Part 2 out of 8
across the park. They came up to Dard, and stood looking at the
tree and Dard hacking it, and Edouard watched them greedily. You
know we all love to magnify her we love. And this was a delightful
way of doing it. It is "a system of espionage" that prevails under
every form of government. How he gazed, and gazed, on his now polar
star; studied every turn, every gesture, with eager delight, and
tried to gather what she said, or at least the nature of it.
But by and by they left Dard and strolled towards the other end of
the park. Then did our astronomer fling down his tube, and come
running out in hopes of intercepting them, and seeming to meet them
by some strange fortuity. Hope whispered he should be blessed with
a smile; perhaps a word even. So another minute and he was running
up the road to Beaurepaire. But his good heart was doomed to be
diverted to a much humbler object than his idol; as he came near the
fallen tree he heard loud cries for help, followed by groans of
pain. He bounded over the hedge, and there was Dard hanging over
his axe, moaning. "What is the matter? what is the matter?" cried
Edouard, running to him.
"Oh! oh! cut my foot. Oh!"
Edouard looked, and turned sick, for there was a gash right through
Dard's shoe, and the blood welling up through it. But, recovering
himself by an effort of the will, he cried out, "Courage, my lad!
don't give in. Thank Heaven there's no artery there. Oh, dear, it
is a terrible cut! Let us get you home, that is the first thing.
Can you walk?"
"Lord bless you, no! nor stand neither without help."
Edouard flew to the wheelbarrow, and, reversing it, spun a lot of
billet out. "Ye must not do that," said Dard with all the energy he
was capable of in his present condition. "Why, that is Jacintha's
wood."--"To the devil with Jacintha and her wood too!" cried
Edouard, "a man is worth more than a fagot. Come, I shall wheel you
home: it is only just across the park."
With some difficulty he lifted him into the barrow. Luckily he had
his shooting-jacket on with a brandy-flask in it: he administered it
with excellent effect.
The ladies, as they walked, saw a man wheeling a barrow across the
park, and took no particular notice; but, as Riviere was making for
the same point they were, though at another angle, presently the
barrow came near enough for them to see Dard's head and arms in it.
Rose was the first to notice this. "Look! look! if he is not
wheeling Dard in the barrow now."
"Can you ask? Who provides all our excitement?"
Josephine instantly divined there was something amiss. "Consider,"
said she, "Monsieur Riviere would not wheel Dard all across the park
Rose assented; and in another minute, by a strange caprice of fate,
those Edouard had come to intercept, quickened their pace to
intercept him. As soon as he saw their intention he thrilled all
over, but did not slacken his pace. He told Dard to take his coat
and throw it over his foot, for here were the young ladies coming.
"What for?" said Dard sulkily. "No! let them see what they have
done with their little odd jobs: this is my last for one while. I
sha'n't go on two legs again this year."
The ladies came up with them.
"O monsieur!" said Josephine, "what is the matter?"
"We have met with a little accident, mademoiselle, that is all.
Dard has hurt his foot; nothing to speak of, but I thought he would
be best at home."
Rose raised the coat which Riviere, in spite of Dard, had flung over
"He is bleeding! Dard is bleeding! Oh, my poor Dard. Oh! oh!"
"No, don't put him out of heart, mademoiselle. Take another pull at
the flask, Dard. If you please, ladies, I must have him home
"Oh yes, but I want him to have a surgeon," cried Josephine. "And
we have no horses nor people to send off as we used to have."
"But you have me, mademoiselle," said Edouard tenderly. "Me, who
would go to the world's end for you." He said this to Josephine,
but his eye sought Rose. "I'm a famous runner," he added, a little
bumptiously; "I'll be at the town in half an hour, and send a
surgeon up full gallop."
"You have a good heart," said Rose simply.
He bowed his blushing, delighted face, and wheeled Dard to his
cottage hard by with almost more than mortal vigor. How softly, how
nobly, that frolicsome girl could speak! Those sweet words rang in
his ears and ran warm round and round his heart, as he straightened
his arms and his back to the work. When they had gone about a
hundred yards, a single snivel went off in the wheelbarrow. Five
minutes after, Dard was at home in charge of his grandmother, his
shoe off, his foot in a wet linen cloth; and Edouard, his coat tied
round the neck, squared his shoulders, and ran the two short leagues
out. He ran them in forty minutes, found the surgeon at home, told
the case, pooh-poohed that worthy's promise to go to the patient
presently, darted into his stable, saddled the horse, brought him
round, saw the surgeon into the saddle, started him, dined at the
restaurateur's, strolled back, and was in time to get a good look at
the chateau of Beaurepaire just as the sun set on it.
Jacintha came into Dard's cottage that evening.
"So you have been at it, my man," cried she cheerfully and rather
roughly, then sat down and rocked herself, with her apron over her
head. She explained this anomalous proceeding to his grandmother
privately. "I thought I would keep his heart up anyway, but you see
I was not fit."
Next morning, as Riviere sat writing, he received an unexpected
visit from Jacintha. She came in with her finger to her lips, and
said, "You prowl about Dard's cottage. They are sure to go and see
him every day, and him wounded in their service."
"Oh, you good girl! you dear girl!" cried Edouard.
She did not reply in words, but, after going to the door, returned
and gave him a great kiss without ceremony. "Dare say you know what
that's for," said she, and went off with a clear conscience and
Dard's grandmother had a little house, a little land, a little
money, and a little cow. She could just maintain Dard and herself,
and her resources enabled Dard to do so many little odd jobs for
love, yet keep his main organ tolerably filled.
"Go to bed, my little son, since you have got hashed," said she.--
"Bed be hanged," cried he. "What good is bed? That's a silly old
custom wants doing away with. It weakens you: it turns you into
train oil: it is the doctor's friend, and the sick man's bane. Many
a one dies through taking to bed, that could have kept his life if
he had kept his feet like a man. If I had cut myself in two I would
not go to bed,--till I go to the bed with a spade in it. No! sit up
like Julius Caesar; and die as you lived, in your clothes: don't
strip yourself: let the old women strip you; that is their delight
laying out a chap; that is the time they brighten up, the old
sorceresses." He concluded this amiable rhapsody, the latter part
of which was levelled at a lugubrious weakness of his grandmother's
for the superfluous embellishment of the dead, by telling her it was
bad enough to be tied by the foot like an ass, without settling down
on his back like a cast sheep. "Give me the armchair. I'll sit in
it, and, if I have any friends, they will show it now: they will
come and tell me what is going on in the village, for I can't get
out to see it and hear it, they must know that."
Seated in state in his granny's easy-chair, the loss of which after
thirty years' use made her miserable, she couldn't tell why, le
Sieur Dard awaited his friends.
They did not come.
The rain did, and poured all the afternoon. Night succeeded, and
solitude. Dard boiled over with bitterness. "They are a lot of
pigs then, all those fellows I have drunk with at Bigot's and
Simmet's. Down with all fair-weather friends."
The next day the sun shone, the air was clear, and the sky blue.
"Ah! let us see now," cried Dard.
Alas! no fellow-drinkers, no fellow-smokers, came to console their
hurt fellow. And Dard, who had boiled with anger yesterday, was now
sad and despondent. "Down with egotists," he groaned.
About three in the afternoon came a tap at the door.
"Ah! at last," cried Dard: "come in!"
The door was slowly opened, and two lovely faces appeared at the
threshold. The demoiselles De Beaurepaire wore a tender look of
interest and pity when they caught sight of Dard, and on the old
woman courtesying to them they courtesied to her and Dard. The next
moment they were close to him, one a little to his right, the other
to his left, and two pair of sapphire eyes with the mild lustre of
sympathy playing down incessantly upon him. How was he? How had he
slept? Was he in pain? Was he in much pain? tell the truth now.
Was there anything to eat or drink he could fancy? Jacintha should
make it and bring it, if it was within their means. A prince could
not have had more solicitous attendants, nor a fairy king lovelier
and less earthly ones.
He looked in heavy amazement from one to the other. Rose bent, and
was by some supple process on one knee, taking the measure of the
wounded foot. When she first approached it he winced: but the next
moment he smiled. He had never been touched like this--it was
contact and no contact--she treated his foot as the zephyr the
violets--she handled it as if it had been some sacred thing. By the
help of his eye he could just know she was touching him. Presently
she informed him he was measured for a list shoe: and she would run
home for the materials. During her absence came a timid tap to the
door; and Edouard Riviere entered. He was delighted to see
Josephine, and made sure Rose was not far off. It was Dard who let
out that she was gone to Beaurepaire for some cloth to make him a
shoe. This information set Edouard fidgeting on his chair. He saw
such a chance as was not likely to occur again. He rose with
feigned nonchalance, and saying, "I leave you in good hands; angel
visitors are best enjoyed alone," slowly retired, with a deep
obeisance. Once outside the door, dignity vanished in alacrity; he
flew off into the park, and ran as hard as he could towards the
chateau. He was within fifty yards of the little gate, when sure
enough Rose emerged. They met; his heart beat violently.
"Mademoiselle," he faltered.
"Ah! it is Monsieur Riviere, I declare," said Rose, coolly; all over
"Yes, mademoiselle, and I am so out of breath. Mademoiselle
Josephine awaits you at Dard's house."
"She sent you for me?" inquired Rose, demurely.
"Not positively. But I could see I should please her by coming for
you; there is, I believe, a bull or so about."
"A bull or two! don't talk in that reckless way about such things.
She has done well to send you; let us make haste."
"But I am a little out of breath."
