"I saw you languishing, dying, for want oethereum coin halvingf him.""Oh, if anybody should come?" But her eye never stirred an inchfrom the cradle.
her cold light shoots across one half that giant stem.solana foundation twitterHow solemn and calm stands the great round tower of living wood,half ebony, half silver, with its mighty cloud above of flake jetleaves tipped with frosty fire!
Now is the still hour to repeat in a whisper the words of the dameof Beaurepaire, "You were here before us: you will be here when weare gone."We leave the hoary king of trees standing in the moonlight, calmlydefying time, and follow the creatures of a day; for, what theywere, we are.A spacious saloon panelled; dead but showy white picked outsparingly with gold. Festoons of fruits and flowers finely carvedin wood on some of the panels. These also not smothered in gilding,but as it were gold speckled here and there, like tongues of flamewinding among insoluble snow. Ranged against the walls were sofasand chairs covered with rich stuffs well worn. And in one littledistant corner of the long room a gray-haired gentleman and twoyoung ladies sat round a small plain table, on which burned asolitary candle; and a little way apart in this candle's twilight anold lady sat in an easy-chair, thinking of the past, scarce daringto inquire the future. Josephine and Rose were working: not fancy-work but needle-work; Dr. Aubertin writing. Every now and then heput the one candle nearer the girls. They raised no objection: onlya few minutes after a white hand would glide from one or other ofthem like a serpent, and smoothly convey the light nearer to thedoctor's manuscript."Is it not supper-time?" he inquired. "I have an inward monitor;and I think our dinner was more ethereal than usual.""Hush!" said Josephine, and looked uneasily towards her mother."Wax is so dear.""Wax?--ah!--pardon me:" and the doctor returned hastily to his work.But Rose looked up and said, "I wonder Jacintha does not come; it iscertainly past the hour;" and she pried into the room as if sheexpected to see Jacintha on the road. But she saw in fact verylittle of anything, for the spacious room was impenetrable to hereye; midway from the candle to the distant door its twilightdeepened, and all became shapeless and sombre. The prospect endedsharp and black, as in those out-o'-door closets imagined andpainted by a certain great painter, whose Nature comes to a fullstop as soon as he has no further commercial need of her, instead ofmelting by fine expanse and exquisite gradation into genuinedistance, as nature does in Claude and in nature. To reverse thepicture, if you stood at the door you looked across forty feet ofblack, and the little corner seemed on fire, and the fair headsabout the candle shone like the St. Cecilias and Madonnas in anantique stained-glass window.
At last the door opened, and another candle fired Jacintha's comelypeasant face in the doorway. She put down her candle outside thedoor, and started as crow flies for the other light. After glowinga moment in the doorway she dived into the shadow and emerged intolight again close to the table with napkins on her arm. She removedthe work-box reverentially, the doctor's manuscript unceremoniously,and proceeded to lay a cloth: in which operation she looked at Rosea point-blank glance of admiration: then she placed the napkins; andin this process she again cast a strange look of interest upon Rose.The young lady noticed it this time, and looked inquiringly at herin return, half expecting some communication; but Jacintha loweredher eyes and bustled about the table. Then Rose spoke to her with asort of instinct of curiosity, on the chance of drawing her out."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.
Commandant Raynal was amazed at all this, and asked what the deucewas the matter."Oh!" said the notary, "we are used to these little scenes in ourbusiness.""But I am not," replied the soldier. "You never told me there wasto be all this fuss."He then dismissed his friend rather abruptly and strode up and downthe Pleasaunce. He twisted his mustaches, muttered, and "pested,"and was ill at ease. Accustomed to march gayly into a town, and seethe regiment, that was there before, marching gayly out, or viceversa, and to strike tents twice a quarter at least, he was littleprepared for such a scene as this. True, he did not hear all thebaroness's words, but more than one tone of sharp distress reachedhim where he stood, and the action of the whole scene was soexpressive, there was little need of words. He saw the noticegiven; the dismay it caused, and the old lady turn imploringlytowards him with a speaking gesture, and above all he saw hercarried away, half fainting, her hands clasped, her reverend facepale. He was not a man of quick sensibilities. He did notthoroughly take the scene in at first: it grew upon him afterwards.
"Confound it," thought he, "I am the proprietor. They all say so.Instead of which I feel like a thief. Fancy her getting so fond ofa PLACE as all this."Presently it occurred to him that the shortness of the notice mighthave much to do with her distress. "These notaries," said he tohimself, "understand nothing save law: women have piles of baggage,and can't strike tents directly the order comes, as we can. Perhapsif I were to give them twenty-four days instead of hours?--hum!"With this the commandant fell into a brown study. Now each of ushas his attitude of brown study. One runs about the room like hyenain his den; another stands stately with folded arms (this one seldomthinks to the purpose); another sits cross-legged, brows lowered: