Part 6 out of 8
glad to see you, that is all?" La Croix marched towards the pair.
"What are you skulking here for, recruit ninety-nine?" said he,
sternly, dropping the boon-companion in the sergeant; "the rest are
on the road."
"The rest, old fellow! what do you mean? why, I was not drawn."
"Yes, you were."
"No, I wasn't."
"Thunder of war, but I say you were. Yours was the last number."
"That is an unlucky guess of yours, for I saw the last number. Look
here," and he fumbled in his pocket, and produced his number.
La Croix instantly fished out a corresponding number.
"Well, and here you are; this was the last number drawn."
Dard burst out laughing.
"You goose!" said he, "that is sixty-six--look at it."
"Sixty-six!" roared the sergeant; "no more than yours is--they are
both sixty-sixes when you play tricks with them, and turn them up
like that; but they are both ninety-nines when you look at them
Dard scratched his head.
"Come," said the corporal, briskly, "make up his bundle, girl, and
let us be off; we have got our marching orders; going to the Rhine."
"And do you think that I will let him go?" screamed Jacintha. "No!
I will say one word to Madame Raynal, and she will buy him a
Dard stopped her sullenly. "No! I have told all in the village that
I would go the first chance: it is come, and I'll go. I won't stay
to be laughed at about this too. If I was sure to be cut in pieces,
I'd go. Give over blubbering, girl, and get us a bottle of the best
wine, and while we are drinking it, the sergeant and I, you make up
my bundle. I shall never do any good here."
Jacintha knew the obstinate toad. She did as she was bid, and soon
the little bundle was ready, and the two men faced the wine; La
Croix, radiant and bellicose; Dard, crestfallen but dogged (for
there was a little bit of good stuff at the bottom of the creature);
and Jacintha rocking herself, with her apron over her head.
"I'll give you a toast," said La Croix. "Here's gunpowder."
Jacintha promptly honored the toast with a flood of tears.
"Drop that, Jacintha," said Dard, angrily; "do you think that is
encouraging? Sergeant, I told this poor girl all about glory before
you came, but she was not ripe for it: say something to cheer her
up, for I can't."
"I can," cried this trumpet of battle, emptying its glass.
"Attention, young woman."
"Oh, dear! oh, dear! yes, sir."
"A French soldier is a man who carries France in his heart"--
"But if the cruel foreign soldiers kill him? Oh!"
"Why, in that case, he does not care a straw. Every man must die;
horses likewise, and dogs, and donkeys, when they come to the end of
their troubles; but dogs and donkeys and chaps in blouses can't die
gloriously; as Dard may, if he has any luck at all: so, from this
hour, if there was twice as little of him, be proud of him, for from
this time he is a part of France and her renown. Come, recruit
ninety-nine, shoulder your traps at duty's call, and let us go forth
in form. Attention! Quick--march! Halt! is that the way I showed
you to march? Didn't I tell you to start from the left? Now try
again. QUICK--march! left--right--left--right--left--right--NOW
you've--GOT it--DRAT ye,--KEEP it--left--right--left--right--left--
right." And with no more ado the sergeant marched the little odd-
job man to the wars.
VIVE LA FRANCE!
Edouard, the moment his temper cooled, became very sad. He longed
to be friends again with Rose, but did not know how. His own pride
held him back, and so did his fear that he had gone too far, and
that his offended mistress would not listen to an offer of
reconciliation from him. He sat down alone now to all his little
meals. No sweet, mellow voices in his ear after the fatigues of the
day. It was a dismal change in his life.
At last, one day, he received three lines from Josephine, requesting
him to come and speak to her. He went over directly, full of vague
hopes. He found her seated pale and languid in a small room on the
"What has she been doing to you, dear?" began she kindly.
"Has she not told you, Madame Raynal?"
"No; she is refractory. She will tell me nothing, and that makes me
fear she is the one in fault."
"Oh! if she does not accuse me, I am sure I will not accuse her. I
dare say I am to blame; it is not her fault that I cannot make her
"But you can. She does."
"Yes; but she loves others better, and she holds me out no hope it
will ever be otherwise. On this one point how can I hope for your
sympathy; unfortunately for me you are one of my rivals. She told
me plainly she never could love me as she loves you."
"And you believed her?"
"I had good reason to believe her."
Josephine smiled sadly. "Dear Edouard," said she, "you must not
attach so much importance to every word we say. Does Rose at her
age know everything? Is she a prophet? Perhaps she really fancies
she will always love her sister as she does now; but you are a man
of sense; you ought to smile and let her talk. When you marry her
you will take her to your own house; she will only see me now and
then; she will have you and your affection always present. Each day
some new tie between you and her. You two will share every joy,
every sorrow. Your children playing at your feet, and reflecting
the features of both parents, will make you one. Your hearts will
melt together in that blessed union which raises earth so near to
heaven; and then you will wonder you could ever be jealous of poor
Josephine, who must never hope--ah, me!"
Edouard, wrapped up in himself, mistook Josephine's emotion at the
picture she had drawn of conjugal love. He soothed her, and vowed
upon his honor he never would separate Rose from her.
"Madame Raynal," said he, "you are an angel, and I am a fiend.
Jealousy must be the meanest of all sentiments. I never will be
jealous again, above all, of you, sweet angel. Why, you are my
sister as well as hers, and she has a right to love you, for I love
"You make me very happy when you talk so," sighed Josephine. "Peace
"Never again to be broken. I will go and ask her pardon. What is
the matter now?"
For Jacintha was cackling very loud, and dismissing with ignominy
two beggars, male and female.
She was industry personified, and had no sympathy with mendicity.
In vain the couple protested, Heaven knows with what truth, that
they were not beggars, but mechanics out of work. "March! tramp!"
was Jacintha's least word. She added, giving the rein to her
imagination, "I'll loose the dog." The man moved away, the woman
turned appealingly to Edouard. He and Josephine came towards the
group. She had got a sort of large hood, and in that hood she
carried an infant on her shoulders. Josephine inspected it. "It
looks sickly, poor little thing," said she.
"What can you expect, young lady?" said the woman. "Its mother had
to rise and go about when she ought to have been in her bed, and now
she has not enough to give it."
"Oh, dear!" cried Josephine. "Jacintha, give them some food and a
nice bottle of wine."
"That I will," cried Jacintha, changing her tone with courtier-like
alacrity. "I did not see she was nursing."
Josephine put a franc into the infant's hand; the little fingers
closed on it with that instinct of appropriation, which is our first
and often our last sentiment. Josephine smiled lovingly on the
child, and the child seeing that gave a small crow.
"Bless it," said Josephine, and thereupon her lovely head reared
itself like a snake's, and then darted down on the child; and the
young noble kissed the beggar's brat as if she would eat it.
This won the mother's heart more than even the gifts.
"Blessings on you, my lady!" she cried. "I pray the Lord not to
forget this when a woman's trouble comes on you in your turn! It is
a small child, mademoiselle, but it is not an unhealthy one. See."
Inspection was offered, and eagerly accepted.
Edouard stood looking on at some distance in amazement, mingled with
"Ugh!" said he, when she rejoined him, "how could you kiss that
nasty little brat?"
"Dear Edouard, don't speak so of a poor little innocent. Who would
pity them if we women did not? It had lovely eyes."
"It is no compliment when you are affectionate to anybody; you
overflow with benevolence on all creation, like the rose which sheds
its perfume on the first-comer."
"If he is not going to be jealous of me next," whined Josephine.
She took him to Rose, and she said, "There, whenever good friends
quarrel, it is understood they were both in the wrong. Bygones are
to be bygones; and when your time comes round to quarrel again,
please consult me first, since it is me you will afflict." She left
them together, and went and tapped timidly at the doctor's study.
Aubertin received her with none of that reserve she had seen in him.
He appeared both surprised and pleased at her visit to his little
sanctum. He even showed an emotion Josephine was at a loss to
account for. But that wore off during the conversation, and,
indeed, gave place to a sort of coldness.
"Dear friend," said she, "I come to consult you about Rose and
Edouard." She then told him what had happened, and hinted at
Edouard's one fault. The doctor smiled. "It is curious. You have
come to draw my attention to a point on which it has been fixed for
some days past. I am preparing a cure for the two young fools; a
severe remedy, but in their case a sure one."
He then showed her a deed, wherein he had settled sixty thousand
francs on Rose and her children. "Edouard," said he, "has a good
place. He is active and rising, and with my sixty thousand francs,
and a little purse of ten thousand more for furniture and nonsense,
they can marry next week, if they like. Yes, marriage is a
sovereign medicine for both of these patients. She does not love
him quite enough. Cure: marriage. He loves her a little too much.
"Can't help it. I did not make men and women. We must take human
nature as we find it, and thank God for it on the whole. Have you
nothing else to confide to me?"
"Are you sure?"
"No, dear friend. But this is very near my heart," faltered
The doctor sighed; then said gently, "They shall be happy: as happy
as you wish them."
