In a quiet side street of the market town in which Mr. Holcroft was accustomed to dispose of his farm produce was a three-story tenement house. A family occupied each floor, those dwelling in the first two stories being plain, respectable people of the mechanic class. The rooms in the third story were, of course, the cheapest, but even from the sbuy usdt by credit cardtreet might be seen evidences that more money had been spent upon them than could have been saved in rent. Lace curtains were looped aside from the windows, through which were caught glimpses of flowers that must have come from a greenhouse. We have only to enter these apartments to find that the suggestion of refined taste is amply fulfilled. While nothing is costly, there is a touch of grace, a hint of beauty in everything permitting simple adornment. The mistress of these rooms is not satisfied with neatness and order merely; it is her instinct to add something to please the eye--a need essential to her, yet too often conspicuously absent in rented quarters of a similar character.
"No, indeed, I like to be alone."buy property with bitcoin australia"I thought I did. Most everyone has seemed a crowd to me. I'm glad you've never given me that feeling. Well, goodbye till you see me driving up with the geraniums."
Chapter 25 A CharivariThe eastern horizon was aglow with rosy tints the following morning when Holcroft awoke; the stars were but just fading from the sky and the birds were still silent. He knew by these signs that it was very early and that he could carry out his plan of a timely start to town. Dressing very quietly, he stole downstairs, shoes in hand, lest his tread should awaken Alida. The kitchen door leading into the hall was closed. Lifting the latch carefully, he found the lamp burning, the breakfast table set, and the kettle humming over a good fire. "This is her work, but where is she?" he queried in much surprise.The outer door was ajar; he noiselessly crossed the room, and looking out, he saw her. She had been to the well for a pail of water, but had set it down and was watching the swiftly brightening east. She was so still and her face so white in the faint radiance that he had an odd, uncanny impression. No woman that he had ever known would stop that way to look at the dawn. He could see nothing so peculiar in it as to attract such fixed attention. "Alida," he asked, "what do you see?"She started slightly and turned to take up the pail; but he had already sprung down the steps and relieved her of the burden."Could anything be more lovely than those changing tints? It seems to me I could have stood there an hour," she said quietly.
"You are not walking or doing all this in your sleep, are you?" he asked, laughing, yet regarding her curiously. "You looked as you stood there like what people call a--what's that big word?""I'm not a somnambulist and never was, to my knowledge. You'll find I'm wide enough awake to have a good breakfast soon.""I will leave this cursed place," said he.
Josephine instantly sent for him to Beaurepaire. He came, and wasfactotum with the novelty of a fixed salary. Jacintha accommodatedhim with a new little odd job or two. She set him to dance on theoak floors with a brush fastened to his right foot; and, after arehearsal or two, she made him wait at table. Didn't he bang thethings about: and when he brought a lady a dish, and she did notinstantly attend, he gave her elbow a poke to attract attention:then she squeaked; and he grinned at her double absurdity in mindinga touch, and not minding the real business of the table.But his wrongs rankled in him. He vented antique phrases such as,"I want a change;" "This village is the last place the Almightymade," etc.Then he was attacked with a moral disease: affected the company ofsoldiers. He spent his weekly salary carousing with the military, aclass of men so brilliant that they are not expected to pay fortheir share of the drink; they contribute the anecdotes and thefamiliar appeals to Heaven: and is not that enough?
Present at many recitals, the heroes of which lost nothing by beingtheir own historians, Dard imbibed a taste for military adventure.His very talk, which used to be so homely, began now to be tinselledwith big swelling words of vanity imported from the army. I needhardly say these bombastical phrases did not elevate his generaldialect: they lay fearfully distinct upon the surface, "like lumpsof marl upon a barren soil, encumbering the ground they could notfertilize."Jacintha took leave to remind him of an incident connected withwarfare--wounds.
