[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

that was lying on the table, and turning the next her skin - grasped tightly in one of title on the back carelessly towards her. ber hands.

* You forget yourself — bow dare you!" When I came down on Saturday mornsaid Ursula, and she rose up opposite to him ing, I found Madame Olympe busily readin a frenzy of indignation.

ing a despatch which had just arrived from “When a woman does not respect her- the Sæur Marie. self, Miss Hamilton," he quietly replied, “ Just look at it,” she said, putting it into " she can hardly expect that other people my hands. “ And tell me if you ever read will respect her."

anything more grotesque and grim than She looked steadily at him for a few this cake-and-death joke ?." The letter seconds while she struggled to say some- was as follows: thing; but no sound would come, and her lips quivered, and her eyes closed : she then “Madame la Comtesse will be glad, no doubt, grew deadly white and left the room.“ Oh, to learn that Madame Simon is still in the same you hit too hard !” I exclaimed in despair. state. The difficulty of swallowing remains very “ You have hurt her!”.

great. She only took one small teacupful of "Hurt her!” he echoed. “I think she broth, by spoonfuls, at intervals all through the must be gone mad! Hurt ber?. I hope I for the worse. Yesterday, after we had made

whole of yesterdav; still there is no change have - it is quite the kindest thing left for her comfortable for the night, Madame Chevet, one to do by her.”

the nurse, said to me, She will be in the other I gathered up my work hastily and was world before to-morrow. But I was certain going to follow her, when Monsieur de Saldes that her hour was not yet come, and so I laid continued: “You are so young, so pure, so

a wager with her about it. The stake was a - good, you do not know the face of evil, as a galette, and I have won it, since here is to

poor battered wretch like myself does. I morrow and Madame Simon is still alive. We implore you break off your intimacy with did it

, Madame la Comtesse, to amuse ourselves Ursula ; she is no fit companion for you

a little while we were watching. Madame la indeed she is not.

Comtesse need send no money at present. I Depend upon it, that looked into Madame Simon's purse while she when a woman of her years already finds was asleep, and saw in it two bank-notes, – virtue.wearisome, the chances are that be- one for two hundred francs and another for one fore long she will find it impossible!”: hundred. · Madame la Comtesse's devoted and " Monsieur René," said I, “for shame! obedient servant, ..

SEUR MARIE.” Your dislike is making you do her far less

and I got up from the sofa. 66 Would one not believe from this,” said I, who have known her less long, know Madame Olympe, when I gave her back her her better than you do!”.

letter, “ that the poor old sister was a regugo don't

go, I beseech you," he lar Mrs. Gamp ? Yet no one ever was tensaid, “ or I shall never forgive myself

. I derer or more devoted than she is to all believe the truth is that I absolutely loathe those who suffer. It is a strange childish that woman !” and he ground his teeth. element that I have observed in many of

I made no answer and was passing on, the sisters of charity and in many of the meaning to leave the room quietly, when country priests too." Madame Olympe

who was standing “ Has Monsieur Kiowski arrived ?” asked up behind Monsieur Jacques' chair and Monsieur Charles, as we sat down to breakbeating time while he accompanied Jeanne's fast. duet — suddenly caught me round the waist “ Not yet. But he will be bere directly," and held me fast, while she went on count- answered Madame Olympe. ing her “ Un, deux, trois ;” and so I stayed • If he comes at all,” said Monsieur de and grew calm as í listened. " Ave sanc- Saldes. tissima, mater amabilis, ora, ora pro nobis ! ” “Do you think he will not come ? ” asked sang the two thin childish voices. It was Monsieur Charles. “ Well, I am a little of wonderfully pure and passionless, and I your opinion. To come all the way across

Ursula could have heard it. the sea (and there was such a high wind in When I went upstairs she was in bed. I the night too !) to sing a trio, seems a strong went close


but she did not stir. Her measure." thick fringes of eyelashes were all matted “ He will come,” said Jeanne. together in little wet points, and the marks “ He will come," said Madame Olympe. of tears still lay in wet lines, all down her “ He will come," said Ursula. face. She had gone to sleep crying, with “ What faith!” said Monsieur de Saldes. a small iron cross which had belonged to " Happy man to be so believed in! But you ber mother

and which she always wore have said nothing." And he turned to me.

than justice



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

wished my poor


[ocr errors]


“What is your opinion ?