Meantime, in another room, a reconciliation scene was taking place,
and the mutual concessions of two impetuous but generous spirits.
The baroness noticed the change in Josephine's appearance.
She asked Rose what could be the matter.
"Some passing ailment," was the reply.
"Passing? She has been so, on and off, a long time. She makes me
Rose made light of it to her mother, but in her own heart she grew
more and more anxious day by day. She held secret conferences with
Jacintha; that sagacious personage had a plan to wake Josephine from
her deathly languor, and even soothe her nerves, and check those
pitiable fits of nervous irritation to which she had become subject.
Unfortunately, Jacintha's plan was so difficult and so dangerous,
that at first even the courageous Rose recoiled from it; but there
are dangers that seem to diminish when you look them long in the
The whole party was seated in the tapestried room: Jacintha was
there, sewing a pair of sheets, at a respectful distance from the
gentlefolks, absorbed in her work; but with both ears on full cock.
The doctor, holding his glasses to his eye, had just begun to read
out the Moniteur.
The baroness sat close to him, Edouard opposite; and the young
ladies each in her corner of a large luxurious sofa, at some little
"'The Austrians left seventy cannon, eight thousand men, and three
colors upon the field. Army of the North: General Menard defeated
the enemy after a severe engagement, taking thirteen field-pieces
and a quantity of ammunition.'"
The baroness made a narrow-minded renmark. "That is always the way
with these journals," said she. "Austrians! Prussians! when it's
Egypt one wants to hear about."--"No, not a word about Egypt," said
the doctor; "but there is a whole column about the Rhine, where
Colonel Dujardin is--and Dard. If I was dictator, the first
nuisance I would put down is small type." He then spelled out a
sanguinary engagement: "eight thousand of the enemy killed. We have
some losses to lament. Colonel Dujardin"--
"Only wounded, I hope," said the baroness.
The doctor went coolly on. "At the head of the 24th brigade made a
brilliant charge on the enemy's flank, that is described in the
general order as having decided the fate of the battle."
"How badly you do read," said the old lady, sharply. "I thought he
was gone; instead of that he has covered himself with glory; but it
is all our doing, is it not, young ladies? We saved his life."
"We saved it amongst us, madame."
"What is the matter, Rose?" said Edouard.
"Nothing: give me the salts, quick."
She only passed them, as it were, under her own nostrils; then held
them to Josephine, who was now observed to be trembling all over.
Rose contrived to make it appear that this was mere sympathy on
"Don't be silly, girls," cried the baroness, cheerfully; "there is
nobody killed that we care about."
Dr. Aubertin read the rest to himself.
Edouard fell into a gloomy silence and tortured himself about
Camille, and Rose's anxiety and agitation.
By and by the new servant brought in a letter. It was the long-
expected one from Egypt.
"Here is something better than salts for you. A long letter,
Josephine, and all in his own hand; so he is safe, thank Heaven! I
was beginning to be uneasy again. You frightened me for that poor
Camille: but this is worth a dozen Camilles; this is my son; I would
give my old life for him."--"My dear Mother--('Bless him!'), my dear
wife, and my dear sister--('Well! you sit there like two rocks!')--
We have just gained a battle--fifty colors. ('What do you think of
that?') All the enemy's baggage and ammunition are in our hands.
('This is something like a battle, this one.') Also the Pasha of
Natolie. ('Ah! the Pasha of Natolie; an important personage, no
doubt, though I never had the honor of hearing of him. Do you
hear?--you on the sofa. My son has captured the Pasha of Natolie.
He is as brave as Caesar.') But this success is not one of those
that lead to important results ('Never mind, a victory is a
victory'), and I should not wonder if Bonaparte was to dash home any
day. If so, I shall go with him, and perhaps spend a whole day with
you, on my way to the Rhine."
At this prospect a ghastly look passed quick as lightning between
Rose and Josephine.
The baroness beckoned Josephine to come close to her, and read her
what followed in a lower tone of voice.
"Tell my wife I love her more and more every day. I don't expect as
much from her, but she will make me very happy if she can make shift
to like me as well as her family do."--"No danger! What husband
deserves to be loved as he does? I long for his return, that his
wife, his mother, and his sister may all combine to teach this poor
soldier what happiness means. We owe him everything, Josephine, and
if we did not love him, and make him happy, we should be monsters;
now should we not?"
Josephine stammered an assent.
"NOW you may read his letter: Jacintha and all," said the baroness
The letter circulated. Meantime, the baroness conversed with
Aubertin in quite an undertone.
"My friend, look at Josephine. That girl is ill, or else she is
going to be ill."
"Neither the one nor the other, madame," said Aubertin, looking her
coolly in the face.
"But I say she is. Is a doctor's eye keener than a mother's?"
"Considerably," replied the doctor with cool and enviable effrontery.
The baroness rose. "Now, children, for our evening walk. We shall
enjoy it now."
"I trust you may: but for all that I must forbid the evening air to
one of the party--to Madame Raynal."
The baroness came to him and whispered, "That is right. Thank you.
See what is the matter with her, and tell me." And she carried off
the rest of the party.
At the same time Jacintha asked permission to pass the rest of the
evening with her relations in the village. But why that swift,
quivering glance of intelligence between Jacintha and Rose de
Beaurepaire when the baroness said, "Yes, certainly"?
Time will show.
Josephine and the doctor were left alone. Now Josephine had noticed
the old people whisper and her mother glance her way, and the whole
woman was on her guard. She assumed a languid complacency, and by
way of shield, if necessary, took some work, and bent her eyes and
apparently her attention on it.
The doctor was silent and ill at ease.
She saw he had something weighty on his mind. "The air would have
done me no harm," said she.
"Neither will a few words with me."
"Oh, no, dear friend. Only I think I should have liked a little
walk this evening."
"Josephine," said the doctor quietly, "when you were a child I saved
"I have often heard my mother speak of it. I was choked by the
croup, and you had the courage to lance my windpipe."
"Had I?" said the doctor, with a smile. He added gravely, "It seems
then that to be cruel is sometimes kindness. It is the nature of
men to love those whose life they save."
"And they love you."
"Well, our affection is not perfect. I don't know which is most to
blame, but after all these years I have failed to inspire you with
confidence." The doctor's voice was sad, and Josephine's bosom
"Pray do not say so," she cried. "I would trust you with my life."
"But not with your secret."
"My secret! What secret? I have no secrets."
"Josephine, you have now for full twelve months suffered in body and
mind, yet you have never come to me for counsel, for comfort, for an
old man's experience and advice, nor even for medical aid."
"But, dear friend, I assure you"--
"We DO NOT deceive our friend. We CANNOT deceive our doctor."
Josephine trembled, but defended herself after the manner of her
sex. "Dear doctor," said she, "I love you all the better for this.
Your regard for me has for once blinded your science. I am not so
robust as you have known me, but there is nothing serious the matter
with me. Let us talk of something else. Besides, it is not
interesting to talk about one's self."
"Very well; since there is nothing serious or interesting in your
case, we will talk about something that is both serious and
"With all my heart;" and she smiled with a sense of relief.
But the doctor leaned over the table to her, and said in a cautious
and most emphatic whisper, "We will talk about YOUR CHILD."
The work dropped from Josephine's hands: she turned her face wildly
on Aubertin, and faltered out, "M--my child?"
"My words are plain," replied he gravely. "YOUR CHILD."
When the doctor repeated these words, when Josephine looking in his
face saw he spoke from knowledge, however acquired, and not from
guess, she glided down slowly off the sofa and clasped his knees as
he stood before her, and hid her face in an agony of shame and
terror on his knees.
"Forgive me," she sobbed. "Pray do not expose me! Do not destroy
"Unhappy young lady," said he, "did you think you had deceived me,
or that you are fit to deceive any but the blind? Your face, your
anguish after Colonel Dujardin's departure, your languor, and then
your sudden robustness, your appetite, your caprices, your strange
sojourn at Frejus, your changed looks and loss of health on your
return! Josephine, your old friend has passed many an hour thinking
of you, divining your folly, following your trouble step by step.
Yet you never invited him to aid you."
Josephine faltered out a lame excuse. If she had revered him less
she could have borne to confess to him. She added it would be a
relief to her to confide in him.
"Then tell me all," said he.
She consented almost eagerly, and told him--nearly all. The old man
was deeply affected. He murmured in a broken voice, "Your story is
the story of your sex, self-sacrifice, first to your mother, then to
Camille, now to your husband."
"And he is well worthy of any sacrifice I can make," said Josephine.
"But oh, how hard it is to live!"
"I hope to make it less hard to you ere long," said the doctor
quietly. He then congratulated himself on having forced Josephine
to confide in him. "For," said he, "you never needed an experienced
friend more than at this moment. Your mother will not always be so
blind as of late. Edouard is suspicious. Jacintha is a shrewd
young woman, and very inquisitive."
