Part 2 out of 16
the waters, would not suffer his voice to be heard; and the crags,
adjoining the bridge, were of such tremendous height and steepness,
that to have climbed either would have been scarcely practicable to a
person unacquainted with the ascent. St. Aubert, therefore, did not
waste more moments in delay. They continued to travel long after
twilight had obscured the road, which was so broken, that, now
thinking it safer to walk than to ride, they all alighted. The moon
was rising, but her light was yet too feeble to assist them. While
they stepped carefully on, they heard the vesper-bell of a convent.
The twilight would not permit them to distinguish anything like a
building, but the sounds seemed to come from some woods, that
overhung an acclivity to the right. Valancourt proposed to go in
search of this convent. 'If they will not accommodate us with a
night's lodging,' said he, 'they may certainly inform us how far we
are from Montigny, and direct us towards it.' He was bounding
forward, without waiting St. Aubert's reply, when the latter stopped
him. 'I am very weary,' said St. Aubert, 'and wish for nothing so
much as for immediate rest. We will all go to the convent; your good
looks would defeat our purpose; but when they see mine and Emily's
exhausted countenances, they will scarcely deny us repose.'
As he said this, he took Emily's arm within his, and, telling Michael
to wait awhile in the road with the carriage, they began to ascend
towards the woods, guided by the bell of the convent. His steps were
feeble, and Valancourt offered him his arm, which he accepted. The
moon now threw a faint light over their path, and, soon after,
enabled them to distinguish some towers rising above the tops of the
woods. Still following the note of the bell, they entered the shade
of those woods, lighted only by the moonbeams, that glided down
between the leaves, and threw a tremulous uncertain gleam upon the
steep track they were winding. The gloom and the silence that
prevailed, except when the bell returned upon the air, together with
the wildness of the surrounding scene, struck Emily with a degree of
fear, which, however, the voice and conversation of Valancourt
somewhat repressed. When they had been some time ascending, St.
Aubert complained of weariness, and they stopped to rest upon a
little green summit, where the trees opened, and admitted the moon-
light. He sat down upon the turf, between Emily and Valancourt. The
bell had now ceased, and the deep repose of the scene was undisturbed
by any sound, for the low dull murmur of some distant torrents might
be said to sooth, rather than to interrupt, the silence.
Before them, extended the valley they had quitted; its rocks, and
woods to the left, just silvered by the rays, formed a contrast to
the deep shadow, that involved the opposite cliffs, whose fringed
summits only were tipped with light; while the distant perspective of
the valley was lost in the yellow mist of moon-light. The travellers
sat for some time wrapt in the complacency which such scenes inspire.
'These scenes,' said Valancourt, at length, 'soften the heart, like
the notes of sweet music, and inspire that delicious melancholy which
no person, who had felt it once, would resign for the gayest
pleasures. They waken our best and purest feelings, disposing us to
benevolence, pity, and friendship. Those whom I love--I always seem
to love more in such an hour as this.' His voice trembled, and he
St. Aubert was silent; Emily perceived a warm tear fall upon the hand
he held; she knew the object of his thoughts; hers too had, for some
time, been occupied by the remembrance of her mother. He seemed by
an effort to rouse himself. 'Yes,' said he, with an half-suppressed
sigh, 'the memory of those we love--of times for ever past! in such
an hour as this steals upon the mind, like a strain of distant music
in the stillness of night;--all tender and harmonious as this
landscape, sleeping in the mellow moon-light.' After the pause of a
moment, St. Aubert added, 'I have always fancied, that I thought with
more clearness, and precision, at such an hour than at any other, and
that heart must be insensible in a great degree, that does not soften
to its influence. But many such there are.'
'Are there, indeed, many such?' said Emily.
'a few years hence, my Emily,' replied St. Aubert, 'and you may smile
at the recollection of that question--if you do not weep to it. But
come, I am somewhat refreshed, let us proceed.'
Having emerged from the woods, they saw, upon a turfy hillock above,
the convent of which they were in search. A high wall, that
surrounded it, led them to an ancient gate, at which they knocked;
and the poor monk, who opened it, conducted them into a small
adjoining room, where he desired they would wait while he informed
the superior of their request. In this interval, several friars came
in separately to look at them; and at length the first monk returned,
and they followed him to a room, where the superior was sitting in an
arm-chair, with a large folio volume, printed in black letter, open
on a desk before him. He received them with courtesy, though he did
not rise from his seat; and, having asked them a few questions,
granted their request. After a short conversation, formal and solemn
on the part of the superior, they withdrew to the apartment where
they were to sup, and Valancourt, whom one of the inferior friars
civilly desired to accompany, went to seek Michael and his mules.
They had not descended half way down the cliffs, before they heard
the voice of the muleteer echoing far and wide. Sometimes he called
on St. Aubert, and sometimes on Valancourt; who having, at length,
convinced him that he had nothing to fear either for himself, or his
master; and having disposed of him, for the night, in a cottage on
the skirts of the woods, returned to sup with his friends, on such
sober fare as the monks thought it prudent to set before them. While
St. Aubert was too much indisposed to share it, Emily, in her anxiety
for her father, forgot herself; and Valancourt, silent and
thoughtful, yet never inattentive to them, appeared particularly
solicitous to accommodate and relieve St. Aubert, who often observed,
while his daughter was pressing him to eat, or adjusting the pillow
she had placed in the back of his arm-chair, that Valancourt fixed on
her a look of pensive tenderness, which he was not displeased to
They separated at an early hour, and retired to their respective
apartments. Emily was shown to hers by a nun of the convent, whom
she was glad to dismiss, for her heart was melancholy, and her
attention so much abstracted, that conversation with a stranger was
painful. She thought her father daily declining, and attributed his
present fatigue more to the feeble state of his frame, than to the
difficulty of the journey. A train of gloomy ideas haunted her mind,
till she fell asleep.
In about two hours after, she was awakened by the chiming of a bell,
and then heard quick steps pass along the gallery, into which her
chamber opened. She was so little accustomed to the manners of a
convent, as to be alarmed by this circumstance; her fears, ever alive
for her father, suggested that he was very ill, and she rose in haste
to go to him. Having paused, however, to let the persons in the
gallery pass before she opened her door, her thoughts, in the mean
time, recovered from the confusion of sleep, and she understood that
the bell was the call of the monks to prayers. It had now ceased,
and, all being again still, she forbore to go to St. Aubert's room.
Her mind was not disposed for immediate sleep, and the moon-light,
that shone into her chamber, invited her to open the casement, and
look out upon the country.
It was a still and beautiful night, the sky was unobscured by any
cloud, and scarce a leaf of the woods beneath trembled in the air.
As she listened, the mid-night hymn of the monks rose softly from a
chapel, that stood on one of the lower cliffs, an holy strain, that
seemed to ascend through the silence of night to heaven, and her
thoughts ascended with it. From the consideration of His works, her
mind arose to the adoration of the Deity, in His goodness and power;
wherever she turned her view, whether on the sleeping earth, or to
the vast regions of space, glowing with worlds beyond the reach of
human thought, the sublimity of God, and the majesty of His presence
appeared. Her eyes were filled with tears of awful love and
admiration; and she felt that pure devotion, superior to all the
distinctions of human system, which lifts the soul above this world,
and seems to expand it into a nobler nature; such devotion as can,
perhaps, only be experienced, when the mind, rescued, for a moment,
from the humbleness of earthly considerations, aspires to contemplate
His power in the sublimity of His works, and His goodness in the
infinity of His blessings.
Is it not now the hour,
The holy hour, when to the cloudless height
Of yon starred concave climbs the full-orbed moon,
And to this nether world in solemn stillness,
Gives sign, that, to the list'ning ear of Heaven
Religion's voice should plead? The very babe
Knows this, and, chance awak'd, his little hands
Lifts to the gods, and on his innocent couch
Calls down a blessing.*
The midnight chant of the monks soon after dropped into silence; but
Emily remained at the casement, watching the setting moon, and the
valley sinking into deep shade, and willing to prolong her present
state of mind. At length she retired to her mattress, and sunk into
While in the rosy vale
Love breath'd his infant sighs, from anguish free.
St. Aubert, sufficiently restored by a night's repose to pursue his
journey, set out in the morning, with his family and Valancourt, for
Rousillon, which he hoped to reach before night-fall. The scenes,
through which they now passed, were as wild and romantic, as any they
had yet observed, with this difference, that beauty, every now and
then, softened the landscape into smiles. Little woody recesses
appeared among the mountains, covered with bright verdure and
flowers; or a pastoral valley opened its grassy bosom in the shade of
the cliffs, with flocks and herds loitering along the banks of a
rivulet, that refreshed it with perpetual green. St. Aubert could
not repent the having taken this fatiguing road, though he was this
day, also, frequently obliged to alight, to walk along the rugged
precipice, and to climb the steep and flinty mountain. The wonderful
sublimity and variety of the prospects repaid him for all this, and
the enthusiasm, with which they were viewed by his young companions,
heightened his own, and awakened a remembrance of all the delightful
emotions of his early days, when the sublime charms of nature were
first unveiled to him. He found great pleasure in conversing with
Valancourt, and in listening to his ingenuous remarks. The fire and
simplicity of his manners seemed to render him a characteristic
figure in the scenes around them; and St. Aubert discovered in his
sentiments the justness and the dignity of an elevated mind,
unbiassed by intercourse with the world. He perceived, that his
opinions were formed, rather than imbibed; were more the result of
thought, than of learning. Of the world he seemed to know nothing;
for he believed well of all mankind, and this opinion gave him the
reflected image of his own heart.
St. Aubert, as he sometimes lingered to examine the wild plants in
his path, often looked forward with pleasure to Emily and Valancourt,
as they strolled on together; he, with a countenance of animated
delight, pointing to her attention some grand feature of the scene;
and she, listening and observing with a look of tender seriousness,
that spoke the elevation of her mind. They appeared like two lovers
who had never strayed beyond these their native mountains; whose
situation had secluded them from the frivolities of common life,
whose ideas were simple and grand, like the landscapes among which
they moved, and who knew no other happiness, than in the union of
pure and affectionate hearts. St. Aubert smiled, and sighed at the
romantic picture of felicity his fancy drew; and sighed again to
think, that nature and simplicity were so little known to the world,
as that their pleasures were thought romantic.
'The world,' said he, pursuing this train of thought, 'ridicules a
passion which it seldom feels; its scenes, and its interests,
distract the mind, deprave the taste, corrupt the heart, and love
cannot exist in a heart that has lost the meek dignity of innocence.
Virtue and taste are nearly the same, for virtue is little more than
active taste, and the most delicate affections of each combine in
real love. How then are we to look for love in great cities, where
selfishness, dissipation, and insincerity supply the place of
tenderness, simplicity and truth?'
It was near noon, when the travellers, having arrived at a piece of
steep and dangerous road, alighted to walk. The road wound up an
ascent, that was clothed with wood, and, instead of following the
carriage, they entered the refreshing shade. A dewy coolness was
diffused upon the air, which, with the bright verdure of turf, that
grew under the trees, the mingled fragrance of flowers and of balm,
thyme, and lavender, that enriched it, and the grandeur of the pines,
beech, and chestnuts, that overshadowed them, rendered this a most
delicious retreat. Sometimes, the thick foliage excluded all view of
the country; at others, it admitted some partial catches of the
distant scenery, which gave hints to the imagination to picture
landscapes more interesting, more impressive, than any that had been
presented to the eye. The wanderers often lingered to indulge in
these reveries of fancy.
The pauses of silence, such as had formerly interrupted the
conversations of Valancourt and Emily, were more frequent today than
ever. Valancourt often dropped suddenly from the most animating
vivacity into fits of deep musing, and there was, sometimes, an
unaffected melancholy in his smile, which Emily could not avoid
understanding, for her heart was interested in the sentiment it
St. Aubert was refreshed by the shades, and they continued to saunter
under them, following, as nearly as they could guess, the direction
of the road, till they perceived that they had totally lost it. They
had continued near the brow of the precipice, allured by the scenery
it exhibited, while the road wound far away over the cliff above.
