He answered mechanically, "Yes, I diuniswap contract addressd.""I am sent here by General Bonaparte to take a command," explainedRaynal.
"Oh, we can give you a better room than that," said the sergeant. "Show her into the waiting room, Tim. If you prosecute, we can help you with our testimony. Goodbye, and may you have better days!"bitcoin graph todayWatterly was telegraphed to come down with a conveyance for the almshouse was in a suburb. In due time he appeared, and was briefly told Alida's story. He swore a little at the "mean cuss," the author of all the trouble, and then took the stricken woman to what all his acquaintances facetiously termed his "hotel."
Chapter 11 BaffledIn the general consciousness Nature is regarded as feminine, and even those who love her most will have to adopt Mrs. Mumpson's oft-expressed opinion of the sex and admit that she is sometimes a "peculiar female." During the month of March, in which our story opens, there was scarcely any limit to her varying moods. It would almost appear that she was taking a mysterious interest in Holcroft's affairs; but whether it was a kindly interest or not, one might be at a loss to decide. When she caught him away from home, she pelted him with the coldest of rain and made his house, with even Mrs. Mumpson and Jane abiding there, seem a refuge. In the morning after the day on which he had brought, or in a sense had carted, Mrs. Wiggins to his domicile, Nature was evidently bent on instituting contrasts between herself and the rival phases of femininity with which the farmer was compelled to associate. It may have been that she had another motive and was determined to keep her humble worshiper at her feet, and to render it impossible for him to make the changes toward which he had felt himself driven.Being an early riser he was up with the sun, and the sun rose so serenely and smiled so benignly that Holcroft's clouded brow cleared in spite of all that had happened or could take place. The rain, which had brought such discomfort the night before, had settled the ground and made it comparatively firm to his tread. The southern breeze which fanned his cheek was as soft as the air of May. He remembered that it was Sunday, and that beyond feeding his stock and milking, he would have nothing to do. He exulted in the unusual mildness and thought, with an immense sense of relief, "I can stay outdoors nearly all day." He resolved to let his help kindle the fire and get breakfast as they could, and to keep out of their way. Whatever changes the future might bring, he would have one more long day in rambling about his fields and in thinking over the past. Feeling that there need be no haste about anything, he leisurely inhaled the air, fragrant from springing grass, and listened with a vague, undefined pleasure to the ecstatic music of the bluebirds, song-sparrows, and robins. If anyone had asked him why he liked to hear them, he would have replied, "I'm used to 'em. When they come, I know that plowing and planting time is near."It must be admitted that Holcroft's enjoyment of spring was not very far removed from that of the stock in his barnyard. All the animal creation rejoices in the returning sun and warmth. A subtle, powerful influence sets the blood in more rapid motion, kindles new desires, and awakens a glad expectancy. All that is alive becomes more thoroughly alive and existence in itself is a pleasure. Spring had always brought to the farmer quickened pulses, renewed activity and hopefulness, and he was pleased to find that he was not so old and cast down that its former influence had spent itself. Indeed, it seemed that never before had his fields, his stock, and outdoor work--and these comprised Nature to him--been so attractive. They remained unchanged amid the sad changes which had clouded his life, and his heart clung more tenaciously than ever to old scenes and occupations. They might not bring him happiness again, but he instinctively felt that they might insure a comfort and peace with which he could be content.At last he went to the barn and began his work, doing everything slowly, and getting all the solace he could from the tasks. The horses whinnied their welcome and he rubbed their noses caressingly as he fed them. The cows came briskly to the rack in which he foddered them in pleasant weather, and when he scratched them between the horns they turned their mild, Juno-like eyes upon him with undisguised affection. The chickens, clamoring for their breakfast, followed so closely that he had to be careful where he stepped. Although he knew that all this good will was based chiefly on the hope of food and the remembrance of it in the past, nevertheless it soothed and pleased him. He was in sympathy with this homely life; it belonged to him and was dependent on him; it made him honest returns for his care. Moreover, it was agreeably linked with the past. There were quiet cows which his wife had milked, clucking biddies which she had lifted from nests with their downy broods. He looked at them wistfully, and was wondering if they ever missed the presence that he regretted so deeply, when he became conscious that Jane's eyes were upon him. How long she had been watching him he did not know, but she merely said, "Breakfast's ready," and disappeared.
