Part 4 out of 8
"My duty," faltered Josephine. "An hour ago it seemed so sweet,"
and she fell to weeping patiently again. They went to Josephine's
room. She crept slowly to a wardrobe, and took out a gray silk
"Oh, never mind for to-day," cried Rose.
"Help me, Rose. It is for myself as well; to remind me every moment
I am Madame Raynal."
They put the gray gown on her, both weeping patiently. It will be
known at the last day, all that honest women have suffered weeping
silently in this noisy world.
Camille soon recovered his senses and a portion of his strength:
then the irritation of his wound brought on fever. This in turn
retired before the doctor's remedies and a sound constitution, but
it left behind it a great weakness and general prostration. And in
this state the fate of the body depends greatly on the mind.
The baroness and the doctor went constantly to see him, and soothe
him: he smiled and thanked them, but his eager eyes watched the door
for one who came not.
When he got well enough to leave his bed the largest couch was sent
up to him from the saloon; a kind hand lined the baron's silk
dressing-gown for him warm and soft and nice; and he would sit or
lie on his couch, or take two turns in the room leaning upon Rose's
shoulder, and glad of the support; and he looked piteously in her
eyes when she came and when she went. Rose looked down; she could
do nothing, she could say nothing.
With his strength, Camille lost a portion of his pride: he pined for
a sight of her he no longer respected; pined for her, as the thirsty
pine for water in Sahara.
At last one day he spoke out. "How kind you are to me, Rose! how
kind you all are--but one."
He waited in hopes she would say something, but she held her tongue.
"At least tell me why it is. Is she ashamed? Is she afraid?"
"She hates me: it is true, then, that we hate those whom we have
wounded. Cruel, cruel Josephine! Oh, heart of marble against which
my heart has wrecked itself forever!"
"No, no! She is anything but cruel: but she is Madame Raynal."
"Ah! I forgot. But have I no claim on her? Nearly four years she
has been my betrothed. What have I done? Was I ever false to her?
I could forgive her for what she has done to me, but she cannot
forgive me. Does she mean never to see me again?"
"Ask yourself what good could come of it."
"Very well," said Camille, with a malicious smile. "I am in her
way. I see what she wants; she shall have it."
Rose carried these words to Josephine. They went through her like a
Rose pitied her. Rose had a moment's weakness.
"Let us go to him," she said; "anything is better than this."
"Rose, I dare not," was the wise reply.
But the next day early, Josephine took Rose to a door outside the
house, a door that had long been disused. Nettles grew before it.
She produced a key and with great difficulty opened this door. It
led to the tapestried chamber, and years ago they used to steal up
it and peep into the room.
Rose scarcely needed to be told that she was to watch Camille, and
report to her. In truth, it was a mysterious, vague protection
against a danger equally mysterious. Yet it made Josephine easier.
But so unflinching was her prudence that she never once could be
prevailed on to mount those stairs, and peep at Camille herself. "I
must starve my heart, not feed it," said she. And she grew paler
and more hollow-eyed day by day.
Yet this was the same woman who showed such feebleness and
irresolution when Raynal pressed her to marry him. But then dwarfs
feebly drew her this way and that. Now giants fought for her.
Between a feeble inclination and a feeble disinclination her dead
heart had drifted to and fro. Now honor, duty, gratitude,--which
last with her was a passion,--dragged her one way: love, pity, and
Not one of these giants would relax his grasp, and nothing yielded
except her vital powers. Yes; her temper, one of the loveliest
Heaven ever gave a human creature, was soured at times.
Was it a wonder? There lay the man she loved pining for her;
cursing her for her cruelty, and alternately praying Heaven to
forgive him and to bless her: sighing, at intervals, all the day
long, so loud, so deep, so piteously, as if his heart broke with
each sigh; and sometimes, for he little knew, poor soul, that any
human eye was upon him, casting aside his manhood in his despair,
and flinging himself on the very floor, and muffling his head, and
sobbing; he a hero.
And here was she pining in secret for him who pined for her? "I am
not a woman at all," said she, who was all woman. "I am crueller to
him than a tiger or any savage creature is to the victim she tears.
I must cure him of his love for me; and then die; for what shall I
have to live for? He weeps, he sighs, he cries for Josephine."
Her enforced cruelty was more contrary to this woman's nature than
black is to white, or heat to cold, and the heart rebelled furiously
at times. As when a rock tries to stem a current, the water fights
its way on more sides than one, so insulted nature dealt with
Josephine. Not only did her body pine, but her nerves were
exasperated. Sudden twitches came over her, that almost made her
scream. Her permanent state was utter despondency, but across it
came fitful flashes of irritation; and then she was scarce mistress
Wherefore you, who find some holy woman cross and bitter, stop a
moment before you sum her up vixen and her religion naught: inquire
the history of her heart: perhaps beneath the smooth cold surface of
duties well discharged, her life has been, or even is, a battle
against some self-indulgence the insignificant saint's very blood
cries out for: and so the poor thing is cross, not because she is
bad, but because she is better than the rest of us; yet only human.
Now though Josephine was more on her guard with the baroness than
with Rose, or the doctor, or Jacintha, her state could not
altogether escape the vigilance of a mother's eye.
But the baroness had not the clew we have; and what a difference
that makes! How small an understanding, put by accident or
instruction on the right track, shall run the game down! How great
a sagacity shall wander if it gets on a false scent!
"Doctor," said the baroness one day, "you are so taken up with your
patient you neglect the rest of us. Do look at Josephine! She is
ill, or going to be ill. She is so pale, and so fretful, so
peevish, which is not in her nature. Would you believe it, doctor,
"Our Josephine snap? This is new."
"Then look for the end of the world."
"The other day I heard her snap Rose: and this morning she half
snarled at me, just because I pressed her to go and console our
patient. Hush! here she is. My child, I am accusing you to the
doctor. I tell him you neglect his patient: never go near him."
"I will visit him one of these days," said Josephine, coldly.
"One of these days," said the baroness, shocked. "You used not to
be so hard-hearted. A soldier, an old comrade of your husband's,
wounded and sick, and you alone never go to him, to console him with
a word of sympathy or encouragement."
Josephine looked at her mother with a sort of incredulous stare.
Then, after a struggle, she replied with a tone and manner so
spiteful and icy that it would have deceived even us who know her
had we heard it. "He has plenty of nurses without me." She added,
almost violently, "My husband, if he were wounded, would not have so
many, perhaps not have one."
With this she rose and went out, leaving them aghast. She sat down
in the passage on a window-seat, and laughed hysterically. Rose
heard her and ran to her. Josephine told her what her mother had
said to her. Rose soothed her. "Never mind, you have your sister
who understands you: don't you go back till they have got some other
Rose out of curiosity went in, and found a discussion going on. The
doctor was fathoming Josephine, for the benefit of his companion.
"It is a female jealousy, and of a mighty innocent kind. We are so
taken up with this poor fellow, she thinks her soldier is forgotten."
"Surely, doctor, our Josephine would not be so unreasonable, so
unjust," suggested her mother.
"She belongs to a sex, be it said without offending you, madame,
among whose numberless virtues justice does not fill a prominent
The baroness shook her head. "That is not it. It is a piece of
prudery. This young gentleman was a sort of admirer of hers, though
she did not admire him much, as far as I remember. But it was four
years ago; and she is married to a man she loves, or is going to
"Well, but, mamma, a trifling excess of delicacy is surely
excusable." This from Rose.
"No, no; it is not delicacy; it is prudery. And when people are
sick and suffering, an honest woman should take up her charity and
lay down her prudery, or her coquetry: two things that I suspect are
the same thing in different shapes."
Here Jacintha came in. "Mademoiselle, here is the colonel's broth;
Madame Raynal has flavored it for him, and you are to take it up to
him, and keep him company while he eats it."
"Come," cried the baroness, "my lecture has not been lost."
Rose followed Jacintha up-stairs.
Rose was heart and head on Raynal's side.
She had deceived him about Josephine's attachment, and felt all the
more desirous to guard him against any ill consequences of it. Then
he had been so generous to her: he had left her her sister, who
would have gone to Egypt, and escaped this misery, but for her.
But on the other hand,
Tugged at her heartstrings with complaining cries.
This watching of Camille saddened even her. When she was with him
his pride bore him up: but when he was alone as he thought, his
anguish and despair were terrible, and broke out in so many ways
that often Rose shrank in terror from her peep hole.
She dared not tell Josephine the half of what she saw: what she did
tell her agitated her so terribly: and often Rose had it on the tip
of her tongue to say, "Do pray go and see if you can say nothing
that will do him good;" but she fought the impulse down. This
battle of feeling, though less severe than her sister's, was
constant; it destroyed her gayety. She, whose merry laugh used to
ring like chimes through the house, never laughed now, seldom
smiled, and often sighed.
Dr. Aubertin was the last to succumb to the deep depression, but his
time came: and he had been for a day or two as grave and as sad as
the rest, when one day that Rose was absent, spying on Camille, he
took the baroness and Josephine into his confidence; and
condescended finally to ask their advice.