Valancourt called loudly to Michael, but heard no voice, except his
own, echoing among the rocks, and his various efforts to regain the
road were equally unsuccessful. While they were thus circumstanced,
they perceived a shepherd's cabin, between the boles of the trees at
some distance, and Valancourt bounded on first to ask assistance.
When he reached it, he saw only two little children, at play, on the
turf before the door. He looked into the hut, but no person was
there, and the eldest of the boys told him that their father was with
his flocks, and their mother was gone down into the vale, but would
be back presently. As he stood, considering what was further to be
done, on a sudden he heard Michael's voice roaring forth most
manfully among the cliffs above, till he made their echoes ring.
Valancourt immediately answered the call, and endeavoured to make his
way through the thicket that clothed the steeps, following the
direction of the sound. After much struggle over brambles and
precipices, he reached Michael, and at length prevailed with him to
be silent, and to listen to him. The road was at a considerable
distance from the spot where St. Aubert and Emily were; the carriage
could not easily return to the entrance of the wood, and, since it
would be very fatiguing for St. Aubert to climb the long and steep
road to the place where it now stood, Valancourt was anxious to find
a more easy ascent, by the way he had himself passed.
Meanwhile St. Aubert and Emily approached the cottage, and rested
themselves on a rustic bench, fastened between two pines, which
overshadowed it, till Valancourt, whose steps they had observed,
The eldest of the children desisted from his play, and stood still to
observe the strangers, while the younger continued his little
gambols, and teased his brother to join in them. St. Aubert looked
with pleasure upon this picture of infantine simplicity, till it
brought to his remembrance his own boys, whom he had lost about the
age of these, and their lamented mother; and he sunk into a
thoughtfulness, which Emily observing, she immediately began to sing
one of those simple and lively airs he was so fond of, and which she
knew how to give with the most captivating sweetness. St. Aubert
smiled on her through his tears, took her hand and pressed it
affectionately, and then tried to dissipate the melancholy
reflections that lingered in his mind.
While she sung, Valancourt approached, who was unwilling to interrupt
her, and paused at a little distance to listen. When she had
concluded, he joined the party, and told them, that he had found
Michael, as well as a way, by which he thought they could ascend the
cliff to the carriage. He pointed to the woody steeps above, which
St. Aubert surveyed with an anxious eye. He was already wearied by
his walk, and this ascent was formidable to him. He thought,
however, it would be less toilsome than the long and broken road, and
he determined to attempt it; but Emily, ever watchful of his ease,
proposing that he should rest, and dine before they proceeded
further, Valancourt went to the carriage for the refreshments
On his return, he proposed removing a little higher up the mountain,
to where the woods opened upon a grand and extensive prospect; and
thither they were preparing to go, when they saw a young woman join
the children, and caress and weep over them.
The travellers, interested by her distress, stopped to observe her.
She took the youngest of the children in her arms, and, perceiving
the strangers, hastily dried her tears, and proceeded to the cottage.
St. Aubert, on enquiring the occasion of her sorrow, learned that her
husband, who was a shepherd, and lived here in the summer months to
watch over the flocks he led to feed upon these mountains, had lost,
on the preceding night, his little all. A gang of gipsies, who had
for some time infested the neighbourhood, had driven away several of
his master's sheep. 'Jacques,' added the shepherd's wife, 'had saved
a little money, and had bought a few sheep with it, and now they must
go to his master for those that are stolen; and what is worse than
all, his master, when he comes to know how it is, will trust him no
longer with the care of his flocks, for he is a hard man! and then
what is to become of our children!'
The innocent countenance of the woman, and the simplicity of her
manner in relating her grievance, inclined St. Aubert to believe her
story; and Valancourt, convinced that it was true, asked eagerly what
was the value of the stolen sheep; on hearing which he turned away
with a look of disappointment. St. Aubert put some money into her
hand, Emily too gave something from her little purse, and they walked
towards the cliff; but Valancourt lingered behind, and spoke to the
shepherd's wife, who was now weeping with gratitude and surprise. He
enquired how much money was yet wanting to replace the stolen sheep,
and found, that it was a sum very little short of all he had about
him. He was perplexed and distressed. 'This sum then,' said he to
himself, 'would make this poor family completely happy--it is in my
power to give it--to make them completely happy! But what is to
become of me?--how shall I contrive to reach home with the little
money that will remain?' For a moment he stood, unwilling to forego
the luxury of raising a family from ruin to happiness, yet
considering the difficulties of pursuing his journey with so small a
sum as would be left.
While he was in this state of perplexity, the shepherd himself
appeared: his children ran to meet him; he took one of them in his
arms, and, with the other clinging to his coat, came forward with a
loitering step. His forlorn and melancholy look determined
Valancourt at once; he threw down all the money he had, except a very
few louis, and bounded away after St. Aubert and Emily, who were
proceeding slowly up the steep. Valancourt had seldom felt his heart
so light as at this moment; his gay spirits danced with pleasure;
every object around him appeared more interesting, or beautiful, than
before. St. Aubert observed the uncommon vivacity of his
countenance: 'What has pleased you so much?' said he. 'O what a
lovely day,' replied Valancourt, 'how brightly the sun shines, how
pure is this air, what enchanting scenery!' 'It is indeed
enchanting,' said St. Aubert, whom early experience had taught to
understand the nature of Valancourt's present feelings. 'What pity
that the wealthy, who can command such sunshine, should ever pass
their days in gloom--in the cold shade of selfishness! For you, my
young friend, may the sun always shine as brightly as at this moment;
may your own conduct always give you the sunshine of benevolence and
Valancourt, highly flattered by this compliment, could make no reply
but by a smile of gratitude.
They continued to wind under the woods, between the grassy knolls of
the mountain, and, as they reached the shady summit, which he had
pointed out, the whole party burst into an exclamation. Behind the
spot where they stood, the rock rose perpendicularly in a massy wall
to a considerable height, and then branched out into overhanging
crags. Their grey tints were well contrasted by the bright hues of
the plants and wild flowers, that grew in their fractured sides, and
were deepened by the gloom of the pines and cedars, that waved above.
The steeps below, over which the eye passed abruptly to the valley,
were fringed with thickets of alpine shrubs; and, lower still,
appeared the tufted tops of the chesnut woods, that clothed their
base, among which peeped forth the shepherd's cottage, just left by
the travellers, with its blueish smoke curling high in the air. On
every side appeared the majestic summits of the Pyrenees, some
exhibiting tremendous crags of marble, whose appearance was changing
every instant, as the varying lights fell upon their surface; others,
still higher, displaying only snowy points, while their lower steeps
were covered almost invariably with forests of pine, larch, and oak,
that stretched down to the vale. This was one of the narrow vallies,
that open from the Pyrenees into the country of Rousillon, and whose
green pastures, and cultivated beauty, form a decided and wonderful
contrast to the romantic grandeur that environs it. Through a vista
of the mountains appeared the lowlands of Rousillon, tinted with the
blue haze of distance, as they united with the waters of the
Mediterranean; where, on a promontory, which marked the boundary of
the shore, stood a lonely beacon, over which were seen circling
flights of sea-fowl. Beyond, appeared, now and then, a stealing
sail, white with the sun-beam, and whose progress was perceivable by
its approach to the light-house. Sometimes, too, was seen a sail so
distant, that it served only to mark the line of separation between
the sky and the waves.
On the other side of the valley, immediately opposite to the spot
where the travellers rested, a rocky pass opened toward Gascony.
Here no sign of cultivation appeared. The rocks of granite, that
screened the glen, rose abruptly from their base, and stretched their
barren points to the clouds, unvaried with woods, and uncheered even
by a hunter's cabin. Sometimes, indeed, a gigantic larch threw its
long shade over the precipice, and here and there a cliff reared on
its brow a monumental cross, to tell the traveller the fate of him
who had ventured thither before. This spot seemed the very haunt of
banditti; and Emily, as she looked down upon it, almost expected to
see them stealing out from some hollow cave to look for their prey.
Soon after an object not less terrific struck her,--a gibbet standing
on a point of rock near the entrance of the pass, and immediately
over one of the crosses she had before observed. These were
hieroglyphics that told a plain and dreadful story. She forbore to
point it out to St. Aubert, but it threw a gloom over her spirits,
and made her anxious to hasten forward, that they might with
certainty reach Rousillon before night-fall. It was necessary,
however, that St. Aubert should take some refreshment, and, seating
themselves on the short dry turf, they opened the basket of
by breezy murmurs cool'd,
Broad o'er THEIR heads the verdant cedars wave,
And high palmetos lift their graceful shade.
Ethereal soul, there drink reviving gales
Profusely breathing from the piney groves,
And vales of fragrance; there at a distance hear
The roaring floods, and cataracts.*
St. Aubert was revived by rest, and by the serene air of this summit;
and Valancourt was so charmed with all around, and with the
conversation of his companions, that he seemed to have forgotten he
had any further to go. Having concluded their simple repast, they
gave a long farewell look to the scene, and again began to ascend.
St. Aubert rejoiced when he reached the carriage, which Emily entered
with him; but Valancourt, willing to take a more extensive view of
the enchanting country, into which they were about to descend, than
he could do from a carriage, loosened his dogs, and once more bounded
with them along the banks of the road. He often quitted it for
points that promised a wider prospect, and the slow pace, at which
the mules travelled, allowed him to overtake them with ease.
Whenever a scene of uncommon magnificence appeared, he hastened to
inform St. Aubert, who, though he was too much tired to walk himself,
sometimes made the chaise wait, while Emily went to the neighbouring
It was evening when they descended the lower alps, that bind
Rousillon, and form a majestic barrier round that charming country,
leaving it open only on the east to the Mediterranean. The gay tints
of cultivation once more beautified the landscape; for the lowlands
were coloured with the richest hues, which a luxuriant climate, and
an industrious people can awaken into life. Groves of orange and
lemon perfumed the air, their ripe fruit glowing among the foliage;
while, sloping to the plains, extensive vineyards spread their
treasures. Beyond these, woods and pastures, and mingled towns and
hamlets stretched towards the sea, on whose bright surface gleamed
many a distant sail; while, over the whole scene, was diffused the
purple glow of evening. This landscape with the surrounding alps
did, indeed, present a perfect picture of the lovely and the sublime,
of 'beauty sleeping in the lap of horror.'
The travellers, having reached the plains, proceeded, between hedges
of flowering myrtle and pomegranate, to the town of Arles, where they
proposed to rest for the night. They met with simple, but neat
accommodation, and would have passed a happy evening, after the toils
and the delights of this day, had not the approaching separation
thrown a gloom over their spirit. It was St. Aubert's plan to
proceed, on the morrow, to the borders of the Mediterranean, and
travel along its shores into Languedoc; and Valancourt, since he was
now nearly recovered, and had no longer a pretence for continuing
with his new friends, resolved to leave them here. St. Aubert, who
was much pleased with him, invited him to go further, but did not
repeat the invitation, and Valancourt had resolution enough to forego
the temptation of accepting it, that he might prove himself not
unworthy of the favour. On the following morning, therefore, they
were to part, St. Aubert to pursue his way to Languedoc, and
Valancourt to explore new scenes among the mountains, on his return
home. During this evening he was often silent and thoughtful; St.
Aubert's manner towards him was affectionate, though grave, and Emily
was serious, though she made frequent efforts to appear cheerful.
After one of the most melancholy evenings they had yet passed
together, they separated for the night.
