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'He is a conspirator with occasional twinges,” into serious consideration by you. Your mother, said Madame Corneuil.
who desires your happiness.” “He confessed to me yesterday that he had a secret," said Horace.
The letter of the Marquis ran thus : "I can guess it,” resumed Madame Véretz.
And to free my heart," answered Horace, “MY DEAR MATHILDE: I have delayed tak"I am going to write to my mother this very ing pen in hand, and trust you will forgive me. evening.”
The case is altogether different from what I exAs often happens, the wind suddenly fell dur- pected, and demands further reflection. I have ing the night. In consequence, the Marquis was very little hope of separating Horace from her not to be seen the next day. Madame Véretz whom I call his ‘asp of the Nile.' I promised strove to find out about him. Perhaps she had you that I would bring all my diplomatic talent spies in her employ, and sent them around the to bear on this occasion. I was wrong to be so country. A few hours later she had the satis- sure of my weapons; what can diplomacy effect faction of telling her daughter and Monsieur de where such a woman is concerned ? You know Penneville that, every morning, except when it was that I came here armed with prejudices to the rainy or windy, the Marquis de Miraval took the teeth; you know, also, that I am somewhat a boat which crossed the lake from Ouchy to Evian, judge of both men and women, and that I do and passed the entire day in Savoy, returning at not lack quickness of perception. I have seen the very
last moment to dine at the hotel. Now and I have been conquered ; I could not help what was his business in Savoy? They were saying so to Madame Corneuil herself. I will lost in conjectures. The thing most probable not mention to you her marvelous beauty, the upon which they settled down was that Madame grace of her wit, her literary talent, which is of de Penneville had left Vichy for Evian, and that the very first order, or the nobility of her sentiher agent and emissary joined her every day to ments. One word will suffice. You know how confer with her, and that the bomb would ex- great was my horror of this marriage; I entered plode before long. Madame Véretz seriously ex- upon a campaign of which I have a very disapressed a wish, although under the form of a greeable remembrance. For the first timejoke, that the Marquis should be tracked, and you will believe you are dreaming, my dear, and that Monsieur de Penneville should go to Evian yet it is only too true-yes, if it were not for the next day to find out what was going on. Horace, if Madame Corneuil's heart were free, Her daughter and Horace disliked the idea, and if my sixty-five years did not terrify her, yes, declined the proposition, one from honor, the I would without hesitation dare to venture all, other from prudence. Madame Corneuil, who and I believe I could thus make sure of my had been timid ever since that night when she happiness for the few years I have yet to live. had been so disturbed by bad dreams, said to You will laugh at me, and rightly. Fortunately, herself, “Out of sight out of mind." Not that Horace exists; and, besides, be assured, I should she minded so much that for an entire day the stand no chance of being accepted. There, let lake would separate her and her beloved, but she us leave my little Utopia and speak of Horace. was afraid lest, in the chances of this expedition, If things are so, you will say, let him marry her! he might fall into the hands of the Philistines, No, my dear Mathilde, I do not think it would be who would get him away from her.
a happy marriage. There is a decided want of
а Their anxiety was soon over. Horace had sympathy in the disposition, taste, and character written to his mother, and received from her the of these two beings; it is impossible for me to adfollowing reply:
mit that they are made for one another. I have
spoken my mind freely to Horace, but there is no “MY DEAR Child: Monsieur de Miraval reasoning with a lover. You might as well play agreed to let you know my inmost thought on the fute to a fish. I have tried both lovers and the subject of the marriage which you are con- fish unsuccessfully, and they are the hardest createmplating Why do you speak of plotting? tures on earth to persuade. Nevertheless, I will Your uncle wrote me, and, to prove to you how make one more attempt, and renew the attack sincerely I am acting in this matter which trou- at the favorable moment, and you shall hear bles me so much, I take it upon myself to send from me before long. But I must say, without you his letter, begging you to say nothing to reproaching you, however, that I regret bitterly him about it, for he would not easily forgive my ever coming to Lausanne ; you little suspect the indiscretion. You will see by this letter how lit- poor service you rendered me in sending me tle he is prejudiced against the woman whom hither, or the stormy days and troubled nights you love, and consequently the objections which which are spent here by your old uncle, who he makes to your scheme deserve to be taken embraces you.”
Five minutes after reading this letter—that is but every day begins to make his wide and moto say, at ten o'clock in the morning-Horace, notonous circuit round the chalet, where his heart transgressing all the rules of the country, ran to stays fixed.” the chalet, where Madame Véretz received him. " Yes,” said Madame Véretz ; “that is it. He was beside himself, and the first thing which We must believe that the planets love the sun, he did was to burst out laughing.
and yet fear it. That is the reason why they “ Hush !” said she quickly, grasping him by move round it in circles.” the arm. “Do you forget that it is against the " But, to speak the truth,” answered he, rerule to laugh here in the morning ?”
suming his serious manner, “ that is not just the Horace threw a passionate kiss in the direc- way astronomers explain the thing." tion of the sanctuary and said to Madame Véretz: “ Heaven help them !” said Madame Véretz.