"It is humiliating," said he, "after all my experience, to be
obliged to consult unprofessional persons. Forty years ago I should
have been TOO WISE to do so. But since then I have often seen
science baffled and untrained intelligences throw light upon hard
questions: and your sex in particular has luminous instincts and
reads things by flashes that we men miss with a microscope. Our
dear Madame Raynal suspected that plausible notary, and to this day
I believe she could not tell us why."
Josephine admitted as much very frankly.
"There you see," said the doctor. "Well, then, you must help me in
this case. And this time I promise to treat your art with more
"And pray who is it she is to read now?" asked the baroness.
"Who should it be but my poor patient? He puzzles me. I never knew
a patient so faint-hearted."
"A soldier faint-hearted!" exclaimed the baroness. "To be sure
these men that storm cities, and fire cannon, and cut and hack one
another with so much spirit, are poor creatures compared with us
when they have to lie quiet and suffer."
The doctor walked the room in great excitement. "It is not his
wound that is killing him, there's something on his mind. You,
Josephine, with your instincts do help me: do pray, for pity's sake,
throw off that sublime indifference you have manifested all along to
this man's fate."
"She has not," cried the baroness, firing up. "Did I not see her
lining his dressing-gown for him? and she inspects everything that
he eats: do you not?"
"Yes, mother." She then suggested in a faltering voice that time
would cure the patient, and time alone.
"Time! you speak as if time was a quality: time is only a measure of
events, favorable or unfavorable; it kills as many as it cures."
"Why, you surely would not imply his life is in any danger?" This
was the baroness.
"Madame, if the case was not grave, should I take this unusual step?
I tell you if some change does not take place soon, he will be a
dead man in another fortnight. That is all TIME will do for him."
The baroness uttered an exclamation of pity and distress. Josephine
put her hand to her bosom, and a creeping horror came over her, and
then a faintness. She sat working mechanically, and turning like
ice within. After a few minutes of this, she rose with every
appearance of external composure and left the room. In the passage
she met Rose coming hastily towards the salon laughing: the first
time she had laughed this many a day. Oh, what a contrast between
the two faces that met there--the one pale and horror stricken, the
other rosy and laughing!
"Well, dear, at last I am paid for all my trouble, and yours, by a
discovery; he never drinks a drop of his medicine; he pours it into
the ashes under the grate; I caught him in the fact."
"Then this is too much: I can resist no longer. Come with me," said
Josephine paused on the landing, and laid her hand on Rose's
shoulder. It was so cold it made Rose shudder, and exacted a
promise from her not to contradict a word she should say to Camille.
"I do not go to him for my pleasure, but for his life," she said; "I
must deceive him and save him; and then let me lie down and die."
"Oh, that the wretch had never been born!" cried Rose, in despair.
But she gave the required promise, and offered to go and tell
Camille Josephine was coming to visit him.
But Josephine declined this. "No," said she; "give me every
advantage; I must think beforehand every word I shall say; but take
him by surprise, coward and doubleface that I am."
Rose knocked at the door. A faint voice said, "Come in." The
sisters entered the room very softly. Camille sat on the sofa, his
head bowed over his hands. A glance showed Josephine that he was
doggedly and resolutely thrusting himself into the grave. Thinking
it was only Rose--for he had now lost all hope of seeing Josephine
come in at the door--he never moved. Some one glided gently but
rapidly up to him. He looked up. Josephine was kneeling to him.
He lifted his head with a start, and trembled all over.
She whispered, "I am come to you to beg your pity; to appeal to your
generosity; to ask a favor; I who deserve so little of you."
"You have waited a long time," said Camille, agitated greatly; "and
so have I."
"Camille, you are torturing one who loved you once, and who has been
very weak and faithless, but not so wicked as she appears."
"How am I torturing you?"
"With remorse; do I not suffer enough? Would you make me a
"Why have you never been near me?" retorted Camille. "I could
forgive your weakness, but not your heartlessness."
"It is my duty. I have no right to seek your society. If you
really want mine, you have only to get well, and so join us down-
stairs a week or two before you leave us."
"How am I to get well? My heart is broken."
"Camille, be a man. Do not fling away a soldier's life because a
fickle, worthless woman could not wait for you. Forgive me like a
man, or else revenge yourself like a man. If you cannot forgive me,
kill me. See, I kneel at your feet. I will not resist you. Kill
"I wish I could. Oh! if I could kill you with a look and myself
with a wish! No man should ever take you from me, then. We would
be together in the grave at this hour. Do not tempt me, I say;" and
he cast a terrible look of love, and hatred, and despair upon her.
Her purple eye never winced; it poured back tenderness and affection
in return. He saw and turned away with a groan, and held out his
hand to her. She seized it and kissed it. "You are great, you are
generous; you will not strike me as a woman strikes; you will not
die to drive me to despair."
"I see," said he, more gently, "love is gone, but pity remains. I
thought that was gone, too."
"Yes, Camille," said Josephine, in a whisper, "pity remains, and
remorse and terror at what I have done to a man of whom I was never
"Well, madame, as you have come at last to me, and even do me the
honor to ask me a favor--I shall try--if only out of courtesy--to--
ah, Josephine! Josephine! when did I ever refuse you anything?"
At this Josephine sank into a chair, and burst out crying. Camille,
at this, began to cry too; and the two poor things sat a long way
from one another, and sobbed bitterly.
The man, weakened as he was, recovered his quiet despair first.
"Don't cry so," said he. "But tell me what is your will, and I
shall obey you as I used before any one came between us."
"Then, live, Camille. I implore you to live."
"Well, Josephine, since you care about it, I will try and live. Why
did not you come before and ask me? I thought I was in your way. I
thought you wanted me dead."
Josephine cast a look of wonder and anguish on Camille, but she said
nothing. She rang the bell, and, on Jacintha coming up, despatched
her to Dr. Aubertin for the patient's medicine.
"Tell the doctor," said she, "Colonel Dujardin has let fall the
glass." While Jacintha was gone, she scolded Camille gently. "How
could you be so unkind to the poor doctor who loves you so? Only
think: to throw away his medicines! Look at the ashes; they are
wet. Camille, are you, too, becoming disingenuous?"
Jacintha came in with the tonic in a glass, and retired with an
obeisance. Josephine took it to Camille.
"Drink with me, then," said he, "or I will not touch it." Josephine
took the glass. "I drink to your health, Camille, and to your
glory; laurels to your brow, and some faithful woman to your heart,
who will make you forget this folly: it is for her I am saving you."
She put the glass with well-acted spirit to her lips; but in the
very action a spasm seized her throat and almost choked her; she
lowered her head that he might not see her face, and tried again;
but the tears burst from her eyes and ran into the liquid, and her
lips trembled over the brim, and were paralyzed.
"No, no! give it me!" he cried; "there is a tear of yours in it."
He drank off the bitter remedy now as if it had been nectar.
"If you wanted me to live, why did you not come here before?"
"I did not think you would be so foolish, so wicked, so cruel as to
do what you have been doing."
"Come and shine upon me every day, and you shall have no fresh cause
of complaint; things flourish in the sunshine that die in the dark:
Rose, it is as if the sun had come into my prison; you are pale, but
you are beautiful as ever--more beautiful; what a sweet dress! so
quiet, so modest, it sets off your beauty instead of vainly trying
to vie with it." With this he put out his hand and took her gray
silk dress, and went to kiss it as a devotee kisses the altar steps.
She snatched it away with a shudder.
"Yes, you are right," said she; "thank you for noticing my dress; it
is a beautiful dress--ha! ha! A dress I take a pride in wearing,
and always shall, I hope. I mean to be buried in it. Come, Rose.
Thank you, Camille; you are very good, you have once more promised
me to live. Get well; come down-stairs; then you will see me every
day, you know--there is a temptation. Good-by, Camille!--are you
coming, Rose? What are you loitering for? God bless you, and
comfort you, and help you to forget what it is madness to remember!"
With these wild words she literally fled; and in one moment the room
seemed to darken to Camille.
Outside the door Josephine caught hold of Rose. "Have I committed
"Over and over again. Do not look so terrified; I mean to me, but
not to him. How blind he is! and how much better you must know him
than I do to venture on such a transparent deceit. He believes
whatever you tell him. He is all ears and no eyes. Yes, love, I
watched him keenly all the time. He really thinks it is pity and
remorse, nothing more. My poor sister, you have a hard life to
lead, a hard game to play; but so far you have succeeded; yet could
look poor Raynal in the face if he came home to-day."
"Then God be thanked!" cried Josephine. "I am as happy to-day as I
can ever hope to be. Now let us go through the farce of dressing--
it is near dinner-time--and then the farce of talking, and, hardest
of all, the farce of living."
From that hour Camille began to get better very slowly, yet
The doctor, afraid of being mistaken, said nothing for some days,
but at last he announced the good news at the dinner-table. "He is
to come down-stairs in three days," added the doctor.
