Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

hood; which, to say the truth, would have made a very considerable series. The upshot was, that the steward above-mentioned, having been very petulant at finding his master come to the farm, and not a little sarcastic upon “ Mademoiselle Fanchon," was removed to another estate, and the uncle and aunt put in care of La Grange. The steward, finding his master never came down, had usurped a good part of the house; but M. De Lorme insisted that his new housekeepers should share it with him ; and if Fanchon's apartment was at a different corner from his, it befits the truth of our history to say, that the passage to it was not difficult, provided she chose to let it lie open; especially as the good people, after lecturing their niece a little sharply, as they would sometimes do, upon the over-vivacity of her abstract opinions, always slept very soundly. Fanchon fairly blushed now and then, when they talked to her; and the lower they bowed and curtsied before M. De Lorme, she blushed the more ; but as his respect for herself increased, his quiet indifference towards them seemed to do so likewise ; and after the tribute of a flood of tears to the many unhappy hours in which she had formerly struggled against her ill opinion of those for whom she laboured, she agreed with him that such ineanness ought not to distress her.

The steward, when removing his goods from La Grange, had taken care to lay his hands upon every item he could, so that M. De Lorme found his residence very barely provided. Fanchon however would not suffer him to furnish it as he wished. The goods for the housekeeper's side were of the plaineșt kind; and he could not persuade her, when she admitted him to a visit, that he had acquired a foolish love for certain kinds of tapestry and other bed-chamber ornaments. She even insisted (for she would get into strange subjects of conversation, such as mistresses, of all others, are supposed to avoid) that he only slept the pleasanter for it,'s when he was at home; and what is more, she thought as much ; and would be froward with him, if he did not sleep there often. 66. Ilow much virtue,” thought le,“ in my wife, is obscured, and turned into vice, by the single fault of intolerance; and how very like the virtue my wife wants, does vice--I beliere they call it-look in this village-girl!”. ' One day, Fanchon received himn with a particularly sparkling face. Well,” said she, my dear M. De Lorme, they say that the ladies are fond of you, and fond they must be, to do things for you in secret.” “ How now, real one?” said M. De Lorme, for so he delighted to call her. 66. A cart,” she resumed, 6 came this morning with a heap of good things for you, and the man knew nothing of the person that sent them, except that a lady gave him the order, and paid for it.” - What sort of a lady ?”_" Oh now," cried Fanchon,

see the vain gratitude in his eyes! We must find her out for him! A lady in a veil.” M. De Lorme went up stairs, and found the bedroom hung with a new piece of his farourite tapestry. It consisted of stories from the Provençal poets. There were also pictures of Joan of Arc, and of Agnes Sorel; a couple of noble arm chairs hung with crimson velvet; and a toilet, carved in silver with shepherds and shepluerdesses, and containing every thing that a country beauty could de

66

[ocr errors]

sire, of comhs, bodkins, and lacés." And it is not for me only,” said M. De Lorme, doubly delighted and perplexed. “I shall die till you can thank her for both of us,” said Fanchon: “I mean” added she, lowering her voice, "till you can add my grateful respects, if you think she will like it." And the tears came in her eyes. M. De Lorme, whose popularity among the Parisian ladies, and his acquaintance with their manners both bad and good, rendered his vanity more than pardonable, considering the life he led betwixt Tours and La Grange, thought his fair farmer was growing jealous; but the way in which she exhibited this new passion, was so amiable, that he kissed the tears from her eyes with great affection, and said there was not a lady in the land, with whom Fanchon need be afraid of standing face to face.

The truth is, that during his absence, Fanchon, who never looked upon herself as destined to be his chief companion, and had heard much of the former qualities of his wife, was wondering whether he stopped longer than usual on account of a termination of their coldness, when a lady in a veil (the same, she had no doubt, who after. wards sent the goods) came unexpectedly into her 'sitting-room, and after accepting a chair, and holding a silence unaccountably long, asked her somewhat haughtily whether she was the steward's neice. Fanchont, though a little abashed, contrived to answer with her usual mixture of sweetness and respectfulness, that she was.