Do you believe

Monsieur Jacques came into the hall and that he will come ?

began speaking to me, as I was trying to Just then there was a great bustle out- undo one of my clogs. I could not unclasp side, and we heard a high voice asking it, and Monsieur de Saldes knelt down to breathlessly if we were all well and if we help me. As he stooped, a bunch of dead were in the breakfast-room. The door was violets fell out of his breast. He hastily thrown open, and Monsieur Kiowski ap- picked them up and thrust them back again peared. He looked pale and tired. He and I believe thought that Monsieur Jacques had been travelling all night and had had and I — who were talking together – bad a rough passage; but he bad sold his friend's not perceived them; but we both had cerEgeria, and, true to his word, there he was tainly the same idea, for as soon as he had to sing the Tantuni ergo. He was received left us Monsieur Jacques called to me as I with acclamations.

was going upstairs, and said again, in an Our whole day was passed in rehearsing; agonized whisper, "Do not let Ursula marWe went to the church after breakfast, and ry him!” returned there again in the afternoon. The “Why don't you marry her yourself ?” piano, which was sent down from the said I, laughing. “That would settle it all chateau, was too large to go up the small comfortably.” staircase of the tribune opposite the high He looked up at me with a sharp gaze of altar, where the singing was to take place, far-seeing misery. and the noise and bustle of the workmen " She would wash me - and I should who hauled it up by ropes from the body of die !” he said. the church rather jarred upon my perves.

In the evening the village-girls came up So I stayed below as far from it all as I could, again to the house, and the music was workand amused myself with reading a catechism ed at indefatigably. When we went to which had been left upon one of the chairs. bed, I sat down in an arm-chair by the fire,

Monsieur de Saldes declined going into aud began building up the bits of wood and the tribune, where Madame Olympe had making a blaze. Ursula presently came called him, and came and sat near the high and knelt down by me, and after a few minaltar with me. This I was convinced he utes' silence said to me, Bessie, though I did to avoid Ursula. He and she had kept have not known you long, I love you so much carefully apart from each other all day; to that I want to take an immense liberty me she never once mentioned bim, nor with you." made the slightest allusion to his behaviour 6 Take it, my dear," I answered, kissing of the night before. Her manner was grave, her upturned forehead. “I hardly know quiet, and unexceptionable ; but her whole what you can have to say to me that de. aspect was one of concentrated pride, and mands so solemp a preface." I saw that she had been deeply offended. She coloured slightly, and after a min

The singers kept themselves warm with ute's hesitation said, quickly and nervously, singing I suppose, but I was frozen when “Don't let René de Saldes persuade you that the afternoon rehearsal was over and we all he is fond of you." came out; and having got my clogs on, I “My dear child !”I exclaimed, much surmade up my mind to walk across the fields prised. home. "Monsieur Rene, who was cold too, It is his way,” she continued, “and he offered to escort me.

is not trustworthy. Don't let him do it!" He seemed very sad, and I was obliged “Do you mean," said I, “that it is his to recollect his really prosperous circum- way to persuade people that he is fond of stances not to feel myself full of sympathy them, when he really does not care at all for unexisting misfortune. He spoke of a about them?” life hopeless and aimless, a failure from be- “I don't know that,” she answered. ginning to end, and was so gentle, so de- “ I have seen him very successfully make pressed, and so loveable, that I felt myself people think so about whom he did not care overflowing with pity for him, until I re- at all; and I have seen him like people too, membered what Madame Olympe had told as he does you; but, on the whole, those he me of bis determined rejection of all em- liked, I think, came even worse off than ployment and of every sort of career. I those he didn't. You see he can only love was glad when we got home, for he was al- just a very little himself; and he is always together so touching about himself that, in loved a great deal, and you mustn't love a few minutes more, I am sure he would him, dear Bessie — indeed you mustn't. have made me cry