“Dear madame, come then as soon as you At these words she slipped into her pocket can to the garden, for absolutely I must laugh.” the Marquis's letter, which Horace never thought As soon as they were in the arbor—" Oh,” re- of asking for again. sumed he, “something altogether too funny has “Really,” answered he, “I love and respect happened !”
my uncle, and it goes against my conscience to “What has happened? What is it all about?” laugh at him. But I can not pity him. He
“My poor, poor uncle !” and he burst out undertook a very ugly mission; and pray observe laughing again.
that even now he flatters himself that he may “Explain yourself, for pity's sake!” said Ma- gain the case, and he still cherishes, I know not dame Véretz.
how, a faint hope. Heavens ! how I long to tell “Fancy! He is desperately in love with this story to Hortense !" Hortense himself."
" If you think anything of my judgment, my Madame Véretz started.
dear Count, you will not tell her a word of it, not “You are telling me a most remarkable a single word,” answered Madame Véretz sestory."
riously. “Let us laugh over it between ourselves “Only listen to me, please." Thereupon he like two schoolfellows, but you know Hortense read both letters aloud, interrupting his reading does not like to laugh. She is so sensitive, that at intervals to indulge freely in his gayety. that which amuses us might wound or grieve
The first thing Madame Véretz did was to her." laugh also, the second to listen with religious at- “Heaven keep me from that! Still, I am tention, the third to take the letters, which Horace sorry that you forbid it, it is such a good story!" had just read, out of his hands, and to authenti. Thereupon he left her, but, on returning to his cate the most interesting passages. It is well own room, said to himself, “ No matter, sooner to believe only one's own eyes.
or later, when the right moment comes, I shall “Oh, my poor uncle !" exclaimed he. “This speak about it to Hortense." was your famous secret! He must have rewritten that letter ten times before sending it off ; he
V. was afraid my mother would laugh at him. Just It was near ten o'clock in the evening. The notice the pains he has taken to make it all a mother and daughter were alone in their salon. joke, and yet how, in spite of himself, he betrays Madame Véretz was seated at her embroiderythe seriousness of his passion. Yes, ‘his days frame, Madame Corneuil was leaning back dreamare stormy and his nights disturbed.' I can well ily on a lounge; as she was not meditating, it conceive it. I beg you to see how everything is was allowable to talk. explained-his incoherent conduct, his blushes, “Then to-morrow is the great day,” said her his perplexity, his singular attacks of rudeness, mother to her, lifting her head from her work. and all his impolite behavior toward you, when “What do you mean?” he is so polite and such a slave to conventional- “ Monsieur de Penneville is to bring forth his ity! He has determined not to put foot in your great work. He has told me that his manuscript house again, as the butterfly resolves not to fly is seventy-three leaves long, neither more nor again into the flame of the candle. Every morn- less; you know how important those leaves are. ing he thinks, ‘I must leave Lausanne, I will go We shall not get off with less than two whole away,' but has not the courage to go. And, hours of it by the clock. That fellow's voice is since he can not keep still, he airs his love-trou- so distinct and penetrating that we can hear bles on the lake. We wondered what he could without listening. It fills our ears whether we be doing in Savoy. He goes to Meillerie to look wish it or not. You are fortunate, my dear : at the rock of Saint-Preux, and rehearse his sor- Monsieur de Miraval told the truth when he said rows in its great shadow. Then he says to him- that you have the faculty of sleeping without self again, I must go,' and yet he does not go, showing it."
"That is rather a questionable joke,” an- what can we find to do in Egypt, we who look swered Madame Corneuil haughtily.
upon our lives as a vocation, as an apostleship? "It is no crime in my eyes; we must protect the bottom of an hypogeum is a fine place to ourselves against Apepi as well as we can. follow a vocation in !” Every one has his own way of getting out of the “What has gone wrong with you to-night?" rain. Heavens! the dear fellow may have his said Madame Corneuil, shaking her beautiful peculiarities, but that does not prevent him from head like a bored Muse, and pouting her Juno having a kind heart, and all that; neither does lips like a Juno who has not yet met her Jupiit prevent him from being adored.”
ter. “Ah, yes, I adore him," answered Madame Madame Véretz drew her needle in and out, Corneuil sharply, “or rather, Monsieur de Penne- and hummed a tune to herself. Madame Corville is inexpressibly dear to me, and I beg you neuil renewed the conversation. never to doubt that.”
"I do not know what has gotten hold of Madame Véretz began to embroider again, and you. You seem to have set to work to disgust after a short silence said: “Good heavens ! what me with my happiness. Who was it who wished a pity!"
for this marriage, or at least advised it?” “ What is the matter now?”
Love takes the place of all else, my daugh“What a pity it is that the uncle is not the ter. So regret nothing, since you love him.” nephew, or the nephew the uncle !"
well that I have “What uncle are you talking about?” never met the man of my dreams. But I love “The Marquis de Miraval.”
