Rose was in the house. She had missed thesolana coin walletm; but she thought theymust be near; for they seldom took long walks early in the day.
"Josephine! It is not Josephine, after all," said hebuy bitcoin from gift card. "Why, thismust be Rose, little Rose, grown up to a fine lady, a beautifullady.""What do you come here for, sir?" asked Rose in a tone of icyindifference."What do I come here for? is that the way to speak to me? but I amtoo happy to mind. Dear Beaurepaire! do I see you once again!""And madame?""What madame?""Madame Dujardin that is or was to be.""This is the first I have ever heard of her," said Camille, gayly.
"This is odd, for we have heard all about it.""Are you jesting?""No.""If I understand you right, you imply that I have broken faith withJosephine?""Certainly.""Then you lie, Mademoiselle Rose de Beaurepaire.""Insolent!""No. It is you who have insulted your sister as well as me. Shewas not made to be deserted for meaner women. Come, mademoiselle,affront me, and me alone, and you shall find me more patient. Oh!who would have thought Beaurepaire would receive me thus?""It is your own fault. You never sent her a line for all theseyears.""Why, how could I?""Well, sir, the information you did not supply others did. We knowthat you were seen in a Spanish village drinking between twoguerillas.""That is true," said Camille."An honest French soldier fired at you. Why, he told us so himself.""He told you true," said Camille, sullenly. "The bullet grazed myhand; see, here is the mark. Look!" She did look, and gave alittle scream; but recovering herself, said she wished it had gonethrough his heart. "Why prolong this painful interview?" said she;"the soldier told us all.""I doubt that," said Camille. "Did he tell you that under the tableI was chained tight down to the chair I sat in? Did he tell youthat my hand was fastened to a drinking-horn, and my elbow to thetable, and two fellows sitting opposite me with pistols quietlycovering me, ready to draw the trigger if I should utter a cry? Didhe tell you that I would have uttered that cry and died at thattable but for one thing, I had promised her to live?""Not he; he told me nothing so incredible. Besides, what became ofyou all these years? You are a double traitor, to your country andto her."Camille literally gasped for breath. "You are a most cruel younglady to insult me so," said he, and scalding tears forced themselvesfrom his eyes.Rose eyed him with merciless scorn.He fought manfully against this weakness, with which his wound andhis fatigue had something to do, as well as Rose's bitter words; andafter a gallant struggle he returned her her haughty stare, andaddressed her thus: "Mademoiselle, I feel myself blush, but it isfor you I blush, not for myself. This is what BECAME of me. I wentout alone to explore; I fell into an ambuscade; I shot one of theenemy, and pinked another, but my arm being broken by a bullet, andmy horse killed under me, the rascals got me. They took me about,tried to make a decoy of me as I have told you, and ended bythrowing me into a dungeon. They loaded me with chains, too, thoughthe walls were ten feet thick, and the door iron, and bolted anddouble-bolted outside. And there for months and years, in spite ofwounds, hunger, thirst, and all the tortures those cowards made mesuffer, I lived, because, Rose, I had promised some one at that gatethere (and he turned suddenly and pointed to it) that I would comeback alive. At last, one night, my jailer came to my cell drunk. Iseized him by the throat and throttled him till he was insensible;his keys unlocked my fetters, and locked him in the cell, and I gotsafely outside. But there a sentinel saw me, and fired at me. Hemissed me but ran after me, and caught me. You see I was stiff,confined so long. He gave me a thrust of his bayonet; I flung myheavy keys fiercely in his face; he staggered; I wrested his piecefrom him, and disabled him.""Ah!""I crossed the frontier in the night, and got to Bayonne; andthence, day and night, to Paris. There I met a reward for all myanguish. They gave me the epaulets of a colonel. See, here theyare. France does not give these to traitors, young lady." He heldthem out to her in both hands. She eyed them half stupidly; all herthoughts were on the oak-tree hard by. She began to shudder.