But I am sorry to say that as Camille's body strengthened some of
the worst passions in our nature attacked him. Fierce gusts of hate
and love combined overpowered this man's high sentiments of honor
and justice, and made him clench his teeth, and vow never to leave
Beaurepaire without Josephine. She had been his four years before
she ever saw this interloper, and she should be his forever. Her
love would soon revive when they should meet every day, and she
would end by eloping with him.
Then conscience pricked him, and reminded him how and why Raynal had
married her: for Rose had told him all. Should he undermine an
absent soldier, whose whole conduct in this had been so pure, so
generous, so unselfish?
But this was not all. As I have already hinted, he was under a
great personal obligation to his quondam comrade Raynal. Whenever
this was vividly present to his mind, a great terror fell on him,
and he would cry out in anguish, "Oh! that some angel would come to
me and tear me by force from this place!" And the next moment
passion swept over him like a flood, and carried away all his
virtuous resolves. His soul was in deep waters; great waves drove
it to and fro. Perilous condition, which seldom ends well. Camille
was a man of honor. In no other earthly circumstance could he have
hesitated an instant between right and wrong. But such natures,
proof against all other temptations, have often fallen, and will
fall, where sin takes the angel form of her they love. Yet, of all
men, they should pray for help to stand; for when they fall they
still retain one thing that divides them from mean sinners.
Remorse, the giant that rends the great hearts which mock at fear.
The day came in which the doctor had promised his patient he should
come down-stairs. First his comfortable sofa was taken down into
the saloon for his use: then the patient himself came down leaning
on the doctor's arm, and his heart palpitating at the thought of the
meeting. He came into the room; the baroness was alone. She
greeted him kindly, and welcomed him. Rose came in soon after and
did the same. But no Josephine. Camille felt sick at heart. At
last dinner was announced; "She will surely join us at dinner,"
thought he. He cast his eyes anxiously on the table; the napkins
were laid for four only. The baroness carelessly explained this to
him as they sat down. "Madame Raynal dines in her own room. I am
sorry to say she is indisposed."
Camille muttered polite regrets: the rage of disappointment drove
its fangs into him, and then came the heart-sickness of hope
deferred. The next day he saw her, but could not get a word with
her alone. The baroness tortured him another way. She was full of
Raynal. She loved him. She called him her son; was never weary of
descanting on his virtues to Camille. Not a day passed that she did
not pester Camille to make a calculation as to the probable period
of his return, and he was obliged to answer her. She related to him
before Josephine and Rose, how this honest soldier had come to them
like a guardian angel and saved the whole family. In vain he
muttered that Rose had told him.
"Let me have the pleasure of telling it you my way," cried she, and
told it diffusely, and kept him writhing.
The next thing was, Josephine had received no letter from him this
month; the first month he had missed. In vain did Rose represent
that he was only a few days over his time. The baroness became
anxious, communicated her anxieties to Camille among the rest; and,
by a torturing interrogatory, compelled him to explain to her before
Josephine and them all, that ships do not always sail to a day, and
are sometimes delayed. But oh! he winced at the man's name; and
Rose observed that he never mentioned it, nor acknowledged the
existence of such a person as Josephine's husband, except when
others compelled him. Yet they were acquainted; and Rose sometimes
wondered that he did not detract or sneer.
"I should," said she; "I feel I should."
"He is too noble," said Josephine, "and too wise. For, if he did, I
should respect him less, and my husband more than I do--if
Certainly Camille was not the sort of nature that detracts, but the
reason he avoided Raynal's name was simply that his whole internal
battle was to forget such a man existed. From this dream he was
rudely awakened every hour since he joined the family, and the wound
his self-deceiving heart would fain have skinned over, was torn
open. But worse than this was the torture of being tantalized. He
was in company with Josephine, but never alone. Even if she left
the room for an instant, Rose accompanied her and returned with her.
Camille at last began to comprehend that Josephine had decided there
should be no private interviews between her and him. Thus, not only
the shadow of the absent Raynal stood between them, but her mother
and sister in person, and worst of all, her own will. He called her
a cold-blooded fiend in his rage. Then the thought of all her
tenderness and goodness came to rebuke him. But even in rebuking it
maddened him. "Yes, it is her very nature to love; but since she
can make her heart turn whichever way her honor bids, she will love
her husband; she does not now; but sooner or later she will. Then
she will have children--(he writhed with anguish and fury at this
thought)--loving ties between him and her. He has everything on his
side. I, nothing but memories she will efface from her heart. Will
efface? She must have effaced them, or she could not have married
him." I know no more pitiable state of mind than to love and hate
the same creature. But when the two feelings are both intense, and
meet in an ardent bosom, such a man would do well to spend a day or
two upon his knees, praying for grace divine. For he who with all
his soul loves and hates one woman is next door to a maniac, and is
scarcely safe an hour together from suicide or even from homicide;
this truth the newspapers tell us, by examples, every month; but are
wonderfully little heeded, because newspapers do not, nor is it
their business to, analyze and dwell upon the internal feelings of
the despairing lover, whose mad and bloody act they record. With
such a tempest in his heart did Camille one day wander into the
park. And soon an irresistible attraction drew him to the side of
the stream that flowed along one side of it. He eyed it gloomily,
and wherever the stagnant water indicated a deeper pool than usual
he stopped, and looked, and thought, "How calm and peaceful you
He sat down at last by the water-side, his eyes bent on a calm,
It looked very peaceful; and it could give peace. He thought, oh!
what a blessing; to be quit of rage, jealousy, despair, and life,
all in a minute!
Yet that was a sordid death for a soldier to die, who had seen great
battles. Could he not die more nobly than that? With this he
suddenly felt in his pocket; and there sure enough fate had placed
his pistols. He had put them into this coat; and he had not worn
this coat until to-day. He had armed himself unconsciously. "Ah!"
said he; "it is to be; all these things are preordained." (This
notion of fate has strengthened many a fatal resolution.) Then he
had a cruel regret. To die without a word; a parting word. Then he
thought to himself, it was best so; for perhaps he should have taken
her with him.
"Sir! colonel!" uttered a solemn voice behind him.
Absorbed and strung up to desperation as he was, this voice seemed
unnaturally loud, and discordant with Camille's mood; a sudden
trumpet from the world of small things.
It was Picard, the notary.
"Can you tell me where Madame Raynal is?"
"No. At the chateau, I suppose."
"She is not there; I inquired of the servant. She was out. You
have not seen her, colonel?"
"Not I; I never see her."
"Then perhaps I had better go back to the chateau and wait for her:
stay, are you a friend of the family? Colonel, suppose I were to
tell you, and ask you to break it to Madame Raynal, or, better
still, to the baroness, or Mademoiselle Rose."
"Monsieur," said Camille coldly, "charge me with no messages, for I
cannot deliver them. I AM GOING ANOTHER WAY."
"In that case, I will go to the chateau once more; for what I have
to say must be heard."
Picard returned to the chateau wondering at the colonel's strange
Camille, for his part, wondered that any one could be so mad as to
talk to him about trifles; to him, a man standing on the brink of
eternity. Poor soul, it was he who was mad and unlucky. He should
have heard what Picard had to say. The very gentleness and
solemnity of manner ought to have excited his curiosity.
He watched Picard's retiring form. When he was out of sight, then
he turned round and resumed his thoughts as if Picard had been no
more than a fly that had buzzed and then gone.
"Yes, I should have taken her with me," he said. He sat gloomy and
dogged like a dangerous maniac in his cell; never moved, scarce
thought for more than half an hour; but his deadly purpose grew in
him. Suddenly he started. A lady was at the style, about a hundred
yards distant. He trembled. It was Josephine.
She came towards him slowly, her eyes bent on the ground in a deep
reverie. She stopped about a stone's throw from him, and looked at
the river long and thoughtfully; then casting her eye around, she
caught sight of Camille. He watched her grimly. He saw her give a
little start, and half turn round; but if this was an impulse to
retreat, it was instantly suppressed; for the next moment she
pursued her way.
Camille stood gloomy and bitter, awaiting her in silence. He
planted himself in the middle of the path, and said not a word.
She looked him all over, and her color came and went.
"Out so far as this," she said kindly; "and without your cap."
He put his hand to his head, and discovered that he was bareheaded.
"You will catch your death of cold. Come, let us go in and get your
She made as if she would pass him. He planted himself right before
"Why do you shun me as if I was a viper?"
"I do not shun you. I but avoid conferences that can lead to no
good; it is my duty."
"You are very wise; cold-hearted people can be wise."
"Am I cold-hearted, Camille?"
She looked him in the face; the water came into her eyes; after
awhile she whispered, sorrowfully, "Well, Camille, I am."
"But with all your wisdom and all your coldness," he went on to say,
"you have made a mistake; you have driven me to madness and
"Heaven forbid!" said she.
"Your prayer comes too late; you have done it."
"Camille, let me go to the oratory, and pray for you. You terrify
"It is no use. Heaven has no mercy for me. Take my advice; stay
where you are; don't hurry; for what remains of your life you gave
to pass with me, do you understand that?"
"Ah!" And she turned pale.
"Can you read my riddle?"
She looked him in the face. "I can read your eyes, and I know you
love me. I think you mean to kill me. I have heard men kill the
thing they love."