"Oh, never mind that! I abhor bulls."
"But, mademoiselle, we are not come to them yet, and the faster we
go now the sooner we shall."
"Yes; but I always like to get a disagreeable thing over as soon as
possible," said Rose, slyly.
"Ah," replied Edouard, mournfully, "in that case let us make haste."
After a little spurt, mademoiselle relaxed the pace of her own
accord, and even went slower than before. There was an awkward
silence. Edouard eyed the park boundary, and thought, "Now what I
have to say I must say before we get to you;" and being thus
impressed with the necessity of immediate action, he turned to lead.
Rose eyed him and the ground, alternately, from under her long
At last he began to color and flutter. She saw something was
coming, and all the woman donned defensive armor.
"Is it quite decided that your family refuse my acquaintance, my
services, which I still--forgive me--press on you? Ah! Mademoiselle
Rose, am I never to have the happiness of--of--even speaking to
"It seems so," said Rose, ironically.
"Have you then decided against me too?"
"I?" asked Rose. "What have I to do with questions of etiquette? I
am only a child: so considered at least."
"You a child--an angel like you?"
"Ask any of them, they will tell you I am a child; and it is to that
I owe this conversation, no doubt; if you did not look on me as a
child, you would not take this liberty with me," said the young cat,
scratching without a moment's notice.
"Mademoiselle, do not be angry. I was wrong."
"Oh! never mind. Children are little creatures without reserve, and
treated accordingly, and to notice them is to honor them."
"Adieu then, mademoiselle. Try to believe no one respects you more
than I do."
"Yes, let us part, for there is Dard's house; and I begin to suspect
that Josephine never sent you."
"I confess it."
"There, he confesses it. I thought so all along; WHAT A DUPE I HAVE
"I will offend no more," said poor silly Edouard. "Adieu,
mademoiselle. May you find friends as sincere as I am, and more to
"Heaven hear your prayers!" replied the malicious thing, casting up
her eyes with a mock tragic air.
Edouard sighed; a chill conviction that she was both heartless and
empty fell on him. He turned away without another word. She called
to him with a sudden airy cheerfulness that made him start. "Stay,
monsieur, I forgot--I have a favor to ask you."
"I wish I could believe that:" and his eyes brightened.
Rose stopped, and began to play with her parasol. "You seem," said
she softly, "to be pretty generous in bestowing your acquaintance on
strangers. I should be glad if I might secure you for a dear friend
of mine, Dr. Aubertin. He will not discredit my recommendation; and
he will not make so many difficulties as we do; shall I tell you
why? Because he is really worth knowing. In short, believe me, it
will be a valuable acquaintance for you--and for him," added she
with all the grace of the De Beaurepaires.
Many a man, inferior in a general way to Edouard Riviere, would have
made a sensible reply to this. Such as, "Oh, any friend of yours,
mademoiselle, must be welcome to me," or the like. But the proposal
caught Edouard on his foible, his vanity, to wit; and our foibles
are our manias. He was mortified to the heart's core. "She refuses
to know me herself," thought he, "but she will use my love to make
me amuse that old man." His heart swelled against her injustice and
ingratitude, and his crushed vanity turned to strychnine.
"Mademoiselle," said he, bitterly and doggedly, but sadly, "were I
so happy as to have your esteem, my heart would overflow, not only
on the doctor but on every honest person around. But if I must not
have the acquaintance I value more than life, suffer me to be alone
in the world, and never to say a word either to Dr. Aubertin, or to
any human creature if I can help it."
The imperious young beauty drew herself up directly. "So be it,
monsieur; you teach me how a child should be answered that forgets
herself, and asks a favor of a stranger--a perfect stranger," added
Could one of the dog-days change to mid-winter in a second, it would
hardly seem so cold and cross as Rose de Beaurepaire turned from the
smiling, saucy fairy of the moment before. Edouard felt as it were
a portcullis of ice come down between her and him. She courtesied
and glided away. He bowed and stood frozen to the spot.
He felt so lonely and so bitter, he must go to Jacintha for comfort.
He took advantage of the ladies being with Dard, and marched boldly
into the kitchen of Beaurepaire.
"Well, I never," cried Jacintha. "But, after all, why not?"
He hurled himself on the kitchen table (clean as china), and told
her it was all over. "She hates me now; but it is not my fault,"
and so poured forth his tale, and feeling sure of sympathy, asked
Jacintha whether it was not bitterly unjust of Rose to refuse him
her own acquaintance, yet ask him to amuse that old fogy.
Jacintha stood with her great arms akimbo, taking it all in, and
looking at him with a droll expression of satirical wonder.
"Now you listen to a parable," said she. "Once there was a little
boy madly in love with raspberry jam."
"A thing I hate."
"Don't tell me! Who hates raspberry jam? He came to the store
closet, where he knew there were jars of it, and--oh! misery--the
door was locked. He kicked the door, and wept bitterly. His mamma
came and said, 'Here is the key,' and gave him the key. And what
did he do? Why, he fell to crying and roaring, and kicking the
door. 'I don't wa-wa-wa-wa-nt the key-ey-ey. I wa-a-ant the jam--
oh! oh! oh! oh!'" and Jacintha mimicked, after her fashion, the
mingled grief and ire of infancy debarred its jam. Edouard wore a
puzzled air, but it was only for a moment; the next he hid his face
in his hands, and cried, "Fool!"
"I shall not contradict you," said his Mentor.
"She was my best friend. Once acquainted with the doctor, I could
visit at Beaurepaire."
"She had thought of a way to reconcile my wishes with this terrible
etiquette that reigns here."
"She thinks to more purpose than you do; that is clear."
"Nothing is left now but to ask her pardon, and to consent; I am
"No, you are not," and Jacintha laid a grasp of iron on him. "Will
you be quiet?--is not one blunder a day enough? If you go near her
now, she will affront you, and order the doctor not to speak to you."
"O Jacintha! your sex then are fiends of malice?"
"While it lasts. Luckily with us nothing lasts very long. Now you
don't go near her till you have taken advantage of her hint, and
made the doctor's acquaintance; that is easy done. He walks two
hours on the east road every day, with his feet in the puddles and
his head in the clouds. Them's HIS two tastes."
"But how am I to get him out of the clouds and the puddles?"
inquired Riviere half peevishly.
"How?" asked Jacintha, with a dash of that contempt uneducated
persons generally have for any one who does not know some little
thing they happen to know themselves. "How? Why, with the nearest
blackbeetle, to be sure."
"Black or brown; it matters little. Have her ready for use in your
handkerchief: pull a long face: and says you--'Excuse me, sir, I
have THE MISFORTUNE not to know the Greek name of this merchandise
here.' Say that, and behold him launched. He will christen you the
beast in Hebrew and Latin as well as Greek, and tell you her history
down from the flood: next he will beg her of you, and out will come
a cork and a pin, and behold the creature impaled. For that is how
men love beetles. He has a thousand pinned down at home--beetles,
butterflies, and so forth. When I go near the rubbish with my
duster he trembles like an aspen. I pretend to be going to clean
them, but it is only to see the face he makes, for even a domestic
must laugh now and then--or die. But I never do clean them, for
after all he is more stupid than wicked, poor man: I have not
therefore the sad courage to make him wretched."
"Let us return to our beetle--what will his tirades about its
antiquity advance me?"
"Oh! one begins about a beetle, but one ends Heaven knows where."
Riviere profited by this advice. He even improved on it. In due
course he threw himself into Aubertin's way. He stopped the doctor
reverentially, and said he had heard he was an entomologist. WOULD
he be kind enough to tell him what was this enormous chrysalis he
had just found?
"The death's head moth!" cried Aubertin with enthusiasm--"the
death's head moth! a great rarity in this district. Where found you
this?" Riviere undertook to show him the place.
It was half a league distant. Coming and going he had time to make
friends with Aubertin, and this was the easier that the old
gentleman, who was a physiognomist as well as ologist, had seen
goodness and sensibility in Edouard's face. At the end of the walk
he begged the doctor to accept the chrysalis. The doctor coquetted.
"That would be a robbery. You take an interest in these things
yourself--at least I hope so."
The young rogue confessed modestly to the sentiment of entomology,
but "the government worked him so hard as to leave him no hopes of
shining in so high a science," said he sorrowfully.
The doctor pitied him. "A young man of your attainments and tastes
to be debarred from the everlasting secrets of nature, by the
fleeting politics of the day."
Riviere shrugged his shoulders. "Somebody must do the dirty work,"
said he, chuckling inwardly.
The chrysalis went to Beaurepaire in the pocket of a grateful man,
who that same evening told the whole party his conversation with
young Riviere, on whom he pronounced high encomiums. Rose's saucy
eyes sparkled with fun: you might have lighted a candle at one and
exploded a mine at the other; but not a syllable did she utter.
The doctor proved a key, and opened the enchanted castle. One fine
day he presented his friend in the Pleasaunce to the baroness and
They received him with perfect politeness. Thus introduced, and as
he was not one to let the grass grow under his feet, he soon
obtained a footing as friend of the family, which, being now advised
by Josephine, he took care not to compromise by making love to Rose
before the baroness. However, he insisted on placing his financial
talent at their service. He surveyed and valued their lands, and
soon discovered that all their farms were grossly underlet. Luckily
most of the leases were run out. He prepared a new rent roll, and
showed it Aubertin, now his fast friend. Aubertin at his request
obtained a list of the mortgages, and Edouard drew a balance-sheet
founded on sure data, and proved to the baroness that in able hands
the said estate was now solvent.
