Part 6 out of 10
length I hated to hear him named; but the heir at law, at last, will
triumph over me."
"No, my good sir, not if you triumph over yourself, and do justice,"
cried Lord Colambre; "if you listen to the truth, which my friend will
tell you, and if you will read and believe the confirmation of it,
under your son's own hand, in this packet."
"His own hand indeed! His seal--unbroken. But how--when--where--why
was it kept so long, and how came it into your hands?"
Count O'Halloran told Mr. Reynolds that the packet had been given
to him by Captain Reynolds on his death-bed; related the dying
acknowledgment which Captain Reynolds had made of his marriage; and
gave an account of the delivery of the packet to the ambassador, who
had promised to transmit it faithfully. Lord Colambre told the manner
in which it had been mislaid, and at last recovered from among the
deceased ambassador's papers. The father still gazed at the direction,
and re-examined the seals.
"My son's hand-writing--my son's seals! But where is the certificate
of the marriage?" repeated he; "if it is withinside of this packet, I
have done great _in_--but I am convinced it never was a marriage. Yet
I wish now it could be proved--only, in that case, I have for years
"Won't you open the packet, sir?" said Lord Colambre.
Mr. Reynolds looked up at him with a look that said, "I don't clearly
know what interest you have in all this." But, unable to speak, and
his hands trembling so that he could scarcely break the seals, he tore
off the cover, laid the papers before him, sat down, and took breath.
Lord Colambre, however impatient, had now too much humanity to hurry
the old gentleman: he only ran for the spectacles, which he espied
on the chimney-piece, rubbed them bright, and held them ready. Mr.
Reynolds stretched his hand out for them, put them on, and the first
paper he opened was the certificate of the marriage: he read it aloud,
and, putting it down, said, "Now I acknowledge the marriage. I always
said, if there is a marriage there must be a certificate. And you see
now there is a certificate--I acknowledge the marriage."
"And now," cried Lord Colambre, "I am happy, positively happy.
Acknowledge your grand-daughter, sir--acknowledge Miss Nugent."
"Acknowledge whom, sir?"
"Acknowledge Miss Reynolds--your grand-daughter; I ask no more--do
what you will with your fortune."
"Oh, now I understand--I begin to understand, this young gentleman is
in love--but where is my grand-daughter? how shall I know she is my
grand-daughter? I have not heard of her since she was an infant--I
forgot her existence--I have done her great injustice."
"She knows nothing of it, sir," said Lord Colambre, who now entered
into a full explanation of Miss Nugent's history, and of her connexion
with his family, and of his own attachment to her; concluding the
whole by assuring Mr. Reynolds that his grand-daughter had every
virtue under heaven. "And as to your fortune, sir, I know that she
will, as I do, say--"
"No matter what she will say," interrupted old Reynolds; "where is
she? When I see her, I shall hear what she says. Tell me where she
is--let me see her. I long to see whether there is any likeness to her
poor father. Where is she? Let me see her immediately."
"She is one hundred and sixty miles off, sir, at Buxton."
"Well, my lord, and what is a hundred and sixty miles? I suppose
you think I can't stir from my chair, but you are mistaken. I think
nothing of a journey of a hundred and sixty miles--I am ready to set
off to-morrow--this instant."
Lord Colambre said, that he was sure Miss Reynolds would obey her
grandfather's slightest summons, as it was her duty to do, and would
be with him as soon as possible, if this would be more agreeable to
him. "I will write to her instantly," said his lordship, "if you will
"No, my lord, I do not commission--I will go--I think nothing, I
say, of a journey of a hundred and sixty miles--I'll go--and set out
Lord Colambre and the count, perfectly satisfied with the result of
their visit, now thought it best to leave old Reynolds at liberty
to rest himself, after so many strong and varied feelings. They
paid their parting compliments, settled the time for the next day's
journey, and were just going to quit the room, when Lord Colambre
heard in the passage a well-known voice--the voice of Mrs. Petito.
"Oh, no, my Lady Dashfort's best compliments, and I will call again."
"No, no," cried old Reynolds, pulling his bell; "I'll have no calling
again--I'll be hanged if I do! Let her in now, and I'll see her--Jack!
let in that woman now or never."
"The lady's gone, sir, out of the street door."
"After her, then--now or never, tell her."
"Sir, she was in a hackney coach."
Old Reynolds jumped up, and went to the window himself, and, seeing
the hackney coachman just turning, beckoned at the window, and Mrs.
Petito was set down again, and ushered in by Jack, who announced her
as, "the lady, sir." The only lady he had seen in that house.
"My dear Mr. Reynolds, I'm so obliged to you for letting me in," cried
Mrs. Petito, adjusting her shawl in the passage, and speaking in a
voice and manner well mimicked after her betters. "You are so very
good and kind, and I am so much obliged to you."
"You are not obliged to me, and I am neither good nor kind," said old
"You strange man," said Mrs. Petito, advancing graceful in shawl
drapery; but she stopped short. "My Lord Colambre and Count
O'Halloran, as I hope to be saved!"
"I did not know Mrs. Petito was an acquaintance of yours, gentlemen,"
said Mr. Reynolds, smiling shrewdly.
Count O'Halloran was too polite to deny his acquaintance with a lady
who challenged it by thus naming him; but he had not the slightest
recollection of her, though it seems he had met her on the stairs
when he visited Lady Dashfort at Killpatricks-town. Lord Colambre was
"indeed _undeniably an old acquaintance_:" and as soon as she had
recovered from her first natural start and vulgar exclamation, she
with very easy familiarity hoped "my Lady Clonbrony, and my Lord, and
Miss Nugent, and all her friends in the family, were well;" and said,
"she did not know whether she was to congratulate his lordship or not
upon Miss Broadhurst, my Lady Berryl's marriage, but she should soon
have to hope for his lordship's congratulations for another marriage
in _her_ present family--Lady Isabel to Colonel Heathcock, who was
come in for a large _portion_, and they are buying the wedding
clothes--sights of clothes--and the di'monds, this day; and Lady
Dashfort and my Lady Isabel sent me especially, sir, to you, Mr.
Reynolds, and to tell you, sir, before any body else; and to hope the
cheese _come_ safe up again at last; and to ask whether the Iceland
moss agrees with your chocolate, and is palatable? it's the most
_diluent_ thing upon the universal earth, and the most _tonic_ and
fashionable--the Duchess of Torcaster takes it always for breakfast,
and Lady St. James too is quite a convert, and I hear the Duke of V***
takes it too."
"And the devil may take it too, for any thing that I care," said old
"Oh, my dear, dear sir! you are so refractory a patient."
"I am no patient at all, ma'am, and have no patience either: I am as
well as you are, or my Lady Dashfort either, and hope, God willing,
long to continue so."
Mrs. Petito smiled aside at Lord Colambre, to mark her perception of
the man's strangeness. Then, in a cajoling voice, addressing herself
to the old gentleman, "Long, long, I hope, to continue so, if Heaven
grants my daily and nightly prayers, and my Lady Dashfort's also. So,
Mr. Reynolds, if the ladies' prayers are of any avail, you ought to be
purely, and I suppose ladies' prayers have the precedence in efficacy.
But it was not of prayers and death-bed affairs I came commissioned to
treat--but of weddings my diplomacy was to speak: and to premise my
Lady Dashfort would have come herself in her carriage, but is hurried
out of her senses, and my Lady Isabel could not in proper modesty; so
they sent me as their _double_, to hope you, my dear Mr. Reynolds,
who is one of the family relations, will honour the wedding with your
"It would be no honour, and they know that as well as I do," said the
intractable Mr. Reynolds. "It will be no advantage, either; but that
they do not know as well as I do. Mrs. Petito, to save you and your
lady all trouble about me in future, please to let my Lady Dashfort
know that I have just received and read the certificate of my son
Captain Reynolds' marriage with Miss St. Omar. I have acknowledged the
marriage. Better late than never; and to-morrow morning, God willing,
shall set out with this young nobleman for Buxton, where I hope to
see, and intend publicly to acknowledge, my grand-daughter--provided
she will acknowledge me."
"_Crimini!_" exclaimed Mrs. Petito, "what new turns are here? Well,
sir, I shall tell my lady of the _metamorphoses_ that have taken
place, though by what magic I can't guess. But, since it seems
annoying and inopportune, I shall make my _finale_, and shall thus
leave a verbal P.P.C.--as you are leaving town, it seems, for Buxton
so early in the morning. My Lord Colambre, if I see rightly into a
millstone, as I hope and believe I do on the present occasion, I
have to congratulate your lordship (haven't I?) upon something like
a succession, or a windfall, in this _denewment_. And I beg you'll
make my humble respects acceptable to the _ci-devant_ Miss Grace
Nugent that was; and I won't _derrogate_ her by any other name in
the interregnum, as I am persuaded it will only be a temporary name,
scarce worth assuming, except for the honour of the public adoption;
and that will, I'm confident, be soon exchanged for a viscount's
title, or I have no sagacity or sympathy. I hope I don't (pray don't
let me) put you to the blush, my lord."
Lord Colambre would not have let her, if he could have helped it.
"Count O'Halloran, your most obedient! I had the honour of meeting
you at Killpatricks-town," said Mrs. Petito, backing to the door, and
twitching her shawl. She stumbled, nearly fell down, over the large
dog--caught by the door, and recovered herself--Hannibal rose and
shook his ears. "Poor fellow! you are of my acquaintance, too." She
would have stroked his head; but Hannibal walked off indignant, and so
Thus ended certain hopes: for Mrs. Petito had conceived that her
_diplomacy_ might be turned to account; that in her character of an
ambassadress, as Lady Dashfort's double, by the aid of Iceland moss in
chocolate, of flattery properly administered, and of bearing with all
her _dear_ Mr. Reynolds' _oddnesses_ and _rough-nesses_, she might in
time--that is to say, before he made a new will--become his dear Mrs.
Petito; or (for stranger things have happened and do happen every
day), his dear Mrs. Reynolds! Mrs. Petito, however, was good at a
retreat; and she flattered herself that at least nothing of this
underplot had appeared: and at all events she secured, by her services
in this embassy, the long looked-for object of her ambition, Lady
Dashfort's scarlet velvet gown--"not yet a thread the worse for the
wear!" One cordial look at this comforted her for the loss of her
expected _octogenaire_; and she proceeded to discomfit her lady, by
repeating the message with which strange old Mr. Reynolds had charged
her. So ended all Lady Dashfort's hopes of his fortune.
Since the death of his youngest son, she had been indefatigable in her
attentions, and sanguine in her hopes: the disappointment affected
both her interest and her pride, as an _intrigante_. It was necessary,
however, to keep her feelings to herself; for if Heathcock should hear
any thing of the matter before the articles were signed, he might "be
off!"--so she put him and Lady Isabel into her coach directly--drove
to Rundell and Bridges', to make sure at all events of the jewels.
In the mean time Count O'Halloran and Lord Colambre, delighted with
the result of their visit, took leave of Mr. Reynolds, after having
arranged the journey, and appointed the hour for setting off the next
day. Lord Colambre proposed to call upon Mr. Reynolds in the evening,
and introduce his father, Lord Clonbrony; but Mr. Reynolds said, "No,
no! I'm not ceremonious. I have given you proofs enough of that, I
think, in the short time we've been already acquainted. Time enough
to introduce your father to me when we are in a carriage, going our
journey: then we can talk, and get acquainted: but merely to come
this evening in a hurry, and say, 'Lord Clonbrony, Mr. Reynolds;--Mr.
Reynolds, Lord Clonbrony'--and then bob our two heads at one another,
and scrape one foot back, and away!--where's the use of that nonsense
at my time of life, or at any time of life? No, no! we have enough to
do without that, I dare say.--Good morning to you, Count O'Halloran!
I thank you heartily. From the first moment I saw you, I liked you:
lucky too, that you brought your dog with you! 'Twas Hannibal made me
first let you in; I saw him over the top of the blind. Hannibal, my
good fellow! I'm more obliged to you than you can guess."
"So are we all," said Lord Colambre.
Hannibal was well patted, and then they parted. In returning home they
met Sir James Brooke.
"I told you," said Sir James, "I should be in London almost as soon as
you. Have you found old Reynolds?"
"Just come from him."
"How does your business prosper? I hope as well as mine."
A history of all that had passed up to the present moment was given,
and hearty congratulations received.
"Where are you going now, Sir James?--cannot you come with us?" said
Lord Colambre and the count.
"Impossible," replied Sir James;--"but, perhaps, you can come with
me--I'm going to Rundell and Bridges', to give some old family
diamonds either to be new set or exchanged. Count O'Halloran, I know
you are a judge of these things; pray come and give me your opinion."
"Better consult your bride elect!" said the count.
"No; she knows little of the matter--and cares less," replied Sir
"Not so this bride elect, or I mistake her much," said the count,
as they passed by the window, at Rundell and Bridges', and saw Lady
Isabel, who, with Lady Dashfort, had been holding consultation deep
with the jeweller; and Heathcock, playing _personnage muet_.
Lady Dashfort, who had always, as old Reynolds expressed it, "her
head upon her shoulders,"--presence of mind where her interests were
concerned, ran to the door before the count and Lord Colambre could
enter, giving a hand to each--as if they had all parted the best
friends in the world.
"How do? how do?--Give you joy! give me joy! and all that. But mind!
not a word," said she, laying her finger upon her lips, "not a word
before Heathcock of old Reynolds, or of the best part of the old
The gentlemen bowed, in sign of submission to her ladyship's commands;
and comprehended that she feared Heathcock might _be off_, if the best
part of his bride (her fortune, or her _expectations_) were lowered in
value or in prospect.
"How low is she reduced," whispered Lord Colambre, "when such a
husband is thought a prize--and to be secured by a manoeuvre!" He
"Spare that generous sigh!" said Sir James Brooke: "it is wasted."
Lady Isabel, as they approached, turned from a mirror, at which she
was trying on a diamond crescent. Her face clouded at the sight of
Count O'Halloran and Lord Colambre, and grew dark as hatred when she
saw Sir James Brooke. She walked away to the farther end of the shop,
and asked one of the shopmen the price of a diamond necklace, which
lay upon the counter.
The man said he really did not know; it belonged to Lady Oranmore; it
had just been new set for one of her ladyship's daughters, "who is
going to be married to Sir James Brooke--one of the gentlemen, my
lady, who are just come in."
Then, calling to his master, he asked him the price of the necklace:
he named the value, which was considerable.
"I really thought Lady Oranmore and her daughters were vastly too
philosophical to think of diamonds," said Lady Isabel to her mother,
with a sort of sentimental sneer in her voice and countenance. "But it
is some comfort to me to find, in these pattern-women, philosophy and
love do not so wholly engross the heart, that they
"'Feel every vanity in fondness lost.'"
"'Twould be difficult, in some cases," thought many present.
"'Pon honour, di'monds are cursed expensive things, I know!" said
Heathcock. "But, be that as it may," whispered he to the lady, though
loud enough to be heard by others, "I've laid a damned round wager,
that no woman's diamonds married this winter, under a countess, in
Lon'on, shall eclipse Lady Isabel Heathcock's! and Mr. Rundell here's
to be judge."
Lady Isabel paid for this promise one of her sweetest smiles; one of
those smiles which she had formerly bestowed upon Lord Colambre,
and which he had once fancied expressed so much sensibility--such
discriminative and delicate penetration.
Our hero felt so much contempt, that he never wasted another sigh
of pity for her degradation. Lady Dashfort came up to him as he was
standing alone; and, whilst the count and Sir James were settling
about the diamonds, "My Lord Colambre," said she, in a low voice, "I
know your thoughts, and I could moralize as well as you, if I did not
prefer laughing--you are right enough; and so am I, and so is Isabel;
we are all right. For look here: women have not always the liberty of
choice, and therefore they can't be expected to have always the power
The mother, satisfied with her convenient optimism, got into her
carriage with her daughter, her daughter's diamonds, and her precious
son-in-law, her daughter's companion for life.
"The more I see," said Count O'Halloran to Lord Colambre, as they
left the shop, "the more I find reason to congratulate you upon your
escape, my dear lord."
"I owe it not to my own wit or wisdom," said Lord Colambre; "but much
to love, and much to friendship," added he, turning to Sir James
Brooke: "here was the friend who early warned me against the siren's
voice; who, before I knew the Lady Isabel, told me what I have since
found to be true, that
"'Two passions alternately govern her fate--Her
business is love, but her pleasure is hate,'"
"That is dreadfully severe, Sir James," said Count O'Halloran; "but, I
am afraid, is just."
"I am sure it is just, or I would not have said it," replied Sir James
Brooke. "For the foibles of the sex, I hope, I have as much indulgence
as any man, and for the errors of passion as much pity; but I cannot
repress the indignation, the abhorrence I feel against women cold
and vain, who use their wit and their charms only to make others
Lord Colambre recollected at this moment Lady Isabel's look and voice,
when she declared that she would let her little finger be cut off to
purchase the pleasure of inflicting on Lady De Cressy, for one hour,
the torture of jealousy.
"Perhaps," continued Sir James Brooke, "now that I am going to marry
into an Irish family, I may feel, with peculiar energy, disapprobation
of this mother and daughter on another account; but you, Lord
Colambre, will do me the justice to recollect, that before I had any
personal interest in the country, I expressed, as a general friend to
Ireland, antipathy to those who return the hospitality they received
from a warm-hearted people, by publicly setting the example of elegant
sentimental hypocrisy, or daring disregard of decorum, by privately
endeavouring to destroy the domestic peace of families, on which, at
last, public as well as private virtue and happiness depend. I do
rejoice, my dear Lord Colambre, to hear you say that I had any share
in saving you from the siren; and now I will never speak of these
ladies more. I am sorry you cannot stay in town to see--but why should
I be sorry--we shall meet again, I trust, and I shall introduce you;
and you, I hope, will introduce me to a very different charmer.
Farewell!--you have my warm good wishes, wherever you go."
Sir James turned off quickly to the street in which Lady Oranmore
lived, and Lord Colambre had not time to tell him that he knew and
admired his intended bride. Count O'Halloran promised to do this for
"And now," said the good count, "I am to take leave of you; and I
assure you I do it with so much reluctance, that nothing less than
positive engagements to stay in town would prevent me from setting
off with you to-morrow; but I shall be soon, very soon, at liberty to
return to Ireland; and Clonbrony Castle, if you will give me leave, I
will see before I see Halloran Castle."
Lord Colambre joyfully thanked his friend for this promise.
"Nay, it is to indulge myself. I long to see you happy--long to behold
the choice of such a heart as yours. Pray do not steal a march upon
me--let me know in time. I will leave every thing--even my friend the
minister's secret expedition--for your wedding. But I trust I shall be
"Assuredly you will, my dear count; if ever that wedding--"
"_If_," repeated the count.
"_If_," repeated Lord Colambre. "Obstacles which, when we last parted,
appeared to me invincible, prevented my having ever even attempted to
make an impression on the heart of the woman I love: and if you knew
her, count, as well as I do, you would know that her love could 'not
unsought be won.'"
"Of that I cannot doubt, or she would not be your choice; but when
her love is sought, we have every reason to hope," said the count,
smiling, "that it may, because it ought to be, won by tried honour and
affection. I only require to be left in hope."
"Well, I leave you hope," said Lord Colambre: "Miss Nugent--Miss
Reynolds, I should say, has been in the habit of considering a union
with me as impossible; my mother early instilled this idea into
her mind. Miss Nugent thought that duty forbad her to think of me;
she told me so: I have seen it in all her conduct and manners. The
barriers of habit, the ideas of duty, cannot, ought not, to be thrown
down, or suddenly changed, in a well-regulated female mind. And you,
I am sure, know enough of the best female hearts, to be aware that
"Well, well, let this dear good charmer take her own time, provided
there's none given to affectation, or prudery, or coquetry; and from
all these, of course, she must be free; and of course I must be
As Lord Colambre was returning home, he was overtaken by Sir Terence
"Well, my lord," cried Sir Terence, out of breath, "you have led me a
pretty dance all over the town: here's a letter somewhere down in my
safe pocket for you, which has cost me trouble enough. Phoo! where is
it now?--it's from Miss Nugent," said he, holding up the letter. The
direction to Grosvenor-square, London, had been scratched out; and it
had been re-directed by Sir Terence to the Lord Viscount Colambre, at
Sir James Brooke's, Bart., Brookwood, Huntingdonshire, or elsewhere,
with speed, "But the more haste the worse speed; for away it went to
Brookwood, Huntingdonshire, where I knew, if any where, you was to be
found; but, as fate and the post would have it, there the letter went
coursing after you, while you were running round, and _back_, and
forwards, and every where, I understand, to Toddrington and Wrestham,
and where not, through all them English places, where there's no
cross-post: so I took it for granted that it found its way to the
dead-letter office, or was sticking up across a pane in the d----d
postmaster's window at Huntingdon, for the whole town to see, and it a
love-letter, and some puppy to claim it, under false pretence; and you
all the time without it, and it might breed a coolness betwixt you and
"But, my dear Sir Terence, give me the letter now you have me."
"Oh, my dear lord, if you knew what a race I have had, missing you
here by five minutes, and there by five seconds--but I have you at
last, and you have it--and I'm paid this minute for all I liquidated
of my substance, by the pleasure I have in seeing you crack
the seal and read it. But take care you don't tumble over the
orange-woman--orange barrows are a great nuisance, when one's studying
a letter in the streets of London, or the metropolis. But never heed;
stick to my arm, and I'll guide you, like a blind man, safe through
the thick of them."
Miss Nugent's letter, which Lord Colambre read in spite of the
jostling of passengers, and the incessant talking of Sir Terence, was
"Let me not be the cause of banishing you from your home and your
country, where you would do so much good, and make so many happy.
