"Oh, please excuse me!" said Holcroft, hastily passing out. "I was justfilecoin contact address starting for a walk--I'm bound to have one more day to myself on the old place," he muttered as he bent his steps toward an upland pasture.
"My little Henri," said Josephine imploringbitcoin historical data in inrly, "what would you dowith him--if anything should happen to me?""What would I do with him? He is mine. I should be his mother.Oh! what words are these: my heart! my heart!""No, dearest; some day you will be married, and owe all the motherto your children; and Henri is not ours only: he belongs to some oneI have seemed unkind to. Perhaps he thinks me heartless. For I ama foolish woman; I don't know how to be virtuous, yet show a man myheart. But THEN he will understand me and forgive me. Rose, love,you will write to him. He will come to you. You will go togetherto the place where I shall be sleeping. You will show him my heart.
You will tell him all my long love that lasted to the end. YOU neednot blush to tell him all. I have no right. Then you will give himhis poor Josephine's boy, and you will say to him, 'She never lovedbut you: she gives you all that is left of her, her child. She onlyprays you not to give him a bad mother.'"Poor soul! this was her one bit of little, gentle jealousy; but itmade her eyes stream. She would have put out her hand from the tombto keep her boy's father single all his life."Oh! my Josephine, my darling sister," cried Rose, "why do you speakof death? Do you meditate a crime?""No; but it was on my heart to say it: it has done me good.""At least, take me to your bosom, my well-beloved, that I may notSEE your tears.""There--tears? No, you have lightened my heart. Bless you! blessyou!"The sisters twined their bosoms together in a long, gentle embrace.You might have taken them for two angels that flowed together in onelove, but for their tears.A deep voice was now heard in the sitting-room.Josephine and Rose postponed the inevitable one moment more, byarranging their hair in the glass: then they opened the door, andentered the tapestried room.
Raynal was sitting on the sofa, the baroness's hand in his. Edouardwas not there.Colonel Raynal had given him a strange look, and said, "What, youhere?" in a tone of voice that was intolerable."And it isn't as if we didn't know that the taxi-driver had been thrown in an hour or two earlier. And who should want to murder Snacklit? It's just trying to be too clever, and substituting a wild improbability for a reasonable explanation that fits the facts like a glove."
"Well, I've nothing to say against that. There are only two things that interest me about it now. The one is whether Irene or I will be required to give evidence, and the second is what's going to happen to Blinkwell.""We're not going to ask you to give evidence. You're clear out of it, so far as our police (or the S?ret? for that matter) are concerned. We can't avoid Irene going into the box. She's one of the most important witnesses, though you can rely on counsel and the Press - being discreet."But as to Blinkwell, I'm afraid I can't do more than pass on the disappointment we're all feeling. We haven't merely decided that we can do nothing ourselves We've been almost down on our knees begging Paris to look at it in the same way."We don't think any magistrate would make an extradition order on Gustav's word, which is the only real evidence they've got. And, for ourselves, we don't feel that we've got sufficient to make a case against him on the drug-smuggling issue. We should be just asking for trouble.
"We may be able to look at it rather differently when we've got Snacklit. He'll probably talk, in an effort to get himself out of the mess. But, even then there's the same difficulty as with Gustav. It's just a criminal's word, and not much use without better confirmation."Still I should say that, if we catch Snacklit, we shall soon have the Professor in the same place. Otherwise not. But you can say it's a hundred to one that we'll get him, one way or other, though we may have to go round by another road."
Mr. Thurlow was satisfied by the explanation. He thought that Snacklit was unlikely to elude pursuit, which he knew to be a much more difficult enterprise in England than in his own more spacious and (in some respects) more primitive land. He thought therefore, that Professor Blinkwell's remaining days of liberty would not be long.We may observe the soundness of the Professor's judgment when he used his foot, with such economy of effort, to put Snacklit in his appropriate place.As to what did happen to Professor Blinkwell, which exemplified the familiar proverb that the pitcher which goes often to the well will get broken at last - that is another story, and must be told at another time.But it may be recorded here that both Burfoot and Wilkes were convicted and duly hanged. Wilkes, in a last effort to dodge the rope, did tell his solicitors of the manner of Snacklit's end, which those gentlemen communicated to the police, who, without considering Wilkes to be a mirror of exact truth, were inclined to credit it, and the promotion of Inspector Dunchurch, which shortly followed, may have been partly due to this confirmation of the theory to which he had held so stubbornly. But it was decided that it would be impossible to prosecute Professor Blinkwell on the unsupported evidence of a convicted murderer, and Wilkes' anticipation that he would be kept alive to give that testimony proved to be a mistake.