With a sigh he went to his room to perform his ablutions, remembering with a slight pang how his wife always had a basin and towel ready for him in the kitchen. In the breaking up of just such homely customs, he was continually reminded of his loss.On awakening to the light of this Sabbath morning, Mrs. Mumpson had thought deeply and reasoned everything out again. She felt that it must be an eventful day and that there was much to be accomplished. In the first place there was Mrs. Wiggins. She disapproved of her decidedly. "She isn't the sort of person that I would prefer to superintend," she remarked to Jane while making a toilet which she deemed befitting the day, "and the hour will assuredly come when Mr. Holcroft will look upon her in the light that I do. He will eventually realize that I cannot be brought in such close relationship with a pauper. Not that the relationship is exactly close, but then I shall have to speak to her--in brief, to superintend her. My eyes will be offended by her vast proportions and uncouth appearance. The floor creaks beneath her tread and affects my nerves seriously. Of course, while she is here, I shall zealously, as befits one in my responserble position, try to render useful such service as she can perform. But then, the fact that I disapprove of her must soon become evident. When it is discovered that I only tolerate her, there will be a change. I cannot show my disapproval very strongly today for this is a day set apart for sacred things, and Mrs. Viggins, as she called herself,--I cannot imagine a Mr. Viggins for no man in his senses could have married such a creature,--as I was saying, Mrs. Viggins is not at all sacred, and I must endeavor to abstract my mind from her till tomorrow, as far as posserble. My first duty today is to induce Mr. Holcroft to take us to church. It will give the people of Oakville such a pleasing impression to see us driving to church. Of course, I may fail, Mr. Holcroft is evidently a hardened man. All the influences of his life have been adverse to spiritual development, and it may require some weeks of my influence to soften him and awaken yearnings for what he has not yet known."Put down the book a moment: shut your eyes: and imagine this strangeand complicated form of human suffering.
Her mental sufferings were terrible; and for some time Rose fearedfor her reason. At last her agonies subsided into a listlessnessand apathy little less alarming. She seemed a creature descendinginch by inch into the tomb. Indeed, I fully believe she would havedied of despair: but one of nature's greatest forces stepped intothe arena and fought on the side of life. She was affected withcertain bilious symptoms that added to Rose's uneasiness, butJacintha assured her it was nothing, and would retire and leave thesufferer better. Jacintha, indeed, seemed now to take a particularinterest in Josephine, and was always about her with looks of pityand interest."Good creature!" thought Rose, "she sees my sister is unhappy: andthat makes her more attentive and devoted to her than ever."One day these three were together in Josephine's room. Josephinewas mechanically combing her long hair, when all of a sudden shestretched out her hand and cried, "Rose!"Rose ran to her, and coming behind her saw in the glass that herlips were colorless. She screamed to Jacintha, and between themthey supported Josephine to the bed. She had hardly touched it whenshe fainted dead away. "Mamma! mamma!" cried Rose in her terror."Hush!" cried Jacintha roughly, "hold your tongue: it is only afaint. Help me loosen her: don't make any noise, whatever." Theyloosened her stays, and applied the usual remedies, but it was sometime before she came-to. At last the color came back to her lips,then to her cheek, and the light to her eye. She smiled feebly onJacintha and Rose, and asked if she had not been insensible."Yes, love, and frightened us--a little--not much--oh, dear! oh,dear!""Don't be alarmed, sweet one, I am better. And I will never do itagain, since it frightens you." Then Josephine said to her sisterin a low voice, and in the Italian language, "I hoped it was death,my sister; but he comes not to the wretched.""If you hoped that," replied Rose in the same language, "you do notlove your poor sister who so loves you."While the Italian was going on, Jacintha's dark eyes glancedsuspiciously on each speaker in turn. But her suspicions were allwide of the mark.
"Now may I go and tell mamma?" asked Rose."No, mademoiselle, you shall not," said Jacintha. "Madame Raynal,do take my side, and forbid her.""Why, what is it to you?" said Rose, haughtily.