Let me not be the cause of your breaking your promise to your
mother; of your disappointing my dear aunt so cruelly, who has
complied with all our wishes, and who sacrifices, to oblige us,
her favourite tastes. How could she be ever happy in Ireland--how
could Clonbrony Castle be a home to her without her son? If you
take away all she had of amusement and _pleasure_, as it is
called, are not you bound to give her, in their stead, that
domestic happiness, which she can enjoy only with you, and by your
means? If, instead of living with her, you go into the army, she
will be in daily, nightly anxiety and alarm about you; and her son
will, instead of being a comfort, be a source of torment to her.
"I will hope that you will do now, as you have always hitherto
done, on every occasion where I have seen you act, what is right,
and just, and kind. Come here on the day you promised my aunt you
would; before that time I shall be in Cambridgeshire, with my
friend Lady Berryl; she is so good as to come to Buxton for me--I
shall remain with her, instead of returning to Ireland. I have
explained my reasons to my dear aunt--Could I have any concealment
from her, to whom, from my earliest childhood, I owe every thing
that kindness and affection could give? She is satisfied--she
consents to my living henceforward with Lady Berryl. Let me have
the pleasure of seeing by your conduct, that you approve of mine.
"Your affectionate cousin
This letter, as may be imagined by those who, like him, are capable
of feeling honourable and generous conduct, gave our hero exquisite
pleasure. Poor, good-natured Sir Terence O'Fay enjoyed his lordship's
delight; and forgot himself so completely, that he never even inquired
whether Lord Colambre had thought of an affair on which he had spoken
to him some time before, and which materially concerned Sir Terence's
interest. The next morning, when the carriage was at the door, and
Sir Terence was just taking leave of his friend Lord Clonbrony, and
actually in tears, wishing them all manner of happiness, though he
said there was none left now in London, or the wide world even, for
him--Lord Colambre went up to him, and said, "Sir Terence, you have
never inquired whether I have done your business."
"Oh, my dear, I'm not thinking of that now--time enough by the post--I
can write after you; but my thoughts won't turn for me to business
"Your business is done," replied Lord Colambre.
"Then I wonder how you could think of it, with all you had upon your
mind and heart. When any thing's upon my heart, good morning to my
head, it's not worth a lemon. Good-bye to you, and thank you kindly,
and all happiness attend you."
"Good-bye to you, Sir Terence O'Fay," said Lord Clonbrony; "and, since
it's so ordered, I must live without you."
"Oh! you'll live better without me, my lord; I am not a good liver, I
know, nor the best of all companions, for a nobleman, young or old;
and now you'll be rich, and not put to your shifts and your wits, what
would I have to do for you?--Sir Terence O'Fay, you know, was only
_the poor nobleman's friend_, and you'll never want to call upon him
again, thanks to your jewel, your Pitt's-diamond of a son there. So
we part here, and depend upon it you're better without me--that's all
my comfort, or my heart would break. The carriage is waiting this
long time, and this young lover's aching to be off. God bless you
both!--that's my last word."
They called in Red Lion-square, punctual to the moment, on old Mr.
Reynolds, but his window-shutters were shut; he had been seized in
the night with a violent fit of the gout, which, as he said, held him
fast by the leg. "But here," said he, giving Lord Colambre a letter,
"here's what will do your business without me. Take this written
acknowledgment I have penned for you, and give my grand-daughter her
father's letter to read--it would touch a heart of stone--touched
mine--wish I could drag the mother back out of her grave, to do her
justice--all one now. You see, at last, I'm not a suspicious rascal,
however, for I don't suspect you of palming a false grand-daughter
"Will you," said Lord Colambre, "give your grand-daughter leave to
come up to town to you, sir! You would satisfy yourself, at least, as
to what resemblance she may bear to her father: Miss Reynolds will
come instantly, and she will nurse you."
"No, no; I won't have her come. If she comes, I won't see her--sha'n't
begin by nursing me--not selfish. As soon as I get rid of this gout,
I shall be my own man, and young again, and I'll soon be after you
across the sea, that sha'n't stop me: I'll come to--what's the name
of your place in Ireland?--and see what likeness I can find to her
poor father in this grand-daughter of mine, that you puffed so finely
yesterday. And let me see whether she will wheedle me as finely as
Mrs. Petito would. Don't get ready your marriage settlements, do you
hear? till you have seen my will, which I shall sign at--what's the
name of your place? Write it down there; there's pen and ink; and
leave me, for the twinge is coming, and I shall roar."
"Will you permit me, sir, to leave my own servant with you to take
care of you? I can answer for his attention and fidelity."
"Let me see his face, and I'll tell you."
Lord Colambre's servant was summoned.
"Yes, I like his face. God bless you!--Leave me."
Lord Colambre gave his servant a charge to bear with Mr. Reynolds'
rough manner and temper, and to pay the poor old gentleman every
possible attention. Then our hero proceeded with his father on his
journey, and on this journey nothing happened worthy of note. On his
first perusal of the letter from Grace, Lord Colambre had feared that
she would have left Buxton with Lady Berryl before he could reach it;
but, upon recollection, he hoped that the few lines he had written,
addressed to his mother _and_ Miss Nugent, with the assurance that
he should be with them on Wednesday, would be sufficient to show her
that some great change had happened, and consequently sufficient to
prevent her from quitting her aunt, till she could know whether such
a separation would be necessary. He argued wisely, more wisely than
Grace had reasoned; for, notwithstanding this note, she would have
left Buxton before his arrival, but for Lady Berryl's strength of
mind, and positive determination not to set out with her till Lord
Colambre should arrive to explain. In the interval, poor Grace was,
indeed, in an anxious state of suspense; and her uncertainty, whether
she was doing right or wrong, by staying to see Lord Colambre,
tormented her most.
"My dear, you cannot help yourself: be quiet," said Lady Berryl: "I
will take the whole upon my conscience; and I hope my conscience may
never have any thing worse to answer for."
Grace was the first person who, from her window, saw Lord Colambre,
the instant the carriage drove to the door. She ran to her friend Lady
Berryl's apartment. "He is come!--Now, take me away."
"Not yet, my sweet friend! Lie down upon this sofa, if you please; and
keep yourself tranquil, whilst I go and see what you ought to do; and
depend upon me for a true friend, in whose mind, as in your own, duty
is the first object."
"I depend on you entirely," said Grace, sinking down on the sofa: "and
you see I obey you!"
"Many thanks to you for lying down, when you can't stand."
Lady Berryl went to Lord Clonbrony's apartment; she was met by Sir
Arthur. "Come, my love! come quick!--Lord Colambre is arrived."
"I know it; and does he go to Ireland? Speak instantly, that I may
tell Grace Nugent."
"You can tell her nothing yet, my love; for we know nothing. Lord
Colambre will not say a word till you come; but I know, by his
countenance, that he has good and extraordinary news."
They passed rapidly along the passage to Lady Clonbrony's room.
"Oh, my dear, dear Lady Berryl, come! or I shall die with impatience,"
cried Lady Clonbrony, in a voice and manner between laughing and
crying. "There, now you have congratulated, are very happy, and very
glad, and all that--now, for mercy's sake, sit down, Lord Clonbrony!
for Heaven's sake, sit down--beside me here--or any where! Now,
Colambre, begin; and tell us all at once!"
But as nothing is so tedious as a twice told tale, Lord Colambre's
narrative need not here be repeated. He began with Count O'Halloran's
visit, immediately after Lady Clonbrony had left London; and went
through the history of the discovery that Captain Reynolds was
the husband of Miss St. Omar, and the father of Grace: the dying
acknowledgment of his marriage; the packet delivered by Count
O'Halloran to the careless ambassador--how recovered, by the
assistance of his executor, Sir James Brooke; the travels from
Wrestham to Toddrington, and thence to Red Lion-square; the interview
with old Reynolds, and its final result: all was related as succinctly
as the impatient curiosity of Lord Colambre's auditors could desire.
"Oh, wonder upon wonder! and joy upon joy!" cried Lady Clonbrony. "So
my darling Grace is as legitimate as I am, and an heiress after all.
Where is she? where is she? In your room, Lady Berryl?--Oh, Colambre!
why wouldn't you let her be by?--Lady Berryl, do you know, he would
not let me send for her, though she was the person of all others most
"For that very reason, ma'am; and that Lord Colambre was quite right,
I am sure you must be sensible, when you recollect, that Grace has no
idea that she is not the daughter of Mr. Nugent: she has no suspicion
that the breath of blame ever lighted upon her mother. This part of
the story cannot be announced to her with too much caution; and,
indeed, her mind has been so much harassed and agitated, and she is at
present so far from strong, that great delicacy--."
"True! very true, Lady Berryl," interrupted Lady Clonbrony; "and I'll
be as delicate as you please about it afterwards: but, in the first
and foremost place, I must tell her the best part of the story--that
she's an heiress; that never killed any body!"
So, darting through all opposition, Lady Clonbrony made her way into
the room where Grace was lying--"Yes, get up! get up! my own Grace,
and be surprised--well you may!--you are an heiress, after all."
"Am I, my dear aunt?" said Grace.
"True, as I'm Lady Clonbrony--and a very great heiress--and no more
Colambre's cousin than Lady Berryl here. So now begin and love him as
fast as you please--I give my consent--and here he is."
Lady Clonbrony turned to her son, who just appeared at the door.
"Ob, mother! what have you done?"
"What have I done?" cried Lady Clonbrony, following her son's
eyes:--"Lord bless me!--Grace fainted dead--Lady Berryl! Oh, what have
I done? My dear Lady Berryl, what shall we do?"
Lady Berryl hastened to her friend's assistance.
"There! her colour's coming again," said Lord Clonbrony; "come away,
my dear Lady Clonbrony, for the present, and so will I--though I long
to talk to the darling girl myself; but she is not equal to it yet."
When Grace came to herself, she first saw Lady Berryl leaning over
her, and, raising herself a little, she said, "What has happened?--I
don't know yet--I don't know whether I am happy or not.--Explain all
this to me, my dear friend; for I am still as if I were in a dream."
With all the delicacy which Lady Clonbrony deemed superfluous, Lady
Berryl explained. Nothing could surpass the astonishment of Grace,
on first learning that Mr. Nugent was not her father. When she was
told of the stigma that had been cast on her birth; the suspicions,
the disgrace, to which her mother had been subjected for so many
years--that mother, whom she had so loved and respected; who had, with
such care, instilled into the mind of her daughter the principles
of virtue and religion; that mother whom Grace had always seen the
example of every virtue she taught; on whom her daughter never
suspected that the touch of blame, the breath of scandal, could
rest--Grace could express her sensations only by repeating, in tones
of astonishment, pathos, indignation--"My mother!--my mother!--my
For some time she was incapable of attending to any other idea, or
of feeling any other sensations. When her mind was able to admit the
thought, her friend soothed her, by recalling the expressions of Lord
Colambre's love--the struggle by which he had been agitated, when he
fancied a union with her opposed by an invincible obstacle.