I care not, Fortune! what you me deny;
You cannot rob me of free nature's grace;
You cannot shut the windows of the sky,
Through which Aurora shews her brightening face;
You cannot bar my constant feet to trace
The woods and lawns, by living stream, at eve:
Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace,
And I their toys to the great children leave:
Of fancy, reason, virtue, nought can me bereave.
In the morning, Valancourt breakfasted with St. Aubert and Emily,
neither of whom seemed much refreshed by sleep. The languor of
illness still hung over St. Aubert, and to Emily's fears his disorder
appeared to be increasing fast upon him. She watched his looks with
anxious affection, and their expression was always faithfully
reflected in her own.
At the commencement of their acquaintance, Valancourt had made known
his name and family. St. Aubert was not a stranger to either, for
the family estates, which were now in the possession of an elder
brother of Valancourt, were little more than twenty miles distant
from La Vallee, and he had sometimes met the elder Valancourt on
visits in the neighbourhood. This knowledge had made him more
willingly receive his present companion; for, though his countenance
and manners would have won him the acquaintance of St. Aubert, who
was very apt to trust to the intelligence of his own eyes, with
respect to countenances, he would not have accepted these, as
sufficient introductions to that of his daughter.
The breakfast was almost as silent as the supper of the preceding
night; but their musing was at length interrupted by the sound of the
carriage wheels, which were to bear away St. Aubert and Emily.
Valancourt started from his chair, and went to the window; it was
indeed the carriage, and he returned to his seat without speaking.
The moment was now come when they must part. St. Aubert told
Valancourt, that he hoped he would never pass La Vallee without
favouring him with a visit; and Valancourt, eagerly thanking him,
assured him that he never would; as he said which he looked timidly
at Emily, who tried to smile away the seriousness of her spirits.
They passed a few minutes in interesting conversation, and St. Aubert
then led the way to the carriage, Emily and Valancourt following in
silence. The latter lingered at the door several minutes after they
were seated, and none of the party seemed to have courage enough to
say--Farewell. At length, St. Aubert pronounced the melancholy word,
which Emily passed to Valancourt, who returned it, with a dejected
smile, and the carriage drove on.
The travellers remained, for some time, in a state of tranquil
pensiveness, which is not unpleasing. St. Aubert interrupted it by
observing, 'This is a very promising young man; it is many years
since I have been so much pleased with any person, on so short an
acquaintance. He brings back to my memory the days of my youth, when
every scene was new and delightful!' St. Aubert sighed, and sunk
again into a reverie; and, as Emily looked back upon the road they
had passed, Valancourt was seen, at the door of the little inn,
following them with his eyes. Her perceived her, and waved his hand;
and she returned the adieu, till the winding road shut her from his
'I remember when I was about his age,' resumed St. Aubert, 'and I
thought, and felt exactly as he does. The world was opening upon me
then, now--it is closing.'
'My dear sir, do not think so gloomily,' said Emily in a trembling
voice, 'I hope you have many, many years to live--for your own sake--
for MY sake.'
'Ah, my Emily!' replied St. Aubert, 'for thy sake! Well- I hope it
is so.' He wiped away a tear, that was stealing down his cheek,
threw a smile upon his countenance, and said in a cheering voice,
'there is something in the ardour and ingenuousness of youth, which
is particularly pleasing to the contemplation of an old man, if his
feelings have not been entirely corroded by the world. It is
cheering and reviving, like the view of spring to a sick person; his
mind catches somewhat of the spirit of the season, and his eyes are
lighted up with a transient sunshine. Valancourt is this spring to
Emily, who pressed her father's hand affectionately, had never before
listened with so much pleasure to the praises he bestowed; no, not
even when he had bestowed them on herself.
They travelled on, among vineyards, woods, and pastures, delighted
with the romantic beauty of the landscape, which was bounded, on one
side, by the grandeur of the Pyrenees, and, on the other, by the
ocean; and, soon after noon, they reached the town of Colioure,
situated on the Mediterranean. Here they dined, and rested till
towards the cool of day, when they pursued their way along the
shores--those enchanting shores!--which extend to Languedoc. Emily
gazed with enthusiasm on the vastness of the sea, its surface
varying, as the lights and shadows fell, and on its woody banks,
mellowed with autumnal tints.
St. Aubert was impatient to reach Perpignan, where he expected
letters from M. Quesnel; and it was the expectation of these letters,
that had induced him to leave Colioure, for his feeble frame had
required immediate rest. After travelling a few miles, he fell
asleep; and Emily, who had put two or three books into the carriage,
on leaving La Vallee, had now the leisure for looking into them. She
sought for one, in which Valancourt had been reading the day before,
and hoped for the pleasure of re-tracing a page, over which the eyes
of a beloved friend had lately passed, of dwelling on the passages,
which he had admired, and of permitting them to speak to her in the
language of his own mind, and to bring himself to her presence. On
searching for the book, she could find it no where, but in its stead
perceived a volume of Petrarch's poems, that had belonged to
Valancourt, whose name was written in it, and from which he had
frequently read passages to her, with all the pathetic expression,
that characterized the feelings of the author. She hesitated in
believing, what would have been sufficiently apparent to almost any
other person, that he had purposely left this book, instead of the
one she had lost, and that love had prompted the exchange; but,
having opened it with impatient pleasure, and observed the lines of
his pencil drawn along the various passages he had read aloud, and
under others more descriptive of delicate tenderness than he had
dared to trust his voice with, the conviction came, at length, to her
mind. For some moments she was conscious only of being beloved;
then, a recollection of all the variations of tone and countenance,
with which he had recited these sonnets, and of the soul, which spoke
in their expression, pressed to her memory, and she wept over the
memorial of his affection.
They arrived at Perpignan soon after sunset, where St. Aubert found,
as he had expected, letters from M. Quesnel, the contents of which so
evidently and grievously affected him, that Emily was alarmed, and
pressed him, as far as her delicacy would permit, to disclose the
occasion of his concern; but he answered her only by tears, and
immediately began to talk on other topics. Emily, though she forbore
to press the one most interesting to her, was greatly affected by her
father's manner, and passed a night of sleepless solicitude.
In the morning they pursued their journey along the coast towards
Leucate, another town on the Mediterranean, situated on the borders
of Languedoc and Rousillon. On the way, Emily renewed the subject of
the preceding night, and appeared so deeply affected by St. Aubert's
silence and dejection, that he relaxed from his reserve. 'I was
unwilling, my dear Emily,' said he, 'to throw a cloud over the
pleasure you receive from these scenes, and meant, therefore, to
conceal, for the present, some circumstances, with which, however,
you must at length have been made acquainted. But your anxiety has
defeated my purpose; you suffer as much from this, perhaps, as you
will do from a knowledge of the facts I have to relate. M. Quesnel's
visit proved an unhappy one to me; he came to tell me part of the
news he has now confirmed. You may have heard me mention a M.
Motteville, of Paris, but you did not know that the chief of my
personal property was invested in his hands. I had great confidence
in him, and I am yet willing to believe, that he is not wholly
unworthy of my esteem. A variety of circumstances have concurred to
ruin him, and--I am ruined with him.'
St. Aubert paused to conceal his emotion.
'The letters I have just received from M. Quesnel,' resumed he,
struggling to speak with firmness, 'enclosed others from Motteville,
which confirmed all I dreaded.'
'Must we then quit La Vallee?' said Emily, after a long pause of
silence. 'That is yet uncertain,' replied St. Aubert, 'it will
depend upon the compromise Motteville is able to make with his
creditors. My income, you know, was never large, and now it will be
reduced to little indeed! It is for you, Emily, for you, my child,
that I am most afflicted.' His last words faltered; Emily smiled
tenderly upon him through her tears, and then, endeavouring to
overcome her emotion, 'My dear father,' said she, 'do not grieve for
me, or for yourself; we may yet be happy;--if La Vallee remains for
us, we must be happy. We will retain only one servant, and you shall
scarcely perceive the change in your income. Be comforted, my dear
sir; we shall not feel the want of those luxuries, which others value
so highly, since we never had a taste for them; and poverty cannot
deprive us of many consolations. It cannot rob us of the affection
we have for each other, or degrade us in our own opinion, or in that
of any person, whose opinion we ought to value.'
St. Aubert concealed his face with his handkerchief, and was unable
to speak; but Emily continued to urge to her father the truths, which
himself had impressed upon her mind.
'Besides, my dear sir, poverty cannot deprive us of intellectual
delights. It cannot deprive you of the comfort of affording me
examples of fortitude and benevolence; nor me of the delight of
consoling a beloved parent. It cannot deaden our taste for the
grand, and the beautiful, or deny us the means of indulging it; for
the scenes of nature--those sublime spectacles, so infinitely
superior to all artificial luxuries! are open for the enjoyment of
the poor, as well as of the rich. Of what, then, have we to
complain, so long as we are not in want of necessaries? Pleasures,
such as wealth cannot buy, will still be ours. We retain, then, the
sublime luxuries of nature, and lose only the frivolous ones of art.'
St. Aubert could not reply: he caught Emily to his bosom, their
tears flowed together, but--they were not tears of sorrow. After
this language of the heart, all other would have been feeble, and
they remained silent for some time. Then, St. Aubert conversed as
before; for, if his mind had not recovered its natural tranquillity,
it at least assumed the appearance of it.
They reached the romantic town of Leucate early in the day, but St.
Aubert was weary, and they determined to pass the night there. In
the evening, he exerted himself so far as to walk with his daughter
to view the environs that overlook the lake of Leucate, the
Mediterranean, part of Rousillon, with the Pyrenees, and a wide
extent of the luxuriant province of Languedoc, now blushing with the
ripened vintage, which the peasants were beginning to gather. St.
Aubert and Emily saw the busy groups, caught the joyous song, that
was wafted on the breeze, and anticipated, with apparent pleasure,
their next day's journey over this gay region. He designed, however,
still to wind along the sea-shore. To return home immediately was
partly his wish, but from this he was withheld by a desire to
lengthen the pleasure, which the journey gave his daughter, and to
try the effect of the sea air on his own disorder.
On the following day, therefore, they recommenced their journey
through Languedoc, winding the shores of the Mediterranean; the
Pyrenees still forming the magnificent back-ground of their
prospects, while on their right was the ocean, and, on their left,
wide extended plains melting into the blue horizon. St. Aubert was
pleased, and conversed much with Emily, yet his cheerfulness was
sometimes artificial, and sometimes a shade of melancholy would steal
upon his countenance, and betray him. This was soon chased away by
Emily's smile; who smiled, however, with an aching heart, for she saw
that his misfortunes preyed upon his mind, and upon his enfeebled
It was evening when they reached a small village of Upper Languedoc,
where they meant to pass the night, but the place could not afford
them beds; for here, too, it was the time of the vintage, and they
were obliged to proceed to the next post. The languor of illness and
of fatigue, which returned upon St. Aubert, required immediate
repose, and the evening was now far advanced; but from necessity
there was no appeal, and he ordered Michael to proceed.
The rich plains of Languedoc, which exhibited all the glories of the
vintage, with the gaieties of a French festival, no longer awakened
St. Aubert to pleasure, whose condition formed a mournful contrast to
the hilarity and youthful beauty which surrounded him. As his
languid eyes moved over the scene, he considered, that they would
soon, perhaps, be closed for ever on this world. 'Those distant and
sublime mountains,' said he secretly, as he gazed on a chain of the
Pyrenees that stretched towards the west, 'these luxuriant plains,
this blue vault, the cheerful light of day, will be shut from my
eyes! The song of the peasant, the cheering voice of man--will no
longer sound for me!'