"If it was not something to me, should I thwart my dear young lady?""No. And you shall have your own way, if you will but condescend togive me a reason."This to some of us might appear reasonable, but not to Jacintha: iteven hurt her feelings."Mademoiselle Rose," she said, "when you were little and used to askme for anything, did I ever say to you, 'Give me a REASON first'?""There! she is right," said Josephine. "We should not make termswith tried friends. Come, we will pay her devotion this compliment.It is such a small favor. For my part I feel obliged to her forasking it."Josephine's health improved steadily from that day. Her hollowcheeks recovered their plump smoothness, and her beauty its bloom,and her person grew more noble and statue-like than ever, and withinshe felt a sense of indomitable vitality. Her appetite had for sometime been excessively feeble and uncertain, and her food tasteless;but of late, by what she conceived to be a reaction such as iscommon after youth has shaken off a long sickness, her appetite hadbeen not only healthy but eager. The baroness observed this, and itrelieved her of a large portion of her anxiety. One day at dinnerher maternal heart was so pleased with Josephine's performance thatshe took it as a personal favor, "Well done, Josephine," said she;"that gives your mother pleasure to see you eat again. Soup andbouillon: and now twice you have been to Rose for some of that pate,which does you so much credit, Jacintha."Josephine colored high at this compliment."It is true," said she, "I eat like a pig;" and, with a furtiveglance at the said pate, she laid down her knife and fork, and ateno more of anything. The baroness had now a droll misgiving.
"The doctor will be angry with me," said she: "he will find her aswell as ever.""Madame," said Jacintha hastily, "when does the doctor come, if Imay make so bold, that I may get his room ready, you know?""Well thought of, Jacintha. He comes the day after to-morrow, inthe afternoon."At night when the young ladies went up to bed, what did they findbut a little cloth laid on a little table in Josephine's room, andthe remains of the pate she had liked. Rose burst out laughing."Look at that dear duck of a goose, Jacintha! Our mother's flatterysank deep: she thinks we can eat her pates at all hours of the dayand night. Shall I send it away?""No," said Josephine, "that would hurt her culinary pride, andperhaps her affection: only cover it up, dear, for just now I am notin the humor: it rather turns me."It was covered up. The sisters retired to rest. In the morningRose lifted the cover and found the plate cleared, polished. Shewas astounded.The large tapestried chamber, once occupied by Camille Dujardin, wasnow turned into a sitting-room, and it was a favorite on account ofthe beautiful view from the windows.One day Josephine sat there alone with some work in her hand; butthe needle often stopped, and the fair head drooped. She heaved adeep sigh. To her surprise it was echoed by a sigh that, like herown, seemed to come from a heart full of sighs.
She turned hastily round and saw Jacintha.Now Josephine had all a woman's eye for reading faces, and she wasinstantly struck by a certain gravity in Jacintha's gaze, and aflutter which the young woman was suppressing with tolerable but notcomplete success.
Disguising the uneasiness this discovery gave her, she looked hervisitor full in the face, and said mildly, but a little coldly,"Well, Jacintha?"Jacintha lowered her eyes and muttered slowly,--"The doctor--comes--to-day," then raised her eyes all in a moment totake Josephine off her guard; but the calm face was impenetrable.So then Jacintha added, "to our misfortune," throwing in still moremeaning.
"To our misfortune? A dear old friend--like him?"Jacintha explained. "That old man makes me shake. You are neversafe with him. So long as his head is in the clouds, you might takehis shoes off, and on he'd walk and never know it; but every now andthen he comes out of the clouds all in one moment, without a word ofwarning, and when he does his eye is on everything, like a bird's.Then he is so old: he has seen a heap. Take my word for it, the oldare more knowing than the young, let them be as sharp as you like:the old have seen everything. WE have only heard talk of the mostpart, with here and there a glimpse. To know life to the bottom youmust live it out, from the soup to the dessert; and that is what thedoctor has done, and now he is coming here. And Mademoiselle Rosewill go telling him everything; and if she tells him half what shehas seen, your secret will be no secret to that old man.""My secret!" gasped Josephine, turning pale."Don't look so, madame: don't be frightened at poor Jacintha.Sooner or later you MUST trust somebody besides Mademoiselle Rose."Josephine looked at her with inquiring, frightened eyes.Jacintha drew nearer to her.