"Of course they do; sooner than another should have it, they kill
it--they kill it."
"God has not made them patient like us women. Poor Camille!"
"Patience dies when hope dies. Come, Madame Raynal, say a prayer,
for you are going to die."
"God bless you, Camille!" said the poor girl, putting her hands
together in her last prayer. At this sweet touch of affection,
Camille hung his head, and sobbed. Then suddenly lashing himself
into fury, he cried,--
"You are my betrothed! you talk of duty; but you forget your duty to
me. Are you not my betrothed this four years? Answer me that."
"Yes, Camille, I was."
"Did I not suffer death a hundred times for you, to keep faith with
you, you cold-blooded traitress with an angel's face?"
"Ah, Camille! can you speak so bitterly to me? Have I denied your
right to kill me? You shall never dishonor me, but you shall kill
me, if it is your pleasure. I do not resist. Why, then, speak to
me like that; must the last words I hear from your mouth be words of
anger, cruel Camille?"
"I was wrong. But it is so hard to kill her I love in cold blood.
I want anger as well as despair to keep me to it. Come, turn your
head away from me, and all our troubles shall end."
"No, Camille, let me look at you. Then you will be the last thing I
shall see on earth."
At this he hesitated a moment; then, with a fierce stamp at what he
thought was weakness, he levelled a pistol at her.
She put up her hands with a piteous cry, "Oh! not my face, Camille!
pray do not disfigure my face. Here--kill me here--in my bosom--my
heart that loved you well, when it was no sin to love you."
"I can't shoot you. I can't spill your blood. The river will end
all, and not disfigure your beauty, that has driven me mad, and cost
you, poor wretch, your life."
"Thank you, dear Camille. The water does not frighten me as a
pistol does; it will not hurt me; it will only kill me."
"No, it is but a plunge, and you will be at peace forever; and so
shall I. Come, take my hand, Madame Raynal, Madame Raynal."
She gave him her hand with a look of infinite love. She only said,
"My poor mother!" That word did not fall to the ground. It flashed
like lightning at night across the demented lover, and lighted up
his egotism (suicide, like homicide, is generally a fit of maniacal
egotism), even to his eyes blinded by fury.
"Wretch that I am," he shrieked. "Fly, Josephine, fly! escape this
moment, that my better angel whispers to me. Do you hear? begone,
while it is time."
"I will not leave you, Camille."
"I say you shall. Go to your mother and Rose; go to those you love,
and I can pity; go to the chapel and thank Heaven for your escape."
"Yes, but not without you, Camille. I am afraid to leave you."
"You have more to fear if you stay. Well, I can't wait any longer.
Stay, then, and live; and learn from me how to love Jean Raynal."
He levelled the pistol at himself.
Josephine threw herself on him with a cry, and seized his arm. With
the strength excitement lent her she got the better, and all but
overpowered him. But, as usual, the man's strength lasted longer,
and with a sustained effort he threw her off; then, pale and
panting, raised the pistol to take his life. This time she moved
neither hand nor foot; but she palsied his rash hand with a word.
"No; I LOVE YOU."
There lie the dead corpses of those words on paper; but my art is
powerless to tell you how they were uttered, those words, potent as
a king's, for they saved a life.
They were a cry of terror and a cry of reproach and a cry of love
The weapon shook in his hand. He looked at her with growing
astonishment and joy; she at him fixedly and anxiously, her hands
clasped in supplication.
"As you used to love me?"
"More, far more. Give me the pistol. I love you, dearest. I love
At these delicious words he lost all power of resistance, she saw;
and her soft and supple hand stole in and closed upon his, and
gently withdrew the weapon, and threw it into the water. "Good
Camille! now give me the other."
"How do you know there is another?"
"I know you are not the man to kill a woman and spare yourself.
"Josephine, have pity on me, do not deceive me; pray do not take
this, my only friend, from me, unless you really love me."
"I love you; I adore you," was her reply.
She leaned her head on his shoulder, but with her hand she sought
his, and even as she uttered those loving words she coaxed the
weapon from his now unresisting grasp.
"There, it is gone; you are saved from death--saved from crime."
And with that, the danger was over, she trembled for the first time,
and fell to sobbing hysterically.
He threw himself at her knees, and embraced them again and again,
and begged her forgiveness in a transport of remorse and self-
She looked down with tender pity on him, and heard his cries of
penitence and shame.
"Rise, Camille, and go home with me," said she faintly.
They went slowly and in silence. Camille was too ashamed and
penitent to speak; too full of terror too at the abyss of crime from
which he had been saved. The ancients feigned that a virgin could
subdue a lion; perhaps they meant that a pure gentle nature can
subdue a nature fierce but generous. Lion-like Camille walked by
Josephine's side with his eyes bent on the ground, the picture of
humility and penitence.
"This is the last walk you and I shall take together," said
"I know it," said he humbly. "I have forfeited all right to be by
"My poor, lost love," sighed Josephine, "will you never understand
me? You never stood higher in my esteem than at this moment. It is
the avowal you have forced from ME that parts us. The man to whom I
have said 'I'--must not remain beneath my husband's roof. Does not
your sense of honor agree with mine?"
"It does," faltered he.
"To-morrow you must leave the chateau."
"I will obey you."
"What, you do not resist, you do not break my heart by complaints,
"No, Josephine, all is changed. I thought you unfeeling: I thought
you were going to be HAPPY with him; that was what maddened me."
"I pray daily YOU may be happy, no matter how. But you and I are
not alike, dear as we are to one another. Well, do not fear: I
shall never be happy--will that soothe you, Camille?"
"Yes, Josephine, all is changed; the words you have spoken have
driven the fiends out of my heart. I have nothing to do now but to
obey, you to command: it is your right. Since you love me a little
still, dispose of me. Bid me live: bid me die: bid me stay: bid me
go. I shall never disobey the angel who loves me, my only friend
upon the earth."
A single deep sob from Josephine was all the answer.
Then he could not help asking her why she had not trusted him?
"Why did you not say to me long ago, 'I love you, but I am a wife;
my husband is an honest soldier, absent, and fighting for France: I
am the guardian of his honor and my own; be just, be generous, be
self-denying; depart and love me only as angels love'? Perhaps this
might have helped me to show you that I too am a man of honor."
"Perhaps I was wrong," sighed Josephine. "I think I should have
trusted more to you. But then, who would have thought you could
really doubt my love? You were ill; I could not bear you to go till
you were well, quite well. I saw no other way to keep you but this,
to treat you with feigned coldness. You saw the coldness, but not
what it cost me to maintain it. Yes, I was unjust; and inconsiderate,
for I had many furtive joys to sustain me: I had you in my house
under my care--that thought was always sweet--I had a hand in
everything that was for your good, for your comfort. I helped
Jacintha make your soup and your chocolate every day. I had the
delight of lining the dressing-gown you were to wear. I had always
some little thing or other to do for you. These kept me up: I forgot
in my selfishness that you had none of these supports, and that I
was driving you to despair. I am a foolish, disingenuous woman:
I have been very culpable. Forgive me!"
"Forgive you, angel of purity and goodness? I alone am to blame.
What right had I to doubt your heart? I knew the whole story of
your marriage; I saw your sweet pale face; but I was not pure enough
to comprehend angelic virtue and unselfishness. Well, I am brought
to my senses. There is but one thing for me to do--you bade me
leave you to-morrow."
"I was very cruel."
"No! not cruel, wise. But I will be wiser. I shall go to-night."
"To-night, Camille?" said Josephine, turning pale.
"Ay! for to-night I am strong; to-morrow I may be weak. To-night
everything thrusts me on the right path. To-morrow everything will
draw me from it. Do not cry, beloved one; you and I have a hard
fight. We must be true allies; whenever one is weak, then is the
time for the other to be strong. I have been weaker than you, to my
shame be it said; but this is my hour of strength. A light from
heaven shows me my path. I am full of passion, but like you I have
honor. You are Raynal's wife, and--Raynal saved my life."
"Ah! is it possible? When? where? may Heaven bless him for it!"
"Ask HIM; and say I told you of it--I have not strength to tell it
you, but I will go to-night."
Then Josephine, who had resisted till all her strength was gone,
whispered with a blush that it was too late to get a conveyance.
"I need none to carry my sword, my epaulets, and my love for you. I
shall go on foot."
Josephine said nothing, but she began to walk slower and slower.
And so the unfortunate pair came along creeping slowly with drooping
heads towards the gate of the Pleasaunce. There their last walk in
this world must end. Many a man and woman have gone to the scaffold
with hearts less heavy and more hopeful than theirs.
"Dry your eyes, Josephine," said Camille with a deep sigh. "They
are all out on the Pleasaunce."
"No, I will not dry my eyes," cried Josephine, almost violently. "I
care for nothing now."
The baroness, the doctor, and Rose, were all in the Pleasaunce: and
as the pair came in, lo! every eye was bent on Josephine.
She felt this, and her eyes sought the ground: benumbed as she was
with despondency, she began now to dread some fresh stroke or other.