This was a great comfort to the old lady: and she said to Aubertin,
"Heaven has sent us a champion, a little republican--with the face
of an angel."
Descending to practice, Edouard actually put three of the farms into
the market, and let them at an advance of twenty per cent on the
expired leases. He brought these leases signed; and the baroness
had scarcely done thanking him, when her other secret friend,
Monsieur Perrin, was announced. Edouard exchanged civilities with
him, and then retired to the Pleasaunce. There he found both
sisters, who were all tenderness and gratitude to him. By this time
he had learned to value Josephine: she was so lovely and so good,
and such a true womanly friend to him. Even Rose could not resist
her influence, and was obliged to be kind to him, when Josephine was
by. But let Josephine go, and instead of her being more tender, as
any other girl would, left alone with her lover, sauciness resumed
its empire till sweet Josephine returned. Whereof cometh an
example; for the said Josephine was summoned to a final conference
with the baroness and Monsieur Perrin.
"Don't be long," said Rose, as Josephine glided away, and (taking
the precaution to wait till she was quite out of hearing), "I shall
be so dull, dear, till you come back."
"I shall not though," said Edouard.
"I am not so sure of that. Now then."
"Now then, what?"
"Amusing me." And she made herself look sullen and unamusable all
"I will try," said Riviere. "I'll tell you what they say of you:
that you are too young to love."
"So I am, much."
"No, no, no! I made a mistake. I mean too young to be loved."
"Oh, I am not too young for that, not a bit."
This point settled, she suggested that, if he could not amuse her,
he had better do THE NEXT BEST THING, and that was, talk sense.
"I think I had better not talk at all," said he, "for I am no match
for such a nimble tongue. And then you are so remorseless. I'll
hold my tongue, and make a sketch of this magnificent oak."
"Ay, do: draw it as it appeared on a late occasion: with two ladies
flying out of it, and you rooted with dismay."
"There is no need; that scene is engraved."
"Where? in all the shops?"
"No; on all our memories."
"Not on mine; not on mine. How terrified you were--ha, ha! and how
terrified we should have been if you had not. Listen: once upon a
time--don't be alarmed: it was long after Noah--a frightened hare
ran by a pond; the frogs splashed in the water, smit with awe. Then
she said, 'Ah ha! there are people in the world I frighten in my
turn; I am the thunderbolt of war.' Excuse my quoting La Fontaine:
I am not in 'Charles the Twelfth of Sweden' yet. I am but a child."
"And it's a great mercy, for when you grow up, you will be too much
for me, that is evident. Come, then, Mademoiselle the Quizzer, come
and adorn my sketch."
"Monsieur, shall I make you a confession? You will not be angry: I
could not support your displeasure. I have a strange inclination to
walk up and down this terrace while you go and draw that tree in the
"Resist that inclination; perhaps it will fly from you."
"No; you fly from me, and draw. I will rejoin you in a few minutes."
"Thank you, I'm not so stupid. You will step indoors directly."
"Do you doubt my word, sir?" asked she haughtily.
He had learned to obey all her caprices; so he went and placed
himself on the west side of the oak and took out his sketch-book,
and worked zealously and rapidly. He had done the outlines of the
tree and was finishing in detail a part of the huge trunk, when his
eyes were suddenly dazzled: in the middle of the rugged bark,
deformed here and there with great wart-like bosses, and wrinkled,
seamed, and ploughed all over with age, burst a bit of variegated
color; bright as a poppy on a dungeon wall, it glowed and glittered
out through a large hole in the brown bark; it was Rose's face
peeping. To our young lover's eye how divine it shone! None of the
half tints of common flesh were there, but a thing all rose, lily,
sapphire, and soul. His pencil dropped, his mouth opened, he was
downright dazzled by the glowing, bewitching face, sparkling with
fun, in the gaunt tree. Tell me, ladies, did she know, even at that
age, the value of that sombre frame to her brightness? The moment
she found herself detected, the gaunt old tree rang musical with a
crystal laugh, and out came the arch-dryad. "I have been there all
the time. How solemn you looked! Now for the result of such
profound study." He showed her his work; she altered her tone.
"Oh, how clever!" she cried, "and how rapid! What a facility you
have! Monsieur is an artist," said she gravely; "I will be more
respectful," and she dropped him a low courtesy. "Mind you promised
it me," she added sharply.
"You will accept it, then?"
"That I will, now it is worth having: dear me, I never reckoned on
that. Finish it directly," cried this peremptory young person.
"First I must trouble you to stand out there near the tree."
"Me? what for?"
"Because art loves contrasts. The tree is a picture of age and
gradual decay; by its side then I must place a personification of
youth and growing loveliness."
She did not answer, but made a sort of defiant pirouette, and went
where she was bid, and stood there with her back to the artist.
"That will never do," said he; "you really must be so good as to
"Oh, very well." And when she came round, behold her color had
risen mightily. Flattery is sweet.
This child of nature was delighted, and ashamed it should be seen
that she was.
And so he drew her, and kept looking off the paper at her, and had a
right in his character of artist to look her full in the face; and
he did so with long lingering glances. To be sure, they all began
severe and businesslike with half-closed eyes, and the peculiar
hostile expression art puts on; but then they always ended open-
eyed, and so full and tender, that she, poor girl, who was all real
gold, though sham brass, blushed and blushed, and did not know which
way to look not to be scorched up by his eye like a tender flower,
or blandly absorbed like the pearly dew. Ah, happy hour! ah, happy
days of youth and innocence and first love!
Trouble loves to intrude on these halcyon days.
The usually quiet Josephine came flying from the house, pale and
agitated, and clung despairingly to Rose, and then fell to sobbing
and lamenting piteously.
I shall take leave to relate in my own words what had just occurred
to agitate her so. When she entered her mother's room, she found
the baroness and Perrin the notary seated watching for her. She sat
down after the usual civilities, and Perrin entered upon the subject
that had brought him.
He began by confessing to them that he had not overcome the
refractory creditor without much trouble; and that he had since
learned there was another, a larger creditor, likely to press for
payment or for sale of the estate. The baroness was greatly
troubled by this communication: the notary remained cool as a
cucumber, and keenly observant. After a pause he went on to say all
this had caused him grave reflections. "It seems," said he with
cool candor, "a sad pity the estate should pass from a family that
has held it since the days of Charlemagne."
"Now God forbid!" cried the baroness, lifting her eyes and her
quivering hands to heaven.
The notary held the republican creed in all its branches.
"Providence, madame, does not interfere--in matters of business,"
said he. "Nothing but money can save the estate. Let us then be
practical. Has any means occurred to you of raising money to pay
off these incumbrances?"
"No. What means can there be? The estate is mortgaged to its full
value: so they say, at least."
"And they say true," put in the notary quickly. "But do not
distress yourself, madame: confide in me."
"Ah, my good friend, may Heaven reward you."
"Madame, up to the present time I have no complaint to make of
Heaven. I am on the rise: here, mademoiselle, is a gimcrack they
have given me;" and he unbuttoned his overcoat, and showed them a
piece of tricolored ribbon and a clasp. "As for me, I look to 'the
solid;' I care little for these things," said he, swelling visibly,
"but the world is dazzled by them. However, I can show you
something better." He took out a letter. "This is from the
Minister of the Interior to a client of mine: a promise I shall be
the next prefect; and the present prefect--I am happy to say--is on
his death-bed. Thus, madame, your humble servant in a few short
months will be notary no longer, but prefect; I shall then sell my
office of notary: and I flatter myself when I am a prefect you will
not blush to own me."
"Then, as now, monsieur," said the baroness politely, "we shall
recognize your merit. But"--
"I understand, madame: like me you look to 'the solid.' Thus then
it is; I have money."
"Ah! all the better for you."
"I have a good deal of money. But it is dispersed in a great many
small but profitable investments: to call it in suddenly would
entail some loss. Nevertheless, if you and my young lady there have
ever so little of that friendly feeling towards me of which I have
so much towards you, all my investments shall be called in, and two-
thirds of your creditors shall be paid off at once. A single client
of mine, no less a man than the Commandant Raynal, will, I am sure,
advance me the remaining third at an hour's notice; and so
Beaurepaire chateau, park, estate, and grounds, down to the old oak-
tree, shall be saved; and no power shall alienate them from you,
mademoiselle, and from the heirs of your body."
The baroness clasped her hands in ecstasy.
"But what are we to do for this?" inquired Josephine calmly, "for it
seems to me that it can only be effected by a sacrifice on your
"I thank you, mademoiselle, for your penetration in seeing that I
must make sacrifices. I would never have told you, but you have
seen it; and I do not regret that you have seen it. Madame--
mademoiselle--those sacrifices appear little to me; will seem
nothing; will never be mentioned, or even alluded to after this day,
if you, on your part, will lay me under a far heavier obligation, if
in short"--here the contemner of things unsubstantial reopened his
coat, and brought his ribbon to light again--"if you, madame, will
accept me for your son-in-law--if you, mademoiselle, will take me
for your husband."
The baroness and her daughter looked at one another in silence.
"Is it a jest?" inquired the former of the latter.
"Can you think so? Answer Monsieur Perrin. He has just done us a
kind office, mother."
"I shall remember it. Monsieur, permit me to regret that having
lately won our gratitude and esteem, you have taken this way of
modifying those feelings. But after all," she added with gentle
courtesy, "we may well put your good deeds against this--this error
in judgment. The balance is in your favor still, provided you never
return to this topic. Come, is it agreed?" The baroness's manner
was full of tact, and the latter sentences were said with an open
kindliness of manner. There was nothing to prevent Perrin from
dropping the subject, and remaining good friends. A gentleman or a
lover would have so done. Monsieur Perrin was neither. He said
bitterly, "You refuse me, then."
The tone and the words were each singly too much for the baroness's
pride. She answered coldly but civilly,--
"I do not refuse you. I do not take an affront into consideration."
"Be calm, mamma; no affront whatever was intended."
"Ah! here is one that is more reasonable," cried Perrin.
"There are men," continued Josephine without noticing him, "who look
to but one thing--interest. It was an offer made politely in the
way of business: decline it in the same spirit; that is what you
have to do."
"Monsieur, you hear what mademoiselle says? She carries politeness
a long way. After all it is a good fault. Well, monsieur, I need
not answer you, since Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire has answered you;
but I detain you no longer."
Strictly a weasel has no business with the temper of a tiger, but
this one had, and the long vindictiveness of a Corsican. "Ah! my
little lady, you turn me out of the house, do you?" cried he,
grinding his teeth.
"Turn him out of the house? what a phrase! where has this man
"A man!" snarled Perrin, "whom none ever yet insulted without
repenting it, and repenting in vain. You are under obligations to
me, and you think to turn me out! You are at my mercy, and you
think I will let you turn me to your door! In less than a mouth I
will stand here, and say to you, Beaurepaire is mine. Begone from
When he uttered these terrible words, each of which was like a
sword-stroke to the baroness, the old lady, whose courage was not
equal to her strength, shrank over the side of her arm-chair, and
cried piteously--"He threatens me! he threatens me! I am
frightened;" and put up her trembling hands, for the notary's
eloquence, being accompanied with abundance of gesture, bordered
upon physical violence. His brutality received an unexpected check.
Imagine that a sparrow-hawk had seized a trembling pigeon, and that
a royal falcon swooped, and with one lightning-like stroke of body
and wing, buffeted him away, and sent him gaping and glaring and
grasping at pigeonless air with his claws. So swift and majestic,
Josephine de Beaurepaire came from her chair with one gesture of her
body between her mother and the notary, who was advancing with arms
folded in a brutal, menacing way--not the Josephine we have seen
her, the calm languid beauty, but the demoiselle de Beaurepaire--her
great heart on fire--her blood up--not her own only, but all the
blood of all the De Beaurepaires--pale as ashes with great wrath,
her purple eyes on fire, and her whole panther-like body full of
spring. "Wretch! you dare to insult her, and before me! Arriere
miserable! or I soil my hand with your face." And her hand was up
with the word, up, up, higher it seemed than ever a hand was raised
before. And if he had hesitated one moment, I really believe it
would have come down; not heavily, perhaps--the lightning is not
heavy. But there was no need. The towering threat and the flaming
eye and the swift rush buffeted the caitiff away: he recoiled. She
followed him as he went, strong, FOR A MOMENT OR TWO, as Hercules,
beautiful and terrible as Michael driving Satan. He dared not, or
could not stand before her: he writhed and cowered and recoiled all
down the room, while she marched upon him. But the driven serpent
hissed horribly as it wriggled away.
"You shall both be turned out of Beaurepaire by me, and forever; I
swear it, parole de Perrin."
He had not been gone a minute when Josephine's courage oozed away,
and she ran, or rather tottered, into the Pleasaunce, and clung like
a drowning thing to Rose, and, when Edouard took her hand, she clung
to him. They had to gather what had happened how they could: the
account was constantly interrupted with her sobs and self-
reproaches. She said she had ruined all she loved: ruined her
sister, ruined her mother, ruined the house of Beaurepaire. Why was
she ever born? Why had she not died three years ago? (Query, what
was the date at which Camille's letters suddenly stopped?) "That
coward," said she, "has the heart of a fiend. He told us he never
forgave an affront; and he holds our fate in his hands. He will
drive our mother from her home, and she will die: murdered by her
own daughter. After all, why did I refuse him? What should I have
sacrificed by marrying him? Rose, write to him, and say--say--I was
taken by surprise, I--I"--a violent flood of tears interrupted the
Rose flung her arms round her neck. "My beautiful Josephine marry
that creature? Let house and lands go a thousand times sooner. I
love my sister a thousand times better than the walls of this or any
"Come, come," cried Edouard, "you are forgetting ME all this time.
Do you really think I am the sort of man to stand by with my hands
in my pockets, and let her marry that cur, or you be driven out of
Beaurepaire? Neither, while I live."
"Alas! dear boy," sighed Josephine, "what can you do?"
"I'll soon show you. From this hour forth it is a duel between that
Perrin and me. Now, Josephine--Rose--don't you cry and fret like
that: but just look quietly on, and enjoy the fight, both of you."
Josephine shook her head with a sad smile: but Rose delivered
herself thus, after a sob, "La, yes; I forgot: we have got a
gentleman now; that's one comfort."
Edouard rose to the situation: he saw that Perrin would lose no
time; and that every day, or even hour, might be precious. He told
them that the first thing he must do for them was to leave the
company he loved best on earth, and run down to the town to consult
Picard the rival notary: he would be back by supper-time, when he
hoped they would do him the honor, in a matter of such importance,
to admit him to a family council.
Josephine assented with perfect simplicity; Rose with a deep blush,
for she was too quick not to see all the consequences of admitting
so brisk a wooer into a family council.
It was a wet evening, and a sad and silent party sat round a wood
fire in the great dining-hall. The baroness was almost prostrated
by the scene with Perrin; and a sombre melancholy and foreboding
weighed on all their spirits, when presently Edouard Riviere entered
briskly, and saluted them all profoundly, and opened the proceedings
with a little favorite pomposity. "Madame the baroness, and you
Monsieur Aubertin, who honor me with your esteem, and you
Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire, whom I adore, and you Mademoiselle
Rose, whom I hoped to be permitted--you have this day done me the
honor to admit me as your adviser. I am here to lay my plans before
you. I believe, madame, I have already convinced you that your
farms are under-let, and your property lowered in value by general
mismanagement; this was doubtless known to Perrin, and set him
scheming. Well, I rely on the same circumstance to defeat him. I
have consulted Picard and shown him the rent-roll and balance-sheet
I had already shown you. He has confessed that the estate is worth
more than its debts, so capitalists can safely advance the money.
To-morrow morning, then, I ride to Commandant Raynal for a week's
leave of absence; then, armed with Picard's certificate, shall
proceed to my uncle and ask him to lend the money. His estate is
very small compared with Beaurepaire, but he has always farmed it
himself. 'I'll have no go-between,' says he, 'to impoverish both
self and soil.' He is also a bit of a misanthrope, and has made me
one. I have a very poor opinion of my fellow-creatures, very."
"Well, but," said Rose, "if he is all that, he will not sympathize
with us, who have so mismanaged Beaurepaire. Will he not despise
Edouard was a little staggered, but Aubertin came to his aid.
"Permit me, Josephine," said he. "Natural history steps in here,
and teaches by me, its mouth-piece. A misanthrope hates all
mankind, but is kind to every individual, generally too kind. A
philanthrope loves the whole human race, but dislikes his wife, his
mother, his brother, and his friends and acquaintances. Misanthrope
is the potato: rough and repulsive outside, but good to the core.
Philanthrope is a peach: his manner all velvet and bloom, his words
sweet juice, his heart of hearts a stone. Let me read Philanthrope's
book, and fall into the hands of Misanthrope."
Edouard admitted the shrewdness of this remark.
"And so," said he, "my misanthrope will say plenty of biting words,--
which, by-the-by, will not hurt you, who will not hear them, only
me,--and then he'll lend us the money, and Beaurepaire will be free,
and I shall have had a hand in it. Hurrah!"
Then came a delicious hour to Edouard Riviere. Young and old poured
out their glowing thanks and praises upon him till his checks burned
The baroness was especially grateful, and expressed a gentle regret
that she could see no way of showing her gratitude except in words.
"What can we do for this little angel?" said she, turning to
"Leave that to me, mamma," replied Josephine, turning her lovely
eyes full on Edouard, with a look the baroness misunderstood
She sat and watched Josephine and Edouard with comical severity all
the rest of the time she was there; and, when she retired, she
kissed Rose affectionately, but whispered her eldest daughter, "I
hope you are not serious. A mere boy compared with you."
"But such a sweet one," suggested Josephine, apologetically.
"What will the world come to?" said the baroness out loud, and
retreated with a sour glance at all of them--except Rose.
She had not been gone five minutes when a letter came by messenger
to Edouard. It was from Picard. He read it out.
"Perrin has been with me, to raise money. He wants it in forty-
eight hours. Promises good legal security. I have agreed to try
and arrange the matter for him."
They were all astonished at this.
"The double-faced traitor!" cried Edouard. "Stay; wait a minute.
Let us read it to an end."
"This promise is, of course, merely to prevent his going elsewhere.
At the end of the forty-eight hours I shall begin to make
difficulties. Meantime, as Perrin is no fool, you had better profit
to the full by this temporary delay."
"Well done, Picard!" shouted Edouard. "Notary cut notary. I won't
lose an hour. I'll start at five; Commandant Raynal is an early
Accordingly, at five he was on the road; Raynal's quarters lay in
the direct line to his uncle's place. He found the commandant at
home, and was well received. Raynal had observed his zeal, and
liked his manners. He gave him the week's leave, and kept him to
breakfast, and had his horse well fed. At eight o'clock Edouard
rode out of the premises in high spirits. At the very gate he met a
gaunt figure riding in on a squab pony. It was Perrin the notary
coming in hot haste to his friend and employer, Commandant Raynal.