Grace sighed, and acknowledged that, in prudence, it ought to have
been an _invincible_ obstacle--she admired the firmness of his
decision, the honour with which he had acted towards her. One moment
she exclaimed, "Then, if I had been the daughter of a mother who had
conducted herself ill, he never would have trusted me!" The next
moment she recollected, with pleasure, the joy she had just seen in
his eyes--the affection, the passion, that spoke in every word and
look; then dwelt upon the sober certainty, that all obstacles were
removed. "And no duty opposes my loving him!--And my aunt wishes it!
my kind aunt! and my dear uncle! should not I go to him?--But he is
not my uncle, she is not my aunt. I cannot bring myself to think that
they are not my relations, and that I am nothing to them."
"You may be every thing to them, my dear Grace," said Lady
Berryl:--"whenever you please, you may be their daughter."
Grace blushed, and smiled, and sighed, and was consoled. But then she
recollected her new relation, Mr. Reynolds, her grandfather, whom she
had never seen, who had for years disowned her--treated her mother
with injustice. She could scarcely think of him with complacency: yet,
when his age, his sufferings, his desolate state, were represented,
she pitied him; and, faithful to her strong sense of duty, would
have gone instantly to offer him every assistance and attention in
her power. Lady Berryl assured her that Mr. Reynolds had positively
forbidden her going to him; and that he had assured Lord Colambre he
would not see her if she went to him. After such rapid and varied
emotions, poor Grace desired repose, and her friend took care that it
should be secured to her for the remainder of the day.
In the mean time, Lord Clonbrony had kindly and judiciously employed
his lady in a discussion about certain velvet furniture, which Grace
had painted for the drawing-room at Clonbrony Castle.
In Lady Clonbrony's mind, as in some bad paintings, there was no
_keeping_; all objects, great and small, were upon the same level.
The moment her son entered the room, her ladyship exclaimed, "Every
thing pleasant at once! Here's your father tells me, Grace's velvet
furniture's all packed: really Soho's the best man in the world of his
kind, and the cleverest--and so, after all, my dear Colambre, as I
always hoped and prophesied, at last you will marry an heiress."
"And Terry," said Lord Clonbrony, "will win his wager from Mordicai."
"Terry!" repeated Lady Clonbrony, "that odious Terry!--I hope, my
lord, that he is not to be one of my comforts in Ireland."
"No, my dear mother; he is much better provided for than we could
have expected. One of my father's first objects was to prevent him
from being any encumbrance to you. We consulted him as to the means
of making him happy; and the knight acknowledged that he had long
been casting a sheep's eye at a little snug place, that will soon be
open in his native country--the chair of assistant barrister at the
sessions. Assistant barrister!' said my father; 'but, my dear Terry,
you have been all your life evading the laws, and very frequently
breaking the peace; do you think this has qualified you peculiarly for
being a guardian of the laws?' Sir Terence replied, 'Yes, sure; set
a thief to catch a thief is no bad maxim. And did not Mr. Colquhoun,
the Scotchman, get himself made a great justice, by his making all the
world as wise as himself, about thieves of all sorts, by land and by
water, and in the air too, where he detected the mud-larks?--And is
not Barrington chief-justice of Botany Bay?"
"My father now began to be seriously alarmed, lest Sir Terence should
insist upon his using his interest to make him an assistant barrister.
He was not aware that five years' practice at the bar was a necessary
accomplishment for this office; when, fortunately for all parties, my
good friend, Count O'Halloran, helped us out of the difficulty, by
starting an idea full of practical justice. A literary friend of the
count's had been for some time promised a lucrative situation under
government: but, unfortunately, he was a man of so much merit and
ability, that they could not find employment for him at home, and they
gave him a commission, I should rather say a contract abroad, for
supplying the army with Hungarian horses. Now the gentleman had not
the slightest skill in horse-flesh; and, as Sir Terence is a complete
_jockey_, the count observed that he would be the best possible deputy
for his literary friend. We warranted him to be a thorough going
friend; and I do think the coalition will be well for both parties.
The count has settled it all, and I left Sir Terence comfortably
provided for, out of your way, my dear mother; and as happy as he
could be, when parting from my father."
Lord Colambre was assiduous in engaging his mother's attention upon
any subject, which could for the present draw her thoughts away from
her young friend; but at every pause in the conversation, her ladyship
repeated, "So Grace is an heiress after all--so, after all, they know
they are not cousins! Well, I prefer Grace, a thousand times over, to
any other heiress in England. No obstacle, no objection. They have my
consent. I always prophesied Colambre would marry an heiress; but why
not marry directly?"
Her ardour and impatience to hurry things forward seemed now likely to
retard the accomplishment of her own wishes; and Lord Clonbrony, who
understood rather more of the passion of love than his lady ever had
felt or understood, saw the agony into which she threw her son, and
felt for his darling Grace. With a degree of delicacy and address of
which few would have supposed Lord Clonbrony capable, his lordship
co-operated with his son in endeavouring to keep Lady Clonbrony
quiet, and to suppress the hourly thanksgivings of Grace's _turning
out an heiress_. On one point, however, she vowed she would not be
overruled--she would have a splendid wedding at Clonbrony Castle, such
as should become an heir and heiress; and the wedding, she hoped,
would be immediately on their return to Ireland: she should announce
the thing to her friends directly on her arrival at Clonbrony Castle.
"My dear," said Lord Clonbrony, "we must wait, in the first place, the
pleasure of old Mr. Reynolds' fit of the gout."
"Why, that's true, because of his will," said her ladyship; "but a
will's soon made, is not it? That can't be much delay."
"And then there must be settlements," said Lord Clonbrony; "they take
time. Lovers, like all the rest of mankind, must submit to the law's
delay. In the mean time, my dear, as these Buxton baths agree with you
so well, and as Grace does not seem to be over and above strong for
travelling a long journey, and as there are many curious and beautiful
scenes of nature here in Derbyshire--Matlock, and the wonders of the
Peak, and so on--which the young people would be glad to see together,
and may not have another opportunity soon--why not rest ourselves a
little? For another reason, too," continued his lordship, bringing
together as many arguments as he could--for he had often found,
that though Lady Clonbrony was a match for any single argument, her
understanding could be easily overpowered by a number, of whatever
sort--"besides, my dear, here's Sir Arthur and Lady Berryl come to
Buxton on purpose to meet us; and we owe them some compliment, and
something more than compliment, I think: so I don't see why we should
be in a hurry to leave them, or quit Buxton--a few weeks sooner or
later can't signify--and Clonbrony Castle will be getting all the
while into better order for us. Burke is gone down there; and if we
stay here quietly, there will be time for the velvet furniture to get
there before us, and to be unpacked, and up in the drawing-room."
"That's true, my lord," said Lady Clonbrony; "and there is a great
deal of reason in all you say--so I second that motion, as Colambre, I
see, subscribes to it."
They stayed some time in Derbyshire, and every day Lord Clonbrony
proposed some pleasant excursion, and contrived that the young people
should be left to themselves, as Mrs. Broadhurst used so strenuously
to advise; the recollection of whose authoritative maxims fortunately
still operated upon Lady Clonbrony, to the great ease and advantage of
Happy as a lover, a friend, a son; happy in the consciousness of
having restored a father to respectability, and persuaded a mother
to quit the feverish joys of fashion for the pleasures of domestic
life; happy in the hope of winning the whole heart of the woman he
loved, and whose esteem, he knew, he possessed and deserved; happy
in developing every day, every hour, fresh charms in his destined
bride--we leave our hero, returning to his native country.
And we leave him with the reasonable expectation that he will support
through life the promise of his early character; that his patriotic
views will extend with his power to carry wishes into action; that his
attachment to his warm-hearted countrymen will still increase upon
further acquaintance; and that he will long diffuse happiness through
the wide circle, which is peculiarly subject to the influence and
example of a great resident Irish proprietor.
LETTER FROM LARRY TO HIS BROTHER, PAT BRADY, AT MR. MORDICAI'S,
COACH MAKER, LONDON.
"MY DEAR BROTHER,
"Yours of the 16th, enclosing the five pound note for my father,
came safe to hand Monday last; and with his thanks and blessing
to you, he commends it to you herewith enclosed back again, on
account of his being in no immediate necessity, nor likelihood to
want in future, as you shall hear forthwith; but wants you over
with all speed, and the note will answer for travelling charges;
for we can't enjoy the luck it has pleased God to give us, without
_yees_; put the rest in your pocket, and read it when you've time.
"Old Nick's gone, and St. Dennis along with him, to the place he
come from--praise be to God! The _ould_ lord has found him out in
his tricks; and I helped him to that, through the young lord that
I driv, as I informed you in my last, when he was a Welshman,
which was the best turn ever I did, though I did not know it no
more than Adam that time. So _Ould_ Nick's turned out of the
agency clean and clear; and the day after it was known, there was
surprising great joy through the whole country; not surprising,
either, but just what you might, knowing him, rasonably expect.
He (that is, Old Nick and St. Dennis) would have been burnt that
night--I _mane_, in _effigy_, through the town of Clonbrony, but
that the new man, Mr. Burke, came down that day too soon to stop
it, and said, 'it was not becoming to trample on the fallen,' or
something that way, that put an end to it; and though it was a
great disappointment to many, and to me in particular, I could not
but like the jantleman the better for it any how. They say he is
a very good jantleman, and as unlike Old Nick or the saint as can
be; and takes no duty fowl, nor glove, nor sealing money; nor asks
duty work nor duty turf. Well, when I was disappointed of the
_effigy_, I comforted myself by making a bonfire of Old Nick's big
rick of duty turf, which, by great luck, was out in the road, away
from all dwelling-house, or thatch, or yards, to take fire: so no
danger in life, or objection. And such another blaze! I wished
you'd seed it--and all the men, women, and children, in the town
and country, far and near, gathered round it, shouting and dancing
like mad!--and it was light as day quite across the bog, as far as
Hartley Finnigan's house. And I heard after, they seen it from all
parts of the three counties, and they thought it was St. John's
Eve in a mistake--or couldn't make out what it was; but all took
it in good part, for a good sign, and were in great joy. As for
St. Dennis and _Ould_ Nick, an attorney had his foot upon 'em with
an habere, a latitat, and three executions hanging over 'em: and
there's the end of rogues! and a great example in the country.
And--no more about it; for I can't be wasting more ink upon them
that don't deserve it at my hands, when I want it for them that
do, as you shall see. So some weeks past, and there was great
cleaning at Clonbrony Castle, and in the town of Clonbrony; and
the new agent's smart and clever: and he had the glaziers, and
the painters, and the slaters, up and down in the town wherever
wanted; and you wouldn't know it again. Thinks I, this is no bad
sign! Now, cock up your ears, Pat! for the great news is coming,
and the good. The master's come home, long life to him! and family
come home yesterday, all entirely! The _ould_ lord and the young
lord, (ay, there's the man, Paddy!) and my lady, and Miss Nugent.