Camille was telling the truth. She felt that; she saw it; andJosephine was hearing it. "Ay! look at them, you naughty girl,"said Camille, trying to be jocose over it all with his poortrembling lip. He went on to say that from the moment he had leftdark Spain, and entered fair France everybody was so kind, sosympathizing. "They felt for the poor worn soldier coming back tohis love. All but you, Rose. You told me I was a traitor to herand to France.""I was told so," said Rose, faintly. She was almost at her wits'end what to say or do.This refreshed them mightily, and they glowed at the mayor's tablelike roses washed with dew.
But oh! how glad at heart they all were to find themselves in thecarriage once more going home to Beaurepaire.Rose and Josephine sat intertwined on the back seat; Camille, thereins in his right hand, nearly turned his back on the horse, andleaned back over to them and purred to Rose and his wife withineffable triumph and tenderness.The lovers were in Elysium, and Rose was not a little proud of hergood management in ending all their troubles. Their mother receivedthem back with great, and as they fancied, with singular, affection.She was beginning to be anxious about them, she said. Then herkindness gave these happy souls a pang it never gave them before.
Since the above events scarce a fortnight had elapsed; but such achange! Camille sunburnt and healthy, and full of animation andconfidence; Josephine beaming with suppressed happiness, and morebeautiful than Rose could ever remember to have seen her. For asoft halo of love and happiness shone around her head; a new andindefinable attraction bloomed on her face. She was a wife. Hereye, that used to glance furtively on Camille, now dwelt demurely onhim; dwelt with a sort of gentle wonder and admiration as well asaffection, and, when he came or passed very near her, a keenobserver might have seen her thrill.She kept a good deal out of her mother's way; for she felt withinthat her face must be too happy. She feared to shock her mother'sgrief with her radiance. She was ashamed of feeling unmixed heaven.
But the flood of secret bliss she floated in bore all misgivingsaway. The pair were forever stealing away together for hours, andon these occasions Rose used to keep out of her mother's sight,until they should return. So then the new-married couple couldwander hand in hand through the thick woods of Beaurepaire, whosefresh green leaves were now just out, and hear the distant cuckoo,and sit on mossy banks, and pour love into one another's eyes, andplan ages of happiness, and murmur their deep passion and theirbliss almost more than mortal; could do all this and more, withoutshocking propriety. These sweet duets passed for trios: for ontheir return Rose would be out looking for them, or would go andmeet them at some distance, and all three would go up together tothe baroness, as from a joint excursion. And when they went up totheir bedrooms, Josephine would throw her arms round her sister'sneck, and sigh, "It is not happiness, it is beatitude!"Meantime, the baroness mourned for Raynal. Her grief showed nodecrease. Rose even fancied at times she wore a gloomy anddiscontented look as well; but on reflection she attributed that toher own fancy, or to the contrast that had now sprung up in hersister's beaming complacency.Rose, when she found herself left day after day alone for hours, wassad and thought of Edouard. And this feeling gained on her day byday.At last, one afternoon, she locked herself in her own room, and,after a long contest with her pride, which, if not indomitable, wasnext door to it, she sat down to write him a little letter. Now, inthis letter, in the place devoted by men to their after-thoughts, bywomen to their pretended after-thoughts; i. e., to what they havebeen thinking of all through the letter, she dropped a careless hintthat all the party missed him very much, "even the obnoxiouscolonel, who, by-the-by, has transferred his services elsewhere. Ihave forgiven him that, because he has said civil things about you."Rose was reading her letter over again, to make sure that all theprincipal expressions were indistinct, and that the compositiongenerally, except the postscript, resembled a Delphic oracle, whenthere was a hasty footstep, and a tap at her door, and in cameJacintha, excited."He is come, mademoiselle," cried she, and nodded her head like amandarin, only more knowingly; then she added, "So you may burnthat." For her quick eye had glanced at the table.
"Who is come?" inquired Rose, eagerly."Why, your one?""My one?" asked the young lady, reddening, "my what?""The little one--Edouard--Monsieur Riviere.""Oh, Monsieur Riviere," said Rose, acting nonchalance. "Why couldyou not say so? you use such phrases, who can conjecture what youmean? I will come to Monsieur Riviere directly; mamma will be soglad."Jacintha gone, Rose tore up the letter and locked up the pieces,then ran to the glass. Etc.Edouard had been so profoundly miserable he could stand it nolonger; in spite of his determination not to visit Beaurepaire whileit contained a rival, he rode over to see whether he had nottormented himself idly: above all, to see the beloved face.Jacintha put him into the salle a manger. "By that you will see heralone," said the knowing Jacintha. He sat down, hat and whip inhand, and wondered how he should be received--if at all.
