, so delicate. On another
occasion I said nothing, but I was ever thinking of what concerned you. By
contracting this marriage, which crowned all my desires, I also hoped to
give another guarantee to your repose. I knew too well the excessive
delicacy of your heart to hope that you could ever--ever cease to think of
the past; but I said to myself, that if, by chance, your thoughts ever
lingered there, you ought, feeling yourself cherished as a daughter by the
noble woman who knew and loved you in the depth of your misfortunes--you
ought, I say, to regard the past as sufficiently expiated for by your heavy
miseries, and be indulgent, or rather just, toward yourself: for, indeed,
my wife is entitled by her high qualities to the respect of all--is it not
so? Ah, well, since you are to her a daughter, a cherished sister, ought
you not to be encouraged? Is not her tender attachment an entire
redemption? Does it not tell you that she knows, as I do, that you have
been a victim--that you are not guilty--that others can, indeed, reproach
you only with misfortune, that has overwhelmed you from your birth? Had you
even committed great faults, would they not be a thousand times expiated,
redeemed, by all the good you have done, by all that is excellent and
adorable that has been developed in you?"
"Ah, let me--let me tell you all my thoughts, since an accident, for which
indeed we ought to be grateful, has caused this conversation. For a long
time I have desired, and at the same time dreaded it. God will that it may
have a salutary result! It was mine to make you forget so many dreadful
sorrows. I have a mission to fulfill towards you so august, so sacred, that
I should have had the courage to sacrifice, for your repose, my love for
Madame d'Harville--my friendship for Murphy, if I had thought their
presence would have recalled to you too bitterly the past."
"On, my good father, could you think so? Their presence, the presence of
those who know _what I was_, and who yet love me tenderly, does not
it, on the contrary, personify forgetfulness and pardon? Indeed, my father,
would not my whole life have been made desolate, had you renounced for me
your marriage with Madame d'Harville?"
"Ah! I should not have been the only one to desire this sacrifice, if it
would secure your happiness. You know not what self-denial Clémence has
already voluntarily imposed upon herself, for she also comprehends all the
extent of my duty to you."
"Your duty to me, my God! And what have I done to merit so much?"
"What have you done, poor dear angel! Until the moment you were restored to
me, your life was only bitterness, misery, desolation; and for your past
sufferings I reproach myself, as if I had caused them. And when I see you
smiling, pleased, I believe myself pardoned; my only aim, my only wish, is
to render you as entirely happy as you have been unfortunate; to raise you
as much as you have been lowered, for it seems to me the last traces of the
past are effaced when the most eminent, the most honorable persons pay you
the respect which is due to you."
"Respect to me? no, no, my father; but to my rank, or, rather, to that you
have given me."
"Ah! it is not your rank that is loved, that is revered--it is you,
understand; indeed, my dear child, it is yourself, yourself alone. There is
homage imposed by rank, but it is another imposed by powers of attraction
and fascination! You know not how to distinguish between these, because you
know not yourself; because you know not that, by a wonderful intelligence
and tact, which renders me as proud as idolatrous of you, carry into all
ceremonious intercourse, so new to you, a union of dignity, modesty, and
grace, which is irresistible to the most stately characters."
"You love me so much, father, and all love you so much, that every one is
sure of pleasing you by showing me deference."
"Oh, the wicked child!" exclaimed Rudolph, interrupting his daughter, and
embracing her tenderly; "what a wicked child, who will not grant a single
satisfaction to my fatherly pride!"
"Is not this pride sufficiently satisfied by attributing to you the good
feeling that is shown me, my good father?"
"No, indeed, miss," said the prince, smiling, to his daughter, to chase
away the sadness with which he still saw her affected; "no, miss, it is not
the same thing; for it is not allowable for me to be proud of myself, and I
can and ought to be proud of you--yes, proud. And, again, you know not how
divinely you are endowed; in fifteen months your education has become so
marvelously complete that the most difficult mother would be satisfied with
you, and this education has increased still more the almost irresistible
influence that you spread around you without being yourself aware of it."
"My father, your praises confuse me."
"I speak the truth, nothing but the truth. Do you wish for instances? Let
us speak boldly of the past; it is an enemy that I wish to fight hand to
hand; we must look it in the face. Do you not, then, remember La Louve,
that courageous woman who saved you? Recall that prison scene which you
have related to me; a crowd of prisoners, more hardened indeed than wicked,
were bent upon tormenting one of their companions, feeble, infirm, and yet
their drudge; you appear, you speak, and, behold, immediately these furies,
blushing for their base cruelty toward their victim, show themselves as
charitable as they were wicked. Is this, then, nothing? Again, is it--yes
or no--owing to you that La Louve, that ungovernable woman, has felt
repentance, and desired an honest and laborious life? Ah, believe me, my
dear child, that which conquered La Louve, and her turbulent companions,
merely by the ascendancy of goodness, combined with a rare elevation of
mind; this, although in other circumstances and in an utterly different
sphere, must by the same charm (do not smile at such a parallel, miss)
fascinate the stately Archduchess Sophia and all the circle of my court;
for the good and wicked, great and small, submit almost always to the
influence of higher, nobler spirits. I do not wish to say that you were
born princess in the aristocratic sense of the word; that would be a poor
flattery to make you, my child; but you are of that small number of
privileged beings who are born both to speak to a queen so as to charm her,
and to earn her love, and also to speak to a poor, debased, and abandoned
creature, so as to make her better, to console her, and thus gain her
"But, my dear father, I beg--"
"Oh, it is so much the worse for you, darling, that it is so long since my
heart has poured forth. Think, then, how, with my fear of awakening in you
the remembrances of the past which I wish to annihilate, and that I will
forever annihilate in your mind, I dared not converse to you of these
comparisons, these parallels, which render you so admirable in my eyes. How
many times have Clémence and I been enraptured with you. How many times
moved so that the tears rose in her eyes, has she said to me, 'Is it not
wonderful that this child should be what she is, after misfortune has so
pursued her? or, rather,' would Clémence continue, 'is it not wonderful
that, far from impairing that noble and rare nature, misfortune has, on the
contrary, given a higher range to what there was excellent in her?'"
At this moment the door opened, and Clémence, Grand Duchess of Gerolstein,
entered, holding a letter in her hand.
"Here, my friend," said she to Rudolph, "is a letter from France. I wish to
bring it to you, that I might say good-morning to my indolent child, whom I
have not seen this morning," added Clémence, embracing Fleur-de-Marie
"This letter comes just at the right moment," said Rudolph, gayly, after
having read it through. "We were talking just now of the past; of that
monster we must incessantly combat, my dear Clémence, for it threatens the
repose and happiness of our dear child."
"Is this true, my friend? those attacks of melancholy which we have
"Have no other cause than wicked remembrances; but, fortunately, we now
know our enemy, and we will triumph over it."
"But from whom, then, is this letter, my friend?" asked Clémence.
"From Rigolette, the wife of Germain."
"Rigolette!" exclaimed Fleur-de-Marie; "what happiness to hear from her!"
"My friend," said Clémence, aside to Rudolph, at the same time glancing at
Fleur-de-Marie, "do you not fear that this letter may recall to her painful
"These are those very remembrances I wish to put an end to, my dear
Clémence: we must approach them boldly, and I am sure that I shall find in
Rigolette's letter excellent arms against them, for this excellent little
creature adored our child, and appreciated her as she should be."
And Rudolph read aloud the following letter:--
"Bouqueval Farm, August 15th, 1841.
"YOUR HIGHNESS, I take the liberty of writing to you again, to make you a
sharer of a great happiness which has befallen us, and to ask a new favor
of you, to whom we already owe so many, or, rather, to whom we owe the
perfect paradise in which we live, I, my Germain, and his good mother.
"This is the cause, my lord; for ten days I have been mad with joy, for it
is ten days since I have possessed the love of a little girl: I fancy that
she is the very picture of Germain; be, that she is of me; our dear Mamma
George says that she resembles both; the fact is she has charming blue eyes
like Germain, and black hair, curly, like mine. Just now, contrary to his
custom, my husband is unjust; he wishes to have our little one always upon
his knees, while it is my right, is it not, my lord?"
"Fine, worthy young persons! they ought to be happy," said Rudolph. "If
ever couple were well matched, it is they."
"And Rigolette deserves her happiness," said Fleur-de Marie.
"I have always blessed the good fortune that caused me to meet them," said
Rudolph, and he continued, "But, indeed, my lord, pardon my burdening you
with these little family quarrels that end always with a kiss. Certainly
your ears must tingle well, my lord, for there does not pass a day that we
do not say, looking at each other, we too, Germain and I, 'How happy we
are! O, God, how happy we are!' and, naturally, your name follows directly
after these words. Excuse the scrawl there is just here, my lord, and the
blot; I had written without thinking, M. Rudolph, as I used to say, and I
have scratched it out. I hope, by the way, that you will find my writing
has improved much, as well as my orthography, for Germain always shows me
how, and I no longer make great blots stretching all across, as when you
made my pens."
"I must confess," said Rudolph, laughing, "that my friend is under a slight
illusion, and I am sure that Germain is occupied rather with kissing the
hand of his pupil than directing it."
"Come, come, my dear, you are right," said Clémence, looking at the letter,
"the writing is rather large, but very legible."
"In truth, there is some progress," said Rudolph; "formerly it would have
taken eight pages to contain what she writes now in two."
And he continued: "It is, however, true, that you have made pens for me, my
lord; when we think of it, Germain and I, we are quite ashamed, in
recalling how far from proud you were. Oh, here again do I find myself
speaking to you of something besides what we wish to ask you, my lord; for
my husband unites with me, and it is very important; we have formed a plan.
