These insults were fired almost in a volltheta coin expectationsey. Alida felt Holcroft's arm grow rigid for a second. "Go in, quick!" he said.
she was innocent. One ripple kaç tl coinmarketcapswooned away like a guilty coward."Edouard uttered an exclamation."Yes, Edouard, you shall not be miserable like me; she was guilty.
You do not understand me yet, my poor mother--and she was so happythis morning--I was the liar, the coward, the double-faced wife, themiserable mother that denied her child. Now will you let me die?Now do you see that I can't and won't live upon shame and despair?Ah, Monsieur Raynal, my dear friend, you were always generous: youwill pity and kill me. I have dishonored the name you gave me tokeep: I am neither Beaurepaire nor Raynal. Do pray kill me,monsieur--Jean, do pray release me from my life!"And she crawled to his knees and embraced them, and kissed his hand,and pleaded more piteously for death, than others have begged forlife.Raynal stood like a rock: he was pale, and drew his breath audibly,but not a word. Then came a sight scarce less terrible thanJosephine's despair. The baroness, looking and moving twenty yearsolder than an hour before, tottered across the room to Raynal."Sir, you whom I have called my son, but whom I will never presumeso to call again, I thought I had lived long enough never to have toblush again. I loved you, monsieur. I prayed every day for you.
But she who WAS my daughter was not of my mind. Monsieur, I havenever knelt but to God and to my king, and I kneel to you: forgiveus, sir, forgive us!"She tried to go down on her knees. He raised her with his strongarm, but he could not speak. She turned on the others."So this is the secret you were hiding from me! This secret has notkilled you all. Oh! I shall not live under its shame so long as youhave. Chateau of Beaurepaire--nest of treason, ingratitude, andimmodesty--I loathe you as much as once I loved you. I will go andhide my head, and die elsewhere.""Stay, madame!" said he, in a voice whose depth and dignity was suchthat it seemed impossible to disobey it. "It was sudden--I wasshaken--but I am myself again.""Oh, show some pity!" cried Rose."Permit me, Josephine," said he. "Natural history steps in here,and teaches by me, its mouth-piece. A misanthrope hates allmankind, but is kind to every individual, generally too kind. Aphilanthrope loves the whole human race, but dislikes his wife, hismother, his brother, and his friends and acquaintances. Misanthropeis the potato: rough and repulsive outside, but good to the core.
Philanthrope is a peach: his manner all velvet and bloom, his wordssweet juice, his heart of hearts a stone. Let me read Philanthrope'sbook, and fall into the hands of Misanthrope."Edouard admitted the shrewdness of this remark."And so," said he, "my misanthrope will say plenty of biting words,--which, by-the-by, will not hurt you, who will not hear them, onlyme,--and then he'll lend us the money, and Beaurepaire will be free,and I shall have had a hand in it. Hurrah!"Then came a delicious hour to Edouard Riviere. Young and old pouredout their glowing thanks and praises upon him till his checks burnedlike fire.The baroness was especially grateful, and expressed a gentle regretthat she could see no way of showing her gratitude except in words."What can we do for this little angel?" said she, turning toJosephine.
"Leave that to me, mamma," replied Josephine, turning her lovelyeyes full on Edouard, with a look the baroness misunderstooddirectly.She sat and watched Josephine and Edouard with comical severity allthe rest of the time she was there; and, when she retired, shekissed Rose affectionately, but whispered her eldest daughter, "Ihope you are not serious. A mere boy compared with you.""But such a sweet one," suggested Josephine, apologetically.
"What will the world come to?" said the baroness out loud, andretreated with a sour glance at all of them--except Rose.She had not been gone five minutes when a letter came by messengerto Edouard. It was from Picard. He read it out."Perrin has been with me, to raise money. He wants it in forty-eight hours. Promises good legal security. I have agreed to tryand arrange the matter for him."They were all astonished at this."The double-faced traitor!" cried Edouard. "Stay; wait a minute.