Camille felt doubly guilty and confused. How they all look at us,
he thought. Do they know what a villain I have been? He determined
to slip away, and pack up, and begone. However, nobody took any
notice of him. The baroness drew Josephine apart. And Rose
followed her mother and sister with eyes bent on the ground.
There was a strange solemnity about them all.
Aubertin remained behind. But even he took no notice of Camille,
but walked up and down with his hands behind him, and a sad and
troubled face. Camille felt his utter desolation. He was nothing
to any of them. He resolved to go at once, and charge Aubertin with
his last adieus to the family. It was a wise and manly resolve. He
stopped Aubertin in the middle of his walk, and said in a faint
voice of the deepest dejection,--
"Doctor, the time is come that I must once more thank you for all
your goodness to me, and bid you all farewell."
"What, going before your strength is re-established?" said the
doctor politely, but not warmly.
"I am out of all danger, thanks to your skill."
"Colonel, at another time I should insist upon your staying a day or
two longer; but now I think it would be unadvisable to press you to
stay. Ah, colonel, you came to a happy house, but you leave a sad
one. Poor Madame Raynal!"
"You saw the baroness draw her aside."
"By this time she knows it."
"In Heaven's name what do you mean?" asked Camille.
"I forgot; you are not aware of the calamity that has fallen upon
our beloved Josephine; on the darling of the house."
Camille turned cold with vague apprehension. But he contrived to
stammer out, "No; tell me! for Heaven's sake tell me."
The doctor thus pressed revealed all in a very few words. "My poor
friend," said he solemnly, "her husband--is dead."
The baroness, as I have said, drew Josephine aside, and tried to
break to her the sad news: but her own grief overcame her, and
bursting into tears she bewailed the loss of her son. Josephine was
greatly shocked. Death!--Raynal dead--her true, kind friend dead--
her benefactor dead. She clung to her mother's neck, and sobbed
with her. Presently she withdrew her face and suddenly hid it in
both her hands.
She rose and kissed her mother once more: and went to her own room:
and then, though there was none to see her, she hid her wet, but
burning, cheeks in her hands.
Josephine confined herself for some days to her own room, leaving it
only to go to the chapel in the park, where she spent hours in
prayers for the dead and in self-humiliation. Her "tender
conscience" accused herself bitterly for not having loved this
gallant spirit more than she had.
Camille realized nothing at first; he looked all confused in the
doctor's face, and was silent. Then after awhile he said, "Dead?
"Killed in action."
A red flush came to Camille's face, and his eyes went down to the
ground at his very feet, nor did he once raise them while the doctor
told him how the sad news had come. "Picard the notary brought us
the Moniteur, and there was Commandant Raynal among the killed in a
cavalry skirmish." With this, he took the journal from his pocket,
and Camille read it, with awe-struck, and other feelings he would
have been sorry to see analyzed. He said not a word; and lowered
his eyes to the ground.
"And now," said Aubertin, "you will excuse me. I must go to my poor
friend the baroness. She had a mother's love for him who is no
more: well she might."
Aubertin went away, and left Dujardin standing there like a statue,
his eyes still glued to the ground at his feet.
The doctor was no sooner out of sight, than Camille raised his eyes
furtively, like a guilty person, and looked irresolutely this way
and that: at last he turned and went back to the place where he had
meditated suicide and murder; looked down at it a long while, then
looked up to heaven--then fell suddenly on his knees: and so
remained till night-fall. Then he came back to the chateau.
He whispered to himself, "And I am afraid it is too late to go away
to-night." He went softly into the saloon. Nobody was there but
Rose and Aubertin. At sight of him Rose got up and left the room.
But I suppose she went to Josephine; for she returned in a few
minutes, and rang the bell, and ordered some supper to be brought up
for Colonel Dujardin.
"You have not dined, I hear," said she, very coldly.
"I was afraid you were gone altogether," said the doctor: then
turning to Rose, "He told me he was going this evening. You had
better stay quiet another day or two," added he, kindly.
"Do you think so?" said Camille, timidly.
He stayed upon these terms. And now he began to examine himself.
"Did I wish him dead? I hope I never formed such a thought! I
don't remember ever wishing him dead." And he went twice a day to
that place by the stream, and thought very solemnly what a terrible
thing ungoverned passion is; and repented--not eloquently, but
But soon his impatient spirit began to torment itself again. Why
did Josephine shun him now? Ah! she loved Raynal now that he was
dead. Women love the thing they have lost; so he had heard say. In
that case, the very sight of him would of course be odious to her:
he could understand that. The absolute, unreasoning faith he once
had in her had been so rudely shaken by her marriage with Raynal,
that now he could only believe just so much as he saw, and he saw
that she shunned him.
He became moody, sad, and disconsolate: and as Josephine shunned
him, so he avoided all the others, and wandered for hours by
himself, perplexed and miserable. After awhile, he became conscious
that he was under a sort of surveillance. Rose de Beaurepaire, who
had been so kind to him when he was confined to his own room, but
had taken little notice of him since he came down, now resumed her
care of him, and evidently made it her business to keep up his
heart. She used to meet him out walking in a mysterious way, and in
short, be always falling in with him and trying to cheer him up:
with tolerable success.
Such was the state of affairs when the party was swelled and matters
complicated by the arrival of one we have lost sight of.
Edouard Riviere retarded his cure by an impatient spirit: but he got
well at last, and his uncle drove him in the cabriolet to his own
quarters. The news of the house had been told him by letter, but,
of course, in so vague and general a way that, thinking he knew all,
in reality he knew nothing.
Josephine had married Raynal. The marriage was sudden, but no doubt
there was an attachment: he had some reason to believe in sudden
attachments. Colonel Dujardin, an old acquaintance, had come back
to France wounded, and the good doctor had undertaken his cure: this
incident appeared neither strange nor any way important. What
affected him most deeply was the death of Raynal, his personal
friend and patron. But when his tyrants, as he called the surgeon
and his uncle, gave him leave to go home, all feelings were
overpowered by his great joy at the prospect of seeing Rose. He
walked over to Beaurepaire, his arm in a sling, his heart beating.
He was coming to receive the reward of all he had done, and all he
had attempted. "I will surprise them," thought he. "I will see her
face when I come in at the door: oh, happy hour! this pays for all."
He entered the house without announcing himself; he went softly up
to the saloon; to his great disappointment he found no one but the
baroness: she received him kindly, but not with the warmth he
expected. She was absorbed in her new grief. He asked timidly
after her daughters. "Madame Raynal bears up, for the sake of
others. You will not, however, see her: she keeps her room. My
daughter Rose is taking a walk, I believe." After some polite
inquiries, and sympathy with his accident, the baroness retired to
indulge her grief, and Edouard thus liberated ran in search of his
He met her at the gate of the Pleasaunce, but not alone. She was
walking with an officer, a handsome, commanding, haughty, brilliant
officer. She was walking by his side, talking earnestly to him.
An arrow of ice shot through young Riviere; and then came a feeling
of death at his heart, a new symptom in his young life.
The next moment Rose caught sight of him. She flushed all over and
uttered a little exclamation, and she bounded towards him like a
little antelope, and put out both her hands at once. He could only
give her one.
"Ah!" she cried with an accent of heavenly pity, and took his hand
with both hers.
This was like the meridian sun coming suddenly on a cold place. He
was all happiness.
When Josephine heard he was come her eye flashed, and she said
quickly, "I will come down to welcome him--dear Edouard!"
The sisters looked at one another. Josephine blushed. Rose smiled
and kissed her. She colored higher still, and said, "No, she was
ashamed to go down."
"Look at my face."
"I see nothing wrong with it, except that it eclipses other
people's, and I have long forgiven you that."
"Oh, yes, dear Rose: look what a color it has, and a fortnight ago
it was pale as ashes."
"Never mind; do you expect me to regret that?"
"Rose, I am a very bad woman."
"Are you, dear? then hook this for me."
"Yes, love. But I sometimes think you would forgive me if you knew
how hard I pray to be better. Rose, I do try so to be as unhappy as
I ought; but I can't, I can't. My cold heart seems as dead to
unhappiness as once it was to happiness. Am I a heartless woman
"Not altogether," said Rose dryly. "Fasten my collar, dear, and
don't torment yourself. You have suffered much and nobly. It was
Heaven's will: you bowed to it. It was not Heaven's will that you
should be blighted altogether. Bow in this, too, to Heaven's will:
take things as they come, and do cease to try and reconcile feelings
that are too opposite to live together."
"Ah! these are such comfortable words, Rose; but mamma will see this
dreadful color in my cheek, and what can I say to her?"
"Ten to one it will not be observed; and if it should, I will say it
is the excitement of seeing Edouard. Leave all to me."
Josephine greeted Edouard most affectionately, drew from him his
whole history, and petted him and sympathized with him deliciously,
and made him the hero of the evening. Camille, who was not
naturally of a jealous temper, bore this very well at first, but at
last he looked so bitter at her neglect of him, that Rose took him
aside to soothe him. Edouard, missing the auditor he most valued,
and seeing her in secret conference with the brilliant colonel, felt
a return of the jealous pangs that had seized him at first sight of
the man; and so they played at cross purposes.