"Mademoiselle,--I beg pardon, madame,--I carried you in my arms whenI was a child. When I was a girl you toddled at my side, and heldmy gown, and lisped my name, and used to put your little arms roundmy neck, and kissed me, you would; and if ever I had the least painor sickness your dear little face would turn as sorrowful, and allthe pretty color leave it for Jacintha; and now you are in trouble,in sore trouble, yet you turn away from me, you dare not trust me,that would be cut in pieces ere I would betray you. Ah,mademoiselle, you are wrong. The poor can feel: they have all seentrouble, and a servant is the best of friends where she has theheart to love her mistress; and do not I love you? Pray do not turnfrom her who has carried you in her arms, and laid you to sleep uponher bosom, many's and many's the time."Josephine panted audibly. She held out her hand eloquently toJacintha, but she turned her head away and trembled.Jacintha cast a hasty glance round the room. Then she trembled tooat what she was going to say, and the effect it might have on theyoung lady. As for Josephine, terrible as the conversation hadbecome, she made no attempt to evade it: she remained perfectlypassive. It was the best way to learn how far Jacintha hadpenetrated her secret, if at all.
Jacintha looked fearfully round and whispered in Josephine's ear,"When the news of Colonel Raynal's death came, you wept, but thecolor came back to your cheek. When the news of his life came, youturned to stone. Ah! my poor young lady, there has been morebetween you and THAT MAN than should be. Ever since one day you allwent to Frejus together, you were a changed woman. I have seen youlook at him as--as a wife looks at her man. I have seen HIM"--"Hush, Jacintha! Do not tell me what you have seen: oh! do notremind me of joys I pray God to help me forget. He was my husband,then!--oh, cruel Jacintha, to remind me of what I have been, of whatI am! Ah me! ah me! ah me!""Your husband!" cried Jacintha in utter amazement.Then Josephine drooped her head on this faithful creature'sshoulder, and told her with many sobs the story I have told you.
She told it very briefly, for it was to a woman who, though littleeducated, was full of feeling and shrewdness, and needed but thebare facts: she could add the rest from her own heart andexperience: could tell the storm of feelings through which these twounhappy lovers must have passed. Her frequent sighs of pity andsympathy drew Josephine on to pour out all her griefs. When thetale was ended she gave a sigh of relief."It might have been worse: I thought it was worse the more fool I.
I deserve to have my head cut off." This was Jacintha's onlycomment at that time.It was Josephine's turn to be amazed. "It could have been worse?"said she. "How? tell me," added she bitterly. "It would be aconsolation to me, could I see that."Jacintha colored and evaded this question, and begged her to go on,to keep nothing back from her. Josephine assured her she hadrevealed all. Jacintha looked at her a moment in silence."It is then as I half suspected. You do not know all that is beforeyou. You do not see why I am afraid of that old man.""No, not of him in particular.""Nor why I want to keep Mademoiselle Rose from prattling to him?""No. I assure you Rose is to be trusted; she is wise--wiser than Iam.""You are neither of you wise. You neither of you know anything. Mypoor young mistress, you are but a child still. You have a deepwater to wade through," said Jacintha, so solemnly that Josephinetrembled. "A deep water, and do not see it even. You have told mewhat is past, now I must tell you what is coming. Heaven help me!But is it possible you have no misgiving? Tell the truth, now.""Alas! I am full of them; at your words, at your manner, they flyaround me in crowds.""Have you no ONE?""No.""Then turn your head from me a bit, my sweet young lady; I am anhonest woman, though I am not so innocent as you, and I am forcedagainst my will to speak my mind plainer than I am used to."Then followed a conversation, to detail which might anticipate ourstory; suffice it to say, that Rose, coming into the room rathersuddenly, found her sister weeping on Jacintha's bosom, and Jacinthacrying and sobbing over her.