Josephine was not at the end of her concealments: she was ashamed to
let him know she had made a confidant of Jacintha and not of him.
She held her peace.
"Then," continued Aubertin, "there is the terrible chance of
Raynal's return. But ere I take on me to advise you, what are your
"I don't know," said Josephine helplessly.
"You--don't--know!" cried the doctor, looking at her in utter
"It is the answer of a mad woman, is it not? Doctor, I am little
better. My foot has slipped on the edge of a precipice. I close my
eyes, and let myself glide down it. What will become of me?"
"All shall be well," said Aubertin, "provided you do not still love
Josephine did not immediately reply: her thoughts turned inwards.
The good doctor was proceeding to congratulate her on being cured of
a fatal passion, when she stopped him with wonder in her face. "Not
love him! How can I help loving him? I was his betrothed. I
wronged him in my thoughts. War, prison, anguish, could not kill
him; he loved me so. He struggled bleeding to my feet; and could I
let him die, after all? Could I be crueller than prison, and
torture, and despair?"
The doctor sighed deeply; but, arming himself with the necessary
resolution, he sternly replied, "A woman of your name cannot
vacillate between love and honor; such vacillations have but one
end. I will not let you drift a moral wreck between passion and
virtue; and that is what it will come to if you hesitate now."
"Hesitate! Who can say I have hesitated where my honor was
concerned? You can read our bodies then, but not our hearts. What!
you see me so pale, forlorn, and dead, and that does not tell you I
have bid Camille farewell forever? That we might be safer still I
have not even told him he is a father: was ever woman so cruel as I
am? I have written him but one letter, and in that I must deceive
him. I told him I thought I might one day be happy, if I could hear
that he did not give way to despair. I told him we must never meet
again in this world. So now come what will: show me my duty and I
will do it. This endless deceit burns my heart. Shall I tell my
husband? It will be but one pang more, one blush more for me. But
my mother!" and, thus appealed to, Dr. Aubertin felt, for the first
time, all the difficulty of the situation he had undertaken to cure.
He hesitated, he was embarrassed.
"Ah," said Josephine, "you see." Then, after a short silence, she
said despairingly, "This is my only hope: that poor Raynal will be
long absent, and that ere he returns mamma will lie safe from sorrow
and shame in the little chapel. Doctor, when a woman of my age
forms such wishes as these, I think you might pity her, and forgive
her ill-treatment of you, for she cannot be very happy. Ah me! ah
me! ah me!"
"Courage, poor soul! All is now in my hands, and I will save you,"
said the doctor, his voice trembling in spite of him. "Guilt lies
in the intention. A more innocent woman than you does not breathe.
Two courses lay open to you: to leave this house with Camille
Dujardin, or to dismiss him, and live for your hard duty till it
shall please Heaven to make that duty easy (no middle course was
tenable for a day); of these two paths you chose the right one, and,
having chosen, I really think you are not called on to reveal your
misfortune, and make those unhappy to whose happiness you have
sacrificed your own for years to come."
"Forever," said Josephine quietly.
"The young use that word lightly. The old have almost ceased to use
it. They have seen how few earthly things can conquer time."
He resumed, "You think only of others, Josephine, but I shall think
of you as well. I shall not allow your life to be wasted in a
needless struggle against nature." Then turning to Rose, who had
glided into the room, and stood amazed, "Her griefs were as many
before her child was born, yet her health stood firm. Why? because
nature was on her side. Now she is sinking into the grave. Why?
because she is defying nature. Nature intended her to be pressing
her child to her bosom day and night; instead of that, a peasant
woman at Frejus nurses the child, and the mother pines at
At this, Josephine leaned her face on her hands on the doctor's
shoulder. In this attitude she murmured to him, "I have never seen
him since I left Frejus." Dr. Aubertin sighed for her. Emboldened
by this, she announced her intention of going to Frejus the very
next day to see her little Henri. But to this Dr. Aubertin
demurred. "What, another journey to Frejus?" said he, "when the
first has already roused Edouard's suspicions; I can never consent
Then Josephine surprised them both. She dropped her coaxing voice
and pecked the doctor like an irritated pigeon. "Take care," said
she, "don't be too cruel to me. You see I am obedient, resigned. I
have given up all I lived for: but if I am never to have my little
boy's arms round me to console me, then--why torment me any longer?
Why not say to me, 'Josephine, you have offended Heaven; pray for
pardon, and die'?"
Then the doctor was angry in his turn. "Oh, go then," said he, "go
to Frejus; you will have Edouard Riviere for a companion this time.
Your first visit roused his suspicions. So before you go tell your
mother all; for since she is sure to find it out, she had better
hear it from you than from another."
"Doctor, have pity on me," said Josephine.
"You have no heart," said Rose. "She shall see him though, in spite
"Oh, yes! he has a heart," said Josephine: "he is my best friend.
He will let me see my boy."
All this, and the tearful eyes and coaxing yet trembling voice, was
hard to resist. But Aubertin saw clearly, and stood firm. He put
his handkerchief to his eyes a moment: then took the pining young
mother's hand. "And, do you think," said he, "I do not pity you and
love your boy? Ah! he will never want a father whilst I live; and
from this moment he is under my care. I will go to see him; I will
bring you news, and all in good time; I will place him where you
shall visit him without imprudence; but, for the present, trust a
wiser head than yours or Rose's; and give me your sacred promise not
to go to Frejus."
Weighed down by his good-sense and kindness, Josephine resisted no
longer in words. She just lifted her hands in despair and began to
cry. It was so piteous, Aubertin was ready to yield in turn, and
consent to any imprudence, when he met with an unexpected ally.
"Promise," said Rose, doggedly.
Josephine looked at her calmly through her tears.
"Promise, dear," repeated Rose, and this time with an intonation so
fine that it attracted Josephine's notice, but not the doctor's. It
was followed by a glance equally subtle.
"I promise," said Josephine, with her eye fixed inquiringly on her
For once she could not make the telegraph out: but she could see it
was playing, and that was enough. She did what Rose bid her; she
promised not to go to Frejus without leave.
Finding her so submissive all of a sudden, he went on to suggest
that she must not go kissing every child she saw. "Edouard tells me
he saw you kissing a beggar's brat. The young rogue was going to
quiz you about it at the dinner-table; luckily, he told me his
intention, and I would not let him. I said the baroness would be
annoyed with you for descending from your dignity--and exposing a
noble family to fleas--hush! here he is."
"Tiresome!" muttered Rose, "just when"--
Edouard came forward with a half-vexed face.
However, he turned it off into play. "What have you been saying to
her, monsieur, to interest her so? Give me a leaf out of your book.
I need it."
The doctor was taken aback for a moment, but at last he said slyly,
"I have been proposing to her to name the day. She says she must
consult you before she decides that."
"Oh, you wicked doctor!--and consult HIM of all people!"
"So be off, both of you, and don't reappear before me till it is
Edouard's eyes sparkled. Rose went out with a face as red as fire.
It was a balmy evening. Edouard was to leave them for a week the
next day. They were alone: Rose was determined he should go away
quite happy. Everything was in Edouard's favor: he pleaded his
cause warmly: she listened tenderly: this happy evening her piquancy
and archness seemed to dissolve into tenderness as she and Edouard
walked hand in hand under the moon: a tenderness all the more
heavenly to her devoted lover, that she was not one of those angels
who cloy a man by invariable sweetness.
For a little while she forgot everything but her companion. In that
soft hour he won her to name the day, after her fashion.
"Josephine goes to Paris with the doctor in about three weeks,"
"And you will stay behind, all alone?"
"Alone? that shall depend on you, monsieur."
On this Edouard caught her for the first time in his arms.
She made a faint resistance.
"Seal me that promise, sweet one!"
He pressed a delicious first kiss upon two velvet lips that in their
innocence scarcely shunned the sweet attack.
For all that, the bond was no sooner sealed after this fashion, than
the lady's cheek began to burn.
"Suppose we go in NOW?" said she, dryly.
"Ah, not yet."
"It is late, dear Edouard."
And with these words something returned to her mind with its full
force: something that Edouard had actually made her forget. She
wanted to get rid of him now.
"Edouard," said she, "can you get up early in the morning? If you
can, meet me here to-morrow before any of them are up; then we can
talk without interruption."
Edouard was delighted.
"Sooner if you like. Mamma bade me come and read to her in her room
to-night. She will be waiting for me. Is it not tiresome?"
"Yes, it is."
"Well, we must not mind that, dear; in three weeks' time we are to
have too much of one another, you know, instead of too little."
"Too much! I shall never have enough of you. I shall hate the night
which will rob me of the sight of you for so many hours in the
"If you can't see me, perhaps you may hear me; my tongue runs by
night as well as by day."
"Well, that is a comfort," said Edouard, gravely. "Yes, little
quizzer, I would rather hear you scold than an angel sing. Judge,
then, what music it is when you say you love me!"
"I love you, Edouard."