The intelligent eyes of Emily seemed to read what passed in the mind
of her father, and she fixed them on his face, with an expression of
such tender pity, as recalled his thoughts from every desultory
object of regret, and he remembered only, that he must leave his
daughter without protection. This reflection changed regret to
agony; he sighed deeply, and remained silent, while she seemed to
understand that sigh, for she pressed his hand affectionately, and
then turned to the window to conceal her tears. The sun now threw a
last yellow gleam on the waves of the Mediterranean, and the gloom of
twilight spread fast over the scene, till only a melancholy ray
appeared on the western horizon, marking the point where the sun had
set amid the vapours of an autumnal evening. A cool breeze now came
from the shore, and Emily let down the glass; but the air, which was
refreshing to health, was as chilling to sickness, and St. Aubert
desired, that the window might be drawn up. Increasing illness made
him now more anxious than ever to finish the day's journey, and he
stopped the muleteer to enquire how far they had yet to go to the
next post. He replied, 'Nine miles.' 'I feel I am unable to proceed
much further,' said St. Aubert; 'enquire, as you go, if there is any
house on the road that would accommodate us for the night.' He sunk
back in the carriage, and Michael, cracking his whip in the air, set
off, and continued on the full gallop, till St. Aubert, almost
fainting, called to him to stop. Emily looked anxiously from the
window, and saw a peasant walking at some little distance on the
road, for whom they waited, till he came up, when he was asked, if
there was any house in the neighbourhood that accommodated
travellers. He replied, that he knew of none. 'There is a chateau,
indeed, among those woods on the right,' added he, 'but I believe it
receives nobody, and I cannot show you the way, for I am almost a
stranger here.' St. Aubert was going to ask him some further
question concerning the chateau, but the man abruptly passed on.
After some consideration, he ordered Michael to proceed slowly to the
woods. Every moment now deepened the twilight, and increased the
difficulty of finding the road. Another peasant soon after passed.
'Which is the way to the chateau in the woods?' cried Michael.
'The chateau in the woods!' exclaimed the peasant--'Do you mean that
with the turret, yonder?'
'I don't know as for the turret, as you call it,' said Michael, 'I
mean that white piece of a building, that we see at a distance there,
among the trees.'
'Yes, that is the turret; why, who are you, that you are going
thither?' said the man with surprise.
St. Aubert, on hearing this odd question, and observing the peculiar
tone in which it was delivered, looked out from the carriage. 'We
are travellers,' said he, 'who are in search of a house of
accommodation for the night; is there any hereabout?'
'None, Monsieur, unless you have a mind to try your luck yonder,'
replied the peasant, pointing to the woods, 'but I would not advise
you to go there.'
'To whom does the chateau belong?'
'I scarcely know myself, Monsieur.'
'It is uninhabited, then?' 'No, not uninhabited; the steward and
housekeeper are there, I believe.'
On hearing this, St. Aubert determined to proceed to the chateau, and
risque the refusal of being accommodated for the night; he therefore
desired the countryman would shew Michael the way, and bade him
expect reward for his trouble. The man was for a moment silent, and
then said, that he was going on other business, but that the road
could not be missed, if they went up an avenue to the right, to which
he pointed. St. Aubert was going to speak, but the peasant wished
him good night, and walked on.
The carriage now moved towards the avenue, which was guarded by a
gate, and Michael having dismounted to open it, they entered between
rows of ancient oak and chesnut, whose intermingled branches formed a
lofty arch above. There was something so gloomy and desolate in the
appearance of this avenue, and its lonely silence, that Emily almost
shuddered as she passed along; and, recollecting the manner in which
the peasant had mentioned the chateau, she gave a mysterious meaning
to his words, such as she had not suspected when he uttered them.
These apprehensions, however, she tried to check, considering that
they were probably the effect of a melancholy imagination, which her
father's situation, and a consideration of her own circumstances, had
made sensible to every impression.
They passed slowly on, for they were now almost in darkness, which,
together with the unevenness of the ground, and the frequent roots of
old trees, that shot up above the soil, made it necessary to proceed
with caution. On a sudden Michael stopped the carriage; and, as St.
Aubert looked from the window to enquire the cause, he perceived a
figure at some distance moving up the avenue. The dusk would not
permit him to distinguish what it was, but he bade Michael go on.
'This seems a wild place,' said Michael; 'there is no house
hereabout, don't your honour think we had better turn back?'
'Go a little farther, and if we see no house then, we will return to
the road,' replied St. Aubert.
Michael proceeded with reluctance, and the extreme slowness of his
pace made St. Aubert look again from the window to hasten him, when
again he saw the same figure. He was somewhat startled: probably
the gloominess of the spot made him more liable to alarm than usual;
however this might be, he now stopped Michael, and bade him call to
the person in the avenue.
'Please your honour, he may be a robber,' said Michael. 'It does not
please me,' replied St. Aubert, who could not forbear smiling at the
simplicity of his phrase, 'and we will, therefore, return to the
road, for I see no probability of meeting here with what we seek.'
Michael turned about immediately, and was retracing his way with
alacrity, when a voice was heard from among the trees on the left.
It was not the voice of command, or distress, but a deep hollow tone,
which seemed to be scarcely human. The man whipped his mules till
they went as fast as possible, regardless of the darkness, the broken
ground, and the necks of the whole party, nor once stopped till he
reached the gate, which opened from the avenue into the high-road,
where he went into a more moderate pace.
'I am very ill,' said St. Aubert, taking his daughter's hand. 'You
are worse, then, sir!' said Emily, extremely alarmed by his manner,
'you are worse, and here is no assistance. Good God! what is to be
done!' He leaned his head on her shoulder, while she endeavoured to
support him with her arm, and Michael was again ordered to stop.
When the rattling of the wheels had ceased, music was heard on their
air; it was to Emily the voice of Hope. 'Oh! we are near some human
habitation!' said she, 'help may soon be had.'
She listened anxiously; the sounds were distant, and seemed to come
from a remote part of the woods that bordered the road; and, as she
looked towards the spot whence they issued, she perceived in the
faint moon-light something like a chateau. It was difficult,
however, to reach this; St. Aubert was now too ill to bear the motion
of the carriage; Michael could not quit his mules; and Emily, who
still supported her father, feared to leave him, and also feared to
venture alone to such a distance, she knew not whither, or to whom.
Something, however, it was necessary to determine upon immediately;
St. Aubert, therefore, told Michael to proceed slowly; but they had
not gone far, when he fainted, and the carriage was again stopped.
He lay quite senseless.--'My dear, dear father!' cried Emily in great
agony, who began to fear that he was dying, 'speak, if it is only one
word to let me hear the sound of your voice!' But no voice spoke in
reply. In the agony of terror she bade Michael bring water from the
rivulet, that flowed along the road; and, having received some in the
man's hat, with trembling hands she sprinkled it over her father's
face, which, as the moon's rays now fell upon it, seemed to bear the
impression of death. Every emotion of selfish fear now gave way to a
stronger influence, and, committing St. Aubert to the care of
Michael, who refused to go far from his mules, she stepped from the
carriage in search of the chateau she had seen at a distance. It was
a still moon-light night, and the music, which yet sounded on the
air, directed her steps from the high road, up a shadowy lane, that
led to the woods. Her mind was for some time so entirely occupied by
anxiety and terror for her father, that she felt none for herself,
till the deepening gloom of the overhanging foliage, which now wholly
excluded the moon-light, and the wildness of the place, recalled her
to a sense of her adventurous situation. The music had ceased, and
she had no guide but chance. For a moment she paused in terrified
perplexity, till a sense of her father's condition again overcoming
every consideration for herself, she proceeded. The lane terminated
in the woods, but she looked round in vain for a house, or a human
being, and as vainly listened for a sound to guide her. She hurried
on, however, not knowing whither, avoiding the recesses of the woods,
and endeavouring to keep along their margin, till a rude kind of
avenue, which opened upon a moon-light spot, arrested her attention.
The wildness of this avenue brought to her recollection the one
leading to the turreted chateau, and she was inclined to believe,
that this was a part of the same domain, and probably led to the same
point. While she hesitated, whether to follow it or not, a sound of
many voices in loud merriment burst upon her ear. It seemed not the
laugh of cheerfulness, but of riot, and she stood appalled. While
she paused, she heard a distant voice, calling from the way she had
come, and not doubting but it was that of Michael, her first impulse
was to hasten back; but a second thought changed her purpose; she
believed that nothing less than the last extremity could have
prevailed with Michael to quit his mules, and fearing that her father
was now dying, she rushed forward, with a feeble hope of obtaining
assistance from the people in the woods. Her heart beat with fearful
expectation, as she drew near the spot whence the voices issued, and
she often startled when her steps disturbed the fallen leaves. The
sounds led her towards the moon-light glade she had before noticed;
at a little distance from which she stopped, and saw, between the
boles of the trees, a small circular level of green turf, surrounded
by the woods, on which appeared a group of figures. On drawing
nearer, she distinguished these, by their dress, to be peasants, and
perceived several cottages scattered round the edge of the woods,
which waved loftily over this spot. While she gazed, and endeavoured
to overcome the apprehensions that withheld her steps, several
peasant girls came out of a cottage; music instantly struck up, and
the dance began. It was the joyous music of the vintage! the same
she had before heard upon the air. Her heart, occupied with terror
for her father, could not feel the contrast, which this gay scene
offered to her own distress; she stepped hastily forward towards a
group of elder peasants, who were seated at the door of a cottage,
and, having explained her situation, entreated their assistance.
Several of them rose with alacrity, and, offering any service in
their power, followed Emily, who seemed to move on the wind, as fast
as they could towards the road.
When she reached the carriage she found St. Aubert restored to
animation. On the recovery of his senses, having heard from Michael
whither his daughter was gone, anxiety for her overcame every regard
for himself, and he had sent him in search of her. He was, however,
still languid, and, perceiving himself unable to travel much farther,
he renewed his enquiries for an inn, and concerning the chateau in
the woods. 'The chateau cannot accommodate you, sir,' said a
venerable peasant who had followed Emily from the woods, 'it is
scarcely inhabited; but, if you will do me the honour to visit my
cottage, you shall be welcome to the best bed it affords.'
St. Aubert was himself a Frenchman; he therefore was not surprised at
French courtesy; but, ill as he was, he felt the value of the offer
enhanced by the manner which accompanied it. He had too much
delicacy to apologize, or to appear to hesitate about availing
himself of the peasant's hospitality, but immediately accepted it
with the same frankness with which it was offered.
The carriage again moved slowly on; Michael following the peasants up
the lane, which Emily had just quitted, till they came to the moon-
light glade. St. Aubert's spirits were so far restored by the
courtesy of his host, and the near prospect of repose, that he looked
with a sweet complacency upon the moon-light scene, surrounded by the
shadowy woods, through which, here and there, an opening admitted the
streaming splendour, discovering a cottage, or a sparkling rivulet.
He listened, with no painful emotion, to the merry notes of the
guitar and tamborine; and, though tears came to his eyes, when he saw
the debonnaire dance of the peasants, they were not merely tears of
mournful regret. With Emily it was otherwise; immediate terror for
her father had now subsided into a gentle melancholy, which every
note of joy, by awakening comparison, served to heighten.
The dance ceased on the approach of the carriage, which was a
phenomenon in these sequestered woods, and the peasantry flocked
round it with eager curiosity. On learning that it brought a sick
stranger, several girls ran across the turf, and returned with wine
and baskets of grapes, which they presented to the travellers, each
with kind contention pressing for a preference. At length, the
carriage stopped at a neat cottage, and his venerable conductor,
having assisted St. Aubert to alight, led him and Emily to a small
inner room, illuminated only by moon-beams, which the open casement
admitted. St. Aubert, rejoicing in rest, seated himself in an arm-
chair, and his senses were refreshed by the cool and balmy air, that
lightly waved the embowering honeysuckles, and wafted their sweet
breath into the apartment. His host, who was called La Voisin,
quitted the room, but soon returned with fruits, cream, and all the
pastoral luxury his cottage afforded; having set down which, with a
smile of unfeigned welcome, he retired behind the chair of his guest.