Let us read it to an end.""This promise is, of course, merely to prevent his going elsewhere.At the end of the forty-eight hours I shall begin to makedifficulties. Meantime, as Perrin is no fool, you had better profitto the full by this temporary delay.""Well done, Picard!" shouted Edouard. "Notary cut notary. I won'tlose an hour. I'll start at five; Commandant Raynal is an earlyriser himself."Accordingly, at five he was on the road; Raynal's quarters lay inthe direct line to his uncle's place. He found the commandant athome, and was well received. Raynal had observed his zeal, andliked his manners. He gave him the week's leave, and kept him tobreakfast, and had his horse well fed. At eight o'clock Edouardrode out of the premises in high spirits. At the very gate he met agaunt figure riding in on a squab pony. It was Perrin the notarycoming in hot haste to his friend and employer, Commandant Raynal.Chapter 5After Edouard's departure, Josephine de Beaurepaire was sad, andweighed down with presentiments. She felt as soldiers sometimesfeel who know the enemy is undermining them; no danger on thesurface; nothing that can be seen, met, baffled, attacked, orevaded; in daily peril, all the more horrible that it imitatesperfect serenity, they await the fatal match. She imparted hermisgivings to Aubertin; but he assured her she exaggerated thedanger.
"We have a friend still more zealous and active than our enemy;believe me, your depression is really caused by his absence; we allmiss the contact of that young heroic spirit; we are a body, and heits soul."Josephine was silent, for she said to herself, "Why should I dashtheir spirits? they are so happy and confident."Edouard had animated Rose and Aubertin with his own courage, and hadeven revived the baroness.It had been agreed between him and Picard that the latter shouldcommunicate with Dr. Aubertin direct, should anything fresh occur.
And on the third day after Edouard's departure, Picard sent up aprivate message: "Perrin has just sent me a line to say he will nottrouble us, as he is offered the money in another quarter."This was a heavy blow, and sent them all to bed more or lessdespondent.The next day brought a long letter from Edouard to Rose, telling herhe had found his uncle crusty at first; but at last with a littlepatience, and the co-operation of Martha, his uncle's old servant,and his nurse, the old boy had come round. They might look on theaffair as all but settled.
The contents of this letter were conveyed to the baroness. Thehouse brightened under it: the more so that there was some hope oftheir successful champion returning in person next day. MeantimePerrin had applied to Raynal for the immediate loan of a large sumof money on excellent security. Raynal refused plump. Perrin rodeaway disconsolate.But the next day he returned to the charge with another proposal:and the nature of this second proposal we shall learn from events.The day Edouard was expected opened deliciously. It was a balmymorning, and tempted the sisters out before breakfast. Theystrolled on the south terrace with their arms round each other'swaists, talking about Edouard, and wondering whether they shouldreally see him before night. Rose owned she had missed him, andconfessed for the first time she was a proud and happy girl."May I tell him so?" asked Josephine."Not for all the world. Would you dare?"Further discussion of that nice point was stopped by the baronesscoming out, leaning on Dr. Aubertin.
Then--how we young people of an unceremonious age should havestared--the demoiselles de Beaurepaire, inasmuch as this was theirmother's first appearance, lowered their fair heads at the same timelike young poplars bowing to the wind, and so waited reverently tillshe had slightly lifted her hands, and said, "God bless you, mychildren!"It was done in a moment on both sides, but full of grace and piety,and the charm of ancient manners."How did our dear mother sleep?" inquired Josephine. Aubertininterposed with a theory that she slept very well indeed if she tookwhat he gave her.
"Ay, IF," suggested Rose, saucily."I slept," said the baroness, "and I wish I had not for I dreamed anugly dream." They all gathered round her, and she told her dream.
"I thought I was with you all in this garden. I was admiring theflowers and the trees, and the birds were singing with all theirmight. Suddenly a dark cloud came; it cleared almost directly; butflowers, trees, sky, and birds were gone now, and I could see thechateau itself no more. It means that I was dead. An ugly dream,my children, an ugly dream.""But only a dream, dear mother," said Rose: then with a sweet,consoling smile, "See, here is your terrace and your chateau.""And here are your daughters," said Josephine; and they both cameand kissed her to put their existence out of doubt. "And here isyour Aesculapius," said Aubertin. "And here is your Jacintha.""Breakfast, madame," said Jacintha. "Breakfast, mesdemoiselles.Breakfast, monsieur:" dropping each a distinct courtesy in turn.
"She has turned the conversation very agreeably," said the baroness,and went in leaning on her old friend.But the sisters lagged behind and took several turns in silence.Rose was the first to speak. "How superstitious of you!""I said nothing.""No; but you looked volumes at me while mamma was telling her dream.For my part I feel sure love is stronger than hate; and we shallstay all our days in this sweet place: and O Josey! am I not a happygirl that it's all owing to HIM!"At this moment Jacintha came running towards them. They took it fora summons to breakfast, and moved to meet her. But they soon sawshe was almost as white as her apron, and she came open-mouthed andwringing her hands. "What shall I do? what shall I do? Oh, don'tlet my poor mistress know!"They soon got from her that Dard had just come from the town, andlearned the chateau was sold, and the proprietor coming to takepossession this very day. The poor girls were stupefied by theblow.