Edouard kissed her hand warmly, and then looked irresolutely at her
"No, no!" said she, laughing and blushing. "How rude you are. Next
time we meet."
"That is a bargain. But I won't go till you say you love me again.
"Edouard, don't be silly. I am ashamed of saying the same thing so
often--I won't say it any more. What is the use? You know I love
you. There, I HAVE said it: how stupid!"
"Adieu, then, my wife that is to be."
"Adieu! dear Edouard."
"My hus--go on--my hus--"
"My huswife that shall be."
Then they walked very slowly towards the house, and once more Rose
left quizzing, and was all tenderness.
"Will you not come in, and bid them 'good-night'?"
"No, my own; I am in heaven. Common faces--common voices would
bring me down to earth. Let me be alone;--your sweet words ringing
in my ear. I will dilute you with nothing meaner than the stars.
See how bright they shine in heaven; but not so bright as you shine
in my heart."
"Dear Edouard, you flatter me, you spoil me. Alas! why am I not
more worthy of your love?"
"More worthy! How can that be?"
"But I will atone for all. I will make you a better--(here she
substituted a full stop for a substantive)--than you expect. You
will see else."
She lingered at the door: a proof that if Edouard, at that
particular moment, had seized another kiss, there would have been no
very violent opposition or offence.
But he was not so impudent as some. He had been told to wait till
the next meeting for that. He prayed Heaven to bless her, and so
the affianced lovers parted for the night.
It was about nine o'clock. Edouard, instead of returning to his
lodgings, started down towards the town, to conclude a bargain with
the innkeeper for an English mare he was in treaty for. He wanted
her for to-morrow's work; so that decided him to make the purchase.
In purchases, as in other matters, a feather turns the balanced
scale. He sauntered leisurely down. It was a very clear night; the
full moon and the stars shining silvery and vivid. Edouard's heart
swelled with joy. He was loved after all, deeply loved; and in
three short weeks he was actually to be Rose's husband: her lord and
master. How like a heavenly dream it all seemed--the first hopeless
courtship, and now the wedding fixed! But it was no dream; he felt
her soft words still murmur music at his heart, and the shadow of
her velvet lips slept upon his own.
He had strolled about a league when he heard the ring of a horse's
hoofs coming towards him, accompanied by a clanking noise; it came
nearer and nearer, till it reached a hill that lay a little ahead of
Edouard; then the sounds ceased; the cavalier was walking his horse
up the hill.
Presently, as if they had started from the earth, up popped between
Edouard and the sky, first a cocked hat that seemed in that light to
be cut with a razor out of flint; then the wearer, phosphorescent
here and there; so brightly the keen moonlight played on his
epaulets and steel scabbard. A step or two nearer, and Edouard gave
a great shout; it was Colonel Raynal.
After the first warm greeting, and questions and answers, Raynal
told him he was on his way to the Rhine with despatches.
"To the Rhine?"
I am allowed six days to get there. I made a calculation, and found
I could give Beaurepaire half a day. I shall have to make up for it
by hard riding. You know me; always in a hurry. It is Bonaparte's
fault this time. He is always in a hurry too."
"Why, colonel," said Edouard, "let us make haste then. Mind they go
early to rest at the chateau."
"But you are not coming my way, youngster?"
"Not coming your way? Yes, but I am. Yours is a face I don't see
every day, colonel; besides I would not miss THEIR faces, especially
the baroness's and Madame Raynal's, at sight of you; and, besides,"--
and the young gentleman chuckled to himself, and thought of Rose's
words, "the next time we meet;" well, this will be the next time.
"May I jump up behind?"
Colonel Raynal nodded assent. Edouard took a run, and lighted like
a monkey on the horse's crupper. He pranced and kicked at this
unexpected addition; but the spur being promptly applied to his
flanks, he bounded off with a snort that betrayed more astonishment
than satisfaction, and away they cantered to Beaurepaire, without
"There," said Edouard, "I was afraid they would be gone to bed; and
they are. The very house seems asleep--fancy--at half-past ten."
"That is a pity," said Raynal, "for this chateau is the stronghold
of etiquette. They will be two hours dressing before they will come
out and shake hands. I must put my horse into the stable. Go you
and give the alarm."
"I will, colonel. Stop, first let me see whether none of them are
up, after all."
And Edouard walked round the chateau, and soon discovered a light at
one window, the window of the tapestried room. Running round the
other way he came slap upon another light: this one was nearer the
ground. A narrow but massive door, which he had always seen not
only locked but screwed up, was wide open; and through the aperture
the light of a candle streamed out and met the moonlight streaming
"Hallo!" cried Edouard.
He stopped, turned, and looked in.
"Hallo!" he cried again much louder.
A young woman was sleeping with her feet in the silvery moonlight,
and her head in the orange-colored blaze of a flat candle, which
rested on the next step above of a fine stone staircase, whose
existence was now first revealed to the inquisitive Edouard.
Coming plump upon all this so unexpectedly, he quite started.
He touched her on the shoulder to wake her. No. Jacintha was
sleeping as only tired domestics can sleep. He might have taken the
candle and burnt her gown off her back. She had found a step that
fitted into the small of her back, and another that supported her
head, and there she was fast as a door.
At this moment Raynal's voice was heard calling him.
"There is a light in that bedroom."
"It is not a bedroom, colonel; it is our sitting-room now. We shall
find them all there, or at least the young ladies; and perhaps the
doctor. The baroness goes to bed early. Meantime I can show you
one of our dramatis personae, and an important one too. She rules
He took him mysteriously and showed him Jacintha.
Moonlight by itself seems white, and candlelight by itself seems
yellow; but when the two come into close contrast at night, candle
turns a reddish flame, and moonlight a bluish gleam.
So Jacintha, with her shoes in this celestial sheen, and her face in
that demoniacal glare, was enough to knock the gazer's eye out.
"Make a good sentinel--this one," said Raynal--"an outlying picket
for instance, on rough ground, in front of the enemy's riflemen."
"Ha! ha! colonel! Let us see where this staircase leads. I have an
idea it will prove a short cut."
"To the saloon, or somewhere, or else to some of Jacintha's haunts.
Serve her right for going to sleep at the mouth of her den."
"Forward then--no, halt! Suppose it leads to the bedrooms? Mind
this is a thundering place for ceremony. We shall get drummed out
of the barracks if we don't mind our etiquette."
At this they hesitated; and Edouard himself thought, on the whole,
it would be better to go and hammer at the front door.
Now while they hesitated, a soft delicious harmony of female voices
suddenly rose, and seemed to come and run round the walls. The men
looked at one another in astonishment; for the effect was magical.
The staircase being enclosed on all sides with stone walls and
floored with stone, they were like flies inside a violoncello; the
voices rang above, below, and on every side of the vibrating walls.
In some epochs spirits as hardy as Raynal's, and wits as quick as
Riviere's, would have fled then and there to the nearest public, and
told over cups how they had heard the dames of Beaurepaire, long
since dead, holding their revel, and the conscious old devil's nest
of a chateau quivering to the ghostly strains.
But this was an incredulous age. They listened, and listened, and
decided the sounds came from up-stairs.
"Let us mount, and surprise these singing witches," said Edouard.
"Surprise them! what for? It is not the enemy--for once. What is
the good of surprising our friends?"
Storming parties and surprises were no novelty and therefore no
treat to Raynal.
"It will be so delightful to see their faces at first sight of you.
O colonel, for my sake! Don't spoil it by going tamely in at the
front door, after coming at night from Egypt for half an hour."
Raynal grumbled something about its being a childish trick; but to
please Edouard consented at last; only stipulated for a light: "or
else," said he, "we shall surprise ourselves instead with a broken
neck, going over ground we don't know to surprise the natives--our
skirmishers got nicked that way now and then in Egypt."
"Yes, colonel, I will go first with Jacintha's candle." Edouard
mounted the stairs on tiptoe. Raynal followed. The solid stone
steps did not prate. The men had mounted a considerable way, when
puff a blast of wind came through a hole, and out went Edouard's
candle. He turned sharply round to Raynal. "Peste!" said he in a
vicious whisper. But the other laid his hand on his shoulder and
whispered, "Look to the front." He looked, and, his own candle
being out, saw a glimmer on ahead. He crept towards it. It was a
taper shooting a feeble light across a small aperture. They caught
a glimpse of what seemed to be a small apartment. Yet Edouard
recognized the carpet of the tapestried room--which was a very large
room. Creeping a yard nearer, he discovered that it was the
tapestried room, and that what had seemed the further wall was only
the screen, behind which were lights, and two women singing a duet.
He whispered to Raynal, "It is the tapestried room."
"Is it a sitting-room?" whispered Raynal.
"Yes! yes! Mind and not knock your foot against the wood."