- although I knew per- You cannot think how the notion of your fectly well that it was all humbug.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

being made unhappy by him has afflicted that at present he had only a hundred and and tormented me.'

fifty pounds a year, and that of course he « Don't be anxious about it any more, could not support a wife upon

that income. dear,” said I. Why, at all events, you

“ Good gracious ! she began again. know I am going away on Monday:". “ Then after losing the eleven best years of

“Yes,” she replied; " but to whom ? to your life, you are actually going to wait for what ? to a narrow circle of exhausting and perhaps another eleven? Good gracious, ungrateful duties, and perhaps with a heart what à dismal state of things !” and she sat made heavy by the remembrance of what down on the ground, with her hands claspyou have left behind. Ah! I cannot bear ed round her knees, looking into the red to think of it !” and she flung her arms embers. round me.

“ My dear,” said I, “I have not lost She was so full of affectionate solicitude; these eleven years, since I have passed that I determined to put her mind altogeth- them in loving the best and noblest human er at ease about me.

creature that I ever knew.". Nevertheless, .“ Dear Ursula,” I said, “I am going Ursula's discouraging view of the case afhome to some one who is not like Monsieur fected me more than I was willing to own. de Saldes; some one who is able, thank It did seem rather hopeless - and she rang heaven, to love a great deal, and who loves the changes on it in a way that was painful me as much as he is able." I then told her to me in spite of all her real kindness and of my engagement to Mr. L'Estrange. my affection for her.

No, really, dear Bessie!” she exclaim- Good gracious!” she ejaculated, thoughted.

“ Are you really engaged? How fully to herself, still looking into the fire. very, very glad I am that is all right!“ And isn't he likely to get some preferand is he very charming, dear? and should ment soon ?I like him? and would be like me ? and do “ Indeed I cannot tell,” said I. They you love him very, very much, dear ? ” know how distinguished and bow hard

" He is very learned and very clever, working he is, - perhaps something may and quite the most charming person I ever turn up before very long.” inet," I answered. " And he is so strong

“ Bút eleven whole years ! and gentle and good, that it is impossible cious, my dear, I don't see my way at all ! not to love him.'

What will


do if he doesn't get any preAnd how long have you been engaged ferment ? " she continued after å pause. to him, dear Bessie ?” she asked, eagerly. “ Wait on, I suppose,” I said, rather

I could not help feeling rather sad as I drearily, and I began not to see my way told her that we had been engaged ever either so I got into bed as quickly as I since I was seventeen.

could, and pretended to be asleep, that she "Good gracious, what a long time!” she might leave off saying “Good gracious!” exclaimed. Why, how long is it ? how at my unprosperous little love-affair any old are you ?”. “I am twenty-eight, my dear," I answer- Our Sunday function went off


bril ed, with a little sigh.

liantly and was eminently successful. The Twenty-eight ! impossible !” she cried. church was crammed from one end to the Why, I always fancied you were younger other with the relations and friends of the than I am."

young people who were the principal objects I laughed and said that little whitey- of interest in the ceremony. I found that it brown women with unsalient features al- was not a confirmation service, but the takways looked younger than they really ing of their first communion by the young

village children who had just been confirm“ Then you have been engaged eleven ed. And what with the part they took and whole years ?

Good gracious, how very. the part that we took in the performance, I awful I ” she exclaimed. Why didn't you must say that I think it was altogether as

unedifying a spectacle as I ever assisted "Because William is only a poor curate, at. Our programme was singular but efdear, and could not afford to keep a wife,” fective. I answered.

First came the glorious Tantum ergo, for " But when are you going to marry ? which Monsieur Kiowski had sacrificed himdirectly, now soon as ever you get self with such a good grace, and which went back ?

beautifully — Monsieur Jacques, with a roll I told her that there was no possibility of of music for a bâton, directing for all the mr marrying until he got some preferment: world as though we had been in a theatre.

Good gra

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

marry ?”