At another period of the evening the conversation became more
general; and Edouard took a dislike to Colonel Dujardin. A young
man of twenty-eight nearly always looks on a boy of twenty-one with
the air of a superior, and this assumption, not being an ill-natured
one, is apt to be so easy and so undefined that the younger hardly
knows how to resent or to resist it. But Edouard was a little vain
as we know; and the Colonel jarred him terribly. His quick haughty
eye jarred him. His regimentals jarred him: they fitted like a
glove. His mustache and his manner jarred him, and, worst of all,
his cool familiarity with Rose, who seemed to court him rather than
be courted by him. He put this act of Rose's to the colonel's
account, according to the custom of lovers, and revenged himself in
a small way by telling Josephine in her ear "that the colonel
produced on his mind the effect of an intolerable puppy."
Josephine colored up and looked at him with a momentary surprise.
She said quietly, "Military men do give themselves some airs, but he
is very amiable at bottom. You must make a better acquaintance with
him, and then he will reveal to you his nobler qualities."--"Oh! I
have no particular desire," sneered unlucky Edouard. Sweet as
Josephine was, this was too much for her: she said nothing; but she
quietly turned Edouard over to Aubertin, and joined Rose, and under
cover of her had a sweet timid chat with her falsely accused.
This occupied the two so entirely that Edouard was neglected. This
hurt his foible, and seemed to be so unkind on the very first day of
his return that he made his adieus to the baroness, and marched off
in dudgeon unobserved.
Rose missed him first, but said nothing.
When Josephine saw he was gone, she uttered a little exclamation,
and looked at Rose. Rose put on a mien of haughty indifference, but
the water was in her eyes.
Josephine looked sorrowful.
When they talked over everything together at night, she reproached
herself. "We behaved ill to poor Edouard: we neglected him."
"He is a little cross, ill-tempered fellow," said Rose pettishly.
"Oh, no! no!"
"And as vain as a peacock."
"Has he not some right to be vain in this house?"
"Yes,--no. I am very angry with him. I won't hear a word in his
favor," said Rose pouting: then she gave his defender a kiss. "Yes,
dear," said Josephine, answering the kiss, and ignoring the words,
"he is a dear; and he is not cross, nor so very vain, poor boy! now
don't you see what it was?"
"Yes, you do, you little cunning thing: you are too shrewd not to
"No, indeed, Josephine; do tell me, don't keep me waiting: I can't
"Well, then--jealous! A little."
"Jealous? Oh, what fun! Of Camille? Ha! ha! Little goose!"
"And," said Josephine very seriously, "I almost think he would be
jealous of any one that occupied your attention. I watched him more
or less all the evening."
"All the better. I'll torment my lord."
"Heaven forbid you should be so cruel."
"Oh! I will not make him unhappy, but I'll tease him a little; it is
not in nature to abstain."
This foible detected in her lover, Rose was very gay at the prospect
of amusement it afforded her.
And I think I have many readers who at this moment are awaiting
unmixed enjoyment and hilarity from the same source.
I wish them joy of their prospect.
Edouard called the next day: he wore a gloomy air. Rose met this
with a particularly cheerful one; on this, Edouard's face cleared
up, and he was himself again; agreeable as this was, Rose felt a
little disappointed. "I am afraid he is not very jealous after
all," thought she.
Josephine left her room this day and mingled once more with the
family. The bare sight of her was enough for Camille at first, but
after awhile he wanted more. He wanted to be often alone with her;
but several causes co-operated to make her shy of giving him many
such opportunities: first, her natural delicacy, coupled with her
habit of self-denial; then her fear of shocking her mother, and
lastly her fear of her own heart, and of Camille, whose power over
her she knew. For Camille, when he did get a sweet word alone with
her, seemed to forget everything except that she was his betrothed,
and that he had come back alive to marry her. He spoke to her of
his love with an ardor and an urgency that made her thrill with
happiness, but at the same time shrink with a certain fear and self-
reproach. Possessed with a feeling no stronger than hers, but
single, he did not comprehend the tumult, the trouble, the daily
contest in her heart. The wind seemed to him to be always changing,
and hot and cold the same hour. Since he did not even see that she
was acting in hourly fear of her mother's eye, he was little likely
to penetrate her more hidden sentiments; and then he had not touched
Women are self-denying and uncandid. Men are self-indulgent and
And this is the key to a thousand double misunderstandings; for
believe me, good women are just as stupid in misunderstanding men as
honest men are in misunderstanding women.
To Camille, Josephine's fluctuations, joys, tremors, love, terror,
modesty, seemed one grand total, caprice. The component parts of it
he saw not; and her caprice tortured him almost to madness. Too
penitent to give way again to violent passion, he gently fretted.
His health retrograded and his temper began to sour. The eye of
timid love that watched him with maternal anxiety from under its
long lashes saw this with dismay, and Rose, who looked into her
sister's bosom, devoted herself once more to soothe him without
compromising Josephine's delicacy. Matters were not so bad but what
a fine sprightly girl like Rose could cheer up a dejected but manly
colonel; and Rose was generally successful.
But then, unfortunately, this led to a fresh mystification.
Riviere's natural jealousy revived, and found constant food in the
attention Rose paid Camille, a brilliant colonel living in the house
while he, poor wretch, lived in lodgings. The false position of all
the parties brought about some singular turns. I give from their
number one that forms a link, though a small one, in my narrative.
One day Edouard came to tell Rose she was making him unhappy; he had
her alone in the Pleasaunce; she received him with a radiant smile,
and they had a charming talk,--a talk all about HIM: what the family
owed him, etc.
On this, his late jealousy and sense of injury seemed a thing of
three years ago, and never to return. So hard it is for the loving
heart to resist its sun.
Jacintha came with a message from the colonel: "Would it be
agreeable to Mademoiselle Rose to walk with him at the usual hour?"
"Certainly," said Rose.
As Jacintha was retiring Edouard called to her to stop a minute.
Then, turning to Rose, he begged her very ceremoniously to
reconsider that determination.
"To sacrifice me to this Colonel Dujardin." Still politely, only a
Rose opened her eyes. "Are you mad?" inquired she with quiet
"Neither mad nor a fool," was the reply. "I love you too well to
share your regard with any one, upon any terms; least of all upon
these, that there is to be a man in the world at whose beck and call
you are to be, and at whose orders you are to break off an interview
with me. Perdition!"
"Dear Edouard, what folly! Can you suspect me of discourtesy, as
well as of--I know not what. Colonel Dujardin will join us, that is
all, and we shall take a little walk with him."
"Not I. I decline the intrusion; you are engaged with me, and I
have things to say to you that are not fit for that puppy to hear.
So choose between me and him, and choose forever."
Rose colored. "I should be very sorry to choose either of you
forever; but for this afternoon I choose you."
"Oh, thank you--my whole life shall prove my gratitude for this
Rose beckoned Jacintha, and sent her with an excuse to Colonel
Dujardin. She then turned with an air of mock submission to
Edouard. "I am at monsieur's ORDERS."
Then this unhappy novice, being naturally good-natured, thanked her
again and again for her condescension in setting his heart at rest.
He proposed a walk, since his interference had lost her one. She
yielded a cold assent. This vexed him, but he took it for granted
it would wear off before the end of the walk. Edouard's heart
bounded, but he loved her too sincerely to be happy unless he could
see her happy too; the malicious thing saw this, or perhaps knew it
by instinct, and by means of this good feeling of his she revenged
herself for his tyranny. She tortured him as only a woman can
torture, and as even she can torture only a worthy man, and one who
loves her. In the course of that short walk this inexperienced
girl, strong in the instincts and inborn arts of her sex, drove pins
and needles, needles and pins, of all sorts and sizes, through her
She was everything by turns, except kind, and nothing for long
together. She was peevish, she was ostentatiously patient and
submissive, she was inattentive to her companion and seemingly
wrapped up in contemplation of absent things and persons, the
colonel to wit; she was dogged, repulsive, and cold; and she never
was herself a single moment. They returned to the gate of the
Pleasaunce. "Well, mademoiselle," said Riviere very sadly, "that
interloper might as well have been with us."
"Of course he might, and you would have lost nothing by permitting
me to be courteous to a guest and an invalid. If you had not played
the tyrant, and taken the matter into your own hands, I should have
found means to soothe your jeal--I mean your vanity; but you
preferred to have your own way. Well, you have had it."
"Yes, mademoiselle, you have given me a lesson; you have shown me
how idle it is to attempt to force a young lady's inclinations in
He bade her good-day, and went away sorrowful.
She cut Camille dead for the rest of the day.
Next morning, early, Edouard called expressly to see her.
"Mademoiselle Rose," said he, humbly, "I called to apologize for the
ungentlemanly tone of my remonstrances yesterday."
"Fiddle-dee," said Rose. "Don't do it again; that is the best
"I am not likely to offend so again," said he sadly. "I am going
away. I am sorry to say I am promoted; my new post is ten leagues.