And Raynal went softly up and put his foot quietly through the
aperture, which he now saw was made by a panel drawn back close to
the ground; and stood in the tapestried chamber. The carpet was
thick; the voices favored the stealthy advance; the floor of the old
house was like a rock; and Edouard put his face through the
aperture, glowing all over with anticipation of the little scream of
joy that would welcome his friend dropping in so nice and suddenly
The feeling was rendered still more piquant by a sharp curiosity
that had been growing on him for some minutes past. For why was
this passage opened to-night?--he had never seen it opened before.
And why was Jacintha lying sentinel at the foot of the stairs?
But this was not all. Now that they were in the room both men
became conscious of another sound besides the ladies' voices--a very
peculiar sound. It also came from behind the screen. They both
heard it, and showed, by the puzzled looks they cast at one another,
that neither could make out what on earth it was. It consisted of a
succession of little rustles, followed by little thumps on the
But what was curious, too, this rustle, thump--rustle, thump--fell
exactly into the time of the music; so that, clearly, either the
rustle thump was being played to the tune, or the tune sung to the
This last touch of mystery inflamed Edouard's impatience beyond
bearing: he pointed eagerly and merrily to the corner of the screen.
Raynal obeyed, and stepped very slowly and cautiously towards it.
Rustle, thump! rustle, thump! rustle, thump! with the rhythm of
Edouard got his head and foot into the room without taking his eye
Rustle, thump! rustle, thump! rustle, thump!
Raynal was now at the screen, and quietly put his head round it, and
his hand upon it.
Edouard was bursting with expectation.
No result. What is this? Don't they see him? Why does he not
speak to them? He seems transfixed.
Rustle, thump! rustle, thump; accompanied now for a few notes by one
voice only, Rose's.
Suddenly there burst a shriek from Josephine, so loud, so fearful,
that it made even Raynal stagger back a step, the screen in his
Then another scream of terror and anguish from Rose. Then a fainter
cry, and the heavy helpless fall of a human body.
Raynal sprang forward whirling the screen to the earth in terrible
agitation, and Edouard bounded over it as it fell at his feet. He
did not take a second step. The scene that caught his eye stupefied
and paralyzed him in full career, and froze him to the spot with
amazement and strange misgivings.
To return for a moment to Rose. She parted from Edouard, and went
in at the front door: but the next moment she opened it softly and
watched her lover unseen. "Dear Edouard!" she murmured: and then
she thought, "how sad it is that I must deceive him, even to-night:
must make up an excuse to get him from me, when we were so happy
together. Ah! he little knows how I shall welcome our wedding-day.
When once I can see my poor martyr on the road to peace and content
under the good doctor's care. And oh! the happiness of having no
more secrets from him I love! Dear Edouard! when once we are
married, I never, never, will have a secret from you again--I swear
As a comment on these words she now stepped cautiously out, and
peered in every direction.
"St--st!" she whispered. No answer came to this signal.
Rose returned into the house and bolted the door inside. She went
up to the tapestried room, and found the doctor in the act of
wishing Josephine good-night. The baroness, fatigued a little by
her walk, had mounted no higher than her own bedroom, which was on
the first floor just under the tapestried room. Rose followed the
doctor out. "Dear friend, one word. Josephine talked of telling
Raynal. You have not encouraged her to do that?"
"Certainly not, while he is in Egypt."
"Still less on his return. Doctor, you don't know that man.
Josephine does not know him. But I do. He would kill her if he
knew. He would kill her that minute. He would not wait: he would
not listen to excuses: he is a man of iron. Or if he spared her he
would kill Camille: and that would destroy her by the cruellest of
all deaths! My friend, I am a wicked, miserable girl. I am the
cause of all this misery!"
She then told Aubertin all about the anonymous letter, and what
Raynal had said to her in consequence.
"He never would have married her had he known she loved another. He
asked me was it so. I told him a falsehood. At least I
equivocated, and to equivocate with one so loyal and simple was to
deceive him. I am the only sinner: that sweet angel is the only
sufferer. Is this the justice of Heaven? Doctor, my remorse is
great. No one knows what I feel when I look at my work. Edouard
thinks I love her so much better than I do him. He is wrong: it is
not love only, it is pity: it is remorse for the sorrow I have
brought on her, and the wrong I have done poor Raynal."
The high-spirited girl was greatly agitated: and Aubertin, though he
did not acquit her of all blame, soothed her, and made excuses for
"We must not always judge by results," said he. "Things turned
unfortunately. You did for the best. I forgive you for one. That
is, I will forgive you if you promise not to act again without my
"Oh, never! never!"
"And, above all, no imprudence about that child. In three little
weeks they will be together without risk of discovery. Well, you
don't answer me."
Rose's blood turned cold. "Dear friend," she stammered, "I quite
agree with you."
"Not to let Josephine go to Frejus?" said Rose hastily. "Oh, yes! I
"You are a good girl," said Aubertin. "You have a will of your own.
But you can submit to age and experience." The doctor then kissed
her, and bade her farewell.
"I leave for Paris at six in the morning," he said. "I will not try
your patience or hers unnecessarily. Perhaps it will not be three
weeks ere she sees her child under her friend's roof."
The moment Rose was alone, she sat down and sighed bitterly. "There
is no end to it," she sobbed despairingly. "It is like a spider's
web: every struggle to be free but multiplies the fine yet
irresistible thread that seems to bind me. And to-night I thought
to be so happy; instead of that, he has left me scarce the heart to
do what I have to do."
She went back to the room, opened a window, and put out a white
handkerchief, then closed the window down on it.
Then she went to Josephine's bedroom-door: it opened on the
"Josephine," she cried, "don't go to bed just yet."
"No, love. What are you doing? I want to talk to you. Why did you
say promise? and what did you mean by looking at me so? Shall I
come out to you?"
"Not just yet," said Rose; she then glided into the corridor, and
passed her mother's room and the doctor's, and listened to see if
all was quiet. While she was gone Josephine opened her door; but
not seeing Rose in the sitting-room, retired again.
Rose returned softly, and sat down with her head in her hand, in a
calm attitude belied by her glancing eye, and the quick tapping of
her other hand upon the table.
Presently she raised her head quickly; a sound had reached her ear,--
a sound so slight that none but a high-strung ear could have caught
it. It was like a mouse giving a single scratch against a stone
Rose coughed slightly.
On this a clearer sound was heard, as of a person scratching wood
with the finger-nail. Rose darted to the side of the room, pressed
against the wall, and at the same time put her other hand against
the rim of one of the panels and pushed it laterally; it yielded,
and at the opening stood Jacintha in her cloak and bonnet.
"Yes," said Jacintha, "under my cloak--look!"
"Ah! you found the things on the steps?"
"Yes! I nearly tumbled over them. Have you locked that door?"
"No, but I will." And Rose glided to the door and locked it. Then
she put the screen up between Josephine's room and the open panel:
then she and Jacintha were wonderfully busy on the other side the
screen, but presently Rose said, "This is imprudent; you must go
down to the foot of the stairs and wait till I call you."
Jacintha pleaded hard against this arrangement, and represented that
there was no earthly chance of any one coming to that part of the
"No matter; I will be guarded on every side."
"Mustn't I stop and just see her happy for once?"
"No, my poor Jacintha, you must hear it from my lips."
Jacintha retired to keep watch as she was bid. Rose went to
Josephine's room, and threw her arms round her neck and kissed her
vehemently. Josephine returned her embrace, then held her out at
arm's length and looked at her.
"Your eyes are red, yet your little face is full of joy. There, you
"I can't help that; I am so happy."
"I am glad of it. Are you coming to bed?"
"Not yet. I invite you to take a little walk with me first. Come!"
and she led the way slowly, looking back with infinite archness and
"You almost frighten me," said Josephine; "it is not like you to be
all joy when I am sad. Three whole weeks more!"
"That is it. Why are you sad? because the doctor would not let you
go to Frejus. And why am I not sad? because I had already thought
of a way to let you see Edouard without going so far."
"Rose! O Rose! O Rose!"
"This way--come!" and she smiled and beckoned with her finger, while
Josephine followed like one under a spell, her bosom heaving, her
eye glancing on every side, hoping some strange joy, yet scarce
daring to hope.
Rose drew back the screen, and there was a sweet little berceau that
had once been Josephine's own, and in it, sunk deep in snow-white
lawn, was a sleeping child, that lay there looking as a rose might
look could it fall upon new-fallen snow.
At sight of it Josephine uttered a little cry, not loud but deep--
ay, a cry to bring tears into the eye of the hearer, and she stood
trembling from head to foot, her hands clasped, and her eye
fascinated and fixed on the cradle.
"My child under this roof! What have you done?" but her eye,
fascinated and fixed, never left the cradle.
"I saw you languishing, dying, for want of him."
"Oh, if anybody should come?" But her eye never stirred an inch
from the cradle.
"No, no, no! the door is locked. Jacintha watches below; there is
no dan-- Ah, oh, poor sister!"
For, as Rose was speaking, the young mother sprang silently upon her
child. You would have thought she was going to kill him; her head
reared itself again and again like a crested snake's, and again and
again and again and again plunged down upon the child, and she
kissed his little body from head to foot with soft violence, and
murmured, through her streaming tears, "My child! my darling! my
angel! oh, my poor boy! my child! my child!"