She stood and stared in utter amazement.Dr. Aubertin, on his arrival, was agreeably surprised at MadameRaynal's appearance. He inquired after her appetite.
"Oh, as to her appetite," cried the baroness, "that is immense.""Indeed!""It was," explained Josephine, "just when I began to get better, butnow it is as much as usual." This answer had been arrangedbeforehand by Jacintha. She added, "The fact is, we wanted to seeyou, doctor, and my ridiculous ailments were a good excuse fortearing you from Paris."--"And now we have succeeded," said Rose,"let us throw off the mask, and talk of other things; above all, ofParis, and your eclat.""For all that," persisted the baroness, "she was ill, when I firstwrote, and very ill too.""Madame Raynal," said the doctor solemnly, "your conduct has beenirregular; once ill, and your illness announced to your medicaladviser, etiquette forbade you to get well but by his prescriptions.Since, then, you have shown yourself unfit to conduct a malady, itbecomes my painful duty to forbid you henceforth ever to be ill atall, without my permission first obtained in writing."This badinage was greatly relished by Rose, but not at all by thebaroness, who was as humorless as a swan.
He stayed a month at Beaurepaire, then off to Paris again: and beingnow a rich man, and not too old to enjoy innocent pleasures, he gota habit of running backwards and forwards between the two places,spending a month or so at each alternately. So the days rolled on.Josephine fell into a state that almost defies description; herheart was full of deadly wounds, yet it seemed, by some mysterious,half-healing balm, to throb and ache, but bleed no more. Beams ofstrange, unreasonable complacency would shoot across her; the nextmoment reflection would come, she would droop her head, and sighpiteously. Then all would merge in a wild terror of detection. Sheseemed on the borders of a river of bliss, new, divine, andinexhaustible: and on the other bank mocking malignant fiends daredher to enter that heavenly stream. The past to her was full ofregrets; the future full of terrors, and empty of hope. Yet she didnot, could not succumb. Instead of the listlessness and languor ofa few months back, she had now more energy than ever; at times itmounted to irritation. An activity possessed her: it broke out inmany feminine ways. Among the rest she was seized with what we mencall a cacoethes of the needle: "a raging desire" for work. Herfingers itched for work. She was at it all day. As devotees retireto pray, so she to stitch. On a wet day she would often slip intothe kitchen, and ply the needle beside Jacintha: on a dry day shewould hide in the old oak-tree, and sit like a mouse, and ply thetools of her craft, and make things of no mortal use to man orwoman; and she tried little fringes of muslin upon her white hand,and held it up in front of her, and smiled, and then moaned. It waswinter, and Rose used sometimes to bring her out a thick shawl, asshe sat in the old oak-tree stitching, but Josephine nearly alwaysdeclined it. SHE WAS NEARLY IMPERVIOUS TO COLD.
Then, her purse being better filled than formerly, she visited thepoor more than ever, and above all the young couples; and took awarm interest in their household matters, and gave them muslinarticles of her own making, and sometimes sniffed the soup in ayoung housewife's pot, and took a fancy to it, and, if invited totaste it, paid her the compliment of eating a good plateful of it,and said it was much better soup than the chateau produced, and,what is stranger, thought so: and, whenever some peevish little bratset up a yell in its cradle and the father naturally enough shookhis fist at the destroyer of his peace, Madame Raynal's lovely facefilled with concern not for the sufferer but the pest, and she flewto it and rocked it and coaxed it and consoled it, till the younghousewife smiled and stopped its mouth by other means. And, besidesthe five-franc pieces she gave the infants to hold, these visits ofMadame Raynal were always followed by one from Jacintha with abasket of provisions on her stalwart arm, and honest Sir JohnBurgoyne peeping out at the corner. Kind and beneficent as she was,her temper deteriorated considerably, for it came down from angelicto human. Rose and Jacintha were struck with the change, assentedto everything she said, and encouraged her in everything it pleasedher caprice to do. Meantime the baroness lived on her son Raynal'sletters (they came regularly twice a month). Rose too had acorrespondence, a constant source of delight to her. EdouardRiviere