You shall see. We supplicate you, then, my lord, to have the goodness to
choose and give us a name for our dear girl; it is agreed upon with the
godfather and godmother, and this godfather and godmother, do you know who
they are, my lord? Two persons whom you and her ladyship the Marchioness
d'Harville have raised from misery to render happy, happy as we are. In a
word, they are Morel, the jeweler, and Jeanne Duport, the sister of a poor
prisoner named Pique-Vinaigre, a worthy woman whom I saw in prison when I
went to visit my poor Germain there, and whom, afterward, her ladyship, the
marchioness, brought out from the hospital. Now, my lord, you must know why
we have chosen M. Morel for godfather, and Jeanne Duport for godmother. We
said one to another, Germain and I, this will be a way of thanking M.
Rudolph again for his kindness, by taking for godfather and godmother of
our little girl worthy people who owe everything to him and to the
marchioness, without taking into consideration that Morel the jeweler and
Jeanne Duport are the cream of honest people. They are of our class, and
besides, as Germain and I say, they are our kindred in happiness, for they
are like us, of the family of your _protégées_, my lord."
"Oh, father, has not this idea a charming delicacy," said Fleur-de-Marie,
with emotion, "to take as godfather and godmother of their child those who
owe everything to you and my second mother."
"You are right, dear child," said Clémence; "I am most deeply touched by
"And I am very glad that I have so well bestowed my benefits," said
Rudolph, continuing to read.
"Besides, with the aid of the money you have given him, M. Rudolph, Morel
is now a dealer in precious stones; he gains something to bring up his
family upon, and the means of teaching his children some trade. The good
Louise will, I think, marry a worthy laborer, who loves and respects her,
as he should, for she has been unfortunate, but not guilty, and the
betrothed of Louise has heart enough to understand this."
"I was very certain," exclaimed Rudolph, addressing his daughter, "of
finding in dear little Rigolette's letter arms against our enemy! You hear,
it is the expression of the plain common sense of this honest and upright
soul. She says of Louise, 'She has been unfortunate, but not guilty, and
her betrothed has heart enough to understand this.'"
Fleur-de-Marie, more and more moved and saddened by the reading of this
letter, trembled at the glance that her father fixed upon her, for a
moment, as he emphasized the above last words.
The prince continued: "I will tell you also, my lord, that Jeanne Duport,
through the generosity of the marchioness, has been able to be separated
from her husband, that wicked man who ate her out of everything and beat
her; she has taken her eldest daughter with her, and she keeps a little
lace shop, where she sells what she and her children make; their trade
prospers. There are nowhere such happy people, and thanks to whom! thanks
to you, my lord, to the marchioness, who both know how to give so much, and
to give to so good purpose.
"By the way, Germain will write to you as usual, my lord, at the end of the
month, on the subject of the Bank for Laborers out of employment, and of
gratuitous loans; the reimbursements are seldom behindhand, and we perceive
already much good that this spreads in this quarter. Now, at least, poor
families can get through the dull season for work without putting their
linens and beds in pledge. Then when work returns, you should see with what
spirit they put themselves to it; they are so proud that confidence is
placed in their work and their probity! And, indeed, it is not only this
you should see. Besides, how they bless you for having lent them the
wherewithal. Yes, my lord, they bless you, _you_, for although you say
you have done nothing in its institution but to nominate Germain for head
cashier, and that it is an unknown who has done this good work, we like
better to believe that it is to you we owe it; it is more natural. Besides,
there is a famous trumpet to repeat on every occasion that it is you we
should bless; this trumpet is Madame Pipelet, who repeats to every one that
it is only her _prince of tenants_ (excuse me, M. Rudolph, she always
calls you so) who can have done this charitable work, and her Darling
Alfred is of her opinion. As to him, he is so proud and so pleased with his
office of bank porter, that he says that the employment of M. Cabrion would
be nothing to him. To end your family of _protégées_, my lord, I will
add that Germain has read in the papers that Martial, a planter in Algiers,
has been spoken of with great praises for the courage he had shown in
repulsing, at the head of his farmers, an attack of thievish Arabs, and
that his wife, as intrepid as himself, had been slightly wounded in the
side while she was discharging her gun like a real grenadier. From that
time, they say in the papers, she has been called 'Mrs. Rifle.' Excuse this
long letter, my lord, but I thought you would not be sorry to hear from us
concerning those whose good Providence you have been. I write to you from
the farm at Bouqueval, where we have been since spring with our good
mother. Germain leaves every morning for his business, and returns at
night. In the autumn we shall go back to live in Paris. How strange it is,
M. Rudolph, I, who never loved the country, adore it now. I make it clear
to myself: it is because Germain loves it so much. Speaking of the farm, M.
Rudolph, you, who undoubtedly know where that good little Goualeuse is--if
you have an opportunity, tell her how we always remember her as one of the
sweetest and best beings in the world; and that I myself never think of our
happiness without saying, since M. Rudolph was also the M. Rudolph of dear
Fleur-de-Marie, through his care she must be as happy as we; and this makes
my happiness yet more perfect. How I run on! What will you say to me, my
lord? But oh! you are so good! And then, you see, it is your fault if I
chatter as much and as joyously as Papa Cretu and Ramonette, who no longer
dare to rival me in singing. Indeed, M. Rudolph, I can tell you, I put it
into their mouths. You will not refuse us one request, will you, my lord?
If you give a name to our dear little child, it seems to us it will bring
her good fortune, it will be like a happy star for her; believe it, M.
Rudolph, sometimes my good Germain and I almost congratulate ourselves for
having known so much sorrow, because we feel doubly how happy our child
will be not to know what is the misery through which we have passed. If I
close by telling, M. Rudolph, that we endeavor to aid poor people here and
there, according to our means, it is not to boast of ourselves, but that
you may know we do not keep to ourselves alone all the happiness you have
given us; beside, we always say to those we succor, 'It is not we that you
must thank and bless, it is M. Rudolph, the best, most generous man that
there is in the world; 'and they take you for a kind of _saint_, if
nothing more. Adieu, my lord! believe me, when our little girl shall begin
to spell, the first words she shall read will be your name, M. Rudolph, and
afterward, those words you caused to be written upon my wedding gift:
"Labor, and wisdom--honor and happiness."
"With the help of these four words, our tenderness and our care, we hope,
my lord, that our child will be always worthy to speak the name of him who
has been our good Providence, and that of all the wretched ones he has
known. Pardon, my lord, for finishing thus; I have such large tears in my
eyes-they are good tears--excuse, if you please--it is not my fault--but I
cannot see clearly, so that I write badly.
"I have the honor, my lord, to salute you with as much respect as
gratitude, RIGOLETTE GERMAIN."
"P.S.--Oh! my lord, in reading over my letter, I perceive that I have very
often written _M. Rudolph_. You will pardon me? I may hope so? You
know well that under one name or another, we respect and bless you the
same, my lord."
"Dear little Rigolette," said Clémence, softened by the letter which
Rudolph had just read. "This simple epistle is full of sensibility."
"Undoubtedly," replied Rudolph, "a benefit was never better bestowed. Our
friend is endowed with an excellent disposition; she has a heart of gold,
and our dear child appreciates her as we do," added he, addressing his
daughter. Then, struck with her paleness and emotion, he cried:
"But what is the matter?"
"Alas, what a sad contrast between my position and Rigolette's. Work and
wisdom--honor and happiness--those four words tell all that has happened
to her. A laborious and sensible daughter, a beloved wife, a happy mother,
an honored woman--such is her destiny--while I--"
"Great God, what are you saying?"
"Pardon, my good father, do not accuse me of ingratitude, but
notwithstanding your ineffable tenderness, notwithstanding that of my
second mother, notwithstanding your sovereign power, notwithstanding the
respect and splendor with which I am surrounded, my shame is incurable.
Nothing can annihilate the past--once more, pardon me, my father. I have
until now concealed it from you, but the remembrance of my former
degradation throws me into despair--it kills me."
"Clémence, do you hear her?" cried Rudolph, in despair.
"But, my poor child," said Clémence, taking affectionately the hands of
Fleur-de-Marie in her own, "our tenderness, the affection of those who
surround you, and which you so well merit, does not all this prove to you
that the past should be to you only a vain and bad dream?"
"Oh, fatality, fatality!" resumed Rudolph. "Now I curse my fears and
silence; that sad idea, so long rooted in her mind, has made there, unknown
to us, dreadful ravages, and it is too late to contend against this
deplorable error; alas! how unfortunate I am."
"Courage, my dear," said Clémence to Rudolph; "you just now said it is
better to know the enemy which threatens us. We now know the cause of our
dear child's sorrow! we shall triumph over it, because we shall have
reason, justice, and tenderness on our side."
"And then at last, because she will see that her affliction, if it were
incurable, would render ours incurable also," replied Rudolph, "for in
truth it would be to despair of all justice, human and Divine, if our poor
child had only a change of sufferings."
After a silence of some moments, during which Fleur-de-Marie appeared to be
collecting herself, she took with one hand Rudolph's, with the other
Clémence's, and said to them, with a voice expressive of deep emotion:
"Listen to me, my good father, and you also, my loving mother, this day is
a solemn one--God has granted, and I thank Him for it, that it should be
impossible for me to conceal from you any longer what I feel. In a little
time I should, in any event, have made to you the confession you are now
about to hear, for all suffering has an end, and concealed as mine has
been, I should not have been able to keep silence to you much longer."
"Oh! I understand all," cried Rudolph; "there is no longer any hope for
"I hope for the future, my father, and this hope gives me strength to speak
to you thus."
"And what can you hope for the future, my poor child, since your present
fate causes you only grief and bitterness?"
"I am going to tell you, my father; but, before all, permit me to recall
the past to you, to own to you, before God who hears me, what I have felt
up to this time."
"Speak, speak, we hear you," said Rudolph, seating himself with Clémence,
"While I remained at Paris, near you, my father," said Fleur-de-Marie, "I
was so happy, oh! so completely happy, that those delicious days would not
be too well paid for by years of suffering. You see I have at least known
what happiness is."