St. Aubert insisted on his taking a seat at the table, and, when the
fruit had allayed the fever of his palate, and he found himself
somewhat revived, he began to converse with his host, who
communicated several particulars concerning himself and his family,
which were interesting, because they were spoken from the heart, and
delineated a picture of the sweet courtesies of family kindness.
Emily sat by her father, holding his hand, and, while she listened to
the old man, her heart swelled with the affectionate sympathy he
described, and her tears fell to the mournful consideration, that
death would probably soon deprive her of the dearest blessing she
then possessed. The soft moon-light of an autumnal evening, and the
distant music, which now sounded a plaintive strain, aided the
melancholy of her mind. The old man continued to talk of his family,
and St. Aubert remained silent. 'I have only one daughter living,'
said La Voisin, 'but she is happily married, and is every thing to
me. When I lost my wife,' he added with a sigh, 'I came to live with
Agnes, and her family; she has several children, who are all dancing
on the green yonder, as merry as grasshoppers--and long may they be
so! I hope to die among them, monsieur. I am old now, and cannot
expect to live long, but there is some comfort in dying surrounded by
'My good friend,' said St. Aubert, while his voice trembled, 'I hope
you will long live surrounded by them.'
'Ah, sir! at my age I must not expect that!' replied the old man, and
he paused: 'I can scarcely wish it,' he resumed, 'for I trust that
whenever I die I shall go to heaven, where my poor wife is gone
before me. I can sometimes almost fancy I see her of a still moon-
light night, walking among these shades she loved so well. Do you
believe, monsieur, that we shall be permitted to revisit the earth,
after we have quitted the body?'
Emily could no longer stifle the anguish of her heart; her tears fell
fast upon her father's hand, which she yet held. He made an effort
to speak, and at length said in a low voice, 'I hope we shall be
permitted to look down on those we have left on the earth, but I can
only hope it. Futurity is much veiled from our eyes, and faith and
hope are our only guides concerning it. We are not enjoined to
believe, that disembodied spirits watch over the friends they have
loved, but we may innocently hope it. It is a hope which I will
never resign,' continued he, while he wiped the tears from his
daughter's eyes, 'it will sweeten the bitter moments of death!'
Tears fell slowly on his cheeks; La Voisin wept too, and there was a
pause of silence. Then, La Voisin, renewing the subject, said, 'But
you believe, sir, that we shall meet in another world the relations
we have loved in this; I must believe this.' 'Then do believe it,'
replied St. Aubert, 'severe, indeed, would be the pangs of
separation, if we believed it to be eternal. Look up, my dear Emily,
we shall meet again!' He lifted his eyes towards heaven, and a gleam
of moon-light, which fell upon his countenance, discovered peace and
resignation, stealing on the lines of sorrow.
La Voisin felt that he had pursued the subject too far, and he
dropped it, saying, 'We are in darkness, I forgot to bring a light.'
'No,' said St. Aubert, 'this is a light I love. Sit down, my good
friend. Emily, my love, I find myself better than I have been all
day; this air refreshes me. I can enjoy this tranquil hour, and that
music, which floats so sweetly at a distance. Let me see you smile.
Who touches that guitar so tastefully? are there two instruments, or
is it an echo I hear?'
'It is an echo, monsieur, I fancy. That guitar is often heard at
night, when all is still, but nobody knows who touches it, and it is
sometimes accompanied by a voice so sweet, and so sad, one would
almost think the woods were haunted.' 'They certainly are haunted,'
said St. Aubert with a smile, 'but I believe it is by mortals.' 'I
have sometimes heard it at midnight, when I could not sleep,'
rejoined La Voisin, not seeming to notice this remark, 'almost under
my window, and I never heard any music like it. It has often made me
think of my poor wife till I cried. I have sometimes got up to the
window to look if I could see anybody, but as soon as I opened the
casement all was hushed, and nobody to be seen; and I have listened,
and listened till I have been so timorous, that even the trembling of
the leaves in the breeze has made me start. They say it often comes
to warn people of their death, but I have heard it these many years,
and outlived the warning.'
Emily, though she smiled at the mention of this ridiculous
superstition, could not, in the present tone of her spirits, wholly
resist its contagion.
'Well, but, my good friend,' said St. Aubert, 'has nobody had courage
to follow the sounds? If they had, they would probably have
discovered who is the musician.' 'Yes, sir, they have followed them
some way into the woods, but the music has still retreated, and
seemed as distant as ever, and the people have at last been afraid of
being led into harm, and would go no further. It is very seldom that
I have heard these sounds so early in the evening. They usually come
about midnight, when that bright planet, which is rising above the
turret yonder, sets below the woods on the left.'
'What turret?' asked St. Aubert with quickness, 'I see none.'
'Your pardon, monsieur, you do see one indeed, for the moon shines
full upon it;--up the avenue yonder, a long way off; the chateau it
belongs to is hid among the trees.'
'Yes, my dear sir,' said Emily, pointing, 'don't you see something
glitter above the dark woods? It is a fane, I fancy, which the rays
'O yes, I see what you mean; and who does the chateau belong to?'
'The Marquis de Villeroi was its owner,' replied La Voisin,
'Ah!' said St. Aubert, with a deep sigh, 'are we then so near Le-
Blanc!' He appeared much agitated.
'It used to be the Marquis's favourite residence,' resumed La Voisin,
'but he took a dislike to the place, and has not been there for many
years. We have heard lately that he is dead, and that it is fallen
into other hands.' St. Aubert, who had sat in deep musing, was
roused by the last words. 'Dead!' he exclaimed, 'Good God! when did
'He is reported to have died about five weeks since,' replied La
Voisin. 'Did you know the Marquis, sir?'
'This is very extraordinary!' said St. Aubert without attending to
the question. 'Why is it so, my dear sir?' said Emily, in a voice of
timid curiosity. He made no reply, but sunk again into a reverie;
and in a few moments, when he seemed to have recovered himself, asked
who had succeeded to the estates. 'I have forgot his title,
monsieur,' said La Voisin; 'but my lord resides at Paris chiefly; I
hear no talk of his coming hither.'
'The chateau is shut up then, still?'
'Why, little better, sir; the old housekeeper, and her husband the
steward, have the care of it, but they live generally in a cottage
'The chateau is spacious, I suppose,' said Emily, 'and must be
desolate for the residence of only two persons.'
'Desolate enough, mademoiselle,' replied La Voisin, 'I would not pass
one night in the chateau, for the value of the whole domain.'
'What is that?' said St. Aubert, roused again from thoughtfulness.
As his host repeated his last sentence, a groan escaped from St.
Aubert, and then, as if anxious to prevent it from being noticed, he
hastily asked La Voisin how long he had lived in this neighbourhood.
'Almost from my childhood, sir,' replied his host.
'You remember the late marchioness, then?' said St. Aubert in an
'Ah, monsieur!--that I do well. There are many besides me who
'Yes--' said St. Aubert, 'and I am one of those.'
'Alas, sir! you remember, then, a most beautiful and excellent lady.
She deserved a better fate.'
Tears stood in St. Aubert's eyes; 'Enough,' said he, in a voice
almost stifled by the violence of his emotions,--'it is enough, my
Emily, though extremely surprised by her father's manner, forbore to
express her feelings by any question. La Voisin began to apologize,
but St. Aubert interrupted him; 'Apology is quite unnecessary,' said
he, 'let us change the topic. You was speaking of the music we just
'I was, monsieur--but hark!--it comes again; listen to that voice!'
They were all silent;
At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound
Rose, like a stream of rich distilled perfumes,
And stole upon the air, that even Silence
Was took ere she was 'ware, and wished she might
Deny her nature, and be never more
Still, to be so displaced.*
In a few moments the voice died into air, and the instrument, which
had been heard before, sounded in low symphony. St. Aubert now
observed, that it produced a tone much more full and melodious than
that of a guitar, and still more melancholy and soft than the lute.
They continued to listen, but the sounds returned no more. 'This is
strange!' said St. Aubert, at length interrupting the silence. 'Very
strange!' said Emily. 'It is so,' rejoined La Voisin, and they were
After a long pause, 'It is now about eighteen years since I first
heard that music,' said La Voisin; 'I remember it was on a fine
summer's night, much like this, but later, that I was walking in the
woods, and alone. I remember, too, that my spirits were very low,
for one of my boys was ill, and we feared we should lose him. I had
been watching at his bed-side all the evening while his mother slept;
for she had sat up with him the night before. I had been watching,
and went out for a little fresh air, the day had been very sultry.
As I walked under the shades and mused, I heard music at a distance,
and thought it was Claude playing upon his flute, as he often did of
a fine evening, at the cottage door. But, when I came to a place
where the trees opened, (I shall never forget it!) and stood looking
up at the north-lights, which shot up the heaven to a great height, I
heard all of a sudden such sounds!--they came so as I cannot
describe. It was like the music of angels, and I looked up again
almost expecting to see them in the sky. When I came home, I told
what I had heard, but they laughed at me, and said it must be some of
the shepherds playing on their pipes, and I could not persuade them
to the contrary. A few nights after, however, my wife herself heard
the same sounds, and was as much surprised as I was, and Father Denis
frightened her sadly by saying, that it was music come to warn her of
her child's death, and that music often came to houses where there
was a dying person.'
Emily, on hearing this, shrunk with a superstitious dread entirely
new to her, and could scarcely conceal her agitation from St. Aubert.
'But the boy lived, monsieur, in spite of Father Denis.'
'Father Denis!' said St. Aubert, who had listened to 'narrative old
age' with patient attention, 'are we near a convent, then?'
'Yes, sir; the convent of St. Clair stands at no great distance, on
the sea shore yonder.'
'Ah!' said St. Aubert, as if struck with some sudden remembrance,
'the convent of St. Clair!' Emily observed the clouds of grief,
mingled with a faint expression of horror, gathering on his brow; his
countenance became fixed, and, touched as it now was by the silver
whiteness of the moon-light, he resembled one of those marble statues
of a monument, which seem to bend, in hopeless sorrow, over the ashes
of the dead, shewn
by the blunted light
That the dim moon through painted casements lends.*
* The Emigrants.
'But, my dear sir,' said Emily, anxious to dissipate his thoughts,
'you forget that repose is necessary to you. If our kind host will
give me leave, I will prepare your bed, for I know how you like it to
be made.' St. Aubert, recollecting himself, and smiling
affectionately, desired she would not add to her fatigue by that
attention; and La Voisin, whose consideration for his guest had been
suspended by the interests which his own narrative had recalled, now
started from his seat, and, apologizing for not having called Agnes
from the green, hurried out of the room.
In a few moments he returned with his daughter, a young woman of
pleasing countenance, and Emily learned from her, what she had not
before suspected, that, for their accommodation, it was necessary
part of La Voisin's family should leave their beds; she lamented this
circumstance, but Agnes, by her reply, fully proved that she
inherited, at least, a share of her father's courteous hospitality.
It was settled, that some of her children and Michael should sleep in
the neighbouring cottage.
'If I am better, to-morrow, my dear,' said St. Aubert when Emily
returned to him, 'I mean to set out at an early hour, that we may
rest, during the heat of the day, and will travel towards home. In
the present state of my health and spirits I cannot look on a longer
journey with pleasure, and I am also very anxious to reach La
Vallee.' Emily, though she also desired to return, was grieved at
her father's sudden wish to do so, which she thought indicated a
greater degree of indisposition than he would acknowledge. St.