was posted at a distance, and could not visit her; but theirlove advanced rapidly. Every day he wrote down for his Rose theacts of the day, and twice a week sent the budget to his sweetheart,and told her at the same time every feeling of his heart. She wasless fortunate than he; she had to carry a heavy secret; but stillshe found plenty to tell him, and tender feelings too to vent on himin her own arch, shy, fitful way. Letters can enchain hearts; itwas by letters that these two found themselves imperceptiblybetrothed. Their union was looked forward to as certain, and notvery distant. Rose was fairly in love.One day, Dr. Aubertin, coming back from Paris to Beaurepaire rathersuddenly, found nobody at home but the baroness. Josephine and Rosewere gone to Frejus; had been there more than a week. She wasailing again; so as Frejus had agreed with her once, Rose thought itmight again. "She would send for them back directly.""No," said the doctor, "why do that? I will go over there and seethem." Accordingly, a day or two after this, he hired a carriage,and went off early in the morning to Frejus. In so small a place heexpected to find the young ladies at once; but, to his surprise, noone knew them nor had heard of them. He was at a nonplus, and justabout to return home and laugh at himself and the baroness for thiswild-goose chase, when he fell in with a face he knew, one Mivart, asurgeon, a young man of some talent, who had made his acquaintancein Paris. Mivart accosted him with great respect; and, after thefirst compliments, informed him that he had been settled some monthsin this little town, and was doing a fair stroke of business."Killing some, and letting nature cure others, eh?" said the doctor;then, having had his joke, he told Mivart what had brought him toFrejus."Are they pretty women, your friends? I think I know all the prettywomen about," said Mivart with levity. "They are not pretty,"replied Aubertin. Mivart's interest in them faded visibly out ofhis countenance. "But they are beautiful. The elder might pass forVenus, and the younger for Hebe.""I know them then!" cried he; "they are patients of mine."The doctor colored. "Ah, indeed!""In the absence of your greater skill," said Mivart, politely; "itis Madame Aubertin and her sister you are looking for, is it not?"Aubertin groaned. "I am rather too old to be looking for a MadameAubertin," said he; "no; it is Madame Raynal, and Mademoiselle deBeaurepaire."Mivart became confidential. "Madame Aubertin and her sister," saidhe, "are so lovely they make me ill to look at them: the deepestblue eyes you ever saw, both of them; high foreheads; teeth likeivory mixed with pearl; such aristocratic feet and hands; and theirarms--oh!" and by way of general summary the young surgeon kissedthe tips of his fingers, and was silent; language succumbed underthe theme. The doctor smiled coldly.
Mivart added, "If you had come an hour sooner, you might have seenMademoiselle Rose; she was in the town.""Mademoiselle Rose? who is that?""Why, Madame Aubertin's sister."At this Dr. Aubertin looked first very puzzled, then very grave."Hum!" said he, after a little reflection, "where do these paragonslive?""They lodge at a small farm; it belongs to a widow; her name isRoth." They parted. Dr. Aubertin walked slowly towards hiscarriage, his hands behind him, his eyes on the ground. He bade thedriver inquire where the Widow Roth lived, and learned it was abouthalf a league out of the town. He drove to the farmhouse; when thecarriage drove up, a young lady looked out of the window on thefirst floor. It was Rose de Beaurepaire. She caught the doctor'seye, and he hers. She came down and welcomed him with a greatappearance of cordiality, and asked him, with a smile, how he foundthem out.
"From your medical attendant," said the doctor, dryly.Rose looked keenly in his face.
"He said he was in attendance on two paragons of beauty, blue eyes,white teeth and arms.""And you found us out by that?" inquired Rose, looking still morekeenly at him."Hardly; but it was my last chance of finding you, so I came. Whereis Madame Raynal?""Come into this room, dear friend. I will go and find her."Full twenty minutes was the doctor kept waiting, and then in cameRose, gayly crying, "I have hunted her high and low, and where doyou think my lady was? sitting out in the garden--come."Sure enough, they found Josephine in the garden, seated on a lowchair. She smiled when the doctor came up to her, and asked afterher mother. There was an air of languor about her; her color wasclear, delicate, and beautiful.