"During some days, perhaps?"
"Yes, but what pure and unmingled felicity! Love surrounded me then, as
ever, with the tenderest care. I gave myself up without fear to the
emotions of gratitude and affection which every moment raised my heart to
you. The future dazzled me: a father to adore, a second mother to love
doubly, for she had taken the place of my own, whom I had never known--I
must own everything; my pride was excited in spite of myself, so much was I
honored in belonging to you. Then the few persons of your household who at
Paris had occasion to speak to me called me 'your highness,' I could not
prevent myself from being proud of this title. If I thought then, at times,
vaguely of the past, it was to say to myself, 'I, formerly so humble, the
beloved daughter of a sovereign prince who is blessed and revered by every
one; I, formerly so miserable, I am enjoying all the splendors of luxury,
and of an almost royal existence.' Alas! my father, my fortune was so
unforeseen, your power surrounded me with such a splendid _eclat_
that; I was excusable perhaps in allowing myself to become so blinded."
"Excusable! nothing was more natural, my poor beloved angel; what wrong was
there in being proud of a rank which was your own, of enjoying the
advantages of the position to which I had restored you! At that time I
recollect you were delightfully gay; how many times have I seen you fall
into my arms as if overpowered with happiness, and heard you say to me,
with an enchanting accent, 'My father, it is too much, too much happiness!'
Unfortunately, these are only recollections; they lulled me into a
deceitful security, and since then I have not been enough alarmed at the
cause of your melancholy."
"But, tell us then, my child," asked Clémence, "what has changed into
sadness this pure, this legitimate joy which you first felt?"
"Alas! a very sad and entirely unforeseen circumstance."
"You recollect, my father," said Fleur-de-Marie, without being able to
conquer a shuddering of horror; "you remember the sad scene which preceded
our departure from Paris, when your carriage was stopped near the barrier?"
"Yes," replied Rudolph, sadly. "Brave Slasher, after having again saved my
life; he died there before us, saying, 'Heaven is just; I have killed, they
"Oh well, father, at the moment when this unfortunate man was expiring, do
you know whom I saw looking intently at me? Oh, that look, that look! it
has pursued me ever since," added Fleur-de-Marie, shuddering.
"What look? of whom do you speak?" cried Rudolph.
"Of the Ogress of the White Rabbit," murmured Fleur-de-Marie.
"That monster seen again?--where?"
"You did not perceive her in the tavern where the Slasher breathed his
last. She was among the women who surrounded him."
"Oh, now!" said Rudolph, dejectedly, "I understand: already struck with
terror by the murder of the Slasher, you thought there was something
providential in this dreadful meeting."
"It is but too true, my father. At the sight of the Ogress I felt a mortal
shudder. It seemed to me that, under her look, my heart, until then radiant
with happiness and hope, was suddenly frozen. Yes; to meet this woman at
the moment when the Slasher was dying and repeating the words 'Heaven is
just,' this seemed to me a providential reproof of my proud forgetfulness
of the past, which I ought to expiate by humiliation and repentance."
"But the past was laid upon you; you can answer for it before high heaven!
You were constrained, intoxicated, unfortunate child. Once precipitated, in
spite of yourself, in this abyss, you could not leave it, notwithstanding
your remorse, your terror your despair, thanks to the atrocious
indifference of that society of which you were the victim. You saw yourself
forever chained in that cavern; the chance which placed you in my path
could alone have dragged you from it."
"And then, my child, as your father has told you, you were the victim, not
the accomplice, of the infamy," cried Clémence.
"But to this infamy I have submitted, my mother," sadly rejoined
Fleur-de-Marie; "nothing can annihilate these horrible recollections. They
pursue me incessantly, no longer as formerly, in the midst of the peaceable
inhabitants of a farm, or of the degraded women, my companions in Saint
Lazare, but they pursue me even to this palace, peopled with the
_elite_ of Germany. They pursue me even to the arms of my father, even
to the steps of his throne."
Fleur-de-Marie melted into tears. Rudolph and Clémence remained mute before
this frightful expression of invincible remorse. They, too wept, for they
felt the powerlessness of their consolations.
"Since then," resumed Fleur-de-Marie, drying her tears, "every moment of
the day I say to myself, with bitter shame, 'I am honored, I am revered;
the most eminent and most venerable surround me with respect; in sight of
the whole court, the sister of an emperor has deigned to fasten the bandeau
upon my head; yet I had lived in the mud of the city-have been spoken to
familiarly by thieves and assassins!' Oh, father, forgive me! but the more
my position is elevated, the more I have been struck with the profound
degradation into which I had fallen. At each new homage which is rendered
me, I feel myself guilty of a profanation. Think of it, oh, heaven! after
having been what _I have been_ to suffer old men to bow before me--to
suffer noble young women, women justly respected, to feel themselves
flattered to approach me--to suffer finally, that princesses, doubly august
by age and their sacerdotal character should heap upon me favors and
praises, is not this impious and sacrilegious? And then, if you knew, my
father, what I have suffered--what I still suffer every day, in saying, 'If
it should please God that the past should be known, with what merited scorn
would she be treated who is now elevated so high. What a just--what a
"But, unfortunate one, my wife and I, who know the past, are worthy of our
rank, and we love, we adore you."
"You have for me the blind tenderness of a father and a mother."
"And all the good you have done since your abode here--this beautiful and
holy institution, this asylum opened by you to orphans and poor abandoned
girls--those admirable cares of intelligence and devotion with which you
watch over them--you insisting that they call themselves _your
sisters_--wishing that they should call you so, since in fact you treat
them as such, is this nothing to atone for faults which were not your own?
Finally, the affection which is shown for you by the worthy abbess of Saint
Hermangilda, who did not know you till after your arrival here--do you not
owe it altogether to the elevation of your mind, the beauty of your soul,
and your sincere piety?"
"While the praises from the abbess are addressed only to my present
conduct, I enjoy them without scruple, my father; but when she quotes my
example to the noble ladies who are engaged in religious offices in the
abbey--when they see in me a model of all the virtues, I am ready to die
of confusion, as if I were the accomplice of a wicked falsehood."
After a long silence, Rudolph resumed, with deep dejection: "I see--I must
despair of persuading you: reason is weak when opposed to a conviction, the
more firm because it has its source in a generous and elevated sentiment.
Since every moment you throw back a look on the past, the contrast between
these remembrances and your present position must be indeed a continual
punishment to you. Pardon me in turn, poor child."
"You, my good father, ask pardon of me, for what? Good heaven, what?"
"For not having foreseen your susceptibility. From the exceeding delicacy
of your heart, I ought to have divined it; and yet, what could I do? It was
my duty solemnly to acknowledge you as my daughter. Then this respect, of
which the homage is so painful to you, comes of necessity to surround you.
Yes; but I was wrong in one point. I have been, do you see, too proud of
you--I have wished too much to enjoy the charms of your beauty--those
charms of the mind which surprised every one who approached you. I ought to
have hidden my treasure--to have lived almost in retirement with Clémence
and you; I should have renounced these _fêtes_--these numerous receptions,
at which I loved so much to see you shine, thinking, foolishly, to elevate
you so high--so high, that the past would disappear entirely from your
eyes. But, alas! the reverse has taken place, and, as you have told me, the
more elevated you have been, the deeper and more dark has seemed the abyss
from which I drew you. Yet once again it is my fault. I meant, however, to
do right, but I was mistaken," said Rudolph, drying his eyes, "but I was
mistaken; and then I supposed myself pardoned too soon. The vengeance of
God was not satisfied; it still pursues me in the unhappiness of my
A discreet knock at the door of the saloon which adjoined the oratory of
Fleur-de-Marie interrupted this sad conversation.
Rudolph rose, and half opened the door. He saw Murphy, who said, "I ask
pardon of your royal highness for disturbing you, but a courier from Prince
Herkausen-Oldenzaal has just brought a letter, which, he says, is very
important, and must be delivered immediately to your royal highness."
"Thank you, my good Murphy; do not go away," said Rudolph, with a sigh;
"presently I shall want to talk with you."
And the prince, having shut the door, remained a moment in the saloon, to
read the letter which Murphy had just brought him. It was in these words:
"My Lord,--May I hope that the ties of relationship which attach me to your
royal highness, and the friendship with which you have always deigned to
honor me, will excuse me for a proceeding which might be considered very
rash, if it was not imposed by the conscience of an honest man. It is
fifteen months, my lord, since you returned from France, bringing with you
a daughter, so much the more beloved because you had thought her forever
lost, while, on the contrary, she had never quitted her mother, whom you
married at Paris _in extremis_, in order to legitimatize the birth of
the Princess Amelia, who is thus the equal of the other princesses of the
Germanic Confederation. Her birth is, therefore, sovereign, her beauty is
incomparable, her heart is as worthy of her birth as her mind is worthy of
her beauty, as my sister, the Abbess of Saint Hermangilda, has written me.
The abbess, as you know, has often the honor of seeing this well-beloved
daughter of your royal highness. During the time which my son passed at
Gerolstein he saw, almost every day, the Princess Amelia; he loves her
desperately, but he has always concealed this passion. I have thought it my
duty, my lord, to inform you of this circumstance. You have deigned, as a
father, to receive my son, and have invited him to the bosom of your
family, and to live in that intimacy which was so precious to him. I should
fail in loyalty to your highness if I dissimulated a circumstance which
modified the reception which was reserved for my son. I know that it would
be madness in us to dare hope to ally ourselves more nearly to the family
of your royal highness. I know that the daughter of whom you have so good a
right to be proud may aspire to a higher destiny. But I know, also, that
you are the most tender of fathers, and that if you ever judged my son
worthy of belonging to you, and of contributing to the happiness of the
Princess Amelia, you would not be deterred by the grave disproportion which
places such a fortune beyond our hopes. It is not for me to make a eulogium
of Henry, my lord, but I appeal to the encouragement and to the praise you
have so often condescended to bestow on him. I dare not and I cannot say
more to you, my lord; my emotion is too profound. Whatever may be your
determination, believe that we Shall submit to it with respect, and that I
shall be always faithful to the sentiments of the most profound devotion
with which I have the honor to be, your royal highness's most humble and
"Prince of Herkausen-Oldenzaal."