If anything, Josephine felt it worst. "It is my doing," she gasped,and tottered fainting. Rose supported her: she shook it off by aviolent effort. "This is no time for weakness," she cried, wildly;"come to the Pleasaunce; there is water there. I love my mother.What will I not do for her? I love my mother."Muttering thus wildly she made for the pond in the Pleasaunce. Shehad no sooner turned the angle of the chateau than she started backwith a convulsive cry, and her momentary feebleness left herdirectly; she crouched against the wall and griped the ancientcorner-stone with her tender hand till it powdered, and she spiedwith dilating eye into the Pleasaunce, Rose and Jacintha pantingbehind her. Two men stood with their backs turned to her looking atthe oak-tree; one an officer in full uniform, the other the humansnake Perrin. Though the soldier's back was turned, his off-handed,peremptory manner told her he was inspecting the place as its master.
"The baroness! the baroness!" cried Jacintha, with horror. Theylooked round, and the baroness was at their very backs."What is it?" cried she, gayly.
"Nothing, mamma.""Let me see this nothing."They glanced at one another, and, idle as the attempt was, the habitof sparing her prevailed, and they flung themselves between her andthe blow."Josephine is not well," said Rose. "She wants to go in." Bothgirls faced the baroness.
"Jacintha," said the baroness, "fetch Dr. Aubertin. There, I havesent her away. So now tell me, why do you drive me back so?Something has happened," and she looked keenly from one to theother."O mamma! do not go that way: there are strangers in the Pleasaunce.""Let me see. So there are. Call Jacintha back that I may orderthese people out of my premises." Josephine implored her to becalm."Be calm when impertinent intruders come into my garden?""Mother, they are not intruders.""What do you mean?""They have a right to be in our Pleasaunce. They have bought thechateau.""It is impossible. HE was to buy it for us--there is some mistake--what man would kill a poor old woman like me? I will speak to thisgentleman: he wears a sword. Soldiers do not trample on women. Ah!
that man."The notary, attracted by her voice, was coming towards her, a paperin his hand.Raynal coolly inspected the tree, and tapped it with his scabbard,and left Perrin to do the dirty work. The notary took off his hat,and, with a malignant affectation of respect, presented the baronesswith a paper.
The poor old thing took it with a courtesy, the effect of habit, andread it to her daughters as well as her emotion permitted, and thelanguage, which was as new to her as the dialect of Cat Island toColumbus."Jean Raynal, domiciled by right, and lodging in fact at the Chateauof Beaurepaire, acting by the pursuit and diligence of MasterPerrin, notary; I, Guillaume Le Gras, bailiff, give notice toJosephine Aglae St. Croix de Beaurepaire, commonly called theBaroness de Beaurepaire, having no known place of abode"--"Oh!""but lodging wrongfully at the said Chateau of Beaurepaire, that sheis warned to decamp within twenty-four hours"--"To decamp!""failing which that she will be thereto enforced in the manner forthat case made and provided with the aid of all the officers andagents of the public force.""Ah! no, messieurs, pray do not use force. I am frightened enoughalready. I did not know I was doing anything wrong. I have beenhere thirty years. But, since Beaurepaire is sold, I comprehendperfectly that I must go. It is just. As you say, I am not in myown house. I will go, gentlemen, I will go. Whither shall I go, mychildren? The house where you were born to me is ours no longer.
Excuse me, gentlemen--this is nothing to you. Ah! sir, you haverevenged yourself on two weak women--may Heaven forgive you!"The notary turned on his heel. The poor baroness, all whose pridethe iron law, with its iron gripe, had crushed into dismay andterror, appealed to him. "O sir! send me from the house, but notfrom the soil where my Henri is laid! is there not in all thisdomain a corner where she who was its mistress may lie down and die?Where is the NEW BARON, that I may ask this favor of him on myknees?"She turned towards Raynal and seemed to be going towards him withoutstretched arms. But Rose checked her with fervor. "Mamma! donot lower yourself. Ask nothing of these wretches. Let us loseall, but not forget ourselves."The baroness had not her daughter's spirit. Her very persontottered under this blow. Josephine supported her, and the nextmoment Aubertin came out and hastened to her side. Her head fellback; what little strength she had failed her; she was half lifted,half led, into the house.