And I driv Miss Nugent's maid and another; so I had the luck to be
in it along _wid_ 'em, and see all, from first to last. And first,
I must tell you, my young Lord Colambre remembered and noticed me
the minute he lit at our inn, and condescended to beckon me out of
the yard to him, and axed me--' Friend Larry,' says he, 'did you
keep your promise?'--'My oath again the whiskey, is it?' says
I. 'My lord, I surely did,' said I; which was true, as all the
country knows I never tasted a drop since. 'And I'm proud to see
your honour, my lord, as good as your word, too, and back again
among us.' So then there was a call for the horses; and no more at
that time passed betwix' my young lord and me, but that he pointed
me out to the _ould_ one, as I went off. I noticed and thanked him
for it in my heart, though I did not know all the good was to come
of it. Well, no more of myself, for the present.
"Ogh, it's I driv 'em well; and we all got to the great gate of
the park before sunset, and as fine an evening as ever you see;
with the sun shining on the tops of the trees, as the ladies
noticed; the leaves changed, but not dropped, though so late in
the season. I believe the leaves knew what they were about, and
kept on, on purpose to welcome them; and the birds were singing,
and I stopped whistling, that they might hear them; but sorrow
bit could they hear when they got to the park gate, for there was
such a crowd, and such a shout, as you never see--and they had
the horses off every carriage entirely, and drew 'em home, with
blessings, through the park. And, God bless 'em! when they got
out, they didn't go shut themselves up in the great drawing-room,
but went straight out to the _tir_rass, to satisfy the eyes and
hearts that followed them. My lady _laning_ on my young lord, and
Miss Grace Nugent that was, the beautifullest angel that ever you
set eyes on, with the finest complexion, and sweetest of smiles,
_laning_ upon the _ould_ lord's arm, who had his hat off, bowing
to all, and noticing the old tenants as he passed by name. Oh,
there was great gladness and tears in the midst; for joy I could
scarce keep from myself.
"After a turn or two upon the _tir_rass, my Lord Colambre _quit_
his mother's arm for a minute, and he come to the edge of the
slope, and looked down and through all the crowd for some one.
"'Is it the Widow O'Neil, my lord?' says I; 'she's yonder, with
the white kerchief, betwixt her son and daughter, as usual.'
"Then my lord beckoned, and they did not know which of the _tree_
would stir; and then he gave _tree_ beckons with his own finger,
and they all _tree_ came fast enough to the bottom of the slope
forenent my lord: and he went down and helped the widow up, (oh,
he's the true jantleman!) and brought 'em all _tree_ up on the
_tir_rass, to my lady and Miss Nugent; and I was up close after,
that I might hear, which wasn't manners, but I couldn't help
it. So what he said I don't well know, for I could not get near
enough, after all. But I saw my lady smile very kind, and take the
Widow O'Neil by the hand, and then my Lord Colambre _'troduced_
Grace to Miss Nugent, and there was the word _namesake_, and
something about a check curtain; but, whatever it was, they was
all greatly pleased: then my Lord Colambre turned and looked for
Brian, who had fell back, and took him, with some commendation, to
my lord his father. And my lord the master said, which I didn't
know till after, that they should have their house and farm at the
_ould_ rent; and at the surprise, the widow dropped down dead; and
there was a cry as for ten _berrings_. 'Be qui'te,' says I, 'she's
only kilt for joy;' and I went and lift her up, for her son had
no more strength that minute than the child new born; and Grace
trembled like a leaf, as white as the sheet, but not long, for the
mother came to, and was as well as ever when I brought some water,
which Miss Nugent handed to her with her own hand.
"'That was always pretty and good,' said the widow, laying her
hand upon Miss Nugent, 'and kind and good to me and mine.'
"That minute there was music from below. The blind harper, O'Neil,
with his harp, that struck up 'Gracey Nugent.'
"And that finished, and my Lord Colambre smiling, with the tears
standing in his eyes too, and the _ould_ lord quite wiping his, I
ran to the _tir_rass brink to bid O'Neil play it again; but as I
run, I thought I heard a voice call 'Larry!'
"'Who calls Larry?' says I.
"'My Lord Colambre calls you, Larry,' says all at once; and four
takes me by the shoulders and spins me round. 'There's my young
lord calling you, Larry--run for your life.'
"So I run back for my life, and walked respectful, with my hat in
my hand, when I got near.
"'Put on your hat, my father desires it,' says my Lord Colambre.
The _ould_ lord made a sign to that purpose, but was too full
to speak. 'Where's your father?' continues my young lord. 'He's
very _ould_, my lord,' says I.--' I didn't _ax_ you how _ould_ he
was,' says he; 'but where is he?'--'He's behind the crowd below,
on account of his infirmities; he couldn't walk so fast as the
rest, my lord,' says I; 'but his heart is with you, if not his
body.'--'I must have his body too: so bring him bodily before
us; and this shall be your warrant for so doing,' said my lord,
joking: for he knows the _natur_ of us, Paddy, and how we love a
joke in our hearts, as well as if he had lived all his life in
Ireland; and by the same token will, for that _rason_, do what he
pleases with us, and more may be than a man twice as good, that
never would smile on us.
"But I'm telling you of my father. 'I've a warrant for you,
father,' says I; 'and must have you bodily before the justice, and
my lord chief justice.' So he changed colour a bit at first; but
he saw me smile. 'And I've done no sin,' said he; 'and, Larry, you
may lead me now, as you led me all my life.'
"And up the slope he went with me as light as fifteen; and when we
got up, my Lord Clonbrony said, 'I am sorry an old tenant, and a
good old tenant, as I hear you were, should have been turned out
of your farm.'
"'Don't fret, it's no great matter, my lord,' said my father. 'I
shall be soon out of the way; but if you would be so kind to speak
a word for my boy here, and that I could afford, while the life is
in me, to bring my other boy back out of banishment.'
"'Then,' says my Lord Clonbrony, 'I'll give you and your sons
three lives, or thirty-one years, from this day, of your former
farm. Return to it when you please. And,' added my Lord Clonbrony,
'the flaggers, I hope, will be soon banished.' Oh, how could
I thank him--not a word could I proffer--but I know I clasped
my two hands, and prayed for him inwardly. And my father was
dropping down on his knees, but the master would not let him; and
_obsarved_ that posture should only be for his God. And, sure
enough, in that posture, when he was out of sight, we did pray for
him that night, and will all our days.
"But, before we quit his presence, he called me back, and bid me
write to my brother, and bring you back, if you've no objections,
to your own country.
"So come, my dear Pat, and make no delay, for joy's not joy
compl_a_te till you're in it--my father sends his blessing, and
Peggy her love. The family entirely is to settle for good in
Ireland, and there was in the castle yard last night a bonfire
made by my lord's orders of the _ould_ yellow damask furniture, to
plase my lady, my lord says. And the drawing-room, the butler was
telling me, is new hung; and the chairs with velvet as white as
snow, and shaded over with natural flowers by Miss Nugent. Oh! how
I hope what I guess will come true, and I've _rason_ to believe it
will, for I dreamt in my bed last night it did. But keep yourself
to yourself--that Miss Nugent (who is no more Miss Nugent, they
say, but Miss Reynolds, and has a new-found grandfather, and is a
big heiress, which she did not want in my eyes, nor in my young
lord's), I've a notion, will be sometime, and may be sooner
than is expected, my Lady Viscountess Colambre--so haste to the
wedding. And there's another thing: they say the rich _ould_
grandfather's coming over;--and another thing, Pat, you would not
be out of the fashion--and you see it's growing the fashion not to
be an Absentee.
"Your loving brother,
MADAME DE FLEURY
"There oft are heard the notes of infant woe,
The short thick sob, loud scream, and shriller squall.
How can you, mothers, vex your infants so?"--POPE.
"D'abord, madame, c'est impossible!--Madame ne descendra pas
ici?" said François, the footman of Mad. de Fleury, with a half
expostulatory, half indignant look, as he let down the step of her
carriage at the entrance of a dirty passage, that led to one of the
most miserable-looking houses in Paris.
[Footnote 1: In the first place, my lady, it is impossible! Surely my
lady will not get out of her carriage here?]
"But what can be the cause of the cries which I hear in this house?"
said Mad. de Fleury.
"'Tis only some child, who is crying," replied François: and he would
have put up the step, but his lady was not satisfied.
"'Tis nothing in the world," continued he, with a look of appeal to
the coachman, "it _can_ be nothing, but some children, who are locked
up there above. The mother, the workwoman my lady wants, is not at
home, that's certain."
"I must know the cause of these cries; I must see these children,"
said Mad. de Fleury, getting out of her carriage.
François held his arm for his lady as she got out.
"Bon!" cried he, with an air of vexation. "Si madame la veut
absolument, à la bonne heure!--Mais madame sera abimée. Madame
verra que j'ai raison. Madame ne montera jamais ce vilain escalier.
D'ailleurs c'est an cinquième. Mais, madame, c'est impossible."
[Footnote 1: To be sure it must be as my lady pleases--but my lady
will find it terribly dirty!--my Lady will find I was right--my lady
will never get up that shocking staircase--it is impossible!]
Notwithstanding the impossibility, Mad. de Fleury proceeded; and
bidding her talkative footman wait in the entry, made her way up the
dark, dirty, broken staircase, the sound of the cries increasing every
instant, till, as she reached the fifth story, she heard the shrieks
of one in violent pain. She hastened to the door of the room from
which the cries proceeded; the door was fastened, and the noise was
so great, that though she knocked as loud as she was able, she could
not immediately make herself heard. At last the voice of a child from
within answered, "The door is locked--mamma has the key in her pocket,
and won't be home till night; and here's Victoire has tumbled from the
top of the big press, and it is she that is shrieking so."
Mad. de Fleury ran down the stairs which she had ascended with so
much difficulty, called to her footman, who was waiting in the entry,
despatched him for a surgeon, and then she returned to obtain from
some people who lodged in the house assistance to force open the door
of the room in which the children were confined.
On the next floor there was a smith at work, filing so earnestly that
he did not hear the screams of the children. When his door was pushed
open, and the bright vision of Mad. de Fleury appeared to him, his
astonishment was so great that he seemed incapable of comprehending
what she said. In a strong provincial accent he repeated,
"_Plait-il?_" and stood aghast till she had explained herself three
times: then suddenly exclaiming, "Ah! c'est ça!"--he collected his
tools precipitately, and followed to obey her orders. The door of
the room was at last forced half open, for a press that had been
overturned prevented its opening entirely. The horrible smells that
issued did not overcome Mad. de Fleury's humanity: she squeezed her
way into the room, and behind the fallen press saw three little
children: the youngest, almost an infant, ceased roaring, and ran
to a corner: the eldest, a boy of about eight years old, whose face
and clothes were covered with blood, held on his knee a girl younger
than himself, whom he was trying to pacify, but who struggled most
violently, and screamed incessantly, regardless of Mad. de Fleury, to
whose questions she made no answer.