"Do you remember how you were down upon your luck when you did butcut your foot? Why, that is nothing in the army. They never go outto fight but some come back with arms off, and some with legs offand some with heads; and the rest don't come back at all: and howwould you like that?"This intrusion of statistics into warfare at first cooled Dard'simpatience for the field. But presently the fighting half of hisheart received an ally in one Sergeant La Croix (not a bad name fora military aspirant). This sergeant was at the village waiting tomarch with the new recruits to the Rhine. Sergeant La Croix was aman who, by force of eloquence, could make soldiering appear themost delightful as well as glorious of human pursuits. His tonguefired the inexperienced soul with a love of arms, as do the drumsand trumpets and tramp of soldiers, and their bayonets glittering inthe sun. He would have been worth his weight in fustian here, wherewe recruit by that and jargon; he was superfluous in France, wherethey recruited by force: but he was ornamental: and he set Dard andone or two more on fire. Indeed, so absorbing was his sense ofmilitary glory, that there was no room left in him for that mereverbal honor civilians call veracity.To speak plainly, the sergeant was a fluent, fertile, interesting,sonorous, prompt, audacious liar: and such was his success, thatDard and one or two more became mere human fiction pipes--ofcomparatively small diameter--irrigating a rural district with falseviews of military life, derived from that inexhaustible reservoir,La Croix.At last the long-threatened conscription was levied: every personfit to bear arms, and not coming under the allowed exceptions, drewa number: and at a certain hour the numbers corresponding to thesewere deposited in an urn, and one-third of them were drawn inpresence of the authorities. Those men whose numbers were drawn hadto go for soldiers. Jacintha awaited the result in great anxiety.She could not sit at home for it; so she went down the road to meetDard, who had promised to come and tell her the result as soon asknown. At last she saw him approaching in a disconsolate way. "ODard! speak! are we undone? are you a dead man?" cried she. "Havethey made a soldier of you?""No such luck: I shall die a man of all work," grunted Dard.
"And you are sorry? you unnatural little monster! you have nofeeling for me, then.""Oh, yes, I have; but glory is No. 1 with me now.""How loud the bantams crow! You leave glory to fools that be sixfeet high.""General Bonaparte isn't much higher than I am, and glory sits uponhis brow. Why shouldn't glory sit upon my brow?""Because it would weigh you down, and smother you, you little fool."She added, "And think of me, that couldn't bear you to be killed atany price, glory or no glory."Then, to appease her fears, Dard showed her his number, 99; andassured her he had seen the last number in the functionary's handbefore he came away, and it was sixty something.This ocular demonstration satisfied Jacintha; and she ordered Dardto help her draw the water."All right," said he, "there is no immortal glory to be picked upto-day, so I'll go in for odd jobs."While they were at this job a voice was heard hallooing. Dardlooked up, and there was a rigid military figure, with a tremendousmustache, peering about. Dard was overjoyed. It was his friend,his boon-companion. "Come here, old fellow," cried he, "ain't Iglad 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 areon 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. Lookhere," 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 areboth sixty-sixes when you play tricks with them, and turn them uplike that; but they are both ninety-nines when you look at themfair."Dard scratched his head."Come," said the corporal, briskly, "make up his bundle, girl, andlet 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 asubstitute directly."Dard stopped her sullenly. "No! I have told all in the village thatI would go the first chance: it is come, and I'll go. I won't stayto 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 bestwine, and while we are drinking it, the sergeant and I, you make upmy bundle. I shall never do any good here."Jacintha knew the obstinate toad. She did as she was bid, and soonthe little bundle was ready, and the two men faced the wine; LaCroix, radiant and bellicose; Dard, crestfallen but dogged (forthere 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 isencouraging? Sergeant, I told this poor girl all about glory beforeyou came, but she was not ripe for it: say something to cheer herup, 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 oftheir troubles; but dogs and donkeys and chaps in blouses can't diegloriously; as Dard may, if he has any luck at all: so, from thishour, if there was twice as little of him, be proud of him, for fromthis time he is a part of France and her renown. Come, recruitninety-nine, shoulder your traps at duty's call, and let us go forthin form. Attention! Quick--march! Halt! is that the way I showedyou to march? Didn't I tell you to start from the left? Now tryagain. QUICK--march! left--right--left--right--left--right--NOWyou'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!Chapter 18
Edouard, the moment his temper cooled, became very sad. He longedto be friends again with Rose, but did not know how. His own prideheld him back, and so did his fear that he had gone too far, andthat his offended mistress would not listen to an offer ofreconciliation from him. He sat down alone now to all his littlemeals. No sweet, mellow voices in his ear after the fatigues of theday. It was a dismal change in his life.At last, one day, he received three lines from Josephine, requestinghim to come and speak to her. He went over directly, full of vaguehopes. He found her seated pale and languid in a small room on theground floor.