Irene gave evidence, which the Press treated with that voluntary discretion which is the usual consequence of a word from Whitehall or Downing Street, and that she was the daughter of the American Ambassador was not generally known. . . . The Press of the United States, under banner headlines, had more to say; but it was fortunately of the right kind.Mr. Thurlow, outlining these future events with considerable accuracy in his astute political mind, was feeling content with the world and with those around him. He would have liked to have continued the conversation after coffee was served. But he was a discreet man, and one who knew when silence or withdrawal are positive rather than negative actions. He said that he had matters of urgency with which to deal in his own room.Irene and her cousin were left alone; and it is obvious that there is no means of knowing what took place afterwards, beyond disclosures which either of them made, which were not of a detailed kind. But much may be inferred from an announcement in The Times which Myra read at breakfast only two mornings later."A marriage has been arranged - - "
She laid down the paper, looked at her uncle, started to speak, and checked herself. Her rather heavy features resumed their usual immobility. But it cannot be recorded that she looked pleased.As to Professor Blinkwell, he took no notice at all. His mind had strayed erratically to the moment when he had struck a blow from behind at a man's neck hard enough to make silence certain, and from such an angle that there would be little risk of any bloodstain resulting upon a dinner-jacket which it would have been a pity to spoil.
THE ENDChapter 1
Towards the close of the last century the Baron de Beaurepaire livedin the chateau of that name in Brittany. His family was ofprodigious antiquity; seven successive barons had already flourishedon this spot when a younger son of the house accompanied hisneighbor the Duke of Normandy in his descent on England, and wasrewarded by a grant of English land, on which he dug a mote andbuilt a chateau, and called it Beaurepaire (the worthy Saxons turnedthis into Borreper without delay). Since that day more than twentygentlemen of the same lineage had held in turn the original chateauand lands, and handed them down to their present lord.Thus rooted in his native Brittany, Henri Lionel Marie St. Quentinde Beaurepaire was as fortunate as any man can be pronounced beforehe dies. He had health, rank, a good income, a fair domain, agoodly house, a loving wife, and two lovely young daughters, allveneration and affection. Two months every year he visited theFaubourg St. Germain and the Court. At both every gentleman andevery lacquey knew his name, and his face: his return to Brittanyafter this short absence was celebrated by a rustic fete.Above all, Monsieur de Beaurepaire possessed that treasure oftreasures, content. He hunted no heart-burns. Ambition did nottempt him; why should he listen to long speeches, and court theunworthy, and descend to intrigue, for so precarious and equivocal aprize as a place in the Government, when he could be De Beaurepairewithout trouble or loss of self-respect? Social ambition could getlittle hold of him; let parvenus give balls half in doors, half out,and light two thousand lamps, and waste their substance battling andmanoeuvring for fashionable distinction; he had nothing to gain bysuch foolery, nothing to lose by modest living; he was the twenty-ninth Baron of Beaurepaire. So wise, so proud, so little vain, sostrong in health and wealth and honor, one would have said nothingless than an earthquake could shake this gentleman and his house.Yet both were shaken, though rooted by centuries to the soil; and byno vulgar earthquake.For years France had bowed in silence beneath two galling burdens--aselfish and corrupt monarchy, and a multitudinous, privileged, lazy,and oppressive aristocracy, by whom the peasant was handled like aRussian serf. [Said peasant is now the principal proprietor of thesoil.]The lower orders rose upon their oppressors, and soon showedthemselves far blacker specimens of the same breed. Law, religion,humanity, and common sense, hid their faces; innocent blood flowedin a stream, and terror reigned. To Monsieur de Beaurepaire theserepublicans--murderers of women, children, and kings--seemed themost horrible monsters nature had ever produced; he put on black,and retired from society; he felled timber, and raised large sums ofmoney upon his estate. And one day he mounted his charger, anddisappeared from the chateau.
Three months after this, a cavalier, dusty and pale, rode into thecourtyard of Beaurepaire, and asked to see the baroness. She cameto him; he hung his head and held her out a letter.It contained a few sad words from Monsieur de Laroche-jaquelin. Thebaron had just fallen in La Vendee, fighting for the Crown.