"Where are you hurt, my dear?" repeated Mad. de Fleury in a soothing
voice. "Only tell me where you feel pain?"
The boy, showing his sister's arm, said, in a surly tone--"It is this
that is hurt--but it was not I did it."
"It was, it _was_," cried the girl as loud as she could vociferate:
"it was Maurice threw me down from the top of the press."
"No--it was you that were pushing me, Victoire, and you fell
backwards.--Have done screeching, and show your arm to the lady."
"I can't," said the girl.
"She won't," said the boy.
"She _cannot_," said Mad. de Fleury, kneeling down to examine it. "She
cannot move it: I am afraid that it is broken."
"Don't touch it! don't touch it!" cried the girl, screaming more
"Ma'am, she screams that way for nothing often," said the boy. "Her
arm is no more broke than mine, I'm sure; she'll move it well enough
when she's not cross."
"I am afraid," said Mad. de Fleury, "that her arm is broken."
"Is it indeed?" said the boy, with a look of terror.
"Oh! don't touch it--you'll kill me, you are killing me," screamed the
poor girl, whilst Mad. de Fleury with the greatest care endeavoured
to join the bones in their proper place, and resolved to hold the arm
till the arrival of the surgeon.
From the feminine appearance of this lady, no stranger would have
expected such resolution; but with all the natural sensibility and
graceful delicacy of her sex, she had none of that weakness or
affectation, which incapacitates from being useful in real distress.
In most sudden accidents, and in all domestic misfortunes, female
resolution and presence of mind are indispensably requisite: safety,
health, and life, often depend upon the fortitude of women. Happy
they, who, like Mad. de Fleury, possess strength of mind united with
the utmost gentleness of manner and tenderness of disposition!
Soothed by this lady's sweet voice, the child's rage subsided; and
no longer struggling, the poor little girl sat quietly on her lap,
sometimes writhing and moaning with pain.
The surgeon at length arrived: her arm was set: and he said, "that she
had probably been saved much future pain by Mad. de Fleury's presence
"Sir,--will it soon be well?" said Maurice to the surgeon.
"Oh, yes, very soon, I dare say," said the little girl. "To-morrow,
perhaps; for now that it is tied up, it does not hurt me to
signify--and after all, I do believe, Maurice, it was not you threw me
As she spoke, she held up her face to kiss her brother.--"That is
right," said Mad. de Fleury; "there is a good sister."
The little girl put out her lips, offering a second kiss, but the boy
turned hastily away to rub the tears from his eyes with the back of
"I am not cross now: am I, Maurice?" said she.
"No, Victoire, I was cross myself when I said _that_."
As Victoire was going to speak again, the surgeon imposed silence,
observing that she must be put to bed, and should be kept quiet. Mad.
de Fleury laid her upon the bed, as soon as Maurice had cleared it of
the things with which it was covered; and as they were spreading the
ragged blanket over the little girl, she whispered a request to Mad.
de Fleury, that she would "stay till her mamma came home, to beg
Maurice off from being whipped, if mamma should be angry."
Touched by this instance of goodness, and compassionating the desolate
condition of these children, Mad. de Fleury complied with Victoire's
request; resolving to remonstrate with their mother for leaving them
locked up in this manner. They did not know to what part of the town
their mother was gone; they could tell only, "that she was to go to
a great many different places to carry back work, and to bring home
more; and that she expected to be in by five." It was now half after
Whilst Mad. de Fleury waited, she asked the boy to give her a full
account of the manner in which the accident had happened.
"Why, ma'am," said Maurice, twisting and untwisting a ragged
handkerchief as he spoke, "the first beginning of all the mischief
was, we had nothing to do; so we went to the ashes to make dirt pies:
but Babet would go so close that she burnt her petticoat, and threw
about all our ashes, and plagued us, and we whipped her: but all would
not do, she would not be quiet; so to get out of her reach, we climbed
up by this chair on the table to the top of the press, and there we
were well enough for a little while, till somehow we began to quarrel
about the old scissors, and we struggled hard for them till I got this
Here he unwound the handkerchief, and for the first time showed the
wound, which he had never mentioned before.
"Then," continued he, "when I got the cut, I shoved Victoire, and she
pushed at me again, and I was keeping her off, and her foot slipped,
and down she fell; and caught by the press-door, and pulled it and me
after her, and that's all I know."
"It is well that you were not both killed," said Mad. de Fleury. "Are
you often left locked up in this manner by yourselves, and without any
thing to do?"
"Yes, always, when mamma is abroad--except sometimes we are let out
upon the stairs, or in the street; but mamma says we get into mischief
This dialogue was interrupted by the return of the mother. She came up
stairs slowly, much fatigued, and with a heavy bundle under her arm.
"How now! Maurice, how comes my door open? What's all this?" cried
she, in an angry voice; but seeing a lady sitting upon her child's
bed, she stopped short in great astonishment. Mad. de Fleury related
what had happened, and averted her anger from Maurice, by gently
expostulating upon the hardship and hazard of leaving her young
children in this manner during so many hours of the day.
"Why, my lady," replied the poor woman, wiping her forehead, "every
hard-working woman in Paris does the same with her children; and what
can I do else? I must earn bread for these helpless ones, and to do
that I must be out backwards and forwards, and to the furthest parts
of the town, often from morning till night, with those that employ me;
and I cannot afford to send the children to school, or to keep any
kind of a servant to look after them; and when I'm away, if I let
them run about these stairs and entries, or go into the streets, they
do get a little exercise and air to be sure, such as it is; on which
account I do let them out sometimes; but then a deal of mischief comes
of that, too--they learn all kinds of wickedness, and would grow up to
be no better than pickpockets, if they were let often to consort with
the little vagabonds they find in the streets. So what to do better
for them I don't know."
The poor mother sat down upon the fallen press, looked at Victoire,
and wept bitterly. Mad. de Fleury was struck with compassion: but she
did not satisfy her feelings merely by words or comfort, or by the
easy donation of some money--she resolved to do something more, and
"Come often, then; for haply in my bow'r
Amusement, knowledge, wisdom, thou may'st gain:
If I one soul improve, I have not lived in vain."
It is not so easy to do good as those who have never attempted it may
imagine; and they who without consideration follow the mere instinct
of pity, often by their imprudent generosity create evils more
pernicious to society than any which they partially remedy. "Warm
Charity, the general friend," may become the general enemy, unless she
consults her head as well as her heart. Whilst she pleases herself
with the idea that she daily feeds hundreds of the poor, she is
perhaps preparing want and famine for thousands. Whilst she delights
herself with the anticipation of gratitude for her bounties, she is
often exciting only unreasonable expectations, inducing habits of
dependence, and submission to slavery.
Those who wish to do good should attend to experience, from whom they
may receive lessons upon the largest scale that time and numbers can
Mad. de Fleury was aware that neither a benevolent disposition nor a
large fortune were sufficient to enable her to be of real service,
without the constant exercise of her judgment. She had therefore
listened with deference to the conversation of well-informed men upon
those subjects on which ladies have not always the means or the wish
to acquire extensive and accurate knowledge. Though a Parisian belle,
she had read with attention some of those books which are generally
thought too dry or too deep for her sex. Consequently her benevolence
was neither wild in theory, nor precipitate nor ostentatious in
Touched with compassion for a little girl, whose arm had been
accidentally broken, and shocked by the discovery of the confinement
and the dangers to which numbers of children in Paris were doomed,
she did not make a parade of her sensibility. She did not talk of her
feelings in fine sentences to a circle of opulent admirers, nor did
she project for the relief of the little sufferers some magnificent
establishment, which she could not execute or superintend. She was
contented with attempting only what she had reasonable hopes of
The gift of education she believed to be more advantageous than
the gift of money to the poor; as it ensures the means both of
future subsistence and happiness. But the application even of
this incontrovertible principle requires caution and judgment. To
crowd numbers of children into a place called a school, to abandon
them to the management of any person called a schoolmaster or a
schoolmistress, is not sufficient to secure the blessings of a good
education. Mad. de Fleury was sensible that the greatest care is
necessary in the choice of the person to whom young children are to
be intrusted: she knew that only a certain number can be properly
directed by one superintendent; and that by attempting to do too much,
she might do nothing, or worse than nothing. Her school was formed,
therefore, on a small scale, which she could enlarge to any extent,
if it should be found to succeed. From some of the families of poor
people, who in earning their bread are obliged to spend most of the
day from home, she selected twelve little girls, of whom Victoire was
the eldest, and she was between six and seven.
The person under whose care Mad. de Fleury wished to place these
children was a nun of the _Soeurs de la Charité_, with whose
simplicity of character, benevolence, and mild, steady temper, she was
thoroughly acquainted. Sister Frances was delighted with the plan. Any
scheme that promised to be of service to her fellow-creatures was sure
of meeting with her approbation; but this suited her taste peculiarly,
because she was extremely fond of children. No young person had ever
boarded six months at her convent without becoming attached to good
The period of which we are writing was some years before convents were
abolished; but the strictness of their rules had in many instances
been considerably relaxed. Without much difficulty, permission was
obtained from the abbess for our nun to devote her time during the day
to the care of these poor children, upon condition that she should
regularly return to her convent every night before evening prayers.
The house which Mad. de Fleury chose for her little school was in an
airy part of the town; it did not face the street, but was separated
from other buildings at the back of a court, retired from noise and
bustle. The two rooms intended for the occupation of the children
were neat and clean, but perfectly simple, with whitewashed walls,
furnished only with wooden stools and benches, and plain deal tables.
The kitchen was well lighted (for light is essential to cleanliness),
and it was provided with utensils; and for these appropriate places
were allotted, to give the habit and the taste of order. The
school-room opened into a garden larger than is usually seen in towns.