? as



[ocr errors]

Then Ursula sang her Marcello psalm, and Then there were long orations made by the grave tones went surging over the two poor little girls in their white commun church in great waves of sound and send ion-frocks, who took it by turns to stand up ing shivers down one's spine. Then follow- in the crowded church, accusing themselves ed a trio - also by Marcello -sung by Ur- of the most frightful iniquities, and addresssula, Monsieur 'Kiowski, and Monsieur ing long pompous harangues to the priest, Charles: this too was beautiful and perfectly to their parents, to the assistant spectators, devout. After it came Jeanne s and Mad- to their companions, to the Virgin, to God; ame Martin's sweet hymn to the Virgin ; which were declaimed with the most la. then a cantique by the village-girls, as triv- boured gestures – evidently perfectly unial and profane as the romances one bears spontaneous, and bearing no reference upon the street organs, and very like them; whatever to the words they were utterthen Ursula got up again and sang her ing. Stradella love-song, transmogrified for the « Vous me voyez prosternée," was assertfirst three or four bars into an O Salutaris, ed by one child, standing bolt upright, and then suddenly flaming out into very who, poor little soul, proceeded to inform earthly ecstasies in good right Italian. Fortu- us, “ qu'elle avait perdu la robe de son innately it was a song with a Da capo to it, nocence,” and invited us with continual so that she was able to relapse into devo- placid wavings of her arms, a shrill voice tion and Latin again at the conclusion. It and cheerful countenance, to " écouter ses was a splendid piece of audacity, and a sanglots" and "contempler ses larmes." splendid piece of art; ! but although I could These recitations were relieved by a most not belp being transported with it, my con- remarkable set of evolutions — a sort of milscience kept putting up a regretful protest itary entertainment without fire-arms — all the time, and I could not bear ber doing precipitately performed at intervals by all it. However, she had never been taught the little boys to the sound of a wooden anything but singing, and religion has to be clapper played by the priest ; but the drilllearnt as well as everythiug else. The per- ing had been incomplete, and the execution formance wound up with a quartet (the was rather agitated and leaving something most serious they could find,) out of Ros- to be desired. It was inexpressibly comisini's Tancredi, sung without any attempt cal — but, at the same time on that very at disguise, in its native Italian. Mixed up account, extremely painful and disagreewith all this came bits of the regular mass able. It went to my heart to see children, music, executed in our tribune (but not by in themselves sacred, and doing so sacred a us) upon a little braying, fiendish old or- thing, going through a series of antics which gan with about as much regard to time and made them look like so many absurd little tune as distinguishes the infant German parrots and apes. Ursula received many band in London streets. Alternating with compliments as she went out, and people it came doleful gusts of nasal chanting from told her how much impressed they had the officiating priests below. No one ap- been with the devotional feeling of what peared to have the slightest idea what was she had sung : her part of the business seemthe right moment for anything to take ed the most solemn after all. place, and we made three or four false “ Come, get in, get in !” cried Madame starts, cropping out into O Salutarses and Olympe, who had gone on before us, and Amabilises upon improper occasions, and who was already seated in the carriage. being rebuked for it and speedily reduced We must make haste if we mean to go to silence by Monsieur le Curé, who kept up on the river before it gets dark.” a series of mysterious telegraphic communi- “I jumped in, Ursula jumped in, Moncations with us, by means of his arms, from sieur Charles climbed up to the box; the other end of the church, where he was Jeanne, Monsieur Dessaix, and Monsieur (I suppose) praying at the high altar. Some- Kiowski had already started walking times he graciously waved and beckoned ; at taking the short cut across the fields. other times he protested, and, as it were, “ Is there room for me?” asked Monsienr thrust us back again into our seats; and de Saldes. He had before said that he meant once or twice he did something that looked to walk, which was what I saw had deteruncommonly like shaking his fist at us, mined Ursula upon driving. when we persisted in opening our mouths

“ Yes, yes, there is plenty of room; get in the wrong place. His energetic and ex- in!” said Madame Olympe. He got in, and pressive movements were all we had to as he did so on one side, Ursula got out on guide us, and I think it was wonderful that the other. “But what are you doing?” the music did not go worse astray.