I will ask my female readers of every degree to tell their brothers
and husbands all the young noble did: how she sat on the floor, and
had her child on her bosom; how she smiled over it through her
tears; how she purred over it; how she, the stately one, lisped and
prattled over it; and how life came pouring into her heart from it.
Before she had had it in her arms five minutes, her pale cheek was
as red as a rose, and her eyes brighter than diamonds.
"Bless you, Rose! bless you! bless you! in one moment you have made
me forget all I ever suffered in my life."
"There is a cold draught," cried she presently, with maternal
anxiety; "close the panel, Rose."
"No, dear; or I could not call to Jacintha, or she to me; but I will
shift the screen round between him and the draught. There, now,
come to his aunt--a darling!"
Then Rose sat on the floor too, and Josephine put her boy on aunt's
lap, and took a distant view of him. But she could not bear so vast
a separation long. She must have him to her bosom again.
Presently my lord, finding himself hugged, opened his eyes, and, as
a natural consequence, his mouth.
"Oh, that will never do," cried Rose, and they put him back in the
cradle with all expedition, and began to rock it. Young master was
not to be altogether appeased even by that. So Rose began singing
an old-fashioned Breton chant or lullaby.
Josephine sang with her, and, singing, watched with a smile her boy
drop off by degrees to sleep under the gentle motion and the lulling
song. They sang and rocked till the lids came creeping down, and
hid the great blue eyes; but still they sang and rocked, lulling the
boy, and gladdening their own hearts; for the quaint old Breton
ditty was tunable as the lark that carols over the green wheat in
April; and the words so simple and motherly, that a nation had taken
them to heart. Such songs bind ages together and make the lofty and
the low akin by the great ties of music and the heart. Many a
Breton peasant's bosom in the olden time had gushed over her
sleeping boy as the young dame's of Beaurepaire gushed now--in this
quaint, tuneful lullaby.
Now, as they kneeled over the cradle, one on each side, and rocked
it, and sang that ancient chant, Josephine, who was opposite the
screen, happening to raise her eyes, saw a strange thing.
There was the face of a man set close against the side of the
screen, and peeping and peering out of the gloom. The light of her
candle fell full on this face; it glared at her, set pale, wonder-
struck, and vivid in the surrounding gloom.
Horror! It was her husband's face.
At first she was quite stupefied, and looked at it with soul and
senses benumbed. Then she trembled, and put her hand to her eyes;
for she thought it a phantom or a delusion of the mind. No: there
it glared still. Then she trembled violently, and held out her left
hand, the fingers working convulsively, to Rose, who was still
But, at the same moment, the mouth of this face suddenly opened in a
long-drawn breath. At this, Josephine uttered a violent shriek, and
sprang to her feet, with her right hand quivering and pointing at
that pale face set in the dark.
Rose started up, and, wheeling her head round, saw Raynal's gloomy
face looking over her shoulder. She fell screaming upon her knees,
and, almost out of her senses, began to pray wildly and piteously
Josephine uttered one more cry, but this was the faint cry of
nature, sinking under the shock of terror. She swooned dead away,
and fell senseless on the floor ere Raynal could debarrass himself
of the screen, and get to her.
This, then, was the scene that met Edouard's eyes. His affianced
bride on her knees, white as a ghost, trembling, and screaming,
rather than crying, for mercy. And Raynal standing over his wife,
showing by the working of his iron features that he doubted whether
she was worthy he should raise her.
One would have thought nothing could add to the terror of this
scene. Yet it was added to. The baroness rang her bell violently
in the room below. She had heard Josephine's scream and fall.
At the ringing of this shrill bell Rose shuddered like a maniac, and
grovelled on her knees to Raynal, and seized his very knees and
implored him to show some pity.
"O sir! kill us! we are culpable"--
Dring! dring! dring! dring! dring! pealed the baroness's bell again.
"But do not tell our mother. Oh, if you are a man! do not! do not!
Show us some pity. We are but women. Mercy! mercy! mercy!"
"Speak out then," groaned Raynal. "What does this mean? Why has my
wife swooned at sight of me?--whose is this child?"
"Whose?" stammered Rose. Till he said that, she never thought there
COULD be a doubt whose child.
Dring! dring! dring! dring! dring!
"Oh, my God!" cried the poor girl, and her scared eyes glanced every
way like some wild creature looking for a hole, however small, to
Edouard, seeing her hesitation, came down on her other side. "Whose
is the child, Rose?" said he sternly.
"You, too? Why were we born? mercy! oh! pray let me go to my
Dring! dring! dring! dring! dring! went the terrible bell.
The men were excited to fury by Rose's hesitation; they each seized
an arm, and tore her screaming with fear at their violence, from her
knees up to her feet between them with a single gesture.
"Whose is the child?"
"You hurt me!" said she bitterly to Edouard, and she left crying and
was terribly calm and sullen all in a moment.
"Whose is the child?" roared Edouard and Raynal, in one raging
breath. "Whose is the child?"
"It is mine."
These were not words; they were electric shocks.
The two arms that gripped Rose's arms were paralyzed, and dropped
off them; and there was silence.
Then first the thought of all she had done with those three words
began to rise and grow and surge over her. She stood, her eyes
turned downwards, yet inwards, and dilating with horror.
Now a mist began to spread over her eyes, and in it she saw
indistinctly the figure of Raynal darting to her sister's side, and
raising her head.
She dared not look round on the other side. She heard feet stagger
on the floor. She heard a groan, too; but not a word.
With nerves strung to frenzy, and quivering ears, that magnified
every sound, she waited for a reproach, a curse; either would have
been some little relief. But no! a silence far more terrible.
Then a step wavered across the room. Her soul was in her ear. She
could hear and feel the step totter, and it shook her as it went.
All sounds were trebled to her. Then it struck on the stone step of
the staircase, not like a step, but a knell; another step, another
and another; down to the very bottom. Each slow step made her head
ring and her heart freeze.
At last she heard no more. Then a scream of anguish and recall rose
to her lips. She fought it down, for Josephine and Raynal. Edouard
was gone. She had but her sister now, the sister she loved better
than herself; the sister to save whose life and honor she had this
moment sacrificed her own, and all a woman lives for.
She turned, with a wild cry of love and pity, to that sister's side
to help her; and when she kneeled down beside her, an iron arm was
promptly thrust out between the beloved one and her.
"This is my care, madame," said Raynal, coldly.
There was no mistaking his manner. The stained one was not to touch
She looked at him in piteous amazement at his ingratitude. "It is
well," said she. "It is just. I deserve this from you."
She said no more, but drooped gently down beside the cradle, and hid
her forehead in the clothes beside the child that had brought all
this woe, and sobbed bitterly.
Then honest Raynal began to be sorry for her, in spite of himself.
But there was no time for this. Josephine stirred; and, at the same
moment, a violent knocking came at the door of the apartment, and
the new servant's voice, crying, "Ladies, for Heaven's sake, what is
the matter? The baroness heard a fall--she is getting up--she will
be here. What shall I tell her is the matter?"
Raynal was going to answer, but Rose, who had started up at the
knocking, put her hand in a moment right before his mouth, and ran
to the door. "There is nothing the matter; tell mamma I am coming
down to her directly." She flew back to Raynal in an excitement
little short of frenzy. "Help me carry her into her own room,"
cried she imperiously. Raynal obeyed by instinct; for the fiery
girl spoke like a general, giving the word of command, with the
enemy in front. He carried the true culprit in his arms, and laid
her gently on her bed.
"Now put IT out of sight--take this, quick, man! quick!" cried Rose.
Raynal went to the cradle. "Ah! my poor girl," said he, as he
lifted it in his arms, "this is a sorry business; to have to hide
your own child from your own mother!"
"Colonel Raynal," said Rose, "do not insult a poor, despairing girl.
"I am silent, young woman," said Raynal, sternly. "What is to be
"Take it down the steps, and give it to Jacintha. Stay, here is a
candle; I go to tell mamma you are come; and, Colonel Raynal, I
never injured YOU: if you tell my mother you will stab her to the
heart, and me, and may the curse of cowards light on you!--may"--
"Enough!" said Raynal, sternly. "Do you take me for a babbling
girl? I love your mother better than you do, or this brat of yours
would not be here. I shall not bring her gray hairs down with
sorrow to the grave. I shall speak of this villany to but one
person; and to him I shall talk with this, and not with the idle
tongue." And he tapped his sword-hilt with a sombre look of
He carried out the cradle. The child slept sweetly through it all.
Rose darted into Josephine's room, took the key from the inside to
the outside, locked the door, put the key in her pocket, and ran
down to her mother's room; her knees trembled under her as she went.