After reading the prince's letter, Rudolph remained for some time sad and
thoughtful: a ray of hope then lighted up his face; he returned to his
daughter, on whom Clémence was vainly lavishing the most tender
"My child, you have yourself said it was heaven's will that this day should
he one of solemn explanations." said Rudolph to Fleur-de-Marie; "I did not
anticipate a new and grave circumstance which was to justify your words."
"To what does it refer, father?"
"My dear, what is it?"
"New causes of fear!"
"You have confessed to us but half your troubles, my poor child."
"Be so kind as to explain yourself, my father," said Fleur-de-Marie,
"Now I can do it; I could not sooner, not knowing how much you despaired of
your fate. Listen, my beloved daughter! You believe yourself, or rather,
you are, very unhappy. When, at the beginning of our conversation, you
spoke to me of the hopes which remained to you, I understood--my heart was
broken, for I was to part with you forever--that I was to see you shut
yourself up in a cloister--to see you descend living to a tomb. Is it your
wish to enter a convent?"
"My child, is this true?"
"Yes, if you will permit me to do it," replied Fleur-de-Marie, with a
"Leave us!" cried Clémence.
"The Abbey of Saint Hermangilda is very near Gerolstein. I shall often see
you and father."
"Do you consider that such vows are eternal, my dear child? you are only
eighteen years old, and perhaps some day--"
"Oh, I shall never repent the resolution I have taken. I shall never find
repose and forgetfulness but in the solitude of the cloister, if you, my
father, and you my second mother, continue your affection to me."
"The duties and consolations of a religious life might, indeed," said
Rudolph, "if they could not heal, at least calm, the sorrows of your poor
depressed and distracted spirit. And though half the happiness of my life
is the forfeit, I may perhaps approve your resolution. I know what you
suffer, and I do not say that renouncing the world may not be the fatally
logical end of your sorrowful existence."
"What, you also, Rudolph?" cried Clémence.
"Permit me, my dear, to express all my thoughts," replied Rudolph. Then,
addressing his daughter, "But before taking this last determination, we
must examine if there may not be other prospects for the future, more
agreeable to your wishes and ours. In this case, I should not regard any
sacrifice, if I could secure you such a future existence."
Fleur-de-Marie and Clémence started with surprise. Rudolph continued,
fixing his eyes on his daughter, "What do you think of your cousin Henry?"
After a moment of hesitation, she threw herself weeping into the arms of
"You love him, my poor child?"
"You never asked me, father," replied Fleur-de-Marie, drying her tears.
"My dear, we were not deceived," said Clémence.
"So you love him," added Rudolph, taking his daughter's hands in his own,
"you love him well, my dear child?"
"Oh, if you knew," replied Fleur-de-Marie, "how much it has cost me to hide
from you the sentiment as soon as I discovered it in my heart--alas, at the
least question from you, I should have owned everything. But shame
restrained me, and would always have restrained me."
"And do you think that Henry knows your love for him?" said Rudolph.
"Great Heaven, father, I do not think so," cried Fleur-de-Marie, in terror.
"And do you think he loves you?"
"No, father, no--oh, I hope not--he would suffer too much."
"And how did this love come, my beloved angel?"
"Alas, almost without my knowing it-you remember the picture of the page?"
"Which is in the apartment of the Abbess of Saint Hermangilda--it was
"Yes, dear father, believing this to be a painting of another age, one day
in your presence, I did not conceal from the superior that I was struck
with the beauty of this portrait. You said to me then, in jest, that the
picture represented one of our relations of the olden time, who, when very
young, had displayed great courage and excellent qualities. The grace of
this figure, joined to what you told me of the noble character of this
relative, added yet to my first impression. From that day, I often took
pleasure in recalling this portrait, and that without the least scruple,
believing that it belonged to one of my cousins long since dead. Little by
little I habituated myself to these gentle thoughts, knowing that it was
not permitted me to love on this earth," added Fleur-de-Marie with a
heart-rending expression, and her tears bursting forth anew. "I gave to
these romantic reveries a sort of melancholy interest, half smiles, half
tears. I looked upon the pretty page of the past time as a lover beyond the
grave, whom I should perhaps one day meet in eternity. It seemed to me that
such a love was alone worthy of a heart which belonged entirely to you, my
father. But pardon me these sad, childish imaginations."
"Nothing can be more touching, on the contrary, poor child," said Clémence.
"Now," replied Rudolph, "I understand why you one day reproached me with an
air of regret for having deceived you about the picture."
"Alas, yes, dear father. Judge of my confusion when, afterward, the
superior informed me that this picture was that of her nephew, one of our
relations. Then my trouble was extreme; I endeavored to forget my first
impressions, but the more I endeavored, the more they became rooted in my
heart, in consequence even of the perseverance of my efforts.
Unfortunately, yet, I often hear you, dear father, praising the heart, the
mind, the character of Prince Henry."
"You already loved him, my dear child, even when you had as yet seen only
his portrait, and heard of his rare qualities!"
"Without loving him, I felt toward him an attraction, for which I bitterly
reproached myself. But I consoled myself by thinking that no one in the
world would know this sad secret which covered me with shame in mine own
eyes. To dare to love, me, me, and then not to be contented with your
tenderness and that of my second mother! Did I not owe to you enough to
employ all my strength, all the resources of my heart, in loving you both?
Oh, believe me, among the reproaches I made myself, these last were the
most painful. Finally, I saw my cousin for the first time at that grand
fête you gave to the Archduchess Sophia. Prince Henry resembled his
portrait in such a striking manner, that I recognized him immediately. The
same evening, dear father, you presented my cousin to me, authorizing
between us the intimacy which our relationship permitted."
"And soon you loved each other?"
"Ah, my father, he expressed his respect, his attachment, his admiration,
with so much eloquence; you had yourself told me so much good of him."
"He deserved it; there is no more elevated character; there is no better or
"Your pardon, dear father, do not praise him so much; I am already so
"And I must convince you of all the rare qualities of your cousin. What I
say surprises you; I understand it, my child--go on."
"I felt the danger that I incurred in seeing Prince Henry every day, and
yet I could not withdraw myself from the danger. Notwithstanding my blind
confidence in you, dear father, I dared not express my fears to you. I
directed all my courage to concealing my love; however, I own to you, dear
father, notwithstanding my remorse, often in this fraternal intimacy of
every day, forgetting the past, I felt gleams of happiness till then
unknown to me, but followed soon, alas! by dark despair, when I again fell
under the influence of my sad recollections. For, alas! if they pursued me
in the midst of the homage and respect of persons almost indifferent to me,
judge, judge, dear father, of my tortures when Prince Henry lavished on me
the most delicate praises, followed me with such frank and pious adoration;
putting, as he said, the brotherly attachment that he felt for me under the
holy protection of his mother, whom he lost when he was Very young. I
endeavored to merit this sweet name of sister, which he bestowed upon me,
by advising my cousin respecting his future prospects, according to my weak
knowledge; by interesting myself in all which related to him; by promising
always to ask of you such assistance for him as you might be able to give.
But often, also, what torments have I felt, how I have restrained my tears
when, by chance, Prince Henry interrogated me about my infancy, my early
youth! to deceive--always to deceive, always to fear, always to lie, always
to tremble, before the inexorable look of one's judge. Oh! my father, I was
guilty, I know it; I had no right to love; but I expiated this sad love by
many bitter sorrows. What shall I say to you? The departure of the Prince
Henry, in causing me a new and violent chagrin, enlightened me--I saw that
I loved him more than I imagined. Thus," added Fleur-de-Marie, with deep
dejection, and as if this confession had exhausted her strength, "I should
have soon made you this avowal, for this fatal love has filled up the
measure of my sufferings. Say, now that you know all, my father, is there
any future prospect for me but that of the cloister?"
"There is another, my child; yes, and this future is as sweet, as smiling,
as happy, as the other is dark and gloomy."
"What do you say, dear father?"
"Hear me in my turn. You must feel that I love you too much, that my
tenderness is too clear-sighted, to have allowed your love and that of
Henry to have escaped me; at the end of a few days I was certain that he
loved you, more even, perhaps, than you loved him."
"My father, no, no; it is impossible; he does not love me at this time."
"He loves you, I tell you; he loves you passionately, to madness, almost."
"Listen further. When I told you that pleasantry about the picture, I did
not know that Henry was about to visit his aunt at Gerolstein. When he came
I yielded to the inclination I have always felt toward him; I invited him
to come and see us often. I had before always treated him like my son; I
changed in no degree my manner toward him. At the end of some days,
Clémence and myself no longer doubted the regard you felt for each other.
If your position was painful, my poor child, mine was not less so; it was
extremely delicate. As a father, knowing the rare and excellent qualities
of Henry, I could not but be profoundly happy at your attachment, for I
could never have dreamed of a husband more worthy of you."
"Ah! dear father, pity, pity!"
"But, as a man of honor, I thought of the sad past life of my child. Thus,
far from encouraging the hopes of Henry, I gave him, in several
conversations, advice absolutely contradictory from what he would have
expected from me if I had thought of giving him your hand. In such a
situation, one so delicate, as a father and a man of honor, it was
incumbent on me to keep a rigorous neutrality, not to encourage the love of
your cousin, but to treat him with the same affability as formerly. You
have been hitherto so unhappy, my beloved child, that seeing you, so to
speak, reviving under the impulse of this noble and pure love, I could not
for anything in the world have deprived you of its divine and rare joys.
Admitting even that this love must afterward be broken off, you would at
least have known some days of innocent happiness, and then, finally, this
love might secure your future repose."