[ocr errors]

asked Madame Olympe, rather impatient-frowed. We were all very quiet; some of ly.

us were a little exhausted by the exertions "Only going to run after Jeanne and of the morning, and all were depressed by Jacques," said Ursula, setting off. “My the feeling that it was the last of our many feet got quite frozen in that cold tribune, happy excursions. What an evening it and I want to warm them.”

was! One whole side of the heavens was of “ There's room inside,” shouted Madame a deep solemn rose-colour, with a wondrous Olympe, through the front window, to Mon- diaper of red brown leaves embroidered sieur Charles; he had no great-coat, and upon it by the branches of a screen of trees she thought he would be cold. “ Get into which stood out in strong relief against it: the carriage and let the servant go upon the other side was a blaze of golden fire. the box."

This effect lasted the longest : it only seem“But, Olympe, I am quite comfortable up ed to grow into an ever-deepening amber, here," he answered.

haunting that half of heaven like some “Get into the carriage.”

brooding passionate regret, while the rose “ I have got a shawl over my knees,” said hue passed first into violet, then into dark he, appealingly.

purple, and then faded away into still sil“Get into the carriage.”

ver grey

Soft opal tints came down "I was just going to smoke a little cigar- from the skies and lay upon the face of ette," be observed, mildly.

the waters, as we rowed away from all " But when I tell you to get into the car- the glory into a world of delicate twiriage!” she answered, her voice working light shadow. Suddenly, from the grey up ominously towards the treble key. bank, burned out a single orange-coloured

He did as he was bid, and we started. leaf. Oh! who shall explain the strange After we had gone steadily along for about mystery by which one feels stabbed to the ten minutes, one of the horses shied at a heart with a sharp pang of delight at some piece of paper that was lying in the road. unexpected apparition of this kind ? We all Madame Olympe gave a scream : “ It's the called aloud in one unanimous voice of salu-/ white horse!” cried she.

tation, as we floated past the little lonely "It's the bay one,” said Monsieur René, flame. Presently the surface of the river looking out.

became black as liquid ebony, the moon got The coachman whipped and whipped in up, and a pleasant rhythm of plashing oars, vain; the animal jumped and fidgeted, but always accompanied by a bright flash of would not go by the place.

light, was all that marked our gentle progMadame Olympe was beginning to be a ress through the water.

L1 1 1 1 deal frightened. " It's the white “Ah! Will no one sing and make this Borge!” she she exclaimed again.

quite, quite perfect?” said Madame Olympe. Monsieur Charles now looked out in his Monsieur Kiowski began the well-known turn. “No, Olympe," said he, “it is the air of the Sorrento boatmen, the Fata d' bay horse."


, and Ursula joined in second. While It's the white horse!” she vociferated, they sang, Jeanne and René pulled in their eyeing him despotically, between two oars, and we went drifting – drifting screams. The beast now began to kick and drifting along in soft darkness, listening to plunge, and Madame Olympe got into a the passionate southern sounds. I could state of the most imperious terror.

not help thinking that, perhaps when I am " There is no white horse at all in the dying, that solitary leaf will burn into my carriage,” said Monsieur Charles.

heart once more, as I drift silently with "But when I tell you that I choose that closed eyes into the waters of the other it should be a white horse!” cried she in life. her highest key, and with her eyebrows Every one felt grieved when Madame running straight up her forehead into her Olympe unwillingly gave the signal for pulhair. It was too funny, and we all went ling to shore. The place where we landed into fits of laughter, in which she could not was very shallow, and one had to step over help joining very heartily herself, in spite large stepping-stones in the water in order of her alarm. The gentlemen then got to reach the bank. There was neither difdown, the restive creature was led past the ficulty nor danger, and we accomplished it obstacle, and presently we arrived safely at with perfect ease.... Suddenly a plaintive the water's edge, where we found the voice was heard calling upon us all to stop. others waiting for us.

It was Monsieur Jacques, who had remained We jumped into the boat, and pushed off behind unperceived, and who now from shore: Monsieur de Saldes and Jeanne nounced that it was simply impossible for



« ElőzőTovább »