The answer was followed, after a less silence, with another abrupt remark, though in a less haughty tone. 66 If this is your sitting room,” said the lady, “ it is very plainly furnished for som-handsome a possessor. The tone of the concludiug words was not at all sarcastic; yet Fanchon coloured. In fact, she guessed who was before her, or she might have thought proper to shew a greater self-possession. Not plainer, Madam, "she replied, “than I trust is becoming. The stranger seemed to doubt the sincerity of these words, for she added in a less gentle manner, “M. De Lorme (M. De Lorme, Mademoiselle, is an old friend, and I happen to be just now particularly interested in his comfort) M. De Lorme is happier, I am told, in this place than he is at home?". Now this was a little too hard of Madame de Lorme; for she, of course, it was. She had heard a great deal of Fanchon to her credit, and what she heard was corroborated, as far as it could be, by what she now.saw; but whether she judged her insincere in her last answer, or whether that very corroboration gave her a passing wound that irritated her, we cannot say. Fanchon, thus pushed home, did not think of attacking in turn; but she forgot for a moment, that there was any body to be defended but herself; and said with an air of great simplicity, betwixt enthusiasm and exculpation, that M. De Lorme was so kind and forgiving, and did so much to make others happy, that every body must wish him to be happy, wherever he was. “And you contribute, of course,” said the stranger, “ all you can to make him so.” She said this with the more pointedness, inasmuch as she was struck with the truth of the observation, and angry with herself for feeling the very anger. Fanchon turned very red, then pale, then blushed out in all the natural beauty of her truth and good

heartedness, and said “Without meaning to enquire, Madam, what right you have to question me in this way, but supposing it to be the best and oldest right in the world, perhaps you will pardon me for hoping, that a friend of M. De Lorme will not be offended with me, when I say, that neither my wishes nor my endeavours for M. De Lorme's happiness have been confined to the neighbourhood in which I now have the honour of seeing you." The lady appeared greatly agitated at this. It was evident, through her veil, that the tears were pouring down her cheeks. “You seem ill, Madame," said Fanchon, in an altered tone, full of naiveté and humility :- may I do any thing for you.” She stood aloof, ready to approach, or to run any where. The stranger rose, went towards her herself, and pressed her hand in the most affectionate manner. 6 You cannot do more for me," said she, “than you have done. Only keep this visit a secret from M. De Lorme. I know it will pain you to do so, if he makes many enquiries; but it will be a kindness to all parties, and that seems to be your motto." She paused here a little, and resumed. “I told you truly when I said I was an old friend of M. De Lorme; and I will prove to you that I have that right in common with yourself by sending you a few things to adorn the apartment he likes best with.” Fanchon made no scruples, as she might have done had she been less generous. She felt what was due to a generous woman.

She kissed the stranger's hand, who lifted her veil a little, and kissed her on the mouth. are a charming creature,” said the lady, “that is certain. We shall be friends, though you never see me again.” 66 Ah, Madame," said Fanchon, “if we are friends, it is hard if you will not see me again. I could walk barefoot and alone to meet you, wherever you pleased." The lady put her finger on her lips, as if to remind her of the secret, and departed. It was about a week or two from this visit, that the tapestry came; and M. De Lorme after it.

Madame De Lorme, by dint of suffering, and reflection, and what helped her reflection not a little, the accounts that she heard of Fanchon,-10t omitting an increasing though dispassionate delicacy of attention on the part of her husband, was determined to encourage some very romantic resolutions she had formed, by going and judging for herself of the fair rustic. She anticipated, we must own, that her resolutions might possibly be somewhat dashed by what she saw ; but how was she first angered, then softened, and then confirmed in them all, by what she actually beheld! A long darkness seemed melted from

66 You

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

her eyes.

The reader sees to what the tapestry led. But it was weeks, and even months first. Fanchon thought of putting the new furniture into M. De Lorme's own bed-hamber; but at sight of the toilet, she saw for which room it was intended; and she acted accordingly. As for M. De Lorme, whether it was owing to his being such a favourite with the ladies, or to the habitual notion of marriage which had grown upon him, we must leave the ladies to determine; but his wife was certainly the last woman, whom he thought of as the unknown lady. Perhaps he would not have guessed the truth as soon as he did, had he not been helped by the guesses of Fanchon; and they had both to ascertain the

It was

matter, after all. What staggered him was, that on his first return home after the receipt of the tapestry, Madame De Lorme certainly appeared more reserved than usual; though he must confess that after. wards, there was a something in her conduct,-a patience, as it were, a sort of–he might say--winning sweetness and dignity;--he did not quite know how to finish his description, especially as it appears to have baffled his behaviour, which was a thing on which he piqued himself. The upshot of the conversation was, that he set out for Tours that very day, and surprised the lady with an unexpected visit.