"Listen again. The father of Henry, Prince Paul, has just written to
me--here is his letter. Though he regards this alliance as an unhoped-for
favor, he asks of me your hand for his son, who, he says, feels for you the
most respectful, the most passionate love."
"Oh!" said Fleur-de-Marie, hiding her face in her hands, "I might have been
"Courage, my well-beloved daughter; if you wish it, this happiness is
yours," cried Rudolph, tenderly.
"Oh! never, never; do you forget?"
"I forget nothing; but if to-morrow you enter the convent, riot only I lose
you forever, but you quit me for a life of tears and austerity. Oh! to
_lose_ you! to lose _you_! Let me at least know that you are happy, and
married to the man you love and who adores you."
"Married to him! Me, dear father!"
"Yes; but on condition that, immediately after your marriage, contracted
here at night, without other witnesses than Murphy for you and Baron Graun
for Henry, you shall both go to some tranquil retreat in Switzerland or
Italy, to live unknown as wealthy citizens. Now, my beloved daughter, do
you know why I resign myself to a separation from you? Do you know why I
desire Henry to quit his title when he is out of Germany. It is because I
am sure that, in the midst of a solitary happiness, concentrated in an
existence deprived of all display, little by little you will forget this
odious past, which is especially painful to you because it forms such a
bitter contrast to the ceremonious homage with which you are constantly
"Rudolph is right," cried Clémence: "alone with Henry, continually happy
with his happiness and your own, you will no longer have time to think, my
dear child, of your former sorrows."
"Then, as it will be impossible for me to be long without seeing you, every
year Clémence and I will go to visit you."
"And some day, when the wound of which you suffer, poor little angel, shall
be healed, when you shall have found forgetfulness in happiness, and this
moment will come sooner than you think, you will return to us, never to
"Forgetfulness in happiness," murmured Fleur-de-Marie, who, in spite of
herself, was soothed by this enchanting vision.
"Yes, yes, my child," replied Clémence, "when at every moment of the day
you see yourself blessed, respected, adored by the husband of your choice,
by the man whose noble and generous heart your father has extolled to you a
thousand times, shall you have leisure to think of the past, and even if
you should think of it, why should the past sadden you? why should it
prevent you from believing in the radiant felicity of your husband?"
"Finally it is true, for tell me, my child," replied Rudolph, who could
scarcely restrain his tears at seeing that his daughter hesitated, "adored
by your husband, when you shall have the knowledge and the proof of the
happiness which he owes to you, what reproaches can you make yourself?"
"Father," said Fleur-de-Marie, forgetting the past for this ineffable hope,
"can so much happiness be reserved for me?"
"Ah, I was sure of it," cried Rudolph, in an ecstasy of triumphant joy; "is
there a father who wishes it, who cannot restore happiness to an adored
"She merits so much that we ought to be heard, my friend," said Clémence,
sharing the transport of her husband.
"To marry Henry, and some day to pass my whole life between him, my second
mother, and my father," replied Fleur-de-Marie, yielding more and more to
the sweet intoxication of her thoughts.
"Yes, my beloved angel, we shall all be happy. I will reply to Henry's
father that I consent to the marriage," cried Rudolph, pressing Fleur-de
Marie in his arms with indescribable emotion. "Take courage, our separation
will be short; the new duties which your marriage will impose upon you will
confirm your steps still more in the path of forgetfulness and felicity in
which you will henceforth tread, for finally, if you should one day be a
mother, it would not be only for yourself that it would be necessary you
should be happy."
"Ah!" cried Fleur-de-Marie, with a heart-rending cry, for this word
_mother_ awoke her from the enchanting dream which was lulling her.
"Mother? me!--Oh, never! I am unworthy that holy name; I should die with
shame before my child, if I had not died with shame before its father, in
making him the avowal of the past."
"What does she say, gracious heaven!" cried Rudolph, stunned by the abrupt
"I a mother!" resumed Fleur-de-Marie, with bitter despair, "I respected, I
blessed by an innocent and pure child, I, formerly the object of
everybody's scorn, I profane thus the sacred name of mother? Oh, never!
miserable thing that I was to allow myself to be drawn away to an unworthy
"My daughter, listen to me, in pity."
Fleur-de-Marie stood upright, pale, and beautiful, in the majesty of
"My father, we forget that before marrying me Prince Henry must know my
"I have not forgotten it," cried Rudolph. "He must know all, he shall know
"And would you not rather see me die than see me so degraded in his eyes?"
"But he shall also know what an irresistible fatality plunged you into the
abyss. He shall know your restoration."
"And he will finally feel," replied Clémence, pressing Fleur-de-Marie in
her arms, "that when I call you my daughter, he may without shame call you
"And I, mother, I love Prince Henry too much, I esteem him too much, ever
to give him a hand which has been touched by the ruffians of the city."
* * * * *
A short time after this sad scene, the "Official Gazette" of Gerolstein
contained the following announcement:
"Yesterday took place, at the Grand-Ducal Abbey of Saint Hermangilda, in
presence of his royal highness the reigning grand duke and all the court,
the taking of the veil by the very high and most puissant princess, her
Royal Highness Amelia of Gerolstein. The novice was received by the most
illustrious and most reverend Lord Charles Maximilian, Archbishop-Duke of
Oppenheim; Lord Hannibal, Andre Montano, of the Princes of Delpha, Bishop
of Ceuta _in partibus infidelium_ and apostolic nuncio, gave the salutation
and the Papal benediction. The sermon was pronounced by the most reverend
Lord Peter von Asfeld, Canon of the Chapter of Cologne, Count of the Holy
Roman Empire--VENI CREATOR OPTIME."
_Rudolph to Clémence._
GEROLSTEIN, January 12th, 1842. [Footnote: About six months have passed
since Fleur-de-Marie entered St. Hermangilda Abbey as a novice.]
In assuring me to-day of the complete restoration of your father's health,
my dear, you give me reason to hope that you can, by the end of the week,
bring him back here. I foresaw that in the residence at Rosenfeld, situated
in the midst of forests, he would be exposed, notwithstanding all possible
precaution, to the severity of our cold; unfortunately, his passion for
hunting rendered our advice useless. I conjure you, Clémence, as soon as
your father can bear the motion of the carriage, to set out immediately,
quit that wild country and wild dwelling, only habitable for those old
Germans of iron frame whose race has disappeared. I fear lest you should
also fall sick: the fatigues of this hurried journey, the anxiety which
preyed upon you until you reached your father, all these causes must have
affected you sadly. Why could I not accompany you? Clémence, I beg of you,
be not imprudent; I know how bold and how devoted you are. I know how
anxiously you will attend to your father; but he will be as much in despair
as myself if your health should be impaired by this journey. I deplore
doubly the illness of the count, for it takes you from me at a moment when
I could have drawn deeply up from the fountain of consolation of your
tenderness. The ceremony of the profession of our poor child is fixed for
to-morrow--to-morrow, the 13th of January, fatal epoch. It was upon the
13th of January that I drew the sword against my father. Ah! my friend, I
too soon thought myself forgiven. The intoxicating hope of passing my life
with you and my daughter made me forget that it was not myself, but that it
was she who had been punished thus far, and that my punishment was still to
come. And it did come--when, six months since, the unhappy one unveiled to
us the double torment of her heart; "her incurable shame at the past, added
to her unhappy love for Henry." These two bitter and burning sensations,
the one heightened by the other by a fatal logic, caused her to take up the
unconquerable resolution to take the veil. You know, my dear friend, how,
in combating this design with all the strength of our adoration for her, we
could not deny that her worthy and courageous conduct should have been
ours. How could we answer those terrible words? I love Prince Henry too
well to give him a hand which has been touched by the ruffians of the
She was obliged to sacrifice herself to her noble scruples, to the
ineffaceable remembrance of her shame; she has done it valiantly; she has
renounced the splendors of the world; she has descended from the steps of a
throne to kneel, clothed in sackcloth, upon the pavement of a church; she
crossed her hands upon her breast, bowed her angelic head, and her
beautiful fair locks, which I loved so much, and which I preserve as a
treasure, fell, cut off by the sharp iron. Oh! my friend, you know our
heart-rending emotion at this mournful and solemn moment; this emotion is,
even now, as poignant as at the time. In writing these words to you, I weep
like a child.
* * * * *
I saw her this morning; although she seemed to me less pale than usual, and
declares she does not suffer, her health makes me anxious. Alas! when,
under the veil and band which surround her noble forehead, I see her
attenuated features, which have the cold whiteness of marble, and which
make her large blue eyes seem larger still, I cannot help dreaming over the
gentle and pure splendor with which her beauty sparkled at our marriage.
Never did she look so charming. Our happiness seemed to radiate from her
beautiful countenance. As I told you, I saw her this morning; she has not
been informed that Princess Juliana voluntarily resigns in her favor the
dignity of abbess; to-morrow, therefore, on the day of her profession, our
child will be elected abbess, as there is a unanimous desire among the
noble ladies of the community to confer upon her this dignity. Since the
beginning of her novitiate, there has been but one opinion of her piety,
charity, and religious exactness in fulfilling all the duties of her order,
whose austerities she exaggerates most unfortunately. She has exercised in
this convent the influence which she exercises everywhere without
attempting to do so, and in ignorance of the fact which increases her
power. Her conversation this morning confirmed my doubts. She has not found
in the solitude of the cloister, and in the severe practice of monastic
duties, repose and forgetfulness. She congratulated herself, however, upon
her resolution, which she considers the accomplishment of an imperious
duty; but she suffers continually, for she is not formed for those mystical
contemplations, in the midst of which certain people, forgetting all
affection, all earthly remembrances, are lost in ascetic delights. No;
Fleur-de-Marie believes, prays, submits herself to the rigorous and harsh
observance of her order; she pours out the most evangelical consolations,
the most humble cares upon the poor sick women who are taken care of in the
hospital of the abbey. She has even refused the assistance of a lay sister
for the moderate care of that cold and bare cell where we remarked, with
such sad astonishment, you remember, my dear friend, the dried branches of
her little rose-bush, suspended beneath her crucifix. She is, indeed, the
cherished example, the venerated model of the community. But she confessed
to me this morning, while bitterly reproaching herself for this weakness,
that she is not so much absorbed by the duties and austerities of a
religious life as to prevent the past from constantly appearing before her,
not only as it was, but as it might have been.