HE WILL HAVE IT ALL HIS OWN WAY NOW. But perhaps it is best. Were
I to stay here, I foresee you would soon lose whatever friendly
feeling you have for me."
"Am I so changeable? I am not considered so," remonstrated Rose,
Riviere explained; "I am not vain," said he, with that self-
knowledge which is so general an attribute of human beings; "no man
less so, nor am I jealous; but I respect myself, and I could never
be content to share your time and your regard with Colonel Dujardin,
nor with a much better man. See now; he has made me arrogant. Was
I ever so before?"
"No! no! no! and I forgive you now, my poor Edouard."
"He has made you cold as ice to me."
"No! that was my own wickedness and spitefulness."
"Wickedness, spitefulness! they are not in your nature. It is all
that wretch's doing."
Rose sighed, but she said nothing; for she saw that to excuse
Camille would only make the jealous one more bitter against him.
"Will you deign to write to me at my new post? once a month? in
answer to my letters?"
"Yes, dear. But you will ride over sometimes to see us."
"Oh, yes; but for some little time I shall not be able. The duties
of a new post."
"Perhaps in a month--a fortnight?"
"Sooner perhaps; the moment I hear that man is out of the house."
Edouard went away, dogged and sad; Rose shut herself up in her
room and had a good cry. In the afternoon Josephine came and
remonstrated with her. "You have not walked with him at all to-day."
"No; you must pet him yourself for once. I hate the sight of him;
it has made mischief between Edouard and me, my being so attentive
to him. Edouard is jealous, and I cannot wonder. After all, what
right have I to mystify him who honors me with his affection?"
Then, being pressed with questions by Josephine, she related to her
all that had passed between Edouard and her, word for word.
"Poor Camille!" sighed Josephine the just.
"Oh, dear, yes! poor Camille! who has the power to make us all
miserable, and who does it, and will go on doing it until he is
"Ah! would to Heaven I could make him as happy as he deserves to
"You could easily make him much happier than that. And why not do
"O Rose," said Josephine, shocked, "how can you advise me so?"
She then asked her if she thought it possible that Camille could be
ignorant of her heart.
"Josephine," replied Rose, angrily, "these men are absurd: they
believe only what they see. I have done what I can for you and
Camille, but it is useless. Would you have him believe you love
him, you must yourself be kind to him; and it would be a charitable
action: you would make four unhappy people happy, or, at least, put
them on the road; NOW they are off the road, and, by what I have
seen to-day, I think, if we go on so much longer, it will be too
late to try to return. Come, Josephine, for my sake! Let me go and
tell him you will consent--to all our happinesses. There, the crime
is mine." And she ran off in spite of Josephine's faint and
hypocritical entreaties. She returns the next minute looking all
aghast. "It is too late," said she. "He is going away. I am sure
he is, for he is packing up his things to go. I spied through the
old place and saw him. He was sighing like a furnace as he strapped
his portmanteau. I hate him, of course, but I was sorry for him. I
could not help being. He sighed so all the time, piteously."
Josephine turned pale, and lifted her hands in surprise and dismay.
"Depend on it, Josephine, we are wrong," said Rose, firmly: "these
wretches will not stand our nonsense above a certain time: they are
not such fools. We are mismanaging: one gone, the other going; both
losing faith in us."
Josephine's color returned to her cheek, and then mounted high.
Presently she smiled, a smile full of conscious power and furtive
complacency, and said quietly, "He will not go."
Rose was pleased, but not surprised, to hear her sister speak so
confidently, for she knew her power over Camille. "That is right,"
said she, "go to him, and say two honest words: 'I bid you stay.'"
"O Rose! no!"
"Poltroon! You know he would go down on his knees, and stay
"No: I should blush all my life before you and him. I COULD not. I
should let him go sooner, almost. Oh, no! I will never ask a man
to stay who wishes to leave me. But just you go to him, and say
Madame Raynal is going to take a little walk: will he do her the
honor to be her companion? Not a word more, if you love me."
"I'll go. Hypocrite!"
Josephine received Camille with a bright smile. She seemed in
unusually good spirits, and overflowing with kindness and innocent
affection. On this his high gloomy brow relaxed, and all his
prospects brightened as by magic. Then she communicated to him a
number of little plans for next week and the week after. Among the
rest he was to go with her and Rose to Frejus. "Such a sweet place:
I want to show it you. You will come?"
He hesitated a single moment: a moment of intense anxiety to the
"Yes! he would come: it was a great temptation, he saw so little of
"Well, you will see more of me now."
"Shall I see you every day--alone, I mean?"
"Oh, yes, if you wish it," replied Josephine, in an off-hand,
He seized her hand and devoured it with kisses. "Foolish thing!"
murmured she, looking down on him with ineffable tenderness.
"Should I not be always with you if I consulted my inclination?--let
"No! consult your inclination a little longer."
"Yes; that shall be your punishment."
"For what? What have I done?" asked she with an air of great
"You have made me happy, me who adore you," was the evasive reply.
Josephine came in from her walk with a high color and beaming eyes,
and screamed, "Run, Rose!"
On this concise, and to us not very clear instruction, Rose slipped
up the secret stair. She saw Camille come in and gravely unpack his
little portmanteau, and dispose his things in the drawers with
soldier-like neatness, and hum an agreeable march. She came and
"Ah!" said Josephine with a little sigh of pleasure, and a gentle
triumph in her eyes.
She had not only got her desire, but had arrived at it her way,--
woman's way, round about.
This adroit benevolence led to more than she bargained for. She and
Camille were now together every day: and their hearts, being under
restraint in public, melted together all the more in their stolen
At the third delicious interview the modest Camille begged Josephine
to be his wife directly.
Have you noticed those half tame deer that come up to you in a park
so lovingly, with great tender eyes, and, being now almost within
reach, stop short, and with bodies fixed like statues on pedestals,
crane out their graceful necks for sugar, or bread, or a chestnut,
or a pocket-handkerchief? Do but offer to put your hand upon them,
away they bound that moment twenty yards, and then stand quite
still, and look at your hand and you, with great inquiring,
suspicious, tender eyes.
So Josephine started at Camille's audacious proposal. "Never
mention such a thing to me again: or--or, I will not walk with you
any more:" then she thrilled with pleasure at the obnoxious idea,
"she Camille's wife!" and colored all over--with rage, Camille
thought. He promised submissively not to renew the topic: no more
he did till next day. Josephine had spent nearly the whole interval
in thinking of it; so she was prepared to put him down by calm
reasons. She proceeded to do so, gently, but firmly.
Lo and behold! what does he do, but meets her with just as many
reasons, and just as calm ones: and urges them gently, but firmly.
Heaven had been very kind to them: why should they be unkind to
themselves? They had had a great escape: why not accept the
happiness, as, being persons of honor, they had accepted the misery?
with many other arguments, differing in other things, but agreeing
in this, that they were all sober, grave, and full of common-sense.
Finding him not defenceless on the score of reason, she shifted her
ground and appealed to his delicacy. On this he appealed to her
love, and then calm reason was jostled off the field, and passion
and sentiment battled in her place.
In these contests day by day renewed, Camille had many advantages.
Rose, though she did not like him, had now declared on his side.
She refused to show him the least attention. This threw him on
Josephine: and when Josephine begged her to help reduce Camille to
reason, her answer would be,--
"Hypocrite!" with a kiss: or else she would say, with a half comic
petulance, "No! no! I am on his side. Give him his own way, or he
will make us all four miserable."
Thus Josephine's ally went over to the enemy.
And then this coy young lady's very power of resistance began to
give way. She had now battled for months against her own heart:
first for her mother; then, in a far more terrible conflict for
Raynal, for honor and purity; and of late she had been battling,
still against her own heart, for delicacy, for etiquette, things
very dear to her, but not so great, holy, and sustaining as honor
and charity that were her very household gods: and so, just when the
motives of resistance were lowered, the length of the resistance
began to wear her out.
For nothing is so hard to her sex as a long steady struggle. In
matters physical, this is the thing the muscles of the fair cannot
stand; in matters intellectual and moral, the long strain it is that
beats them dead.
Do not look for a Bacona, a Newtona, a Handella, a Victoria Huga.
Some American ladies tell us education has stopped the growth of
No! mesdames. These are not in nature.
They can bubble letters in ten minutes that you could no more
deliver to order in ten days than a river can play like a fountain.
They can sparkle gems of stories: they can flash little diamonds of
poems. The entire sex has never produced one opera nor one epic
that mankind could tolerate: and why? these come by long, high-
strung labor. But, weak as they are in the long run of everything
but the affections (and there giants), they are all overpowering
while their gallop lasts. Fragilla shall dance any two of you flat
on the floor before four o'clock, and then dance on till the peep of
Only you trundle off to your business as usual, and could dance
again the next night, and so on through countless ages.
She who danced you into nothing is in bed, a human jelly tipped with
What did Josephine say to Rose one day? "I am tired of saying 'No!
no! no! no! no!' forever and ever to him I love."
But this was not all. She was not free from self-reproach.