After Edouard's departure, Josephine de Beaurepaire was sad, and
weighed down with presentiments. She felt as soldiers sometimes
feel who know the enemy is undermining them; no danger on the
surface; nothing that can be seen, met, baffled, attacked, or
evaded; in daily peril, all the more horrible that it imitates
perfect serenity, they await the fatal match. She imparted her
misgivings to Aubertin; but he assured her she exaggerated the
"We have a friend still more zealous and active than our enemy;
believe me, your depression is really caused by his absence; we all
miss the contact of that young heroic spirit; we are a body, and he
Josephine was silent, for she said to herself, "Why should I dash
their spirits? they are so happy and confident."
Edouard had animated Rose and Aubertin with his own courage, and had
even revived the baroness.
It had been agreed between him and Picard that the latter should
communicate with Dr. Aubertin direct, should anything fresh occur.
And on the third day after Edouard's departure, Picard sent up a
private message: "Perrin has just sent me a line to say he will not
trouble us, as he is offered the money in another quarter."
This was a heavy blow, and sent them all to bed more or less
The next day brought a long letter from Edouard to Rose, telling her
he had found his uncle crusty at first; but at last with a little
patience, and the co-operation of Martha, his uncle's old servant,
and his nurse, the old boy had come round. They might look on the
affair as all but settled.
The contents of this letter were conveyed to the baroness. The
house brightened under it: the more so that there was some hope of
their successful champion returning in person next day. Meantime
Perrin had applied to Raynal for the immediate loan of a large sum
of money on excellent security. Raynal refused plump. Perrin rode
But the next day he returned to the charge with another proposal:
and the nature of this second proposal we shall learn from events.
The day Edouard was expected opened deliciously. It was a balmy
morning, and tempted the sisters out before breakfast. They
strolled on the south terrace with their arms round each other's
waists, talking about Edouard, and wondering whether they should
really see him before night. Rose owned she had missed him, and
confessed for the first time she was a proud and happy girl.
"May I tell him so?" asked Josephine.
"Not for all the world. Would you dare?"
Further discussion of that nice point was stopped by the baroness
coming out, leaning on Dr. Aubertin.
Then--how we young people of an unceremonious age should have
stared--the demoiselles de Beaurepaire, inasmuch as this was their
mother's first appearance, lowered their fair heads at the same time
like young poplars bowing to the wind, and so waited reverently till
she had slightly lifted her hands, and said, "God bless you, my
It was done in a moment on both sides, but full of grace and piety,
and the charm of ancient manners.
"How did our dear mother sleep?" inquired Josephine. Aubertin
interposed with a theory that she slept very well indeed if she took
what he gave her.
"Ay, IF," suggested Rose, saucily.
"I slept," said the baroness, "and I wish I had not for I dreamed an
ugly dream." They all gathered round her, and she told her dream.
"I thought I was with you all in this garden. I was admiring the
flowers and the trees, and the birds were singing with all their
might. Suddenly a dark cloud came; it cleared almost directly; but
flowers, trees, sky, and birds were gone now, and I could see the
chateau itself no more. It means that I was dead. An ugly dream,
my children, an ugly dream."
"But only a dream, dear mother," said Rose: then with a sweet,
consoling smile, "See, here is your terrace and your chateau."
"And here are your daughters," said Josephine; and they both came
and kissed her to put their existence out of doubt. "And here is
your Aesculapius," said Aubertin. "And here is your Jacintha."
"Breakfast, madame," said Jacintha. "Breakfast, mesdemoiselles.
Breakfast, monsieur:" dropping each a distinct courtesy in turn.
"She has turned the conversation very agreeably," said the baroness,
and went in leaning on her old friend.
But the sisters lagged behind and took several turns in silence.
Rose was the first to speak. "How superstitious of you!"
"I said nothing."
"No; but you looked volumes at me while mamma was telling her dream.
For my part I feel sure love is stronger than hate; and we shall
stay all our days in this sweet place: and O Josey! am I not a happy
girl that it's all owing to HIM!"
At this moment Jacintha came running towards them. They took it for
a summons to breakfast, and moved to meet her. But they soon saw
she was almost as white as her apron, and she came open-mouthed and
wringing her hands. "What shall I do? what shall I do? Oh, don't
let my poor mistress know!"
They soon got from her that Dard had just come from the town, and
learned the chateau was sold, and the proprietor coming to take
possession this very day. The poor girls were stupefied by the
If anything, Josephine felt it worst. "It is my doing," she gasped,
and tottered fainting. Rose supported her: she shook it off by a
violent effort. "This is no time for weakness," she cried, wildly;
"come to the Pleasaunce; there is water there. I love my mother.
What will I not do for her? I love my mother."
Muttering thus wildly she made for the pond in the Pleasaunce. She
had no sooner turned the angle of the chateau than she started back
with a convulsive cry, and her momentary feebleness left her
directly; she crouched against the wall and griped the ancient
corner-stone with her tender hand till it powdered, and she spied
with dilating eye into the Pleasaunce, Rose and Jacintha panting
behind her. Two men stood with their backs turned to her looking at
the oak-tree; one an officer in full uniform, the other the human
snake Perrin. Though the soldier's back was turned, his off-handed,
peremptory manner told her he was inspecting the place as its master.
"The baroness! the baroness!" cried Jacintha, with horror. They
looked round, and the baroness was at their very backs.
"What is it?" cried she, gayly.
"Let me see this nothing."
They glanced at one another, and, idle as the attempt was, the habit
of sparing her prevailed, and they flung themselves between her and
"Josephine is not well," said Rose. "She wants to go in." Both
girls faced the baroness.
"Jacintha," said the baroness, "fetch Dr. Aubertin. There, I have
sent her away. So now tell me, why do you drive me back so?
Something has happened," and she looked keenly from one to the
"O mamma! do not go that way: there are strangers in the Pleasaunce."
"Let me see. So there are. Call Jacintha back that I may order
these people out of my premises." Josephine implored her to be
"Be calm when impertinent intruders come into my garden?"
"Mother, they are not intruders."
"What do you mean?"
"They have a right to be in our Pleasaunce. They have bought the
"It is impossible. HE was to buy it for us--there is some mistake--
what man would kill a poor old woman like me? I will speak to this
gentleman: he wears a sword. Soldiers do not trample on women. Ah!
The notary, attracted by her voice, was coming towards her, a paper
in his hand.
Raynal coolly inspected the tree, and tapped it with his scabbard,
and left Perrin to do the dirty work. The notary took off his hat,
and, with a malignant affectation of respect, presented the baroness
with a paper.
The poor old thing took it with a courtesy, the effect of habit, and
read it to her daughters as well as her emotion permitted, and the
language, which was as new to her as the dialect of Cat Island to
"Jean Raynal, domiciled by right, and lodging in fact at the Chateau
of Beaurepaire, acting by the pursuit and diligence of Master
Perrin, notary; I, Guillaume Le Gras, bailiff, give notice to
Josephine Aglae St. Croix de Beaurepaire, commonly called the
Baroness de Beaurepaire, having no known place of abode"--
"but lodging wrongfully at the said Chateau of Beaurepaire, that she
is warned to decamp within twenty-four hours"--
"failing which that she will be thereto enforced in the manner for
that case made and provided with the aid of all the officers and
agents of the public force."
"Ah! no, messieurs, pray do not use force. I am frightened enough
already. I did not know I was doing anything wrong. I have been
here thirty years. But, since Beaurepaire is sold, I comprehend
perfectly that I must go. It is just. As you say, I am not in my
own house. I will go, gentlemen, I will go. Whither shall I go, my
children? The house where you were born to me is ours no longer.
Excuse me, gentlemen--this is nothing to you. Ah! sir, you have
revenged yourself on two weak women--may Heaven forgive you!"
The notary turned on his heel. The poor baroness, all whose pride
the iron law, with its iron gripe, had crushed into dismay and
terror, appealed to him. "O sir! send me from the house, but not
from the soil where my Henri is laid! is there not in all this
domain a corner where she who was its mistress may lie down and die?
Where is the NEW BARON, that I may ask this favor of him on my
She turned towards Raynal and seemed to be going towards him with
outstretched arms. But Rose checked her with fervor. "Mamma! do
not lower yourself. Ask nothing of these wretches. Let us lose
all, but not forget ourselves."
The baroness had not her daughter's spirit. Her very person
tottered under this blow. Josephine supported her, and the next
moment Aubertin came out and hastened to her side. Her head fell
back; what little strength she had failed her; she was half lifted,
half led, into the house.
Commandant Raynal was amazed at all this, and asked what the deuce
was the matter.
"Oh!" said the notary, "we are used to these little scenes in our
"But I am not," replied the soldier. "You never told me there was
to be all this fuss."
He then dismissed his friend rather abruptly and strode up and down
the Pleasaunce. He twisted his mustaches, muttered, and "pested,"
and was ill at ease. Accustomed to march gayly into a town, and see
the regiment, that was there before, marching gayly out, or vice
versa, and to strike tents twice a quarter at least, he was little
prepared for such a scene as this. True, he did not hear all the
baroness's words, but more than one tone of sharp distress reached
him where he stood, and the action of the whole scene was so
expressive, there was little need of words. He saw the notice
given; the dismay it caused, and the old lady turn imploringly
towards him with a speaking gesture, and above all he saw her
carried away, half fainting, her hands clasped, her reverend face
pale. He was not a man of quick sensibilities. He did not
thoroughly take the scene in at first: it grew upon him afterwards.