In glides Rose all sprightliness and good-humor, and puts out herhand to him; the which he kisses."How could I keep away so long?" asked he vaguely, and self-astonished.
"How indeed, and we missing you so all the time!""Have YOU missed me?" was the eager inquiry."Oh, no!" was the cheerful reply; "but all the rest have."Presently the malicious thing gave a sudden start.
"Oh! such a piece of news; you remember Colonel Dujardin, theobnoxious colonel?"No answer."Transferred his attentions. Fancy!""Who to?""To Josephine and mamma. But such are the military. He only wantedto get rid of you: this done (through your want of spirit), hescorns the rich prize; so now I scorn HIM. Will you come for awalk?""Oh, yes!""We will go and look for my deserter. I say, tell me now; cannot Iwrite to the commander-in-chief about this? a soldier has no rightto be a deserter, has he? tell me, you are a public man, and knoweverything except my heart.""Is it not too bad to tease me to-day?""Yes! but please! I have had few amusements of late. I find it sodull without you to tease."Formal permission to tease being conceded, she went that instant onthe opposite tack, and began to tell him how she had missed him, andhow sorry she had been anything should have occurred to vex theirkind good friend. In short, Edouard spent a delightful day, forRose took him one way to meet Josephine, who, she knew, was cominganother. At night the last embers of jealousy got quenched, forJosephine was a wife now, and had already begun to tell Camille allher little innocent secrets; and she told him all about Edouard andRose, and gave him his orders; so he treated Rose with great respectbefore Edouard; but paid her no marked attention; also he wasaffable to Riviere, who, having ceased to suspect, began to likehim.In the course of the evening, the colonel also informed the baronessthat he expected every day an order to join the army of the Rhine.Edouard pricked his ears.The baroness said no more than politeness dictated. She did notpress him to stay, but treated his departure as a matter of course.Riviere rode home late in the evening in high spirits.
The next day Rose varied her late deportment; she sang snatches ofmelody, going about the house; it was for all the world like a birdchirping. In the middle of one chirp Jacintha interfered. "Hush,mademoiselle, your mamma! she is at the bottom of the corridor.""What was I thinking of?" said Rose."Oh! I dare say you know, mademoiselle," replied the privilegeddomestic.
A letter of good news came from Aubertin. That summons to hisnephew's funeral was an era in his harmless life.The said nephew was a rich man and an oddity; one of those who loveto surprise folk. Moreover, he had no children, and detected hisnephews and nieces being unnaturally civil to him. "Waiting to cutme up," was his generous reading of them. So with this he made awill, and there defied, as far as in him lay, the laws of nature;for he set his wealth a-flowing backwards instead of forwards; hehanded his property up to an ancestor, instead of down to posterity.
All this the doctor's pen set down with some humor, and in the calmspirit with which a genuine philosopher receives prosperity as wellas adversity. Yet one natural regret escaped him; that all thiswealth, since it was to come, had not come a year or two sooner.All at Beaurepaire knew what their dear old friend meant.
His other news to them was that they might expect him any moment.So here was another cause of rejoicing."I am so glad," said Josephine. "Now, perhaps, he will be able topublish his poor dear entomology, that the booksellers were all sounkind, so unfeeling about."I linger on the brink of painful scenes to observe that a sweet andloving friendship, such as this was between the good doctor andthree persons of another sex, is one of the best treasures of thehuman heart. Poverty had strengthened it; yet now wealth could notweaken it. With no tie of blood it yet was filial, sisterly,brotherly, national, chivalrous; happy, unalloyed sentiment, freefrom ups and downs, from heats and chills, from rivalry, fromcaprice; and, indeed, from all mortal accidents but one--and why sayone? methinks death itself does but suspend these gentle, rare,unselfish amities a moment, then waft them upward to their abidinghome.Chapter 15
It was a fair morning in June: the sky was a bright, deep, lovely,speckless blue: the flowers and bushes poured perfume, and sprinkledsong upon the balmy air. On such a day, so calm, so warm, sobright, so scented, so tuneful, to live and to be young is to behappy. With gentle hand it wipes all other days out of the memory;it smiles, it smells, it sings, and clouds and rain and biting windseem as far off and impossible as grief and trouble.Camille and Josephine had stolen out, and strolled lazily up anddown close under the house, drinking the sweet air, fragrant withperfume and melody; the blue sky, and love.