Meantime, Jacintha, sleeping tranquilly, suddenly felt her throat
griped, and heard a loud voice ring in her ear; then she was lifted,
and wrenched, and dropped. She found herself lying clear of the
steps in the moonlight; her head was where her feet had been, and
her candle out.
She uttered shriek upon shriek, and was too frightened to get up.
She thought it was supernatural; some old De Beaurepaire had served
her thus for sleeping on her post. A struggle took place between
her fidelity and her superstitious fears. Fidelity conquered.
Quaking in every limb, she groped up the staircase for her candle.
It was gone.
Then a still more sickening fear came over her.
What if this was no spirit's work, but a human arm--a strong one--
some man's arm?
Her first impulse was to dart up the stairs, and make sure that no
calamity had befallen through her mistimed drowsiness. But, when
she came to try, her dread of the supernatural revived. She could
not venture without a light up those stairs, thronged perhaps with
angry spirits. She ran to the kitchen. She found the tinderbox,
and with trembling hands struck a light. She came back shading it
with her shaky hands; and, committing her soul to the care of
Heaven, she crept quaking up the stairs. Then she heard voices
above, and that restored her more; she mounted more steadily.
Presently she stopped, for a heavy step was coming down. It did not
sound like a woman's step. It came further down; she turned to fly.
"Jacintha!" said a deep voice, that in this stone cylinder rang like
thunder from a tomb.
"Oh! saints and angels save me!" yelled Jacintha; and fell on her
knees, and hid her head for security; and down went her candlestick
clattering on the stone.
"Don't be a fool!" said the iron voice. "Get up and take this."
She raised her head by slow degrees, shuddering. A man was holding
out a cradle to her; the candle he carried lighted up his face; it
was Colonel Raynal.
She stared at him stupidly, but never moved from her knees, and the
candle began to shake violently in her hand, as she herself trembled
from head to foot.
Then Raynal concluded she was in the plot; but, scorning to reproach
a servant, he merely said, "Well, what do you kneel there for,
gaping at me like that? Take this, I tell you, and carry it out of
He shoved the cradle roughly down into her hands, then turned on his
heel without a word.
Jacintha collapsed on the stairs, and the cradle beside her, for all
the power was driven out of her body; she could hardly support her
own weight, much less the cradle.
She rocked herself, and moaned out, "Oh, what's this? oh, what's
A cold perspiration came over her whole frame.
"What could this mean? What on earth had happened?"
She took up the candle, for it was lying burning and guttering on
the stairs; scraped up the grease with the snuffers, and by force of
habit tried to polish it clean with a bit of paper that shook
between her fingers; she did not know what she was doing. When she
recovered her wits, she took the child out of the cradle, and
wrapped it carefully in her shawl; then went slowly down the stairs;
and holding him close to her bosom, with a furtive eye, and brain
confused, and a heart like lead, stole away to the tenantless
cottage, where Madame Jouvenel awaited her.
Meantime, Rose, with quaking heart, had encountered the baroness.
She found her pale and agitated, and her first question was, "What
is the matter? what have you been all doing over my head?"
"Darling mother," replied Rose, evasively, "something has happened
that will rejoice your heart. Somebody has come home."
"My son? eh, no! impossible! We cannot be so happy."
"He will be with you directly."
The old lady now trembled with joyful agitation.
"In five minutes I will bring him to you. Shall you be dressed? I
will ring for the girl to help you."
"But, Rose, the scream, and that terrible fall. Ah! where is
"Can't you guess, mamma? Oh, the fall was only the screen; they
stumbled over it in the dark."
"Colonel Raynal, and--and Edouard. I will tell you, mamma, but
don't be angry, or even mention it; they wanted to surprise us.
They saw a light burning, and they crept on tiptoe up to the
tapestried room, where Josephine and I were, and they did give us a
"What madness!" cried the baroness, angrily; "and in Josephine's
weak state! Such a surprise might have driven her into a fit."
"Yes, it was foolish, but let it pass, mamma. Don't speak of it,
for he is so sorry about it."
Then Rose slipped out, ordered a fire in the salon, and not in the
tapestried room, and the next minute was at her sister's door.
There she found Raynal knocking, and asking Josephine how she was.
"Pray leave her to me a moment," said she. "I will bring her down to
you. Mamma is waiting for you in the salon."
Raynal went down. Rose unlocked the bedroom-door, went in, and, to
her horror, found Josephine lying on the floor. She dashed water in
her face, and applied every remedy; and at last she came back to
life, and its terrors.
"Save me, Rose! save me--he is coming to kill me--I heard him at the
door," and she clung trembling piteously to Rose.
Then Rose, seeing her terror, was almost glad at the suicidal
falsehood she had told. She comforted and encouraged Josephine and--
deceived her. (This was the climax.)
"All is well, my poor coward," she cried; "your fears are all
imaginary; another has owned the child, and the story is believed."
"Another! impossible! He would not believe it."
"He does believe it--he shall believe it."
Rose then, feeling by no means sure that Josephine, terrified as she
was, would consent to let her sister come to shame to screen her,
told her boldly that Jacintha had owned herself the mother of the
child, and that Raynal's only feeling towards HER was pity, and
regret at having so foolishly frightened her, weakened as she was by
illness. "I told him you had been ill, dear. But how came you on
"I had come to myself; I was on my knees praying. He tapped. I
heard his voice. I remember no more. I must have fainted again
Rose had hard work to make her believe that her guilt, as she called
it, was not known; and even then she could not prevail on her to
come down-stairs, until she said, "If you don't, he will come to
you." On that Josephine consented eagerly, and with trembling
fingers began to adjust her hair and her dress for the interview.
All this terrible night Rose fought for her sister. She took her
down-stairs to the salon; she put her on the sofa; she sat by her
and pressed her hand constantly to give her courage. She told the
story of the surprise her own way, before the whole party, including
the doctor, to prevent Raynal from being called on to tell it his
way. She laughed at Josephine's absurdity, but excused it on
account of her feeble health. In short, she threw more and more
dust in all their eyes.
But by the time when the rising sun came faintly in and lighted the
haggard party, where the deceived were happy, the deceivers
wretched, the supernatural strength this young girl had shown was
almost exhausted. She felt an hysterical impulse to scream and
weep: each minute it became more and more ungovernable. Then came
an unexpected turn. Raynal after a long and tiring talk with his
mother, as he called her, looked at his watch, and in a
characteristic way coolly announced his immediate departure, this
being the first hint he had given them that he was not come back for
The baroness was thunderstruck.
Rose and Josephine pressed one another's hands, and had much ado not
to utter a loud cry of joy.
Raynal explained that he was the bearer of despatches. "I must be
off: not an hour to lose. Don't fret, mother, I shall soon be back
again, if I am not knocked on the head."
Raynal took leave of them all. When it came to Rose's turn, he drew
her aside and whispered into her ear, "Who is the man?"
She started, and seemed dumfounded.
"Tell me, or I ask my wife."
"She has promised me not to betray me: I made her swear. Spare me
now, brother; I will tell you all when you come back."
"That is a bargain: now hear ME swear: he shall marry you, or he
shall die by my hand."
He confirmed this by a tremendous oath.
Rose shuddered, but said nothing, only she thought to herself, "I am
forewarned. Never shall you know who is the father of that child."
He was no sooner gone than the baroness insisted on knowing what
this private communication between him and Rose was about.
"Oh," said Rose, "he was only telling me to keep up your courage and
Josephine's till he comes back."
This was the last lie the poor entangled wretch had to tell that
morning. The next minute the sisters, exhausted by their terrible
struggle, went feebly, with downcast eyes, along the corridor and up
the staircase to Josephine's room.
They went hand in hand. They sank down, dressed as they were, on
Josephine's bed, and clung to one another and trembled together,
till their exhausted natures sank into uneasy slumbers, from which
each in turn would wake ever and anon with a convulsive start, and
clasp her sister tighter to her breast.
Theirs was a marvellous love. Even a course of deceit had not yet
prevailed to separate or chill their sister bosoms. But still in
this deep and wonderful love there were degrees: one went a shade
deeper than the other now--ay, since last night. Which? why, she
who had sacrificed herself for the other, and dared not tell her,
lest the sacrifice should be refused.
It was the gray of the morning, and foggy, when Raynal, after taking
leave, went to the stable for his horse. At the stable-door he came
upon a man sitting doubled up on the very stones of the yard, with
his head on his knees. The figure lifted his head, and showed him
the face of Edouard Riviere, white and ghastly: his hair lank with
the mist, his teeth chattering with cold and misery. The poor
wretch had walked frantically all night round and round the chateau,
waiting till Raynal should come out. He told him so.
"But why didn't you?--Ah! I see. No! you could not go into the
house after that. My poor fellow, there is but one thing for you to
do. Turn your back on her, and forget she ever lived; she is dead
"There is something to be done besides that," said Edouard, gloomily.
"That is my affair, young man. When I come back from the Rhine, she
will tell me who her seducer is. She has promised."