"Confound it," thought he, "I am the proprietor. They all say so.
Instead of which I feel like a thief. Fancy her getting so fond of
a PLACE as all this."
Presently it occurred to him that the shortness of the notice might
have much to do with her distress. "These notaries," said he to
himself, "understand nothing save law: women have piles of baggage,
and can't strike tents directly the order comes, as we can. Perhaps
if I were to give them twenty-four days instead of hours?--hum!"
With this the commandant fell into a brown study. Now each of us
has his attitude of brown study. One runs about the room like hyena
in his den; another stands stately with folded arms (this one seldom
thinks to the purpose); another sits cross-legged, brows lowered:
another must put his head into his hand, and so keep it up to
thinking mark: another must twiddle a bit of string, or a key; grant
him this, he can hatch an epic. This commandant must draw himself
up very straight, and walk six paces and back very slowly, till the
problem was solved: I suspect he had done a good bit of sentinel
work in his time.
Now whilst he was guarding the old oak-tree, for all the world as if
it had been the gate of the Tuileries or the barracks, Josephine de
Beaurepaire came suddenly out from the house and crossed the
Pleasaunce: her hair was in disorder, her manner wild: she passed
swiftly into the park.
Raynal recognized her as one of the family; and after a moment's
reflection followed her into the park with the good-natured
intention of offering her a month to clear out instead of a day.
But it was not so easy to catch her: she flew. He had to take his
scabbard in his left hand and fairly run after her. Before he could
catch her, she entered the little chapel. He came up and had his
foot on the very step to go in, when he was arrested by that he
Josephine had thrown herself on her knees and was praying aloud:
praying to the Virgin with sighs and sobs and all her soul:
wrestling so in prayer with a dead saint as by a strange perversity
men cannot or will not wrestle with Him, who alone can hear a
million prayers at once from a million different places,--can
realize and be touched with a sense of all man's infirmities in a
way no single saint with his partial experience of them can realize
and be touched by them; who unasked suspended the laws of nature
that had taken a stranger's only son, and she a widow; and wept at
another great human sorrow, while the eyes of all the great saints
that stood around it and Him were dry.
Well, the soldier stood, his right foot on the step and his sword in
his left hand, transfixed: listening gravely to the agony of prayer
the innocent young creature poured forth within:--
"O Madonna! hear me: it is for my mother's life. She will die--she
will die. You know she cannot live if she is taken away from her
house and from this holy place where she prays to you this many
years. O Queen of Heaven! put out your hand to us unfortunates!
Virgin, hear a virgin: mother, listen to a child who prays for her
mother's life! The doctor says she will not live away from here.
She is too old to wander over the world. Let them drive us forth:
we are young, but not her, mother, oh, not her! Forgive the cruel
men that do this thing!--they are like those who crucified your Son--
they know not what they are doing. But you, Queen of Heaven, you
know all; and, sweet mother, if you have kind sentiments towards me,
poor Josephine, ah! show them now: for you know that it was I who
insulted that wicked notary, and it is out of hatred to me he has
sold our beloved house to a hard stranger. Look down on me, a child
who loves her mother, yet will destroy her unless you pity me and
help me. Oh! what shall I say?--what shall I do? mercy! mercy! for
my poor mother, for me!"
Here her utterance was broken by sobs.
The soldier withdrew his foot quietly. Her words had knocked
against his very breast-bone. He marched slowly to and fro before
the chapel, upright as a dart, and stiff as a ramrod, and actually
pale: for even our nerves have their habits; a woman's passionate
grief shook him as a cannon fired over his head could not.
Josephine little thought who was her sentinel. She came to the door
at last, and there he was marching backwards and forwards, upright
and stiff. She gave a faint scream and drew back with a shudder at
the sight of their persecutor. She even felt faintish at him, as
women will in such cases.
Not being very quick at interpreting emotion, Raynal noticed her
alarm, but not her repugnance; he saluted her with military
precision by touching his cap as only a soldier can, and said rather
gently for him, "A word with you, mademoiselle."
She replied only by trembling.
"Don't be frightened," said Raynal, in a tone not very reassuring.
"I propose an armistice."
"I am at your disposal, sir," said Josephine, now assuming a
calmness that was belied by the long swell of her heaving bosom.
"Of course you look on me as an enemy."
"How can I do otherwise, sir? yet perhaps I ought not. You did not
know us. You just wanted an estate, I suppose--and--oh!"
"Well, don't cry; and let us come to the point, since I am a man of
"If you please, sir. My mother may miss me."
"Well, I was in position on your flank when the notary delivered his
fire. And I saw the old woman's distress."
"When you came flying out I followed to say a good word to you. I
could not catch you. I listened while you prayed to the Virgin.
That was not a soldier-like trick, you will say. I confess it."
"It matters little, sir, and you heard nothing I blush for."
"No! by St. Denis; quite the contrary. Well, to the point. Young
lady, you love your mother."
"What has she on earth now but her children's love?"
"Now look here, young lady, I had a mother; I loved her in my
humdrum way very dearly. She promised me faithfully not to die till
I should be a colonel; and she went and died before I was a
commandant, even; just before, too."
"Then I pity you," murmured Josephine; and her soft purple eye began
to dwell on him with less repugnance.
"Thank you for that word, my good young lady," said Raynal. "Now, I
declare, you are the first that has said that word to me about my
losing the true friend, that nursed me on her knee, and pinched and
pinched to make a man of me. I should like to tell you about her
"I shall feel honored," said Josephine, politely, but with
Then he told her all about how he had vexed her when he was a boy,
and gone for a soldier, though she was all for trade, and how he had
been the more anxious to see her enjoy his honors and success.
"And, mademoiselle," said he, appealingly, "the day this epaulet was
put on my shoulder in Italy, she died in Paris. Ah! how could you
have the heart to do that, my old woman?"
The soldier's mustache quivered, and he turned away brusquely, and
took several steps. Then he came back to Josephine, and to his
infinite surprise saw that her purple eyes were thick with tears.
"What? you are within an inch of crying for my mother, you who have
your own trouble at this hour."
"Monsieur, our situations are so alike, I may well spare some little
sympathy for your misfortune."
"Thank you, my good young lady. Well, then, to business; while you
were praying to the Virgin, I was saying a word or two for my part
to her who is no more."
"Oh! it was nothing beautiful like the things you said to the other.
Can I turn phrases? I saw her behind her little counter in the Rue
Quincampoix; for she is a woman of the people, is my mother. I saw
myself come to the other side of the counter, and I said, 'Look
here, mother, here is the devil to pay about this new house. The
old woman talks of dying if we take her from her home, and the young
one weeps and prays to all the saints in paradise; what shall we do,
eh?' Then I thought my old woman said to me, 'Jean, you are a
soldier, a sort of vagabond; what do you want with a house in
France? you who are always in a tent in Italy or Austria, or who
knows where. Have you the courage to give honest folk so much pain
for a caprice? Come now,' says she, 'the lady is of my age, say
you, and I can't keep your fine house, because God has willed it
otherwise; so give her my place; so then you can fancy it is me you
have set down at your hearth: that will warm your heart up a bit,
you little scamp,' said my old woman in her rough way. She was not
well-bred like you, mademoiselle. A woman of the people, nothing
"She was a woman of God's own making, if she was like that," cried
Josephine, the tears now running down her cheeks.
"Ah, that she was, she was. So between her and me it is settled--
what are you crying for NOW? why, you have won the day; the field is
yours; your mother and you remain; I decamp." He whipped his
scabbard up with his left hand, and was going off without another
word, if Josephine had not stopped him.
"But, sir, what am I to think? what am I to hope? it is impossible
that in this short interview--and we must not forget what is due to
you. You have bought the estate."
"True; well, we will talk over that, to-morrow; but being turned out
of the house, that was the bayonet thrust to the old lady. So you
run in and put her heart at rest about it. Tell her that she may
live and die in this house for Jean Raynal; and tell her about the
old woman in the Rue Quincampoix."
"God bless you, Jean Raynal!" cried Josephine, clasping her hands.
"Are you going?" said he, peremptorily.
"Oh, yes!" and she darted towards the chateau.
But when she had taken three steps she paused, and seemed irresolute.
She turned, and in a moment she had glided to Raynal again and had
taken his hand before he could hinder her, and pressed two velvet
lips on it, and was away again, her cheeks scarlet at what she had
done, and her wet eyes beaming with joy. She skimmed the grass like
a lapwing; you would have taken her at this minute for Rose, or for
Virgil's Camilla; at the gate she turned an instant and clasped her
hands together, with such a look, to show Raynal she blessed him
again, then darted into the house.
"Aha, my lady," said he, as he watched her fly, "behold you changed
a little since you came out." He was soon on the high road marching
down to the town at a great rate, his sword clanking, and thus ran
his thoughts: "This does one good; you are right, my old woman.
Your son's bosom feels as warm as toast. Long live the five-franc
pieces! And they pretend money cannot make a fellow happy. They
lie; it is because they do not know how to spend it."
Meantime at the chateau, as still befalls in emergencies and trials,
the master spirit came out and took its real place. Rose was now
the mistress of Beaurepaire; she set Jacintha, and Dard, and the
doctor, to pack up everything of value in the house. "Do it this
moment!" she cried; "once that notary gets possession of the house,
it may be too late. Enough of folly and helplessness. We have
fooled away house and lands; our movables shall not follow them."