From that hour till her death the baroness wore black.The mourner would have been arrested, and perhaps beheaded, but fora friend, the last in the world on whom the family reckoned for anysolid aid. Dr. Aubertin had lived in the chateau twenty years. Hewas a man of science, and did not care a button for money; so he hadretired from the practice of medicine, and pursued his researches atease under the baron's roof. They all loved him, and laughed at hisoccasional reveries, in the days of prosperity; and now, in onegreat crisis, the protege became the protector, to their astonishmentand his own. But it was an age of ups and downs. This amiabletheorist was one of the oldest verbal republicans in Europe. Andwhy not? In theory a republic is the perfect form of government:
it is merely in practice that it is impossible; it is only upongoing off paper into reality, and trying actually to self-governlimited nations, after heating them white hot with the fire ofpolitics and the bellows of bombast--that the thing resolvesitself into bloodshed silvered with moonshine.Dr. Aubertin had for years talked and written speculativerepublicanism. So they applied to him whether the baroness sharedher husband's opinions, and he boldly assured them she did not; headded, "She is a pupil of mine." On this audacious statement theycontented themselves with laying a heavy fine on the lands ofBeaurepaire.
Assignats were abundant, but good mercantile paper, a notoriouscoward, had made itself wings and fled, and specie was creeping intostrong boxes like a startled rabbit into its hole. The fine waspaid; but Beaurepaire had to be heavily mortgaged, and the loan borea high rate of interest. This, with the baron's previous mortgages,swamped the estate.The baroness sold her carriage and horses, and she and her daughtersprepared to deny themselves all but the bare necessaries of life,and pay off their debts if possible. On this their dependants fellaway from them; their fair-weather friends came no longer near them;and many a flush of indignation crossed their brows, and many anaching pang their hearts, as adversity revealed the baseness andinconstancy of common people high or low.When the other servants had retired with their wages, one Jacintharemained behind, and begged permission to speak to the baroness."What would you with me, my child?" asked that lady, with an accentin which a shade of surprise mingled with great politeness.
"Forgive me, madame," began Jacintha, with a formal courtesy; "buthow can I leave you, and Mademoiselle Josephine, and MademoiselleRose? I was born at Beaurepaire; my mother died in the chateau: myfather died in the village; but he had meat every day from thebaron's own table, and fuel from the baron's wood, and died blessingthe house of Beaurepaire. I CANNOT go. The others are gone becauseprosperity is here no longer. Let it be so; I will stay till thesun shines again upon the chateau, and then you shall send me awayif you are bent on it; but not now, my ladies--oh, not now! Oh! oh!oh!" And the warm-hearted girl burst out sobbing ungracefully.
"My child," said the baroness, "these sentiments touch me, and honoryou. But retire, if you please, while I consult my daughters."Jacintha cut her sobs dead short, and retreated with a formalreverence.The consultation consisted of the baroness opening her arms, andboth her daughters embracing her at once. Proud as they were, theywept with joy at having made one friend amongst all their servants.
Jacintha stayed.As months rolled on, Rose de Beaurepaire recovered her naturalgayety in spite of bereavement and poverty; so strong are youth, andhealth, and temperament. But her elder sister had a grief all herown: Captain Dujardin, a gallant young officer, well-born, and hisown master, had courted her with her parents' consent; and, evenwhen the baron began to look coldly on the soldier of the Republic,young Dujardin, though too proud to encounter the baron's irony andlooks of scorn, would not yield love to pique. He came no more tothe chateau, but he would wait hours and hours on the path to thelittle oratory in the park, on the bare chance of a passing word oreven a kind look from Josephine. So much devotion gradually won aheart which in happier times she had been half encouraged to givehim; and, when he left her on a military service of uncommon danger,the woman's reserve melted, and, in that moment of mutual grief andpassion, she vowed she loved him better than all the world.
Letters from the camp breathing a devotion little short of worshipfed her attachment; and more than one public mention of his name andservices made her proud as well as fond of the fiery young soldier.Still she did not open her heart to her parents. The baron, aliveat that time, was exasperated against the Republic, and all whoserved it; and, as for the baroness, she was of the old school: apassionate love in a lady's heart before marriage was contrary toher notions of etiquette. Josephine loved Rose very tenderly; butshrank with modest delicacy from making her a confidante offeelings, the bare relation of which leaves the female hearer achild no longer.So she hid her heart, and delicious first love nestled deep in hernature, and thrilled in every secret vein and fibre.They had parted two years, and he had joined the army of thePyrenees about one month, when suddenly all correspondence ceased onhis part.
Restless anxiety rose into terror as this silence continued; andstarting and trembling at every sound, and edging to the window atevery footstep, Josephine expected hourly the tidings of her lover'sdeath.Months rolled on in silence.
Then a new torture came. He must not be dead but unfaithful. Atthis all the pride of her race was fired in her.The struggle between love and ire was almost too much for nature:
violently gay and moody by turns she alarmed both her mother and thegood Dr. Aubertin. The latter was not, I think, quite withoutsuspicion of the truth; however, he simply prescribed change of airand place; she must go to Frejus, a watering-place distant aboutfive leagues. Mademoiselle de Beaurepaire yielded a languid assent.To her all places were alike.