The nun, who had been accustomed to purchase provisions for her
convent, undertook to prepare daily for the children breakfast and
dinner; they were to sup and sleep at their respective homes. Their
parents were to take them to Sister Frances every morning, when they
went out to work, and to call for them upon their return home every
evening. By this arrangement, the natural ties of affection and
intimacy between the children and their parents would not be loosened;
they would be separate only at the time when their absence must be
inevitable. Mad. de Fleury thought that any education which estranges
children entirely from their parents must be fundamentally erroneous;
that such a separation must tend to destroy that sense of filial
affection and duty, and those principles of domestic subordination, on
which so many of the interests, and much of the virtue and happiness,
of society depend. The parents of these poor children were eager to
trust them to her care, and they strenuously endeavoured to promote
what they perceived to be entirely to their advantage. They promised
to take their daughters to school punctually every morning--a promise
which was likely to be kept, as a good breakfast was to be ready at a
certain hour, and not to wait for any body. The parents looked forward
with pleasure also to the idea of calling for their little girls at
the end of their day's labour, and of taking them home to their family
supper. During the intermediate hours, the children were constantly
to be employed, or in exercise. It was difficult to provide suitable
employments for their early age; but even the youngest of those
admitted could be taught to wind balls of cotton, thread, and silk,
for haberdashers; or they could shell peas and beans, &c. for a
neighbouring _traiteur_; or they could weed in a garden. The next
in age could learn knitting and plain-work, reading, writing, and
arithmetic. As the girls should grow up, they were to be made useful
in the care of the house. Sister Frances said she could teach them
to wash and iron, and that she would make them as skilful in cookery
as she was herself. This last was doubtless a rash promise; for in
most of the mysteries of the culinary art, especially in the medical
branches of it, in making savoury messes palatable to the sick, few
could hope to equal the neat-handed Sister Frances. She had a variety
of other accomplishments; but her humility and good sense forbade
her, upon the present occasion, to mention these. She said nothing of
embroidery, or of painting, or of cutting out paper, or of carving in
ivory, though in all these she excelled: her cuttings-out in paper
were exquisite as the finest lace; her embroidered housewives, and
her painted boxes, and her fan-mounts, and her curiously wrought
ivory toys, had obtained for her the highest reputation in the
convent, amongst the best judges in the world. Those only who have
philosophically studied and thoroughly understand the nature of fame
and vanity can justly appreciate the self-denial, or magnanimity, of
Sister Frances, in forbearing to enumerate or boast of these things.
She alluded to them but once, and in the slightest and most humble
"These little creatures are too young for us to think of teaching them
any thing but plain-work at present; but if hereafter any of them
should show a superior genius, we can cultivate it properly! Heaven
has been pleased to endow me with the means--at least our convent says
The actions of Sister Frances showed as much moderation as her words;
for though she was strongly tempted to adorn her new dwelling with
those specimens of her skill, which had long been the glory of her
apartment in the convent, yet she resisted the impulse, and contented
herself with hanging over the chimney-piece of her school-room a
Madonna of her own painting.
The day arrived when she was to receive her pupils in their new
habitation. When the children entered the room for the first time,
they paid the Madonna the homage of their unfeigned admiration.
Involuntarily the little crowd stopped short at the sight of
the picture. Some dormant emotions of human vanity were now
awakened--played for a moment about the heart of Sister Frances--and
may be forgiven. Her vanity was innocent and transient, her
benevolence permanent and useful. Repressing the vain-glory of an
artist, as she fixed her eyes upon the Madonna, her thoughts rose to
higher objects, and she seized this happy moment to impress upon the
minds of her young pupils their first religious ideas and feelings.
There was such unaffected piety in her manner, such goodness in her
countenance, such persuasion in her voice, and simplicity in her
words, that the impression she made was at once serious, pleasing,
and not to be effaced. Much depends upon the moment and the manner in
which the first notions of religion are communicated to children: if
these ideas be connected with terror, and produced when the mind is
sullen or in a state of dejection, the future religious feelings are
sometimes of a gloomy, dispiriting sort; but if the first impression
be made when the heart is expanded by hope or touched by affection,
these emotions are happily and permanently associated with religion.
This should be particularly attended to by those who undertake the
instruction of the children of the poor, who must lead a life of
labour, and can seldom have leisure or inclination when arrived at
years of discretion, to re-examine the principles early infused into
their minds. They cannot in their riper age conquer by reason those
superstitious terrors, or bigoted prejudices, which render their
victims miserable or perhaps criminal. To attempt to rectify any
errors in the foundation after an edifice has been constructed, is
dangerous: the foundation, therefore, should be laid with care. The
religious opinions of Sister Frances were strictly united with just
rules of morality, strongly enforcing, as the essential means of
obtaining present and future happiness, the practice of the social
virtues; so that no good or wise persons, however they might differ
from her in modes of faith, could doubt the beneficial influence of
her general principles, or disapprove of the manner in which they were
Detached from every other worldly interest, this benevolent nun
devoted all her earthly thoughts to the children of whom she had
undertaken the charge. She watched over them with unceasing vigilance,
whilst diffidence of her own abilities was happily supported by her
high opinion of Mad. de Fleury's judgment. This lady constantly
visited her pupils every week; not in the hasty, negligent manner in
which fine ladies sometimes visit charitable institutions, imagining
that the honour of their presence is to work miracles, and that every
thing will go on rightly when they have said, "_Let it be so_," or,
"_I must have it so_." Mad. de Fleury's visits were not of this
dictatorial or cursory nature. Not minutes, but hours, she devoted
to these children--she who could charm by the grace of her manners,
and delight by the elegance of her conversation, the most polished
circles and the best-informed societies of Paris, preferred to the
glory of being admired the pleasure of being useful--
"Her life, as lovely as her face,
Each duty mark'd with every grace;
Her native sense improved by reading,
Her native sweetness by good-breeding."
[Footnote 1: It was of this lady that Marmontel said--"She has the art
of making the most common thoughts appear new, and the most uncommon
simple, by the elegance and clearness of her expressions."]
"Ah me! how much I fear lest pride it be;
But if that pride it be, which thus inspires,
Beware, ye dames! with nice discernment see
Ye quench not too the sparks of nobler fires."
By repeated observation, and by attending to the minute _reports_
of Sister Frances, Mad. de Fleury soon became acquainted with the
habits and temper of each individual in this little society. The most
intelligent and the most amiable of these children was Victoire.
Whence her superiority arose, whether her abilities were naturally
more vivacious than those of her companions, or whether they had been
more early developed by accidental excitation, we cannot pretend to
determine, lest we should involve ourselves in the intricate question
respecting natural genius--a metaphysical point, which we shall
not in this place stop to discuss. Till the world has an accurate
philosophical dictionary (a work not to be expected in less than half
a dozen centuries), this question will never be decided to general
satisfaction. In the mean time, we may proceed with our story.
Deep was the impression made on Victoire's heart by the kindness
that Mad. de Fleury showed her at the time her arm was broken; and
her gratitude was expressed with all the enthusiastic _fondness_
of childhood. Whenever she spoke or heard of Mad. de Fleury, her
countenance became interested, and animated, in a degree that would
have astonished a cool English spectator. Every morning her first
question to Sister Frances was--"Will _she_ come to-day?"--If Mad.
de Fleury was expected, the hours and the minutes were counted, and
the sand in the hourglass that stood on the school-room table was
frequently shaken. The moment she appeared, Victoire ran to her, and
was silent; satisfied with standing close beside her, holding her gown
when unperceived, and watching, as she spoke and moved, every turn
of her countenance. Delighted by these marks of sensibility, Sister
Frances would have praised the child, but was warned by Mad. de Fleury
to refrain from injudicious eulogiums, lest she should teach her
"If I must not praise, you will permit me at least to love her," said
Her affection for Victoire was increased by compassion: during two
months the poor child's arm hung in a sling, so that she could not
venture to play with her companions. At their hours of recreation, she
used to sit on the school-room steps, looking down into the garden at
the scene of merriment, in which she could not partake.
For those who know how to find it, there is good in every thing.
Sister Frances used to take her seat on the steps, sometimes with her
work, and sometimes with a book; and Victoire, tired of being quite
idle, listened with eagerness to the stories which Sister Frances
read, or watched with interest the progress of her work: soon she
longed to imitate what she saw done with so much pleasure, and begged
to be taught to work and read. By degrees she learned her alphabet;
and could soon, to the amazement of her schoolfellows, read the names
of all the animals in Sister Frances' _picture-book_. No matter how
trifling the thing done, or the knowledge acquired, a great point is
gained by giving the desire for employment. Children frequently become
industrious from impatience of the pains and penalties of idleness.
Count Rumford showed that he understood childish nature perfectly
well, when, in his House of Industry at Munich, he compelled the young
children to sit for some time idle in a gallery round the hall, where
others a little older than themselves were busied at work. During
Victoire's state of idle convalescence, she acquired the desire to be
employed, and she consequently soon became more industrious than her
neighbours. Succeeding in her first efforts, she was praised--was
pleased, and persevered till she became an example of activity to her
companions. But Victoire, though now nearly seven years old, was not
quite perfect. Naturally, or accidentally, she was very passionate,
and not a little self-willed.
One day being mounted, horsemanlike, with whip in hand, upon the
banister of the flight of stairs leading from the school-room to the
garden, she called in a tone of triumph to her playfellows, desiring
them to stand out of the way, and see her slide from top to bottom. At
this moment Sister Frances came to the school-room door, and forbade
the feat: but Victoire, regardless of all prohibition, slid down
instantly, and moreover was going to repeat the glorious operation,
when Sister Frances, catching hold of her arm, pointed to a heap
of sharp stones that lay on the ground upon the other side of the
"I am not afraid," said Victoire.
"But if you fall there, you may break your arm again."
"And if I do I can bear it," said Victoire. "Let me go, pray let me
go: I must do it."
"No; I forbid you, Victoire, to slide down again!--Babet, and all
the little ones, would follow your example, and perhaps break their
The nun, as she spoke, attempted to compel Victoire to dismount:
but she was so much of a heroine, that she would do nothing upon
compulsion. Clinging fast to the banisters, she resisted with all her
might; she kicked and screamed, and screamed and kicked; but at last
her feet were taken prisoners; then grasping the railway with one
hand, with the other she brandished high the little whip.
"What!" said the mild nun, "would you strike me with that _arm_?"
The arm dropped instantly--Victoire recollected Mad. de Fleury's
kindness the day when the arm was broken: dismounting immediately,
she threw herself upon her knees in the midst of the crowd of young
spectators, and begged pardon of Sister Frances. For the rest of the
day she was as gentle as a lamb; nay, some assert that the effects of
her contrition were visible during the remainder of the week.
Having thus found the secret of reducing the little rebel to obedience
by touching her on the tender point of gratitude, the nun had recourse
to this expedient in all perilous cases: but one day, when she was
boasting of the infallible operation of her charm, Mad. de Fleury
advised her to forbear recurring to it frequently, lest she should
wear out the sensibility she so much loved. In consequence of this
counsel, Victoire's violence of temper was sometimes reduced by force,
and sometimes corrected by reason; but the principle and the feeling
of gratitude were not exhausted or weakened in the struggle. The hope
of reward operated upon her generous mind more powerfully than the
fear of punishment; and Mad. de Fleury devised rewards with as much
ability as some legislators invent punishments.
Victoire's brother Maurice, who was now of an age to earn his own
bread, had a strong desire to be bound apprentice to the smith who
worked in the house where his mother lodged. This most ardent wish
of his soul he had imparted to his sister: and she consulted her
benefactress, whom she considered as all-powerful in this, as in every
"Your brother's wish shall be gratified," replied Mad. de Fleury, "if
you can keep your temper one month. If you are never in a passion
for a whole month, I will undertake that your brother shall be bound
apprentice to his friend the smith. To your companions, to Sister
Frances, and above all to yourself, I trust, to make me a just report
this day month."
"You she preferr'd to all the gay resorts,
Where female vanity might wish to shine,
The pomp of cities, and the pride of courts."