It was twilight; but Madame was still poring over a desk, writing. She left off at his entrance, and said with a tone of equal kindness and sincerity,“ Dear M. De Lorme, is it you? Had you forgotten any thing, when you last went away.” “ Yes, Manon,” said he. the first time for many months that he had called her Manon. She turned pale, and trembled. “ I forgot,” continued he, that one of the kindest of wives was treating me with all sorts of gentleness and good-humour, and that I was one of the most insensible of men. "Not so,-Alain,” returned she, hesitating before she attered the Christian name; “my forgetfulness began before yours.” “May I ask what you are writing here," said M. De Lorme, taking up the paper as he spoke, and endeavouring to break the confusion by resorting to common-places. Madame De Lorme turned paler. A fine lady at Paris, whether “virtuous” or not, would have sworn that Madame had been about to have her " revenge,” and that the manuscript was a billet-doux. It was the commencement of some verses on her husband's birth-day, hoping that others would make him as happy as he and they deserved, though it was not in her own power. She was in his arms the next minute. What a long and dreary mistake vanished at the heaven of that caresses from

" But Fanchon?” the reader may say. This is the very thing Ma. dame De Lorme said about half an hour after that embrace. Fanchon, it was agreed, who had helped to make so much happiness, was never to be made unhappy, was never to be treated but as a friend and com. panion, was never to be spoken to, or spoken of, or spoken about, but as a delightful and noble-hearted creature, whom every body should make as happy as possible. We will not say how often M. De Lorme was at the farm afterwards, especially when Fanchon was married; but it is certain that he was not only there sometimes, but that Fanchon was as often at Tours; and Madame De Lorme and she have been seen laughing with all their might, on a summer's day, to the great scandal of an old maiden lady, who thought they were laughing at her; which they certainly were not.

74

Printed and published by. JOSEPH APPLEYARD, No. 19, Catherine-street, Strand.

Price 22.-And sold also by A. Glippon, Importer of Souffs, No. 31, TavistockStreet, Covent-garden. Orders received at the above places, and by all Booksellers and Newsmen.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

pilnaslui DT
No. LVII.-WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8th, 1820.

A HUMAN ANIMAL, AND THE OTHER EXTREME. We met the other day with the following description of an animal of quality in a Biographical Dictionary that was published in the year 1767, and which is one of the most amusing and spirited publications of the kind that we remember to have seen. The writer does not give his authority for this particular memoir, so that it was probably furnished from his own knowledge ; but that the account is a true one, is evident. Indeed, with the exception of one or two eccentricities of prudence which rather'lean to the side of an excess of instinct, it is but an individual description, referring to a numerous class of the same nature, that once flourished with horn and hound in this country, and specimens of which are no doubt to be found here and there still, especially towards the north*. The title we have put at the head of it is not quite correct and exclusive enough as a definition ; since, properly speaking, we lords of the creation are all human animals; but the mere animal, or living and breathing faculty, is united in us more or less with intellect and sentiment; and of these refinements of the perception, few bipeds that have arrived at the dignity of a coat and boots have partaken so little as the noble squire before us. How far some of us, who take ourselves for very'rational persons, do or do not go beyond him, im. we

shall perhaps see in the course of our remarks. The Honourable William Hastings, a gentleman of a very singular character,” says our informant, “lived in the year 1638, and by his quality was son, brother, and uncle, to the Earls of Huntington. He was peradventure an original in our age, or rather the copy of our ancient nobility, in hunting, not in warlike times.

He was very low, very strong, and very active, of a reddish flaxen hair; his clothes green cloth, and never all worth, when new, five pounds.

* Since writing this, we have found that our zoographical original is in Hutchins's History of Dorsetshire. See Gilpin's Forest Scenery, or Drake's Shakspeare and his Times,

VOL.II.

« ElőzőTovább »