The moment she had set the others to work, she wrote a single line
to Riviere to tell him the chateau and lands were sold, and would he
come to Beaurepaire at once? She ran with it herself to Bigot's
auberge, the nearest post-office, and then back to comfort her
The baroness was seated in her arm-chair, moaning and wringing her
hands, and Rose was nursing and soothing her, and bathing her
temples with her last drop of eau de Cologne, and trying in vain to
put some of her own courage into her, when in came Josephine radiant
with happiness, crying "Joy! joy! joy!" and told her strange tale,
with this difference, that she related her own share in it briefly
and coldly, and was more eloquent than I about the strange soldier's
goodness, and the interest her mother had awakened in his heart.
And she told about the old woman in the Rue Quincampoix, her rugged
phrases, and her noble, tender heart. The baroness, deaf to Rose's
consolations, brightened up directly at Josephine's news, and at her
glowing face, as she knelt pouring the good news, and hope, and
comfort, point blank into her. But Rose chilled them both.
"It is a generous offer," said, she, "but one we cannot accept. We
cannot live under so great an obligation. Is all the generosity to
be on the side of this Bonapartist? Are we noble in name only?
What would our father have said to such a proposal?"
Josephine hung her head. The baroness groaned.
"No, mother," continued Rose; "let house and land go, but honor and
true nobility remain."
"What shall I do? you are cruel to me, Rose."
"Mamma," cried the enthusiastic girl, "we need depend on no one.
Josephine and I have youth and spirit."
"But no money."
"We have plenty of jewels, and pictures, and movables. We can take
"A farm!" shrieked the baroness.
"Why, his uncle has a farm, and we have had recourse to him for
help: better a farmhouse than an almshouse, though that almshouse
were a palace instead of a chateau."
Josephine winced and held up her hand deprecatingly. The baroness
paled: it was a terrible stroke of language to come from her
daughter. She said sternly, "There is no answer to that. We were
born nobles, let us die farmers: only permit me to die first."
"Forgive me, mother," said Rose, kneeling. "I was wrong; it is for
me to obey you, not to dictate. I speak no more." And, after
kissing her mother and Josephine, she crept away, but she left her
words sticking in both their consciences.
"HIS uncle," said the shrewd old lady. "She is no longer a child;
and she says his uncle. This makes me half suspect it is her that
dear boy--Josephine, tell me the truth, which of you is it?"
"Dear mother, who should it be? they are nearly of an age: and what
man would not love our sweet Rose, that had eyes or a heart?"
The baroness sighed deeply; and was silent. After awhile she said,
"The moment they have a lover, he detaches their hearts from their
poor old mother. She is no longer what my Josephine is to me."
"Mamma, she is my superior. I see it more and more every day. She
is proud: she is just; she looks at both sides. As for me, I am too
apt to see only what will please those I love."
"And that is the daughter for me," cried the poor baroness, opening
her arms wide to her.
The next morning when they were at breakfast, in came Jacintha to
say the officer was in the dining-room and wanted to speak with the
young lady he talked to yesterday. Josephine rose and went to him.
"Well, mademoiselle," said he gayly, "the old woman was right. Here
I have just got my orders to march: to leave France in a month. A
pretty business it would have been if I had turned your mother out.
So you see there is nothing to hinder you from living here."
"In your house, sir?"
"Why not, pray?"
"Forgive us. But we feel that would be unjust to you, humiliating
to us: the poor are sometimes proud."
"Of course they are," said Raynal: "and I don't want to offend your
pride. Confound the house: why did I go and buy it? It is no use
to me except to give pain to worthy people." He then, after a
moment's reflection, asked her if the matter could not be arranged
by some third party, a mutual friend. "Then again," said he, "I
don't know any friend of yours."
"Yes, sir," said Josephine; "we have one friend, who knows you, and
esteems you highly."
She wanted to name Edouard; but she hesitated, and asked her
conscience if it was fair to name him: and while she blushed and
hesitated, lo and behold a rival referee hove in sight. Raynal saw
him, suddenly opened a window, and shouted, "Hallo come in here: you
Perrin had ridden up to complete the exodus of the De Beaurepaires,
and was strolling about inspecting the premises he had expelled them
Here was a pretty referee!
Josephine almost screamed--"What are you doing? that is our enemy,
our bitterest enemy. He has only sold you the estate to spite us,
not for the love of you. I had--we had--we mortified his vanity.
It was not our fault: he is a viper. Sir, pray, pray, pray be on
your guard against his counsels."
These words spoken with rare fire and earnestness carried
conviction: but it was too late to recall the invitation. The
notary entered the room, and was going to bow obsequiously to
Raynal, when he caught sight of Josephine, and almost started.
Raynal, after Josephine's warning, was a little at a loss how to
make him available; and even that short delay gave the notary's one
foible time to lead him into temptation. "Our foibles are our
"So," said he, "you have taken possession, commandant. These
military men are prompt, are they not, mademoiselle?"
"Do not address yourself to me, sir, I beg," said Josephine quietly.
Perrin kept his self-command. "It is only as Commandant Raynal's
agent I presume to address so distinguished a lady: in that
character I must inform you that whatever movables you have removed
are yours: those we find in the house on entering we keep."
"Come, come, not so fast," cried Raynal; "bother the chairs and
tables! that is not the point."
"Commandant," said the notary with dignity, "have I done anything to
merit this? have I served your interests so ill that you withdraw
your confidence from me?"
"No, no, my good fellow; but you exceed your powers. Just now I
want you to take orders, not give them."
"That is only just," said Perrin, "and I recall my hasty remark:
excuse the susceptibility of a professional man, who is honored with
the esteem of his clients; and favor me with your wishes."
"All right," said Raynal heartily. "Well, then--I want mademoiselle
and her family to stay here while I go to Egypt with the First
Consul. Mademoiselle makes difficulties; it offends her delicacy."
"Comedy!" said the notary contemptuously.
"Though her mother's life depends on her staying here."
"Comedy!" said Perrin. Raynal frowned.
"Her pride (begging her pardon) is greater than her affection."
"I have pitched upon you to reconcile the two."
"Then you have pitched upon the wrong man," said Perrin bluntly. He
added obsequiously, "I am too much your friend. She has been
talking you over, no doubt; but you have a friend, an Ulysses, who
is deaf to the siren's voice. I will be no party to such a
transaction. I will not co-operate to humbug my friend and rob him
of his rights."
If Josephine was inferior to the notary in petty sharpness, she was
his superior in the higher kinds of sagacity; and particularly in
instinctive perception of character. Her eye flashed with delight
at the line Perrin was now taking with Raynal. The latter speedily
justified her expectations: he just told Perrin to be off, and send
him a more accommodating notary.
"A more accommodating notary!" screamed Perrin, stung to madness by
this reproach. "There is not a more accommodating notary in Europe.
Ungrateful man! is this the return for all my zeal, my integrity, my
unselfishness? Is there another agent in the world who would have
let such a bargain as Beaurepaire fall into your hands? It serves
me right for deviating from the rules of business. Send me another
The honest soldier was confused. The lawyer's eloquence overpowered
him. He felt guilty. Josephine saw his simplicity, and made a cut
with a woman's two-edged sword. "Sir," said she coolly, "do you not
see it is an affair of money? This is his way of saying, Pay me
handsomely for so unusual a commission."
"And I'll pay him double," cried Raynal, catching the idea; "don't
be alarmed, I'll pay you for it."
"And my zeal, my devotion?"
"Put 'em in figures."
"And my prob--?"
"Add it up."
"And my integ--?"
"Add them together: and don't bother me."
"I see! I see! my poor soldier. You are no match for a woman's
"Nor, for a notary's. Go to h---, and send in your bill!" roared
the soldier in a fury. "Well, will you go?" and he marched at him.
The notary scuttled out, with something between a snarl and a squeak.
Josephine hid her face in her hands.
"What is the matter with you?" inquired Raynal. "Not crying again,
"Me! I never cry--hardly. I hid my face because I could not help
laughing. You frightened me, sir," said she: then very demurely, "I
was afraid you were going to beat him."
"No, no; a good soldier never leathers a civilian if he can possibly
help it; it looks so bad; and before a lady!"
"Oh, I would have forgiven you, monsieur," said Josephine benignly,
and something like a little sun danced in her eye.
"Now, mademoiselle, since my referee has proved a pig, it is your
turn. Choose you a mutual friend."
Josephine hesitated. "Ours is so young. You know him very well.
You are doubtless the commandant of whom I once heard him speak with
such admiration: his name is Riviere, Edouard Riviere."
"Know him? he is my best officer, out and out." And without a
moment's hesitation he took Edouard's present address, and accepted
that youthful Daniel as their referee; then looked at his watch and
marched off to his public duties with sabre clanking at his heels.
The notary went home gnashing his teeth. His sweet revenge was
turned to wormwood this day. Raynal's parting commissions rang in
his ear; in his bitter mood the want of logical sequence in the two
orders disgusted him.
So he inverted them.
He sent in a thundering bill the very next morning, but postponed
the other commission till his dying day.
As for Josephine, she came into the drawing-room beaming with love
and happiness, and after kissing both her mother and Rose with
gentle violence, she let them know the strange turn things had
And she whispered to Rose, "Only think, YOUR Edouard to be OUR
Rose blushed and bent over her work; and wondered how Edouard would
discharge so grave an office.
The matter approached a climax; for, as the reader is aware, Edouard
was hourly expected at Beaurepaire.
He did not come; but it was not his fault. On receiving Rose's
letter he declined to stay another hour at his uncle's.