Rose was in the house. She had missed them; but she thought theymust be near; for they seldom took long walks early in the day.Meeting Jacintha on the landing of the great staircase, she askedher where her sister was.
"Madame Raynal is gone for a walk. She has taken the colonel withher. You know she always takes the colonel out with her now.""That will do. You can finish your work."Jacintha went into Camille's room.Rose, who had looked as grave as a judge while Jacintha was present,bubbled into laughter. She even repeated Jacintha's words aloud,and chuckled over them. "You know she always takes the colonel outwith her now--ha, ha, ha!""Rose!" sighed a distant voice.
She looked round, and saw the baroness at some distance in thecorridor, coming slowly towards her, with eyes bent gloomily on theground. Rose composed her features into a settled gravity, and wentto meet her."I wish to speak with you," said the baroness; "let us sit down; itis cool here."Rose ran and brought a seat without a back, but well stuffed, andset it against the wall. The old lady sat down and leaned back, andlooked at Rose in silence a good while; then she said,--"There is room for you; sit down, for I want to speak seriously toyou.""Yes, mamma; what is it?""Turn a little round, and let me see your face."Rose complied; and began to feel a little uneasy."Perhaps you can guess what I am going to say to you?""I have no idea.""Well, I am going to put a question to you.""With all my heart, dear mamma.""I invite you to explain to me the most singular, the mostunaccountable thing that ever fell under my notice. Will you dothis for your mother?""O mamma! of course I will do anything to please you that I can;but, indeed, I don't know what you mean.""I am going to tell you."The old lady paused. The young one, naturally enough, felt a chillof vague anxiety strike across her frame."Rose," said the old lady, speaking very gently but firmly, andleaning in a peculiar way on her words, while her eye worked like anice gimlet on her daughter's face, "a little while ago, when my poorRaynal--our benefactor--was alive--and I was happy--you all chilledmy happiness by your gloom: the whole house seemed a house ofmourning--tell me now why was this.""Mamma!" said Rose, after a moment's hesitation, "we could hardly begay. Sickness in the house! And if Colonel Raynal was alive, stillhe was absent, and in danger.""Oh! then it was out of regard for him we were all dispirited?""Why, I suppose so," said Rose, stoutly; but then colored high ather own want of candor. However, she congratulated herself that hermother's suspicion was confined to past events.
Her self-congratulation on that score was short; for the baroness,after eying her grimly for a second or two in silence, put her thisawkward question plump."If so, tell me why is it that ever since that black day when thenews of his DEATH reached us, the whole house has gone into black,and has gone out of mourning?""Mamma," stammered Rose, "what DO you mean?""Even poor Camille, who was so pale and wan, has recovered likemagic.""O mamma! is not that fancy?" said Rose, piteously. "Of what do yoususpect me? Can you think I am unfeeling--ungrateful? I should notbe YOUR daughter.""No, no," said the baroness, "to do you justice, you attempt sorrow;as you put on black. But, my poor child, you do it with so littleskill that one sees a horrible gayety breaking through that thindisguise: you are no true mourners: you are like the mutes or theundertakers at a funeral, forced grief on the surface of your faces,and frightful complacency below.""Tra la! lal! la! la! Tra la! la! Tra la! la!" carolled Jacintha,in the colonel's room hard by.
The ladies looked at one another: Rose in great confusion."Tra la! la! la! Tra lal! lal! la! la! la!""Jacintha!" screamed Rose angrily.
"Hush! not a word," said the baroness. "Why remonstrate with HER?Servants are but chameleons: they take the color of those theyserve. Do not cry. I wanted your confidence, not your tears, love.