"I blame myself for it, my father," said she to me, with that calm and
gentle resignation which you know belongs to her, "I blame myself, but I
cannot help often thinking that if God had spared me the degradation which
has withered forever my future life, I might have lived always near you,
beloved by the husband of your choice, In spite of myself, my life is
divided between these grievous regrets and the frightful recollections of
the city; in vain I pray to God to free me from these frightful
recollections, to fill my heart alone with pious love for Him, with holy
hopes; in short, to take me entirely to Himself, since I wish to give
myself entirely to Him. He does not grant my prayers--undoubtedly because
earthly thoughts render me unworthy to enter into communion with Him."
"But then," cried I, seized with a foolish glimmering of hope, "there is
still time--to day your novitiate ends; but it is not until to morrow that
your solemn profession will take place; you are still free--renounce this
rude and austere life, which does not afford you the consolation you
expected; if you must suffer, come and suffer in our arms: let our
tenderness assuage your sorrows."
Shaking sadly her head, she answered me, with that inflexible justness of
reasoning which has so often struck us. "It is true, my dear father, the
solitude of this cloister is sad for me--for me, already accustomed to your
kindness every moment. It is true, I am pursued with bitter regrets and
grievous recollections; but, at least, I have the consciousness of
fulfilling a duty; I understand, I know, that everywhere but here I should
be out of place; I should again be in that cruelly false position in which
I have already suffered so much both for myself and for you--for I, too, am
proud. Your daughter shall be such as she ought to be; shall do what she
ought to do; shall suffer what she ought to suffer. To-morrow all will know
from what a slough you have rescued me; in seeing the repentant at the foot
of the cross, they will, perhaps, pardon the past in consideration of my
present humility. It would not be so, my dear father, if they saw me, as a
few months ago, shining in the midst of the splendors of your court.
Besides, to satisfy the just and severe demands of the world, will satisfy
myself; and I am grateful to God, with all the power of my soul, when I
think that _He alone_ can offer to your daughter an asylum and position
worthy of her and of you; a position, in short, which shall not form a sad
contrast to my former degradation, and in which I can deserve the only
respect which is due to me, that which is granted to repentance and sincere
humility." Alas! Clémence, what could I reply to that? Fatality! Fatality!
for this unfortunate child is endowed, so to speak, with an inexorable
logic in all that concerns the sensitiveness of the heart and one's honor.
With such a mind and soul, one cannot think of palliating or hiding false
positions--we must suffer the imperious consequences. I left her, as usual,
with a breaking heart. Without founding the least hope upon this interview,
which will be the last before her profession, I said to myself "To-day she
might renounce the cloister." But you see, my dear friend, her will is
irrevocable, and I must indeed agree with her, and repeat her words:
"God alone can offer her an asylum and a position worthy of her and of me."
Once more, her resolution is admirably logical, and suited to the position
in society in which we are placed. With Fleur-de-Marie's exquisite
sensibility, no other condition was possible for her. But I have often told
you, my friend, if sacred duties, more sacred still than those of family,
did not detain me in the midst of a people who love me, and to whom I
stand, in a slight degree, in the place of Providence, I should go away
with you, my daughter, Henry, and Murphy, to live happily and obscurely in
some unknown retreat. Then, far from the imperious laws of a society which
is powerless to cure the evils which it has caused, we might hare forced
this unhappy child into happiness and forgetfulness. While here, in the
midst of splendor, of ceremony, as restrained as this, it was impossible.
But still, once more, fatality! fatality! I cannot abdicate my power
without compromising the happiness of this people, who rely upon me. Brave
and worthy people! how little do they know how much their happiness costs
me! Adieu, a tender adieu, my beloved Clémence. It is a consolation to me
to see you as afflicted as myself at the fate of my child, for thus I can
say _our_ sorrow, and there is no egotism in my suffering. Sometimes I
ask myself, with fear, what would become of me without you, in the midst of
such grievous circumstances? Often these thoughts make me still more sad at
Fleur-de-Marie's fate; for you remain to me, you. But for her who is there?
Adieu, a sad adieu, my dear, good angel of unhappy days. Come back soon;
this absence weighs upon you as well as me. My life and love to you! soul
and heart to you! R.
I send you this letter by a courier; in case of any unexpected change, I
will despatch to you another immediately after the sad ceremony. A thousand
wishes and hopes to your father for the establishment of his health. I
forgot to give you intelligence of poor Henry; his state of health is
better, and no longer gives us such anxiety. His excellent father, himself
ill, has recovered strength to take care of Henry, to watch over him; a
miracle of paternal love--which does not astonish us--the rest of us.
Thus, my dear friend, to-morrow--to-morrow--fatal and unpropitious day for
Yours forever, R.
Abbey of St. Hermangilda, 4 o'clock in the morning.
Calm yourself, dear Clémence, calm yourself; although the hour in which I
write this letter, and the place whence it is dated, might alarm you.
Thanks to Heaven, the danger is past, but the crisis was terrible.
Yesterday, after having written to you, agitated by a fatal presentiment,
in recalling to myself the paleness and appearance of suffering in my
daughter, the state of weakness in which she had languished for some time,
remembering, in short, that she was to pass in prayer, in a large, icy-cold
church, almost all the night before her profession, I sent Murphy and David
to the abbey to ask the Princess Juliana to permit them to remain, until
to-morrow, in the outer house which Henry usually inhabited. Thus, my
daughter could have prompt assistance, _and_ I could have intelligence
if, as I feared, strength should fail her to accomplish this rigorous, I
will not say cruel, obligation to remain a January night in prayer in the
excessive cold. I had also written to Fleur-de-Marie, that while I
respected the exercise of her religious duties, I begged her to take care
of her health, and to pass the evening in prayer in her cell, and not in
the church. This is the letter she sent in reply.
"My dear father, I thank you deeply, and with all my heart, for this new
and tender proof of your interest; have no anxiety, I believe I am in the
way of accomplishing my duty. Your daughter, my dear father, can show
neither fear nor weakness. Such are the rules; I must conform to them. If
some physical sufferings result from it, with joy do I offer them to God!
You will approve it, I hope; you, who have always practiced renunciation
and duty with so much courage. Farewell, my dear father. I will not say I
am going to pray for you, when I pray to God, I always pray for you, for it
is impossible to prevent mingling you with the divinity I implore; you have
been to me on earth what God, if I deserve it, will be to me in heaven.
"Deign this evening to bless in thought your daughter, my dear father.
To-morrow she will be the bride of the Lord.
"She kisses your hand with pious respect.
This letter, which I could not read without shedding tears, reassured me,
however, but little; I, too, must pass a sad evening. Night having come, I
went to shut myself up in the pavilion which I have had built not far from
the monument erected to my father's memory, in expiation of that fatal
Toward one o'clock in the morning, I heard Murphy's voice; I shuddered with
alarm; he had come in haste from the convent. How shall I tell you, my
friend? As I had foreseen, the unfortunate child, notwithstanding her
courage and strong will, had not strength to accomplish entirely the
barbarous custom, which it had been Impossible for the Princess Juliana to
dispense with, as the rules on this subject were precise. At eight o'clock
in the evening, Fleur-de-Marie kneeled down on the stone pavement in the
church. Until midnight she continued praying. But at this hour, overcome by
her weakness, the horrible cold, and her emotion, for she wept long and
silently, she fainted. Two nuns, who by the Princess Juliana's order had
watched with her, took her up, and carried her to her cell.
David was immediately called. Murphy came in a carriage to seek me; I flew
to the convent; I was received by Princess Juliana. She told me that David
feared the sight of me would make too great an impression upon my daughter;
that her fainting, from which she had recovered, presented nothing very
alarming, having been only caused by great weakness. At first a horrible
dread seized me. I feared they wished to hide from me some great
misfortune, or, at least, to prepare me to hear it; but the superior said
to me, "I assure you, my lord, Princess Amelia is out of danger, a simple
cordial which Dr. David gave her has restored her strength." I could not
doubt what the abbess affirmed; I believed her, and awaited intelligence
from my daughter with sad impatience.
At the end of a quarter of an hour David returned. Thanks to Heaven, she
was better; and she had desired to continue her watching and prayers in the
church, consenting only to kneel upon a cushion. And as I resisted, and was
indignant that the superior should have granted her request, adding that I
formally opposed myself to it, he replied to me that it would have been
dangerous to contradict the wishes of my daughter at a time when she was
under the influence of a strong nervous emotion; and, besides, he had
agreed with Princess Juliana that the poor child should quit the church at
the hour of matins to take a little repose, and prepare for the ceremony.
"She is now in church, then?" said I to him.
"Yes, my lord, but in half an hour she will have quitted it."
I caused myself to be conducted to the north gallery, from which the whole
choir of the church can be seen. There, in the midst of the darkness of
this vast church, only illuminated by the pale light of the lamp from the
chancel, I saw her near the grating on her knees, her hands joined, and
praying with fervor. I also knelt, and thought of my child.
Three o'clock struck; two sisters who were seated, but who had not moved
their eyes from her, went and whispered to her. In a few moments she made a
sign, got up, and crossed the church with a firm step--although, my friend,
when she passed under the lamp, her countenance appeared to me as white as
the long veil which floated around her.