He flung himself on his horse; and, before he was well settled on
the stirrups, the animal shied violently at a wheelbarrow some fool
had left there; and threw Edouard on the stones of the courtyard.
He jumped up in a moment and laughed at Marthe's terror; meantime a
farm-servant caught the nag and brought him back to his work.
But when Edouard went to put his hand on the saddle, he found it
would not obey him. "Wait a minute," said he; "my arm is benumbed."
"Let me see!" said the farmer, and examined the limb himself;
"benumbed? yes; and no wonder. Jacques, get on the brute and ride
for the surgeon."
"Are you mad, uncle?" cried Edouard. "I can't spare my horse, and I
want no surgeon; it will be well directly."
"It will be worse before it is better."
"I don't know what you mean, uncle; it is only numbed, ah! it hurts
when I rub it."
"It is worse than numbed, boy; it is broken."
"Broken? nonsense:" and he looked at it in piteous bewilderment:
"how can it be broken? it does not hurt except when I touch it."
"It WILL hurt: I know all about it. I broke mine fifteen years ago:
fell off a haystack."
"Oh, how unfortunate I am!" cried Edouard, piteously. "But I will
go to Beaurepaire all the same. I can have the thing mended there,
as well as here."
"You will go to bed," said the old man, quietly; "that is where
"I'll go to blazes sooner," yelled the young one.
The old man made a signal to his myrmidons, whom Marthe's cries had
brought around, and four stout fellows took hold of Edouard by the
legs and the left shoulder and carried him up-stairs raging and
kicking; and deposited him on a bed.
Presently he began to feel faint, and so more reasonable. They cut
his coat off, and put him in a loose wrapper, and after considerable
delay the surgeon came, and set his arm skilfully, and behold this
ardent spirit caged. He chafed and fretted sadly. Fortitude was
not his forte.
It was two days after his accident. He was lying on his back,
environed by slops and cursing his evil fate, and fretting his soul
out of its fleshly prison, when suddenly he heard a cheerful
trombone saying three words to Marthe, then came a clink-clank, and
Marthe ushered into the sickroom the Commandant Raynal. The sick
man raised himself in bed, with great surprise and joy.
"O commandant! this is kind to come and see your poor officer in
"Ah," cried Raynal, "you see I know what it is. I have been chained
down by the arm, and the leg, and all: it is deadly tiresome."
"Tiresome! it is--it is--oh, dear commandant, Heaven bless you for
"Ta! ta! ta! I am come on my own business."
"All the better. I have nothing to do; that is what kills me. I'm
eating my own heart."
"Cannibal! Well, my lad, since you are in that humor, cheer up, for
I bring you a job, and a tough one; it has puzzled me."
"What is it, commandant? What is it?"
"Well, do you know a house and a family called Beaurepaire?"
"Do I know Beaurepaire?"
And the pale youth turned very red; and stared with awe at this
wizard of a commandant. He thought he was going to be called over
the coals for frequenting a disaffected family. "Well," said
Raynal, "I have been and bought this Beaurepaire."
Edouard uttered a loud exclamation. "It was YOU bought it! she
never told me that."
"Yes," said Raynal, "I am the culprit; and we have fixed on you to
undo my work without hurting their pride too much, poor souls; but
let us begin with the facts."
Then Raynal told him my story after his fashion. Of course I shall
not go and print his version; you might like his concise way better
than my verbose; and I'm not here to hold up any man's coat-tails.
Short as he made it, Edouard's eyes were moist more than once; and
at the end he caught Raynal's hand and kissed it. Then he asked
time to reflect; "for," said he, "I must try and be just."
"I'll give you an hour," said Raynal, with an air of grand
munificence. The only treasure he valued was time.
In less than an hour Edouard had solved the knot, to his entire
satisfaction; he even gave the commandant particular instructions
for carrying out his sovereign decree. Raynal received these orders
from his subordinate with that simplicity which formed part of his
amazing character, and rode home relieved of all responsibility in
COMMANDANT RAYNAL TO MADEMOISELLE DE BEAUREPAIRE.
Mademoiselle,--Before I could find time to write to our referee,
news came in that he had just broken his arm;--
"Oh! oh, dear! our poor Edouard!"
And if poor Edouard had seen the pale faces, and heard the faltering
accents, it would have reconciled him to his broken arm almost.
This hand-grenade the commandant had dropped so coolly among them,
it was a long while ere they could recover from it enough to read
the rest of the letter,--
so I rode over to him, and found him on his back, fretting for want
of something to do. I told him the whole story. He undertook the
business. I have received his instructions, and next week shall be
at his quarters to clear off his arrears of business, and make
acquaintance with all your family, if they permit.
As the latter part of this letter seemed to require a reply, the
baroness wrote a polite note, and Jacintha sent Dard to leave it for
the commandant at Riviere's lodgings. But first they all sat down
and wrote kind and pitying and soothing letters to Edouard. Need I
say these letters fell upon him like balm?
They all inquired carelessly in their postscripts what he had
decided as their referee. He replied mysteriously that they would
know that in a week or two. Meantime, all he thought it prudent to
tell them was that he had endeavored to be just to both parties.
"Little solemn puppy," said Rose, and was racked with curiosity.
Next week Raynal called on the baroness. She received him alone.
They talked about Madame Raynal. The next day he dined with the
whole party, and the commandant's manners were the opposite of what
the baroness had inculcated. But she had a strong prejudice in his
favor. Had her feelings been the other way his brusquerie would
have shocked her. It amused her. If people's hearts are with you,
THAT for their heads!
He came every day for a week, chatted with the baroness, walked with
the young ladies; and when after work he came over in the evening,
Rose used to cross-examine him, and out came such descriptions of
battles and sieges, such heroism and such simplicity mixed, as made
the evening pass delightfully. On these occasions the young ladies
fixed their glowing eyes on him, and drank in his character as well
as his narrative, in which were fewer "I's" than in anything of the
sort you ever read or heard.
At length Rose contrived to draw him aside, and, hiding her
curiosity under feigned nonchalance, asked him what the referee had
decided. He told her that was a secret for the present.
"Well, but," said Rose, "not from me. Edouard and I have no
"Come, that's good," said Raynal. "Why, you are the very one he
warned me against the most; said you were as curious as Mother Eve,
and as sharp as her needle."
"Then he is a little scurrilous traitor," cried Rose, turning very
red. "So that is how he talks of me behind my back, and calls me an
angel to my face; I'll pay him for this. Do tell me, commandant;
never mind what HE says."
"What! disobey orders?"
"Orders? to you from that boy!"
"Oh!" said Raynal, "for that matter, we soldiers are used to command
one moment, and obey the next."
In a word, this military pedant was impracticable, and Rose gave him
up in disgust, and began to call up a sulky look when the other two
sang his praises. For the old lady pronounced him charming, and
Josephine said he was a man of crystal; never said a word he did not
mean, and she wished she was like him. But the baroness thought
this was going a little too far.
"No, thank you," said she hastily; "he is a man, a thorough man. He
would make an intolerable woman. A fine life if one had a parcel of
women about, all blurting out their real minds every moment, and
never smoothing matters."
"Mamma, what a horrid picture!" chuckled Rose.
She then proposed that at his next visit they should all three make
an earnest appeal to him to let them know what Edouard had decided.
But Josephine begged to be excused, feared it would be hardly
delicate; and said languidly that for her part she felt they were in
good hands, and prescribed patience. The baroness acquiesced, and
poor Rose and her curiosity were baffled on every side.
At last, one fine day, her torments were relieved without any
further exertion on her part. Jacintha bounced into the drawing-
room with a notice that the commandant wanted to speak to Josephine
a minute out in the Pleasaunce.
"How droll he is," said Rose; "fancy sending in for a young lady
like that. Don't go, Josephine; how, he would stare."
"My dear, I no more dare disobey him than if I was one of his
soldiers." And she laid down her work, and rose quietly to do what
she was bid.
"Well," said Rose, superciliously, "go to your commanding officer.
And, O Josephine, if you are worth anything at all, do get out of
him what that Edouard has settled."
Josephine kissed her, and promised to try. After the first
salutation, there was a certain hesitation about Raynal which
Josephine had never seen a trace of in him before; so, to put him at
his ease, and at the same time keep her promise to Rose, she asked
timidly if their mutual friend had been able to suggest anything.
"What! don't you know that I have been acting all along upon his
instructions?" answered Raynal.
"No, indeed! and you have not told us what he advised."
"Told you? why, of course not; they were secret instructions. I
have obeyed one set, and now I come to the other; and there is the
difficulty, being a kind of warfare I know nothing about."
"It must be savage warfare, then," suggested the lady politely.
"Not a bit of it. Now, who would have thought I was such a coward?"
Josephine was mystified; however, she made a shrewd guess. "Do you
fear a repulse from any one of us? Then, I suppose, you meditate
some extravagant act of generosity."
"Of delicacy, then."
"Just the reverse. Confound the young dog! why is he not here to
"But, after all," suggested Josephine, "you have only to carry out
"That is true! that is true! but when a fellow is a coward, a
poltroon, and all that sort of thing."
This repeated assertion of cowardice on the part of the living
Damascus blade that stood bolt-upright before her, struck Josephine
as so funny that she laughed merrily, and bade him fancy it was only
a fort he was attacking instead of the terrible Josephine; whom none
but heroes feared, she assured him.
This encouragement, uttered in jest, was taken in earnest. The
soldier thanked her, and rallied visibly at the comparison. "All