"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 mefear she is the one in fault.""Oh! if she does not accuse me, I am sure I will not accuse her. Idare say I am to blame; it is not her fault that I cannot make herlove me.""But you can. She does.""Yes; but she loves others better, and she holds me out no hope itwill ever be otherwise. On this one point how can I hope for yoursympathy; unfortunately for me you are one of my rivals. She toldme 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 notattach so much importance to every word we say. Does Rose at herage know everything? Is she a prophet? Perhaps she really fanciesshe will always love her sister as she does now; but you are a manof sense; you ought to smile and let her talk. When you marry heryou will take her to your own house; she will only see me now andthen; she will have you and your affection always present. Each daysome new tie between you and her. You two will share every joy,every sorrow. Your children playing at your feet, and reflectingthe features of both parents, will make you one. Your hearts willmelt together in that blessed union which raises earth so near toheaven; and then you will wonder you could ever be jealous of poorJosephine, who must never hope--ah, me!"Edouard, wrapped up in himself, mistook Josephine's emotion at thepicture she had drawn of conjugal love. He soothed her, and vowedupon 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 bejealous again, above all, of you, sweet angel. Why, you are mysister as well as hers, and she has a right to love you, for I loveyou myself.""You make me very happy when you talk so," sighed Josephine. "Peaceis made?""Never again to be broken. I will go and ask her pardon. What isthe matter now?"For Jacintha was cackling very loud, and dismissing with ignominytwo beggars, male and female.
She was industry personified, and had no sympathy with mendicity.In vain the couple protested, Heaven knows with what truth, thatthey were not beggars, but mechanics out of work. "March! tramp!"was Jacintha's least word. She added, giving the rein to herimagination, "I'll loose the dog." The man moved away, the womanturned appealingly to Edouard. He and Josephine came towards thegroup. She had got a sort of large hood, and in that hood shecarried an infant on her shoulders. Josephine inspected it. "Itlooks sickly, poor little thing," said she."What can you expect, young lady?" said the woman. "Its mother hadto rise and go about when she ought to have been in her bed, and nowshe has not enough to give it.""Oh, dear!" cried Josephine. "Jacintha, give them some food and anice bottle of wine.""That I will," cried Jacintha, changing her tone with courtier-likealacrity. "I did not see she was nursing."Josephine put a franc into the infant's hand; the little fingersclosed on it with that instinct of appropriation, which is our firstand often our last sentiment. Josephine smiled lovingly on thechild, and the child seeing that gave a small crow."Bless it," said Josephine, and thereupon her lovely head reareditself like a snake's, and then darted down on the child; and theyoung 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 toforget this when a woman's trouble comes on you in your turn! It isa 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 withdisgust."Ugh!" said he, when she rejoined him, "how could you kiss thatnasty little brat?""Dear Edouard, don't speak so of a poor little innocent. Who wouldpity them if we women did not? It had lovely eyes.""Like saucers.""Yes.""It is no compliment when you are affectionate to anybody; youoverflow with benevolence on all creation, like the rose which shedsits 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 friendsquarrel, it is understood they were both in the wrong. Bygones areto be bygones; and when your time comes round to quarrel again,please consult me first, since it is me you will afflict." She leftthem 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 littlesanctum. He even showed an emotion Josephine was at a loss toaccount 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 andEdouard." She then told him what had happened, and hinted atEdouard's one fault. The doctor smiled. "It is curious. You havecome to draw my attention to a point on which it has been fixed forsome days past. I am preparing a cure for the two young fools; asevere remedy, but in their case a sure one."He then showed her a deed, wherein he had settled sixty thousandfrancs on Rose and her children. "Edouard," said he, "has a goodplace. 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 asovereign medicine for both of these patients. She does not lovehim quite enough. Cure: marriage. He loves her a little too much.Cure: marriage.""O doctor!""Can't help it. I did not make men and women. We must take humannature as we find it, and thank God for it on the whole. Have younothing else to confide to me?""No, doctor.""Are you sure?""No, dear friend. But this is very near my heart," falteredJosephine.The doctor sighed; then said gently, "They shall be happy: as happyas 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 mevery anxious."Rose made light of it to her mother, but in her own heart she grewmore and more anxious day by day. She held secret conferences withJacintha; that sagacious personage had a plan to wake Josephine fromher deathly languor, and even soothe her nerves, and check thosepitiable 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 thereare dangers that seem to diminish when you look them long in theface.The whole party was seated in the tapestried room: Jacintha wasthere, sewing a pair of sheets, at a respectful distance from thegentlefolks, absorbed in her work; but with both ears on full cock.