I also went out of the gallery, intending first to go to meet her, but
feared a new emotion would prevent her from taking a few moments' repose. I
sent David to learn how she was; he came back to tell me she felt better,
and intended to try to sleep a little. I remained at the abbey, for the
ceremony which will take place to-morrow.
I think now, my friend, it is useless to send you this incomplete letter. I
shall finish it to-morrow by relating the events of that sad day. Until
then farewell, my friend. I am worn out with grief. Pity me.
THE THIRTEENTH OF JANUARY.
_Rudolph to Clémence._
Thirteenth of January--an anniversary now doubly dreadful! My friend, we
are losing her forever! All is over--all! Listen to the story! It is indeed
true, there is an atrocious pleasure in relating a horrible grief.
Yesterday I bewailed the chance which retained you away from me. To-day,
Clémence, I congratulate myself that you are not here; you would suffer too
much. This morning--I had hardly slept through the night--I was awakened by
the sound of the bells; I groaned with terror; it seemed to me funereal, a
funereal knell. In fact, my daughter is dead to us--dead: do you hear,
Clémence, from this day you must begin to wear mourning for her in your
heart--in your heart, so filled with maternal affection for her. Is our
child buried under the marble of a tomb or under the vaults of a
cloister--for us, what is the difference? From this day, do you understand,
Clémence, we must regard her as dead. Besides, she is so very weak; her
health, impaired by so much sorrow, by so many shocks, is so feeble. Why
not that other death, still more complete? Fate is not weary. And then,
besides, after my letter yesterday, you may understand that it would
perhaps be more happy for her if she were dead.
DEAD! The four letters have a singular appearance, do you not think so?
when one writes them in reference to an idolized daughter, a daughter so
fair, so charming, of such angelic goodness, scarcely eighteen, and yet
dead to the world! Indeed, for us and for her, why vegetate in suffering in
the gloomy tranquillity of this cloister! Of what importance that she
lives, if she is lost to us--she might have loved life so much--what a
fatality has attended her! What I am saying is horrible! there is a
barbarous egotism in paternal love. At noon her profession took place with
solemn pomp. Hidden behind the curtains of our gallery, I was present at
it. I felt, over again, but with still more intensity, all those poignant
emotions which we suffered at her novitiate.
A singular thing, she is adored: it is generally believed that she is drawn
toward a religious life by an irresistible call; her profession might be
looked upon as a happy event for her, and yet, on the contrary, an
overpowering sadness weighs down the whole assembly. At the end of the
church, among the people, I saw two officers of my guard, old hardy
soldiers, hold down their heads and weep. There seemed to be in the act a
sad presentiment. If there was foundation for it, it has been but half
realized. The profession terminated, our child was brought back into the
hall of the chapter, where the nomination of the new abbess was to take
place. Thanks to my privilege as sovereign, I went into this hall to await
the return of Fleur-de-Marie. She soon entered. Her emotion, her weakness
was so great, that two sisters supported her. I was alarmed, less even by
her paleness and the deep alteration of her features than by the expression
of her smile: it seemed to me marked by a sort of secret satisfaction.
Clémence, I say to you, perhaps soon we shall need all our courage--much
courage-I _feel_ so to speak, _within me_ that our child is struck with
death! After all, her life would be so unhappy. Here is the second time
that, in thinking the death of my daughter possible, I have said that death
would put an end to her cruel existence. This idea is a horrible symptom;
but if sorrow must strike us, it is better to be prepared, is it not,
Clémence? To prepare one's self for such a misfortune, to taste little by
little beforehand that slow anguish, it is an unheard-of refinement of
grief. It is a thousand times more dreadful than to have the blow fall
unexpectedly; at least the stupor, the annihilation would spare one a part
of this cutting anguish. But the customs of compassion prescribe to us a
_preparation_. Probably I should never act otherwise myself, my poor
friend, if I had to acquaint you with the sad event of which I speak to
you. Thus be alarmed, if you observe that I speak to you of _her_ with the
delicacy, the caution of desperate sadness, after having announced to you
that I do not feel serious inquietude respecting her health. Yes, be
alarmed, if I speak to you as I am writing now, for though I left her, to
finish this letter, an hour ago in a tolerably calm state, I repeat it to
you, Clémence, I seem to _feel within me_ that she suffers more than she
appears to do. Heaven grant that I deceive myself, and that I take for
presentiments the despairing sadness which this melancholy ceremony
inspires. Fleur-de-Marie then entered the large hall of the chapel. All the
stalls were occupied by the nuns. She went modestly to take the lowest
place on the left, supporting herself on the arm of one of the sisters, for
she still seemed very weak. At the upper end of the hall the Princess
Juliana was seated, the grand prioress beside her; on the other hand, a
second dignitary, holding in her hand the golden cross, the symbol of the
authority of the abbess.
A profound silence prevailed. The princess arose, took her cross in her
hand, and said, with a serious tone and an expression of much emotion: "My
dear daughters, my great age obliges me to confide to younger hands this
emblem of my spiritual power;" and she showed her cross. "I am authorized
to do it by a bull of our holy father. I will present, then, to the
benediction of my Lord Archbishop of Oppenheim, and to the approbation of
his royal highness the grand duke, our sovereign, and to yours, my dear
daughters, the one of your number whom you have designated to succeed me.
Our grand-prioress will make known to you the result of the election, and
to the person whom you shall have elected I will deliver up my cross and
I never moved my eyes from my daughter. Standing in her stall, her two
hands crossed on her bosom, her eyes cast down, half enveloped in her white
veil, and the long descending folds of her black robe, she remained
immovable and thoughtful; she had never for a moment supposed that she
could be chosen; her elevation had been only confided to me by the abbess.
The grand-prioress took a register and read: "Each of our dear sisters
having been, according to rule, invited, eight days since, to place their
votes in the hands of our holy mother, and mutually to keep secret their
choice until this moment, in the name of our holy mother I declare that one
of you, my dear sisters, has, by her exemplary piety, by her evangelical
virtues, merited the unanimous suffrage of the community; and this is our
Sister Amelia, during her life-time the most high and puissant Princess of
At these words, a sort of murmur of sweet surprise and happy satisfaction
passed round the hall; the looks of all the nuns were fixed upon my
daughter, with an expression of tender sympathy. Notwithstanding my all
engrossing anxieties, I was myself deeply moved with this nomination,
which, made separately and secretly, offered nevertheless a touching
Fleur-de-Marie, astounded, became still more pale; her knees trembled so
much that she was obliged to support herself with one hand on the side of
the stall. The abbess Spoke again with a very clear but grave voice: "My
dear daughters, is it indeed Sister Amelia whom you consider most worthy
and most deserving of all of you? Is it indeed she whom you acknowledge as
your spiritual superior? Let each of you in turn answer me, my dear
And each nun answered in a loud tone: "I have voluntarily and freely
chosen, and I do choose Sister Amelia for my holy mother and superior."
Overpowered with an expressible emotion, my poor child fell on her knees,
joined her hands, and so remained till every vote was given. Then the
abbess, placing the cross and ring in the hands of the grand prioress,
advanced toward my daughter, to take her by the hand and lead her to the
seat of the abbess. My dear, my love, I have interrupted myself a moment, I
must take courage and finish the relation of this heart-rending scene.
"Rise, my dear daughter," said the abbess to her: "Come to take the place
which belongs to you; your evangelical virtues, and not your rank, have
gained it for you." Saying these words, the venerable princess bent toward
my daughter to assist her to rise.
Fleur-de-Marie took a few trembling steps, then, arriving in the middle of
the hall of the chapel, she stopped and said, with a voice the calmness and
firmness of which astonished me:
"Pardon me, holy mother, I would speak to my sisters."
"Ascend first, my dear daughter, your seat as abbess," said the princess;
"it is from thence that you must let them hear your voice."
"That place, holy mother, cannot be mine," replied Fleur-de-Marie, with a
low and trembling voice.
"What do you say, my dear daughter?"
"Such a high dignity is not made for me, holy mother."
"But the voices of your sisters call you to it."
"Permit me, holy mother, to make here on my knees a solemn confession; my
sisters will see, and you also, holy mother, that the most humble condition
is not humble enough for me."
"Your modesty misleads you my dear daughter," said the superior, with
kindness, believing, in fact, that the unfortunate child was yielding to a
feeling of exaggerated modesty; but I, I divined those confessions which
Fleur-de-Marie was about to make. Dazed with horror, I cried out in a
supplicating voice, "My child I conjure--"
At these words, to tell you, my friend all that I read in the profound look
which Fleur-de Marie cast upon me, would be impossible. As you see
directly, she had understood me--yes, she had understood that I should
partake in the shame of this horrible revelation; she understood that,
after such a revelation, I might be accused of falsehood, for I had a ways
left it to be believed that Fleur-de-Marie had never left her mother.
At this thought the poor child believed herself guilty of the blackest
ingratitude toward me. She had not strength to go on--she was silent, and
held down her head from exhaustion.
"Yes once again, my dear daughter," resumed the abbess, "your modesty
deceives you; the unanimity of your sisters' choice proves to you how
worthy you are to take my place. If you have taken part in the pleasures of
the world, your renouncing these pleasures is but the more meritorious. It
is not her Royal Highness Princess Amelia who is chosen--it is _Sister
Amelia_. For us, your life began when you entered this house of the
Lord, and it is this example and holy life which we recompense. I say to
you, moreover, my dear daughter, that if before entering this retreat your
life had been as guilty as it has been, on the contrary, pure and
praiseworthy, that the angelic virtues of which you have given us the
example since your abode here would expiate and redeem, in the eyes of the
Lord, any past life, however guilty it may have been. After this, my
daughter, judge if your modesty ought not to be assured."
These words of the abbess were the more precious to Fleur-de-Marie,
inasmuch as she believed the past ineffaceable. Unfortunately, this scene
had deeply distressed her, and, though she affected calmness and firmness,
it seemed to me that her countenance changed in an alarming manner. Twice
she groaned as she passed her poor emaciated hand over her forehead.
"I think I have convinced you, my dear daughter," resumed the Princess
Juliana, "and you would not cause your sisters a severe pain by refusing
this mark of their conndence and their affection."
"No, holy mother," said she, with an expression which struck me, and with a
voice becoming weaker and weaker, "I _now_ think I may except it. But,
as I feel greatly fatigued and somewhat ill, if you will permit it, holy
mother, the ceremony of my consecration shall not take place for a few
"It shall be as you desire, my dear daughter; but while we wait till your
office shall be blessed and consecrated, take this ring: come to your
place; our dear sisters will render you their homage, according to the
I saw at every moment her emotion increasing, her countenance changing
more and more; finally, this scene was beyond her strength; she fainted
before the procession of the sisters was finished. Judge of my terror;
we carried her into the apartment of the abbess. David had not left the
convent; he hastened and bestowed the first caress upon her. Oh, that he
may not have deceived me: he assures me that this new accident was
caused only by extreme weakness occasioned by the fastings, the fatigues,
and the privation of sleep which my daughter has imposed upon herself
during her novitiate. I believe him, because, in fact, her angelic
features, though of a frightful paleness, did not betray any suffering;
when she recovered her consciousness, I was even struck with the serenity
which shone on her forehead. It seems to me that she was concealing the
secret hope of an approaching deliverance. The superior having returned to
the chapter to close the session, I remained alone with my daughter.
"My good father, can you forget my ingratitude? Can you forget that, at the
moment I was about to make this painful confession, you asked me to spare
"Oh! do not speak of it, I supplicate you."
"And I had not dreamed," continued she, with bitterness, "that in saying,
in the face of all, from what an abyss of degradation you had drawn me, I
was revealing a secret that you had kept out of tenderness to me; it was to
accuse you publicly--you, my father--of a dissimulation to which you had
resigned yourself only to secure to me a brilliant and honored existence.
Oh! can you pardon me?"
Instead of answering her, I pressed my lips upon her forehead; she felt my
tears flow. After having kissed my hands several times, she said to me,
"Now I feel better, my good father, now that I am, as our rules says, here,
and dead to the world. I should wish to make some dispositions in favor of
several persons; but as all I posses is yours, will you authorize me, my
"Can you doubt it? but I beseech you," said I to her, "do not indulge these
sad thoughts; by and by you shall employ yourself in this duty: you have
"Undoubtedly, my good father, I have yet much time to live," added she,
with an accent that, I know not why, made me shudder. I looked at her most
attentively; but no change in her features justified my uneasiness. "Yes, I
have yet much time to live," resumed she, "but I must not occupy myself
longer with terrestrial things, for to-day I renounce all which attached me
to the world. I beseech you, do not refuse me."
"Direct me: I will do anything you wish."
"I should wish that my tender mother would always keep in the little back
parlor, where she usually sits, my embroidery frame, with the tapestry I
have begun in it."
"Your wishes shall be fulfilled, my child; your room has remained exactly
as it was the day you left the palace; for everything belonging to you is
an object of religious worships to us. Clémence will be deeply touched at
your remembrance of her."
"As to you, my good father, take, I beg you, my large ebony chair, in which
I have thought and dreamed so much."
"It shall be placed by the side of mine in my working cabinet, and I shall
see you in it every day, seated beside me, as you so often used to sit."
Could I tell her this, and restrain my tears?
"Now I should wish to leave some memorials of me to those who took so much
interest in me when I was unfortunate. To Madame George I should like to
give my writing-desk, of which I have lately made use. This gift will be
appropriate," added she, with a sweet smile, "for it was she at the farm
who began to teach me to write. As to the venerable curate of Bouqueval,
who instructed me in religion, I destine for him the beautiful Christ in my
"Good, my child."
"I should like to send my bandeau of pearls to good little Rigolette. It is
a simple ornament that she can wear on her beautiful black hair; and then,
if it were possible, since you know where Martial and La Louve are, in
Algiers, I should wish that the courageous woman, who once saved my life,
should have my enameled cross. These different pledges of remembrance, my
good father, I should wish to have sent to them _from Fleure-de Marie._"
"I will execute your wishes; have you forgotten none?"
"I believe not, my good father."
"Think carefully: among those who love you, is there not some one very
unhappy--as unhappy as your mother and myself; some one finally who regrets
as deeply as we do your entrance into the convent?"
The poor child understood me she pressed my hand; a slight blush colored
for a moment her pale face.
Anticipating a question which she feared, undoubtedly, to ask me, I said to
her, "He is better; they no longer fear for his life."
"And his father?"
"He feels the improvement in the health of his son--he, too, is better. And
to Henry, what will you give? A remembrance from you will be such a dear,
such a precious consolation to him."
"My father, offer him my praying-desk. Alas! I have often watered it with
my tears, in begging of Heaven strength to forget Henry, since I was not
worthy of his love."
"How happy he will be to see that you had a thought for him!"
"The Asylum for Orphans and young women abandoned by their relations, I
should desire, my good father--"
Here Rudolph's letter was interrupted by the following words which were
almost illegible: "Clémence, Murphy will finish this letter: I have no
longer any mind--I am distracted. Oh, the thirteenth of January!!!"
The conclusion of this letter is the handwriting of Murphy, was thus
YOUR HIGHNESS,--In obedience to the orders of his royal highness, I
complete this sad recital. The two letters of my lord must have prepared
your royal highness for the overwhelming news which it remains to me to
acquaint you with. It was three o'clock; my lord was employed in writing to
your royal highness; I was waiting in a neighboring apartment until he
should give me the letter, to forward it immediately by a courier. Suddenly
I saw the Princess Juliana enter with an air of consternation. "Where is
his royal highness?" said she to me, with a voice filled with emotion.
"Princess, my lord is writing to the grand duchess the news of the day."
"Sir Walter, you must inform my lord--a terrible event. You are his friend,
be so kind as to inform him; from you the blow will be less terrible."
I understood everything; I thought it more prudent to take this sad
revelation upon myself, the superior having added that the Princess Amelia
was slowly sinking away, and that my lord must hasten to receive the last
sighs of his daughter. I unfortunately had not time to take any
precautions. I entered the saloon; his royal highness perceived my
paleness. "You have come to acquaint me of some misfortune."
"An irreparable misfortune, my lord--courage."
"Ah, my presentiments!" cried he, and, without adding a word, he ran to the
cloister. I followed him.
From the apartment of the superior, the Princess Amelia had been
transported into her cell after her last interview with my lord. One of the
sisters was watching by her; at the end of an hour she perceived that the
voice of the Princess Amelia, who spoke to her at intervals, was becoming
weaker, and that she was more distressed. The sister hastened to inform the
superior; Dr. David was called; he hoped to remedy this new loss of
strength by a cordial, but it was in vain; the pulse was scarcely
perceptible; he saw, with despair, that reiterated emotions had probably
exhausted the strength of the Princess Amelia; there remained no hope of
saving her. It was then that my lord arrived. Princess Amelia had just
received the last sacrament; a ray of intelligence still lingered about
her; in one of her hands, crossed on her bosom, was the _remains of her
My lord fell on his knees by her pillow: he sobbed. "My daughter, my
beloved child," cried he in a heart-rending tone.
The Princess Amelia heard him, turned her head gently toward him, opened
her eyes, endeavored to smile, and said, with a feeble voice:
"My good father, pardon--Henry also--my good mother--forgive."
Such were her last words! After an hour of silent agony, she gave up her
spirit to God.
When his daughter had yielded up her last sigh, my lord did not say a word;
his calmness was frightful; he closed the eyes of the princess, kissed her
forehead again and again, took piously the remains of the little rose-bush,
and left the cell.
"I followed him; he returned to the house without the cloister, and showing
me the letter that he had begun to write to your royal highness, and to
which he in vain attempted to add some words, for his hand trembled
convulsively, he said to me:
"It is impossible for me to write. I am distraught, my mind is gone. Write
to the grand duchess that I no longer have a daughter!"
I have executed the orders of my lord. Permit me, as his oldest servant, to
beseech your royal highness to hasten your return as soon as the health of
the Count d'Orbigny will permit it. The presence of your royal highness
alone can calm the despair of the prince. He wishes to watch every night by
his daughter till the day when she shall be buried in the grand ducal
chapel. I have accomplished my sad task, madame; be so kind as to excuse
the incoherence of this letter, and accept the expression of respectful
devotion with which I have the honor to be your loyal highness's very
The night before the funeral service of the Princess Amelia, Clémence
arrived at Gerolstein with her father. Rudolph was not alone the day of the
funeral of Fleur-de-Marie.
[Transcriber's Note: The following appeared in our print copy. Some
are rare words or variant spellings; others are typographical errors.
We have left these as in the print copy.
"Countes" in chapter 1 (elsewhere "Countess");
"Ruldoph" and "Ruldolph" ("Rudolph") in chapter 5;
"amoment's" ("a moment's") in chapter 7;
"ell" (probably for "cell") in chapter 8;
"th" ("the") in chapter 8;
"trangress" ("transgress") in chapter 8;
"blackhole" ("black hole"; i.e., "prison cell") in chapter 9;
"magsman" (Slang for "swindler") in chapter 9;
"bootlining" ("boot lining") in chapter 10;
"surprise" in "more and more surprise" ("surprised") in chapter 11;
"burk" in the poetic quotation in chapter 12;
"intead" ("instead") in chapter 12;
"kindnss" ("kindness") in chapter 21;
"corypheus" in chapter 22;
"Rohefort" ("Rochefort") in chapter 25;
"charcter" ("character") in chapter 29;
"KAMINETN" and "KAMINETZ" both appear in the Epilogue;
"timidily" in chapter 4 of the Epilogue;
"Fräulien" (for "Fräulein") in chapter 4 of the Epilogue;
"conndence" in chapter 7 of the Epilogue.]