Camille's faith in her had stood firm. Hers in him had not. She
had wronged him, first by believing him false, then by marrying
another. One day she asked his pardon for this. He replied that he
had forgiven that; but would she be good enough to make him forget
"I wish I could."
"You can. Marry me: then your relation to that man will seem but a
hideous dream. I shall be able to say, looking at you, my wife, 'I
was faithful: I suffered something for her; I came home: she loved
me still; the proof is, she was my wife within three months of my
When he said that to her in the Pleasaunce, if there had been a
priest at hand--. In a word, Josephine longed to show him her love,
yet wished not to shock her mother, nor offend her own sense of
delicacy; but Camille cared for nothing but his love. To sacrifice
love and happiness, even for a time, to etiquette, seemed to him to
be trifling with the substance of great things for the shadow of
petty things; and he said so: sometimes sadly, sometimes almost
So Josephine was a beleagured fortress, attacked with one will, and
defended by troops, one-third of which were hot on the side of the
When singleness attacks division, you know the result beforehand.
Why then should I spin words? I will not trace so ill-matched a
contest step by step, sentence by sentence: let me rather hasten to
relate the one peculiarity that arose out of this trite contest,
where, under the names of Camille and Josephine, the two great sexes
may be seen acting the whole world-wide distich,--
"It's a man's part to try,
And a woman's to deny [for a while?]."
Finding her own resolutions oozing away, Josephine caught at another
She said to Camille before Rose,--
"Even if I could bring myself to snatch at happiness in this
indelicate way--scarce a month after, oh!" And there ended the
lady's sentence. In the absence of a legitimate full stop, she put
one hand before her lovely face to hide it, and so no more. But
some two minutes after she delivered the rest in the form and with
the tone of a distinct remark, "No: my mother would never consent."
"Yes, she would if you could be brought to implore her as earnestly
as I implore you."
"Now would she?" asked Josephine, turning quickly to her sister.
"No, never. Our mother would look with horror on such a proposal.
A daughter of hers to marry within a twelvemonth of her widowhood!"
"There, you see, Camille."
"And, besides, she loved Raynal so; she has not forgotten him as we
"Ungrateful creature that I am!" sighed Josephine!
"She mourns for him every day. Often I see her eyes suddenly fill;
that is for him. Josephine's influence with mamma is very great: it
is double mine: but if we all went on our knees to her, the doctor
and all, she would never consent."
"There you see, Camille: and I could not defy my mother, even for
"I see everything is against me, even my love: for that love is too
much akin to veneration to propose to you a clandestine marriage."
"Oh, thank you! bless you for respecting as well as loving me, dear
Camille," said Josephine.
These words, uttered with gentle warmth, were some consolation to
Camille, and confirmed him, as they were intended to do, in the
above good resolution. He smiled.
"Maladroit!" muttered Rose.
"Why maladroit?" asked Camille, opening his eyes.
"Let us talk of something else," replied Rose, coolly.
Camille turned red. He understood that he had done something very
stupid, but he could not conceive what. He looked from one sister
to the other alternately. Rose was smiling ironically, Josephine
had her eyes bent demurely on a handkerchief she was embroidering.
That evening Camille drew Rose aside, and asked for an explanation
of her "maladroit."
"So it was," replied Rose, sharply.
But as this did not make the matter quite clear, Camille begged a
little further explanation.
"Was it your part to make difficulties?"
"Was it for you to tell her a secret marriage would not be delicate?
Do you think she will be behind you in delicacy? or that a love
without respect will satisfy her? yet you must go and tell her you
respected her too much to ask her to marry you secretly. In other
words, situated as she is, you asked her not to marry you at all:
she consented to that directly; what else could you expect?"
"Maladroit! indeed," said Camille, "but I would not have said it,
only I thought"--
"You thought nothing would induce her to marry secretly, so you said
to yourself, 'I will assume a virtue: I will do a bit of cheap self-
denial: decline to the sound of trumpets what another will be sure
to deny me if I don't--ha! ha!'--well, for your comfort, I am by no
means so sure she might not have been brought to do ANYTHING for
you, except openly defy mamma: but now of course"--
And here this young lady's sentence ended: for the sisters, unlike
in most things, were one in grammar.
Camille was so disconcerted and sad at what he had done, that Rose
began to pity him: so she rallied him a little longer in spite of
her pity: and then all of a sudden gave him her hand, and said she
would try and repair the mischief.
He began to smother her hand with kisses.
"Oh!" said she, "I don't deserve all that: I have a motive of my
own; let me alone, child, do. Your unlucky speech will be quoted to
me a dozen times. Never mind."
Rose went and bribed Josephine to consent.
"Come, mamma shall not know, and as for you, you shall scarcely move
in the matter; only do not oppose me very violently, and all will be
"Ah, Rose!" said Josephine; "it is delightful--terrible, I mean--to
have a little creature about one that reads one like this. What
shall I do? What shall I do?"
"Why, do the best you can under all the circumstances. His wound is
healed, you know; he must go back to the army; you have both
suffered to the limits of mortal endurance. Is he to go away
unhappy, in any doubt of your affection? and you to remain behind
with the misery of self-reproach added to the desolation of
"It is cruel. But to deceive my mother!"
"Do not say deceive our mother; that is such a shocking phrase."
Rose then reminded Josephine that their confessor had told them a
wise reticence was not the same thing as a moral deceit. She
reminded her, too, how often they had acted on his advice and always
with good effect; how many anxieties and worries they had saved
their mother by reticence. Josephine assented warmly to this.
Was there not some reason to think they had saved their mother's
very life by these reticences? Josephine assented. "And,
Josephine, you are of age; you are your own mistress; you have a
right to marry whom you please: and, sooner or later, you will
certainly marry Camille. I doubt whether even our mother could
prevail on you to refuse him altogether. So it is but a question of
time, and of giving our mother pain, or sparing her pain. Dear
mamma is old; she is prejudiced. Why shock her prejudices? She
could not be brought to understand the case: these things never
happened in her day. Everything seems to have gone by rule then.
Let us do nothing to worry her for the short time she has to live.
Let us take a course between pain to her and cruelty to you and
These arguments went far to convince Josephine: for her own heart
supported them. She went from her solid objections to untenable
ones--a great point gained. She urged the difficulty, the
impossibility of a secret marriage.
Camille burst in here: he undertook at once to overcome these
imaginary difficulties. "They could be married at a distance."
"You will find no priest who will consent to do such a wicked thing
as marry us without my mother's knowledge," objected Josephine.
"Oh! as to that," said Rose, "you know the mayor marries people
"I will not be married again without a priest," said Josephine,
"Nor I," said Camille. "I know a mayor who will do the civil forms
for me, and a priest who will marry me in the sight of Heaven, and
both will keep it secret for love of me till it shall please
Josephine to throw off this disguise."
"Who is the priest?" inquired Josephine, keenly.
"An old cure: he lives near Frejus: he was my tutor, and the mayor
is the mayor of Frejus, also an old friend of mine."
"But what on earth will you say to them?"
"That is my affair: I must give them some reasons which compel me to
keep my marriage secret. Oh! I shall have to tell them some fibs,
"There, I thought so! I will not have you telling fibs; it lowers
"Of course it does; but you can't have secrecy without a fib or
"Fibs that will injure no one," said Rose, majestically.
From this day Camille began to act as well as to talk. He bought a
light caleche and a powerful horse, and elected factotum Dard his
groom. Camille rode over to Frejus and told a made-up story to the
old cure and the mayor, and these his old friends believed every
word he said, and readily promised their services and strict
He told the young ladies what he had done.
Rose approved. Josephine shook her head, and seeing matters going
as her heart desired and her conscience did not quite approve, she
suddenly affected to be next to nobody in the business--to be
resigned, passive, and disposed of to her surprise by Queen Rose and
King Camille, without herself taking any actual part in their
At last the great day arrived on which Camille and Josephine were to
be married at Frejus.
The mayor awaited them at eleven o'clock. The cure at twelve. The
family had been duly prepared for this excursion by several smaller
Rose announced their intention over night; a part of it.
"Mamma," said she, blushing a little, "Colonel Dujardin is good
enough to take us to Frejus tomorrow. It is a long way, and we must
breakfast early or we shall not be back to dinner."
"Do so, my child. I hope you will have a fine day: and mind you
take plenty of wraps with you in case of a shower."
At seven o'clock the next morning Camille and the two ladies took a
hasty cup of coffee together instead of breakfast, and then Dard
brought the caleche round.
The ladies got in, and Camille had just taken the reins in his hand,
when Jacintha screamed to him from the hall, "Wait a moment,
colonel, wait a moment! The doctor! don't go without the doctor!"
And the next moment Dr. Aubertin appeared with his cloak on his arm,
and, saluting the ladies politely, seated himself quietly in the
vehicle before the party had recovered their surprise.
The ladies managed to keep their countenances, but Dujardin's
discomfiture was evident.
He looked piteously at Josephine, and then asked Aubertin if they
were to set him down anywhere in particular.
"Oh, no; I am going with you to Frejus," was the quiet reply.