Aubert now retired to rest, and Emily to her little chamber, but not
to immediate repose. Her thoughts returned to the late conversation,
concerning the state of departed spirits; a subject, at this time,
particularly affecting to her, when she had every reason to believe
that her dear father would ere long be numbered with them. She
leaned pensively on the little open casement, and in deep thought
fixed her eyes on the heaven, whose blue unclouded concave was
studded thick with stars, the worlds, perhaps, of spirits, unsphered
of mortal mould. As her eyes wandered along the boundless aether,
her thoughts rose, as before, towards the sublimity of the Deity, and
to the contemplation of futurity. No busy note of this world
interrupted the course of her mind; the merry dance had ceased, and
every cottager had retired to his home. The still air seemed
scarcely to breathe upon the woods, and, now and then, the distant
sound of a solitary sheep-bell, or of a closing casement, was all
that broke on silence. At length, even this hint of human being was
heard no more. Elevated and enwrapt, while her eyes were often wet
with tears of sublime devotion and solemn awe, she continued at the
casement, till the gloom of mid-night hung over the earth, and the
planet, which La Voisin had pointed out, sunk below the woods. She
then recollected what he had said concerning this planet, and the
mysterious music; and, as she lingered at the window, half hoping and
half fearing that it would return, her mind was led to the
remembrance of the extreme emotion her father had shewn on mention of
the Marquis La Villeroi's death, and of the fate of the Marchioness,
and she felt strongly interested concerning the remote cause of this
emotion. Her surprise and curiosity were indeed the greater, because
she did not recollect ever to have heard him mention the name of
No music, however, stole on the silence of the night, and Emily,
perceiving the lateness of the hour, returned to a scene of fatigue,
remembered that she was to rise early in the morning, and withdrew
from the window to repose.
Let those deplore their doom,
Whose hope still grovels in this dark sojourn.
But lofty souls can look beyond the tomb,
Can smile at fate, and wonder how they mourn.
Shall Spring to these sad scenes no more return?
Is yonder wave the sun's eternal bed?--
Soon shall the orient with new lustre burn,
And Spring shall soon her vital influence shed,
Again attune the grove, again adorn the mead!
Emily, called, as she had requested, at an early hour, awoke, little
refreshed by sleep, for uneasy dreams had pursued her, and marred the
kindest blessing of the unhappy. But, when she opened her casement,
looked out upon the woods, bright with the morning sun, and inspired
the pure air, her mind was soothed. The scene was filled with that
cheering freshness, which seems to breathe the very spirit of health,
and she heard only sweet and PICTURESQUE sounds, if such an
expression may be allowed--the matin-bell of a distant convent, the
faint murmur of the sea-waves, the song of birds, and the far-off low
of cattle, which she saw coming slowly on between the trunks of
trees. Struck with the circumstances of imagery around her, she
indulged the pensive tranquillity which they inspired; and while she
leaned on her window, waiting till St. Aubert should descend to
breakfast, her ideas arranged themselves in the following lines:
THE FIRST HOUR OF MORNING
How sweet to wind the forest's tangled shade,
When early twilight, from the eastern bound,
Dawns on the sleeping landscape in the glade,
And fades as morning spreads her blush around!
When ev'ry infant flower, that wept in night,
Lifts its chill head soft glowing with a tear,
Expands its tender blossom to the light,
And gives its incense to the genial air.
How fresh the breeze that wafts the rich perfume,
And swells the melody of waking birds;
The hum of bees, beneath the verdant gloom,
And woodman's song, and low of distant herds!
Then, doubtful gleams the mountain's hoary head,
Seen through the parting foliage from afar;
And, farther still, the ocean's misty bed,
With flitting sails, that partial sun-beams share.
But, vain the sylvan shade--the breath of May,
The voice of music floating on the gale,
And forms, that beam through morning's dewy veil,
If health no longer bid the heart be gay!
O balmy hour! 'tis thine her wealth to give,
Here spread her blush, and bid the parent live!
Emily now heard persons moving below in the cottage, and presently
the voice of Michael, who was talking to his mules, as he led them
forth from a hut adjoining. As she left her room, St. Aubert, who
was now risen, met her at the door, apparently as little restored by
sleep as herself. She led him down stairs to the little parlour, in
which they had supped on the preceding night, where they found a neat
breakfast set out, while the host and his daughter waited to bid them
'I envy you this cottage, my good friends,' said St. Aubert, as he
met them, 'it is so pleasant, so quiet, and so neat; and this air,
that one breathes--if any thing could restore lost health, it would
surely be this air.'
La Voisin bowed gratefully, and replied, with the gallantry of a
Frenchman, 'Our cottage may be envied, sir, since you and
Mademoiselle have honoured it with your presence.' St. Aubert gave
him a friendly smile for his compliment, and sat down to a table,
spread with cream, fruit, new cheese, butter, and coffee. Emily, who
had observed her father with attention and thought he looked very
ill, endeavoured to persuade him to defer travelling till the
afternoon; but he seemed very anxious to be at home, and his anxiety
he expressed repeatedly, and with an earnestness that was unusual
with him. He now said, he found himself as well as he had been of
late, and that he could bear travelling better in the cool hour of
the morning, than at any other time. But, while he was talking with
his venerable host, and thanking him for his kind attentions, Emily
observed his countenance change, and, before she could reach him, he
fell back in his chair. In a few moments he recovered from the
sudden faintness that had come over him, but felt so ill, that he
perceived himself unable to set out, and, having remained a little
while, struggling against the pressure of indisposition, he begged he
might be helped up stairs to bed. This request renewed all the
terror which Emily had suffered on the preceding evening; but, though
scarcely able to support herself, under the sudden shock it gave her,
she tried to conceal her apprehensions from St. Aubert, and gave her
trembling arm to assist him to the door of his chamber.
When he was once more in bed, he desired that Emily, who was then
weeping in her own room, might be called; and, as she came, he waved
his hand for every other person to quit the apartment. When they
were alone, he held out his hand to her, and fixed his eyes upon her
countenance, with an expression so full of tenderness and grief, that
all her fortitude forsook her, and she burst into an agony of tears.
St. Aubert seemed struggling to acquire firmness, but was still
unable to speak; he could only press her hand, and check the tears
that stood trembling in his eyes. At length he commanded his voice,
'My dear child,' said he, trying to smile through his anguish, 'my
dear Emily!'--and paused again. He raised his eyes to heaven, as if
in prayer, and then, in a firmer tone, and with a look, in which the
tenderness of the father was dignified by the pious solemnity of the
saint, he said, "My dear child, I would soften the painful truth I
have to tell you, but I find myself quite unequal to the art. Alas!
I would, at this moment, conceal it from you, but that it would be
most cruel to deceive you. It cannot be long before we must part;
let us talk of it, that our thoughts and our prayers may prepare us
to bear it.' His voice faltered, while Emily, still weeping, pressed
his hand close to her heart, which swelled with a convulsive sigh,
but she could not look up.
'Let me not waste these moments,' said St. Aubert, recovering
himself, 'I have much to say. There is a circumstance of solemn
consequence, which I have to mention, and a solemn promise to obtain
from you; when this is done I shall be easier. You have observed, my
dear, how anxious I am to reach home, but know not all my reasons for
this. Listen to what I am going to say.--Yet stay--before I say more
give me this promise, a promise made to your dying father!'--St.
Aubert was interrupted; Emily, struck by his last words, as if for
the first time, with a conviction of his immediate danger, raised her
head; her tears stopped, and, gazing at him for a moment with an
expression of unutterable anguish, a slight convulsion seized her,
and she sunk senseless in her chair. St. Aubert's cries brought La
Voisin and his daughter to the room, and they administered every
means in their power to restore her, but, for a considerable time,
without effect. When she recovered, St. Aubert was so exhausted by
the scene he had witnessed, that it was many minutes before he had
strength to speak; he was, however, somewhat revived by a cordial,
which Emily gave him; and, being again alone with her, he exerted
himself to tranquilize her spirits, and to offer her all the comfort
of which her situation admitted. She threw herself into his arms,
wept on his neck, and grief made her so insensible to all he said,
that he ceased to offer the alleviations, which he himself could not,
at this moment, feel, and mingled his silent tears with hers.
Recalled, at length, to a sense of duty, she tried to spare her
father from a farther view of her suffering; and, quitting his
embrace, dried her tears, and said something, which she meant for
consolation. 'My dear Emily,' replied St. Aubert, 'my dear child, we
must look up with humble confidence to that Being, who has protected
and comforted us in every danger, and in every affliction we have
known; to whose eye every moment of our lives has been exposed; he
will not, he does not, forsake us now; I feel his consolations in my
heart. I shall leave you, my child, still in his care; and, though I
depart from this world, I shall be still in his presence. Nay, weep
not again, my Emily. In death there is nothing new, or surprising,
since we all know, that we are born to die; and nothing terrible to
those, who can confide in an all-powerful God. Had my life been
spared now, after a very few years, in the course of nature, I must
have resigned it; old age, with all its train of infirmity, its
privations and its sorrows, would have been mine; and then, at last,
death would have come, and called forth the tears you now shed.
Rather, my child, rejoice, that I am saved from such suffering, and
that I am permitted to die with a mind unimpaired, and sensible of
the comforts of faith and resignation.' St. Aubert paused, fatigued
with speaking. Emily again endeavoured to assume an air of
composure; and, in replying to what he had said, tried to sooth him
with a belief, that he had not spoken in vain.
When he had reposed a while, he resumed the conversation. 'Let me
return,' said he, 'to a subject, which is very near my heart. I said
I had a solemn promise to receive from you; let me receive it now,
before I explain the chief circumstance which it concerns; there are
others, of which your peace requires that you should rest in
ignorance. Promise, then, that you will perform exactly what I shall
Emily, awed by the earnest solemnity of his manner, dried her tears,
that had begun again to flow, in spite of her efforts to suppress
them; and, looking eloquently at St. Aubert, bound herself to do
whatever he should require by a vow, at which she shuddered, yet knew
He proceeded: 'I know you too well, my Emily, to believe, that you
would break any promise, much less one thus solemnly given; your
assurance gives me peace, and the observance of it is of the utmost
importance to your tranquillity. Hear, then, what I am going to tell
you. The closet, which adjoins my chamber at La Vallee, has a
sliding board in the floor. You will know it by a remarkable knot in
the wood, and by its being the next board, except one, to the
wainscot, which fronts the door. At the distance of about a yard
from that end, nearer the window, you will perceive a line across it,
as if the plank had been joined;--the way to open it is this:--Press
your foot upon the line; the end of the board will then sink, and you
may slide it with ease beneath the other. Below, you will see a
hollow place.' St. Aubert paused for breath, and Emily sat fixed in
deep attention. 'Do you understand these directions, my dear?' said
he. Emily, though scarcely able to speak, assured him that she did.
'When you return home, then,' he added with a deep sigh--
At the mention of her return home, all the melancholy circumstances,
that must attend this return, rushed upon her fancy; she burst into
convulsive grief, and St. Aubert himself, affected beyond the
resistance of the fortitude which he had, at first, summoned, wept
with her. After some moments, he composed himself. 'My dear child,'
said he, 'be comforted. When I am gone, you will not be forsaken--I
leave you only in the more immediate care of that Providence, which
has never yet forsaken me. Do not afflict me with this excess of
grief; rather teach me by your example to bear my own.' He stopped
again, and Emily, the more she endeavoured to restrain her emotion,
found it the less possible to do so.
St. Aubert, who now spoke with pain, resumed the subject. 'That
closet, my dear,--when you return home, go to it; and, beneath the
board I have described, you will find a packet of written papers.
Attend to me now, for the promise you have given particularly relates
to what I shall direct. These papers you must burn--and, solemnly I
command you, WITHOUT EXAMINING THEM.'