At the end of the time prescribed, the judges, including Victoire
herself, who was the most severe of them all, agreed she had justly
deserved her reward. Maurice obtained his wish; and Victoire's temper
never relapsed into its former bad habits--so powerful is the effect
of a well-chosen motive!--Perhaps the historian may be blamed for
dwelling on such trivial anecdotes; yet a lady, who was accustomed to
the conversation of deep philosophers and polished courtiers, listened
without disdain to these simple annals. Nothing appeared to her a
trifle that could tend to form the habits of temper, truth, honesty,
order, and industry;--habits which are to be early induced, not by
solemn precepts, but by practical lessons. A few more examples of
these shall be recorded, notwithstanding the fear of being tiresome.
One day little Babet, who was now five years old, saw, as she was
coming to school, an old woman, sitting at a corner of the street,
beside a large black brazier full of roasted chestnuts. Babet thought
that the chestnuts looked and smelled very good; the old woman was
talking earnestly to some people, who were on her other side; Babet
filled her work-bag with chestnuts, and then ran after her mother and
sister, who, having turned the corner of the street, had not seen what
passed. When Babet came to the school-room, she opened her bag with
triumph, displayed her treasure, and offered to divide it with her
companions. "Here, Victoire," said she, "here is the largest chestnut
But Victoire would not take it; for she said that Babet had no
money, and that she could not have come honestly by these chestnuts.
She spoke so forcibly upon this point, that even those who had the
tempting morsel actually at their lips, forbore to bite; those who had
bitten laid down their half-eaten prize; and those who had their hands
full of chestnuts, rolled them, back again towards the bag, Babet
cried with vexation.
"I burned my fingers in getting them for you, and now you won't eat
them!--And I must not eat them!" said she: then curbing her passion,
she added, "But at any rate, I won't be a thief. I am sure I did not
think it was being a thief just to, take a few chestnuts from an old
woman, who had such heaps and heaps: but Victoire says it is wrong,
and I would not be a thief for all the chestnuts in the world--I'll
throw them all into the fire this minute!"
"No; give them back again to the old woman," said Victoire.
"But, may be, she would scold me for having taken them," said Babet;
"or who knows but she might whip me?"
"And if she did, could not you bear it?" said Victoire: "I am sure I
would rather bear twenty whippings than be a thief."
"Twenty whippings! that's a great many," said Babet; "and I am so
little, consider--and that woman has such a monstrous arm!--Now, if it
was Sister Frances, it would be another thing. But come! if you will
go with me, Victoire, you shall see how I will behave."
"We will all go with you," said Victoire.
"Yes, all!" said the children; "and Sister Frances, I dare say, would
go, if you asked her."
Babet ran and told her, and she readily consented to accompany the
little penitent to make restitution. The chestnut woman did not whip
Babet, nor even scold her; but said she was sure, that since the child
was so honest as to return what she had taken, she would never steal
again. This was the most _glorious_ day of Babet's life, and the
happiest. When the circumstance was told to Mad. de Fleury, she gave
the little girl a bag of the best chestnuts the old woman could
select, and Babet with great delight shared her reward with her
"But, alas! these chestnuts are not roasted. Oh, if we could but roast
them!" said the children.
Sister Frances placed in the middle of the table, on which the
chestnuts were spread, a small earthenware furnace--a delightful toy,
commonly used by children in Paris to cook their little feasts.
"This can be bought for sixpence," said she: "and if each of you
twelve earn one halfpenny a-piece to-day, you can purchase it
to-night, and I will put a little fire into it, and you will then he
able to roast your chestnuts."
The children ran eagerly to their work--some to wind worsted for a
woman who paid them a _liard_ for each ball, others to shell peas
for a neighbouring _traiteur_--all rejoicing that they were able to
earn _something_. The elder girls, under the directions and with the
assistance of Sister Frances, completed making, washing, and ironing,
half a dozen little caps, to supply a baby-linen warehouse. At the end
of the day, when the sum of the produce of their labours was added
together, they were surprised to find, that, instead of one, they
could purchase two furnaces. They received and enjoyed the reward of
their united industry. The success of their first efforts was fixed
in their memory: for they were very happy roasting the chestnuts, and
they were all (Sister Frances inclusive) unanimous in opinion that
no chestnuts ever were so good, or so well roasted. Sister Frances
always partook in their little innocent amusements; and it was her
great delight to be the dispenser of rewards, which at once conferred
present pleasure, and cherished future virtue.
"To virtue wake the pulses of the heart,
And bid the tear of emulation start."--ROGERS.
Victoire, who gave constant exercise to the benevolent feelings of the
amiable nun, became every day more dear to her. Far from having the
selfishness of a favourite, Victoire loved to bring into public notice
the good actions of her companions. "Stoop down your ear to me, Sister
Frances," said she, "and I will tell you a secret--I will tell you why
my friend Annette is growing so thin--I found it out this morning--she
does not eat above half her soup everyday. Look, there's her porringer
covered up in the corner--she carries it home to her mother, who is
sick, and who has not bread to eat."
Mad. de Fleury came in, whilst Sister Frances was yet bending down to
hear this secret; it was repeated to her, and she immediately ordered
that a certain allowance of bread should be given to Annette every day
to carry to her mother during her illness.
"I give it in charge to you, Victoire, to remember this, and I am sure
it will never be forgotten. Here is an order for you upon my baker:
run and show it to Annette. This is a pleasure you deserve; I am glad
that you have chosen for your friend a girl who is so good a daughter.
Good daughters make good friends."
By similar instances of goodness Victoire obtained the love
and confidence of her companions, notwithstanding her manifest
superiority. In their turn, they were eager to proclaim her merits;
and, as Sister Frances and Mad. de Fleury administered justice with
invariable impartiality, the hateful passions of envy and jealousy
were never excited in this little society. No servile sycophant, no
malicious detractor, could rob or defraud their little virtues of
their due reward.
"Whom shall I trust to take this to Mad. de Fleury?" said Sister
Frances, carrying into the garden where the children were playing a
pot of fine jonquils, which she had brought from her convent.--"These
are the first jonquils I have seen this year, and finer I never
beheld! Whom shall I trust to take them to Mad. de Fleury this
evening?--It must be some one who will not stop to stare about on the
way, but who will be very, very careful--some one in whom I can place
"It must be Victoire, then," cried every voice.
"Yes, she deserves it to-day particularly," said Annette, eagerly;
"because she was not angry with Babet, when she did what was enough to
put any body in a passion. Sister Frances, you know this cherry-tree
which you grafted for Victoire last year, and that was yesterday so
full of blossoms--now you see, there is not a blossom left!--Babet
plucked them all this morning to make a nosegay."
"But she did not know," said Victoire, "that pulling off the blossoms
would prevent my having any cherries."
"Oh, I am very sorry I was so foolish," said Babet; "Victoire did not
even say a cross word to me."
"Though she was excessively anxious about the cherries," pursued
Annette, "because she intended to have given the first she had to Mad.
"Victoire, take the jonquils--it is but just," said Sister Frances.
"How I do love to hear them all praise her!--I knew what she would be
from the first."
With a joyful heart Victoire took the jonquils, promised to carry them
with the utmost care, and not to stop to stare on the way. She set out
to Mad. de Fleury's hotel, which was in _La Place de Louis Quinze_.
It was late in the evening, the lamps were lighting, and as Victoire
crossed the Pont de Louis Seize, she stopped to look at the reflection
of the lamps in the water, which appeared in succession, as they were
lighted, spreading as if by magic along the river. While Victoire
leaned over the battlements of the bridge, watching the rising of
these stars of fire, a sudden push from the elbow of some rude
passenger precipitated her pot of jonquils into the Seine. The sound
it made in the water was thunder to the ear of Victoire; she stood
for an instant vainly hoping it would rise again, but the waters had
closed over it for ever.
"Dans cet êtat affreux, que faire?
Victoire courageously proceeded to Mad. de Fleury's, and desired to
"D'abord c'est impossible--madame is dressing to go to a concert;"
said François. "Cannot you leave your message?"
"Oh, no," said Victoire; "it is of great consequence--I must see _her_
myself; and she is so good, and you too, Monsieur François, that I am
sure you will not refuse."
"Well, I remember one day you found the seal of my watch, which I
dropped at your school-room door--one good turn deserves another.
If it is possible, it shall be done--I will inquire of madame's
woman."--"Follow me up stairs," said he, returning in a few minutes;
"madame will see you."
She followed him Up the large staircase, and through a suite of
apartments sufficiently grand to intimidate her young imagination.
"Madame est dans son cabinet. Entrez--mais entrez done, entrez
Mad. de Fleury was more richly dressed than usual; and her image was
reflected in the large looking-glass, so that at the first moment
Victoire thought she saw many fine ladies, but not one of them the
lady she wanted.
"Well, Victoire, my child, what is the matter?"
"Oh, it is her voice!--I know you now, madame, and I am not
afraid--not afraid even to tell you how foolish I have been. Sister
Frances trusted me to carry for you, madame, a beautiful pot of
jonquils, and she desired me not to stop on the way to stare; but
I did stop to look at the lamps on the bridge, and I forgot the
jonquils, and somebody brushed by me, and threw them into the
river--and I am very sorry I was so foolish."
"And I am very glad that you are so wise as to tell the truth, without
attempting to make any paltry excuses. Go home to Sister Frances, and
assure her that I am more obliged to her for making you such an honest
girl than I could be for a whole bed of jonquils."
Victoire's heart was so full that she could not speak--she kissed
Mad. de Fleury's hand in silence, and then seemed to be lost in
contemplation of her bracelet.
"Are you thinking, Victoire, that you should be much happier, if you
had such bracelets as these?--Believe me, you are mistaken if you
think so; many people are unhappy, who wear fine bracelets; so, my
child, content yourself."
"Myself! Oh, madam, I was not thinking of myself--I was not wishing
for bracelets, I was only thinking that--"
"That it is a pity you are so very rich; you have every thing in this
world that you want, and I can never be of the least use to _you_--all
my life I shall never be able to do _you_ any good--and what,"
said Victoire, turning away to hide her tears, "what signifies the
gratitude of such a poor little creature as I am?"
"Did you never hear the fable of the lion and the mouse, Victoire?"
"Then I will tell it to you."
Victoire looked up with eyes of eager expectation--François opened
the door to announce that the Marquis de M---- and the Comte de S----
were in the saloon; but Mad. de Fleury stayed to tell Victoire her
fable--she would not lose the opportunity of making an impression upon
this child's heart.
It is whilst the mind is warm that the deepest impressions can be
made. Seizing the happy moment sometimes decides the character and the
fate of a child. In this respect what advantages have the rich and
great in educating the children of the poor! they have the power which
their rank, and all its decorations, obtain over the imagination.
Their smiles are favours; their words are listened to as oracular;
they are looked up to as beings of a superior order. Their powers of
working good are almost as great, though not quite so wonderful, as
those formerly attributed to beneficent fairies.