"And don't you see through that?" said Edouard, gnashing his teeth;
"that is only to gain time: she will never tell you. She is young
in years, but old in treachery."
He groaned and was silent a moment, then laying his hand on Raynal's
arm said grimly, "Thank Heaven, we don't depend on her for
information! I know the villain."
Raynal's eyes flashed: "Ah! then tell me this moment."
"It is that scoundrel Dujardin."
"Dujardin! What do you mean?"
"I mean that, while you were fighting for France, your house was
turned into a hospital for wounded soldiers."
"And pray, sir, to what more honorable use could they put it?"
"Well, this Dujardin was housed by you, was nursed by your wife and
all the family; and in return has seduced your sister, my affianced."
"I can hardly believe that. Camille Dujardin was always a man of
honor, and a good soldier."
"Colonel, there has been no man near the place but this Dujardin. I
tell you it is he. Don't make me tear my bleeding heart out: must I
tell you how often I caught them together, how I suspected, and how
she gulled me? blind fool that I was, to believe a woman's words
before my own eyes. I swear to you he is the villain; the only
question is, which of us two is to kill him."
"Where is the man?"
"In the army of the Rhine."
"Ah! all the better."
"Covered with glory and honor. Curse him! oh, curse him! curse
"I am in luck. I am going to the Rhine."
"I know it. That is why I waited here all through this night of
misery. Yes, you are in luck. But you will send me a line when you
have killed him; will you not? Then I shall know joy again. Should
he escape you, he shall not escape me."
"Young man," said Raynal, with dignity, "this rage is unmanly.
Besides, we have not heard his side of the story. He is a good
soldier; perhaps he is not all to blame: or perhaps passion has
betrayed him into a sin that his conscience and honor disapprove: if
so, he must not die. You think only of your wrong: it is natural:
but I am the girl's brother; guardian of her honor and my own. His
life is precious as gold. I shall make him marry her."
"What! reward him for his villany?" cried Edouard, frantically.
"A mighty reward," replied Raynal, with a sneer.
"You leave one thing out of the calculation, monsieur," said
Edouard, trembling with anger, "that I will kill your brother-in-law
at the altar, before her eyes."
"YOU leave one thing out of the calculation: that you will first
have to cross swords, at the altar, with me."
"So be it. I will not draw on my old commandant. I could not; but
be sure I will catch him and her alone some day, and the bride shall
be a widow in her honeymoon."
"As you please," said Raynal, coolly. "That is all fair, as you
have been wronged. I shall make her an honest wife, and then you
may make her an honest widow. (This is what they call LOVE, and
sneer at me for keeping clear of it.) But neither he nor you shall
keep MY SISTER what she is now, a ----," and he used a word out of
Edouard winced and groaned. "Oh! don't call her by such a name.
There is some mystery. She loved me once. There must have been
some strange seduction."
"Now you deceive yourself," said Raynal. "I never saw a girl that
could take her own part better than she can; she is not like her
sister at all in character. Not that I excuse him; it was a
dishonorable act, an ungrateful act to my wife and my mother."
"And to you."
"Now listen to me: in four days I shall stand before him. I shall
not go into a pet like you; I am in earnest. I shall just say to
him, 'Dujardin, I know all!' Then if he is guilty his face will
show it directly. Then I shall say, 'Comrade, you must marry her
whom you have dishonored.'"
"He will not. He is a libertine, a rascal."
"You are speaking of a man you don't know. He WILL marry her and
repair the wrong he has done."
"Suppose he refuses?"
"Why should he refuse? The girl is not ugly nor old, and if she has
done a folly, he was her partner in it."
"But SUPPOSE he refuses?"
Raynal ground his teeth. "Refuse? If he does, I'll run my sword
through his carcass then and there, and the hussy shall go into a
The French army lay before a fortified place near the Rhine, which
we will call Philipsburg.
This army knew Bonaparte by report only; it was commanded by
generals of the old school.
Philipsburg was defended on three sides by the nature of the ground;
but on the side that faced the French line of march there was only a
zigzag wall, pierced, and a low tower or two at each of the salient
There were evidences of a tardy attempt to improve the defences. In
particular there was a large round bastion, about three times the
height of the wall; but the masonry was new, and the very embrasures
were not yet cut.
Young blood was for assaulting these equivocal fortifications at the
end of the day's march that brought the French advanced guard in
sight of the place; but the old generals would not hear of it; the
soldiers' lives must not be flung away assaulting a place that could
be reduced in twenty-one days with mathematical certainty. For at
this epoch a siege was looked on as a process with a certain result,
the only problem was in how many days would the place be taken; and
even this they used to settle to a day or two on paper by
arithmetic; so many feet of wall, and so many guns on the one side;
so many guns, so many men, and such and such a soil to cut the
trenches in on the other: result, two figures varying from fourteen
to forty. These two figures represented the duration of the siege.
For all that, siege arithmetic, right in general, has often been
terribly disturbed by one little incident, that occurs from time to
time; viz., Genius INside. And, indeed, this is one of the sins of
genius; it goes and puts out calculations that have stood the brunt
of years. Archimedes and Todleben were, no doubt, clever men in
their way and good citizens, yet one characteristic of delicate
men's minds they lacked--veneration; they showed a sad disrespect
for the wisdom of the ancients, deranged the calculations which so
much learning and patient thought had hallowed, disturbed the minds
of white-haired veterans, took sieges out of the grasp of science,
and plunged them back into the field of wild conjecture.
Our generals then sat down at fourteen hundred yards' distance, and
planned the trenches artistically, and directed them to be cut at
artful angles, and so creep nearer and nearer the devoted town.
Then the Prussians, whose hearts had been in their shoes at first
sight of the French shakos, plucked up, and turned not the garrison
only but the population of the town into engineers and masons.
Their fortifications grew almost as fast as the French trenches.
The first day of the siege, a young but distinguished brigadier in
the French army rode to the quarters of General Raimbaut, who
commanded his division, and was his personal friend, and
respectfully but firmly entreated the general to represent to the
commander-in-chief the propriety of assaulting that new bastion
before it should become dangerous. "My brigade shall carry it in
fifteen minutes, general," said he.
"What! cross all that open under fire? One-half your brigade would
never reach the bastion."
"But the other half would take it."
"That is not so certain."
General Raimbaut refused to forward the young colonel's proposal to
headquarters. "I will not subject you to TWO refusals in one
matter," said he, kindly.
The young colonel lingered. He said, respectfully, "One question,
general, when that bastion cuts its teeth will it be any easier to
take than now?"
"Certainly; it will always be easier to take it from the sap than to
cross the open under fire to it, and take it. Come, colonel, to
your trenches; and if your friend should cut its teeth, you shall
have a battery in your attack that will set its teeth on edge. Ha!
The young colonel did not echo his chief's humor; he saluted
gravely, and returned to the trenches.
The next morning three fresh tiers of embrasures grinned one above
another at the besiegers. The besieged had been up all night, and
not idle. In half these apertures black muzzles showed themselves.
The bastion had cut its front teeth.
Thirteenth day of the siege.
The trenches were within four hundred yards of the enemy's guns, and
it was hot work in them. The enemy had three tiers of guns in the
round bastion, and on the top they had got a long 48-pounder, which
they worked with a swivel joint, or the like, and threw a great
roaring shot into any part of the French lines.
As to the commander-in-chief and his generals, they were dotted
about a long way in the rear, and no shot came as far as them; but
in the trenches the men began now to fall fast, especially on the
left attack, which faced the round bastion. Our young colonel had
got his heavy battery, and every now and then he would divert the
general efforts of the bastion, and compel it to concentrate its
attention on him, by pounding away at it till it was all in sore
places. But he meant it worse mischief than that. Still, as
heretofore, regarding it as the key to Philipsburg, he had got a
large force of engineers at work driving a mine towards it, and to
this he trusted more than to breaching it; for the bigger holes he
made in it by day were all stopped at night by the townspeople.
This colonel was not a favorite in the division to which his brigade
belonged. He was a good soldier, but a dull companion. He was also
accused of hauteur and of an unsoldierly reserve with his brother
Some loose-tongued ones even called him a milk-sop, because he was
constantly seen conversing with the priest--he who had nothing to
say to an honest soldier.
Others said, "No, hang it, he is not a milk-sop: he is a tried
soldier: he is a sulky beggar all the same." Those under his
immediate command were divided in opinion about him. There was
something about him they could not understand. Why was his sallow
face so stern, so sad? and why with all that was his voice so
gentle? somehow the few words that did fall from his mouth were
prized. One old soldier used to say, "I would rather have a word
from our brigadier than from the commander-in-chief." Others
thought he must at some part of his career have pillaged a church,
taken the altar-piece, and sold it to a picture-dealer in Paris, or
whipped the earrings out of the Madonna's ears, or admitted the
female enemy to quarter upon ungenerous conditions: this, or some
such crime to which we poor soldiers are liable: and now was
committing the mistake of remording himself about it. "Always
alongside the chaplain, you see!"