Emily's surprise, for a moment, overcame her grief, and she ventured
to ask, why this must be? St. Aubert replied, that, if it had been
right for him to explain his reasons, her late promise would have
been unnecessarily exacted. 'It is sufficient for you, my love, to
have a deep sense of the importance of observing me in this
instance.' St. Aubert proceeded. 'Under that board you will also
find about two hundred louis d'ors, wrapped in a silk purse; indeed,
it was to secure whatever money might be in the chateau, that this
secret place was contrived, at a time when the province was over-run
by troops of men, who took advantage of the tumults, and became
'But I have yet another promise to receive from you, which is--that
you will never, whatever may be your future circumstances, SELL the
chateau.' St. Aubert even enjoined her, whenever she might marry, to
make it an article in the contract, that the chateau should always be
hers. He then gave her a more minute account of his present
circumstances than he had yet done, adding, 'The two hundred louis,
with what money you will now find in my purse, is all the ready money
I have to leave you. I have told you how I am circumstanced with M.
Motteville, at Paris. Ah, my child! I leave you poor--but not
destitute,' he added, after a long pause. Emily could make no reply
to any thing he now said, but knelt at the bed-side, with her face
upon the quilt, weeping over the hand she held there.
After this conversation, the mind of St. Aubert appeared to be much
more at ease; but, exhausted by the effort of speaking, he sunk into
a kind of doze, and Emily continued to watch and weep beside him,
till a gentle tap at the chamber-door roused her. It was La Voisin,
come to say, that a confessor from the neighbouring convent was
below, ready to attend St. Aubert. Emily would not suffer her father
to be disturbed, but desired, that the priest might not leave the
cottage. When St. Aubert awoke from this doze, his senses were
confused, and it was some moments before he recovered them
sufficiently to know, that it was Emily who sat beside him. He then
moved his lips, and stretched forth his hand to her; as she received
which, she sunk back in her chair, overcome by the impression of
death on his countenance. In a few minutes he recovered his voice,
and Emily then asked, if he wished to see the confessor; he replied,
that he did; and, when the holy father appeared, she withdrew. They
remained alone together above half an hour; when Emily was called in,
she found St. Aubert more agitated than when she had left him, and
she gazed, with a slight degree of resentment, at the friar, as the
cause of this; who, however, looked mildly and mournfully at her, and
turned away. St. Aubert, in a tremulous voice, said, he wished her
to join in prayer with him, and asked if La Voisin would do so too.
The old man and his daughter came; they both wept, and knelt with
Emily round the bed, while the holy father read in a solemn voice the
service for the dying. St. Aubert lay with a serene countenance, and
seemed to join fervently in the devotion, while tears often stole
from beneath his closed eyelids, and Emily's sobs more than once
interrupted the service.
When it was concluded, and extreme unction had been administered, the
friar withdrew. St. Aubert then made a sign for La Voisin to come
nearer. He gave him his hand, and was, for a moment, silent. At
length, he said, in a trembling voice, 'My good friend, our
acquaintance has been short, but long enough to give you an
opportunity of shewing me much kind attention. I cannot doubt, that
you will extend this kindness to my daughter, when I am gone; she
will have need of it. I entrust her to your care during the few days
she will remain here. I need say no more--you know the feelings of a
father, for you have children; mine would be, indeed, severe if I had
less confidence in you.' He paused. La Voisin assured him, and his
tears bore testimony to his sincerity, that he would do all he could
to soften her affliction, and that, if St. Aubert wished it, he would
even attend her into Gascony; an offer so pleasing to St. Aubert,
that he had scarcely words to acknowledge his sense of the old man's
kindness, or to tell him, that he accepted it. The scene, that
followed between St. Aubert and Emily, affected La Voisin so much,
that he quitted the chamber, and she was again left alone with her
father, whose spirits seemed fainting fast, but neither his senses,
or his voice, yet failed him; and, at intervals, he employed much of
these last awful moments in advising his daughter, as to her future
conduct. Perhaps, he never had thought more justly, or expressed
himself more clearly, than he did now.
'Above all, my dear Emily,' said he, 'do not indulge in the pride of
fine feeling, the romantic error of amiable minds. Those, who really
possess sensibility, ought early to be taught, that it is a dangerous
quality, which is continually extracting the excess of misery, or
delight, from every surrounding circumstance. And, since, in our
passage through this world, painful circumstances occur more
frequently than pleasing ones, and since our sense of evil is, I
fear, more acute than our sense of good, we become the victims of our
feelings, unless we can in some degree command them. I know you will
say, (for you are young, my Emily) I know you will say, that you are
contented sometimes to suffer, rather than to give up your refined
sense of happiness, at others; but, when your mind has been long
harassed by vicissitude, you will be content to rest, and you will
then recover from your delusion. You will perceive, that the phantom
of happiness is exchanged for the substance; for happiness arises in
a state of peace, not of tumult. It is of a temperate and uniform
nature, and can no more exist in a heart, that is continually alive
to minute circumstances, than in one that is dead to feeling. You
see, my dear, that, though I would guard you against the dangers of
sensibility, I am not an advocate for apathy. At your age I should
have said THAT is a vice more hateful than all the errors of
sensibility, and I say so still. I call it a VICE, because it leads
to positive evil; in this, however, it does no more than an ill-
governed sensibility, which, by such a rule, might also be called a
vice; but the evil of the former is of more general consequence. I
have exhausted myself,' said St. Aubert, feebly, 'and have wearied
you, my Emily; but, on a subject so important to your future comfort,
I am anxious to be perfectly understood.'
Emily assured him, that his advice was most precious to her, and that
she would never forget it, or cease from endeavouring to profit by
it. St. Aubert smiled affectionately and sorrowfully upon her. 'I
repeat it,' said he, 'I would not teach you to become insensible, if
I could; I would only warn you of the evils of susceptibility, and
point out how you may avoid them. Beware, my love, I conjure you, of
that self-delusion, which has been fatal to the peace of so many
persons; beware of priding yourself on the gracefulness of
sensibility; if you yield to this vanity, your happiness is lost for
ever. Always remember how much more valuable is the strength of
fortitude, than the grace of sensibility. Do not, however, confound
fortitude with apathy; apathy cannot know the virtue. Remember, too,
that one act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness, is worth all
the abstract sentiment in the world. Sentiment is a disgrace,
instead of an ornament, unless it lead us to good actions. The
miser, who thinks himself respectable, merely because he possesses
wealth, and thus mistakes the means of doing good, for the actual
accomplishment of it, is not more blameable than the man of
sentiment, without active virtue. You may have observed persons, who
delight so much in this sort of sensibility to sentiment, which
excludes that to the calls of any practical virtue, that they turn
from the distressed, and, because their sufferings are painful to be
contemplated, do not endeavour to relieve them. How despicable is
that humanity, which can be contented to pity, where it might
St. Aubert, some time after, spoke of Madame Cheron, his sister.
'Let me inform you of a circumstance, that nearly affects your
welfare,' he added. 'We have, you know, had little intercourse for
some years, but, as she is now your only female relation, I have
thought it proper to consign you to her care, as you will see in my
will, till you are of age, and to recommend you to her protection
afterwards. She is not exactly the person, to whom I would have
committed my Emily, but I had no alternative, and I believe her to be
upon the whole--a good kind of woman. I need not recommend it to
your prudence, my love, to endeavour to conciliate her kindness; you
will do this for his sake, who has often wished to do so for yours.'
Emily assured him, that, whatever he requested she would religiously
perform to the utmost of her ability. 'Alas!' added she, in a voice
interrupted by sighs, 'that will soon be all which remains for me; it
will be almost my only consolation to fulfil your wishes.'
St. Aubert looked up silently in her face, as if would have spoken,
but his spirit sunk a while, and his eyes became heavy and dull. She
felt that look at her heart. 'My dear father!' she exclaimed; and
then, checking herself, pressed his hand closer, and hid her face
with her handkerchief. Her tears were concealed, but St. Aubert
heard her convulsive sobs. His spirits returned. 'O my child!' said
he, faintly, 'let my consolations be yours. I die in peace; for I
know, that I am about to return to the bosom of my Father, who will
still be your Father, when I am gone. Always trust in him, my love,
and he will support you in these moments, as he supports me.'
Emily could only listen, and weep; but the extreme composure of his
manner, and the faith and hope he expressed, somewhat soothed her
anguish. Yet, whenever she looked upon his emaciated countenance,
and saw the lines of death beginning to prevail over it--saw his sunk
eyes, still bent on her, and their heavy lids pressing to a close,
there was a pang in her heart, such as defied expression, though it
required filial virtue, like hers, to forbear the attempt.
He desired once more to bless her; 'Where are you, my dear?' said he,
as he stretched forth his hands. Emily had turned to the window,
that he might not perceive her anguish; she now understood, that his
sight had failed him. When he had given her his blessing, and it
seemed to be the last effort of expiring life, he sunk back on his
pillow. She kissed his forehead; the damps of death had settled
there, and, forgetting her fortitude for a moment, her tears mingled
with them. St. Aubert lifted up his eyes; the spirit of a father
returned to them, but it quickly vanished, and he spoke no more.
St. Aubert lingered till about three o'clock in the afternoon, and,
thus gradually sinking into death, he expired without a struggle, or
Emily was led from the chamber by La Voisin and his daughter, who did
what they could to comfort her. The old man sat and wept with her.
Agnes was more erroneously officious.
O'er him, whose doom thy virtues grieve,
Aerial forms shall sit at eve,
and bend the pensive head.
The monk, who had before appeared, returned in the evening to offer
consolation to Emily, and brought a kind message from the lady
abbess, inviting her to the convent. Emily, though she did not
accept the offer, returned an answer expressive of her gratitude.
The holy conversation of the friar, whose mild benevolence of manners
bore some resemblance to those of St. Aubert, soothed the violence of
her grief, and lifted her heart to the Being, who, extending through
all place and all eternity, looks on the events of this little world
as on the shadows of a moment, and beholds equally, and in the same
instant, the soul that has passed the gates of death, and that, which
still lingers in the body. 'In the sight of God,' said Emily, 'my
dear father now exists, as truly as he yesterday existed to me; it is
to me only that he is dead; to God and to himself he yet lives!'
The good monk left her more tranquil than she had been since St.
Aubert died; and, before she retired to her little cabin for the
night, she trusted herself so far as to visit the corpse. Silent,
and without weeping, she stood by its side. The features, placid and
serene, told the nature of the last sensations, that had lingered in
the now deserted frame. For a moment she turned away, in horror of
the stillness in which death had fixed that countenance, never till
now seen otherwise than animated; then gazed on it with a mixture of
doubt and awful astonishment. Her reason could scarcely overcome an
involuntary and unaccountable expectation of seeing that beloved
countenance still susceptible. She continued to gaze wildly; took up
the cold hand; spoke; still gazed, and then burst into a transport of
grief. La Voisin, hearing her sobs, came into the room to lead her
away, but she heard nothing, and only begged that he would leave her.
Again alone, she indulged her tears, and, when the gloom of evening
obscured the chamber, and almost veiled from her eyes the object of
her distress, she still hung over the body; till her spirits, at
length, were exhausted, and she became tranquil. La Voisin again
knocked at the door, and entreated that she would come to the common
apartment. Before she went, she kissed the lips of St. Aubert, as
she was wont to do when she bade him good night. Again she kissed
them; her heart felt as if it would break, a few tears of agony
started to her eyes, she looked up to heaven, then at St. Aubert, and
left the room.
Retired to her lonely cabin, her melancholy thoughts still hovered
round the body of her deceased parent; and, when she sunk into a kind
of slumber, the images of her waking mind still haunted her fancy.
She thought she saw her father approaching her with a benign
countenance; then, smiling mournfully and pointing upwards, his lips
moved, but, instead of words, she heard sweet music borne on the
distant air, and presently saw his features glow with the mild
rapture of a superior being. The strain seemed to swell louder, and
she awoke. The vision was gone, but music yet came to her ear in
strains such as angels might breathe. She doubted, listened, raised
herself in the bed, and again listened. It was music, and not an
illusion of her imagination. After a solemn steady harmony, it
paused; then rose again, in mournful sweetness, and then died, in a
cadence, that seemed to bear away the listening soul to heaven. She
instantly remembered the music of the preceding night, with the
strange circumstances, related by La Voisin, and the affecting
conversation it had led to, concerning the state of departed spirits.
All that St. Aubert had said, on that subject, now pressed upon her
heart, and overwhelmed it. What a change in a few hours! He, who
then could only conjecture, was now made acquainted with truth; was
himself become one of the departed! As she listened, she was chilled
with superstitious awe, her tears stopped; and she rose, and went to
the window. All without was obscured in shade; but Emily, turning
her eyes from the massy darkness of the woods, whose waving outline
appeared on the horizon, saw, on the left, that effulgent planet,
which the old man had pointed out, setting over the woods. She
remembered what he had said concerning it, and, the music now coming
at intervals on the air, she unclosed the casement to listen to the
strains, that soon gradually sunk to a greater distance, and tried to
discover whence they came. The obscurity prevented her from
distinguishing any object on the green platform below; and the sounds
became fainter and fainter, till they softened into silence. She
listened, but they returned no more. Soon after, she observed the
planet trembling between the fringed tops of the woods, and, in the
next moment, sink behind them. Chilled with a melancholy awe, she
retired once more to her bed, and, at length, forgot for a while her
sorrows in sleep.
On the following morning, she was visited by a sister of the convent,
who came, with kind offices and a second invitation from the lady
abbess; and Emily, though she could not forsake the cottage, while
the remains of her father were in it, consented, however painful such
a visit must be, in the present state of her spirits, to pay her
respects to the abbess, in the evening.
About an hour before sun-set, La Voisin shewed her the way through
the woods to the convent, which stood in a small bay of the
Mediterranean, crowned by a woody amphitheatre; and Emily, had she
been less unhappy, would have admired the extensive sea view, that
appeared from the green slope, in front of the edifice, and the rich
shores, hung with woods and pastures, that extended on either hand.
But her thoughts were now occupied by one sad idea, and the features
of nature were to her colourless and without form. The bell for
vespers struck, as she passed the ancient gate of the convent, and
seemed the funereal note for St. Aubert. Little incidents affect a
mind, enervated by sorrow; Emily struggled against the sickening
faintness, that came over her, and was led into the presence of the
abbess, who received her with an air of maternal tenderness; an air
of such gentle solicitude and consideration, as touched her with an
instantaneous gratitude; her eyes were filled with tears, and the
words she would have spoken faltered on her lips. The abbess led her
to a seat, and sat down beside her, still holding her hand and
regarding her in silence, as Emily dried her tears and attempted to
speak. 'Be composed, my daughter,' said the abbess in a soothing
voice, 'do not speak yet; I know all you would say. Your spirits
must be soothed. We are going to prayers;--will you attend our
evening service? It is comfortable, my child, to look up in our
afflictions to a father, who sees and pities us, and who chastens in
Emily's tears flowed again, but a thousand sweet emotions mingled
with them. The abbess suffered her to weep without interruption, and
watched over her with a look of benignity, that might have
characterized the countenance of a guardian angel. Emily, when she
became tranquil, was encouraged to speak without reserve, and to
mention the motive, that made her unwilling to quit the cottage,
which the abbess did not oppose even by a hint; but praised the
filial piety of her conduct, and added a hope, that she would pass a
few days at the convent, before she returned to La Vallee. 'You must
allow yourself a little time to recover from your first shock, my
daughter, before you encounter a second; I will not affect to conceal
from you how much I know your heart must suffer, on returning to the
scene of your former happiness. Here, you will have all, that quiet
and sympathy and religion can give, to restore your spirits. But
come,' added she, observing the tears swell in Emily's eyes, 'we will
go to the chapel.'
Emily followed to the parlour, where the nuns were assembled, to whom
the abbess committed her, saying, 'This is a daughter, for whom I
have much esteem; be sisters to her.'
They passed on in a train to the chapel, where the solemn devotion,
with which the service was performed, elevated her mind, and brought
to it the comforts of faith and resignation.
Twilight came on, before the abbess's kindness would suffer Emily to
depart, when she left the convent, with a heart much lighter than she
had entered it, and was reconducted by La Voisin through the woods,
the pensive gloom of which was in unison with the temper of her mind;
and she pursued the little wild path, in musing silence, till her
guide suddenly stopped, looked round, and then struck out of the path
into the high grass, saying he had mistaken the road. He now walked
on quickly, and Emily, proceeding with difficulty over the obscured
and uneven ground, was left at some distance, till her voice arrested
him, who seemed unwilling to stop, and still hurried on. 'If you are
in doubt about the way,' said Emily, 'had we not better enquire it at
the chateau yonder, between the trees?'
'No,' replied La Voisin, 'there is no occasion. When we reach that
brook, ma'amselle, (you see the light upon the water there, beyond
the woods) when we reach that brook, we shall be at home presently.
I don't know how I happened to mistake the path; I seldom come this
way after sun-set.'
'It is solitary enough,' said Emily, 'but you have no banditti here.'
'No, ma'amselle--no banditti.'
'what are you afraid of then, my good friend? you are not
superstitious?' 'No, not superstitious; but, to tell you the truth,
lady, nobody likes to go near that chateau, after dusk.' 'By whom is
it inhabited,' said Emily, 'that it is so formidable?' 'Why,
ma'amselle, it is scarcely inhabited, for our lord the Marquis, and
the lord of all these find woods, too, is dead. He had not once been
in it, for these many years, and his people, who have the care of it,
live in a cottage close by.' Emily now understood this to be the
chateau, which La Voisin had formerly pointed out, as having belonged
to the Marquis Villeroi, on the mention of which her father had
appeared so much affected.
'Ah! it is a desolate place now,' continued La Voisin, 'and such a
grand, fine place, as I remember it!' Emily enquired what had
occasioned this lamentable change; but the old man was silent, and
Emily, whose interest was awakened by the fear he had expressed, and
above all by a recollection of her father's agitation, repeated the
question, and added, 'If you are neither afraid of the inhabitants,
my good friend, nor are superstitious, how happens it, that you dread
to pass near that chateau in the dark?'
'Perhaps, then, I am a little superstitious, ma'amselle; and, if you
knew what I do, you might be so too. Strange things have happened
there. Monsieur, your good father, appeared to have known the late
Marchioness.' 'Pray inform me what did happen?' said Emily, with much
'Alas! ma'amselle,' answered La Voisin, 'enquire no further; it is
not for me to lay open the domestic secrets of my lord.'--Emily,
surprised by the old man's words, and his manner of delivering them,
forbore to repeat her question; a nearer interest, the remembrance of
St. Aubert, occupied her thoughts, and she was led to recollect the
music she heard on the preceding night, which she mentioned to La
Voisin. 'You was not alone, ma'amselle, in this,' he replied, 'I
heard it too; but I have so often heard it, at the same hour, that I
was scarcely surprised.'
'You doubtless believe this music to have some connection with the
chateau,' said Emily suddenly, 'and are, therefore, superstitious.'
'It may be so, ma'amselle, but there are other circumstances,
belonging to that chateau, which I remember, and sadly too.' A heavy
sigh followed: but Emily's delicacy restrained the curiosity these
words revived, and she enquired no further.
On reaching the cottage, all the violence of her grief returned; it
seemed as if she had escaped its heavy pressure only while she was
removed from the object of it. She passed immediately to the
chamber, where the remains of her father were laid, and yielded to
all the anguish of hopeless grief. La Voisin, at length, persuaded
her to leave the room, and she returned to her own, where, exhausted
by the sufferings of the day, she soon fell into deep sleep, and
awoke considerably refreshed.
When the dreadful hour arrived, in which the remains of St. Aubert
were to be taken from her for ever, she went alone to the chamber to
look upon his countenance yet once again, and La Voisin, who had
waited patiently below stairs, till her despair should subside, with
the respect due to grief, forbore to interrupt the indulgence of it,
till surprise, at the length of her stay, and then apprehension
overcame his delicacy, and he went to lead her from the chamber.
Having tapped gently at the door, without receiving an answer, he
listened attentively, but all was still; no sigh, no sob of anguish
was heard. Yet more alarmed by this silence, he opened the door, and
found Emily lying senseless across the foot of the bed, near which
stood the coffin. His calls procured assistance, and she was carried
to her room, where proper applications, at length, restored her.
During her state of insensibility, La Voisin had given directions for
the coffin to be closed, and he succeeded in persuading Emily to
forbear revisiting the chamber. She, indeed, felt herself unequal to
this, and also perceived the necessity of sparing her spirits, and
recollecting fortitude sufficient to bear her through the approaching
scene. St. Aubert had given a particular injunction, that his
remains should be interred in the church of the convent of St. Clair,
and, in mentioning the north chancel, near the ancient tomb of the
Villerois, had pointed out the exact spot, where he wished to be
laid. The superior had granted this place for the interment, and
thither, therefore, the sad procession now moved, which was met, at
the gates, by the venerable priest, followed by a train of friars.
Every person, who heard the solemn chant of the anthem, and the peal
of the organ, that struck up, when the body entered the church, and
saw also the feeble steps, and the assumed tranquillity of Emily,
gave her involuntary tears. She shed none, but walked, her face
partly shaded by a thin black veil, between two persons, who
supported her, preceded by the abbess, and followed by nuns, whose
plaintive voices mellowed the swelling harmony of the dirge. When
the procession came to the grave the music ceased. Emily drew the
veil entirely over her face, and, in a momentary pause, between the
anthem and the rest of the service, her sobs were distinctly audible.
The holy father began the service, and Emily again commanded her
feelings, till the coffin was let down, and she heard the earth
rattle on its lid. Then, as she shuddered, a groan burst from her
heart, and she leaned for support on the person who stood next to
her. In a few moments she recovered; and, when she heard those
affecting and sublime words: 'His body is buried in peace, and his
soul returns to Him that gave it,' her anguish softened into tears.
The abbess led her from the church into her own parlour, and there
administered all the consolations, that religion and gentle sympathy
can give. Emily struggled against the pressure of grief; but the
abbess, observing her attentively, ordered a bed to be prepared, and
recommended her to retire to repose. She also kindly claimed her
promise to remain a few days at the convent; and Emily, who had no
wish to return to the cottage, the scene of all her sufferings, had
leisure, now that no immediate care pressed upon her attention, to
feel the indisposition, which disabled her from immediately
Meanwhile, the maternal kindness of the abbess, and the gentle
attentions of the nuns did all, that was possible, towards soothing
her spirits and restoring her health. But the latter was too deeply
wounded, through the medium of her mind, to be quickly revived. She
lingered for some weeks at the convent, under the influence of a slow
fever, wishing to return home, yet unable to go thither; often even
reluctant to leave the spot where her father's relics were deposited,
and sometimes soothing herself with the consideration, that, if she
died here, her remains would repose beside those of St. Aubert. In
the meanwhile, she sent letters to Madame Cheron and to the old
housekeeper, informing them of the sad event, that had taken place,
and of her own situation. From her aunt she received an answer,
abounding more in common-place condolement, than in traits of real
sorrow, which assured her, that a servant should be sent to conduct
her to La Vallee, for that her own time was so much occupied by
company, that she had no leisure to undertake so long a journey.
However Emily might prefer La Vallee to Tholouse, she could not be
insensible to the indecorous and unkind conduct of her aunt, in
suffering her to return thither, where she had no longer a relation
to console and protect her; a conduct, which was the more culpable,
since St. Aubert had appointed Madame Cheron the guardian of his
Madame Cheron's servant made the attendance of the good La Voisin
unnecessary; and Emily, who felt sensibly her obligations to him, for
all his kind attention to her late father, as well as to herself, was
glad to spare him a long, and what, at his time of life, must have
been a troublesome journey.
During her stay at the convent, the peace and sanctity that reigned
within, the tranquil beauty of the scenery without, and the delicate