Horace; I mean by that that I have liked him “That conspirator! That dreadful old man!” and still like him. But you have not told me
“You never gave him a fair look-he is not why to-night-" dreadful at all. His expression is charming, his “Good !” thought Madame Véretz, “we have voice is fresh, his hand dimpled and well kept, got over adoration,” and she resumed aloud : “My just the hand of a diplomate or prelate. Do you beautiful one, Monsieur de Penneville is a splendislike him so much ?"
did parti, I do not contradict that, and I recom"Unspeakably."
mended him because I had nothing better to “You are unjust, very unjust; he has a great offer.” many different kinds of merit. In the first place, “While to-night-?” he is a marquis; the other is only a count, and Ah, to-night I know of another one." the streets are full of counts. Then, too, his in- Madame Véretz rose from her chair, and, after come is not sixty thousand livres; he has more rummaging in her pocket, drew near her daughthan three times as much."
ter, and said to her: “Two hundred thousand," said Madame Cor- “Read these two letters; I do not give them neuil. Why do you stop there?”
to you, I only lend them, for Monsieur de Penne“Still another advantage ; if he chooses to ville noticed that I kept them, and I must send marry again, he is not obliged to endeavor to them back to him to-morrow morning.” reconcile his mother to the marriage. We may Madame Corneuil cast her eyes disdainfully try in vain. Madame de Penneville will never over the first of the two letters; but, when she
You see that she will break with her began the second, she changed her position, son, and that will be a bad thing for you. The roused herself from her languor, her pale cheek world, in such cases, always sides with the moth- was suffused with color, and something could be er; and then, Monsieur de Miraval is no anti- read in her eyes which her long eyelashes did quary, but a man of the world, and, what is more, not strive to conceal. a very ambitious one. He has determined to And yet, when she had finished reading, she enter political life again; before many months he rose, took an envelope from a drawer, inclosed will be either deputy or senator, as he chooses.” both letters in it, begged her mother to direct it, “Who told you so ?”
rang for Jacquot, and said to him: "He himself, and he added that his only grief “Take this packet to the Count de Pennewas that he was unmarried, for he needed a ville immediately!” after which she sank back 'salon,' and there could be no salon without a on the lounge again. wife. The other only cares for grottoes, and “ Did those scraps of paper burn your finonly sighs for his dear Memphis, whither he will gers ? ” said Madame Véretz with a smile. take you at once.”
“You should have spared me the trouble of “You know well," answered she quickly, reading such rubbish,” answered she. “that Horace will do exactly as I wish.”
Rubbish, my dear? What would the Mar“Do not trust to that. Monsieur de Miraval quis say if he heard that? The poor man is says he is gentle but determined. Good heavens! dreadfully excited! It is his own fault: why did
he come near a beautiful pair of eyes which are Then, turning to her mother, she said, resolutely accustomed to work such miracles?”
and solemnly : “ Not another word,” rejoined the daughter. "Be sure that I shall consult my heart alone. “ You know I can not endure that sort of jest. If you misapprehend my sentiments, I shall reing."
serve the right to disclaim them.” Madame Véretz returned to her embroidery. Madame Véretz kissed her once more, sayMadame Corneuil rose, and walked up and down ing: the room restlessly and excitedly. Then she “ You are just like the King of Prussia ; you seated herself at the piano, and sighed forth in talk about your heart and your conscience, and an agitated, passionate voice that song of Mi- let things take their own course, merely reserving gnon's which Horace liked so well. She stopped the right to disclaim your responsibility. Well, in the middle of the last verse, and, turning to- then, I will be your Bismarck." ward her mother, said :
And, so saying, she accompanied her adorable “No, I do not understand you. Is it possible angel to the door of her sacred retreat. that you can seriously propose to me that I The next day a fine rain fell in the early mornshould give up a man who is full of good quali- ing, notwithstanding which the Marquis did not ties, a man worthy of my esteem, and personally visit his nephew, which disappointed Madame attractive also ?”
Véretz exceedingly; perhaps she had intended to “ The other morning, when he laughed so, he stop him by the way and take possession of him. looked like a splendid sheep who had learned In the afternoon the weather cleared up, and she Coptic," interrupted Madame Véretz.
proposed to her daughter to take a drive. Hor“A man who has my word,” resumed she. ace did not go with them; he depended upon “ You dread scandal; I think, then, there would going over his manuscript again, that there need be something to criticise.”
be no impediment in his reading this evening; he “ It is only necessary to take proper precau- felt that it could never be good enough. tions. We need not leave him-he can leave As the ladies were returning from their drive us."
along the beautiful esplanade of Montbennon, “And for whom would I sacrifice him ? for a which commands a wonderful view of the lake man of seventy?"
and of the Alps, Madame Véretz, whose eyes “Ah, pardon-the Marquis is only sixty-five, ferreted out everything, perceived the Marquis and he does not look that. He has had a splen- seated in a melancholy attitude upon a solitary did past, and still will have a pleasant future. I bench. She descended quickly from the carriage, predict a great success for him in the tribune, begging her daughter to return alone. A few one of those successes which is rewarded with a minutes after, with seeming carelessness, she ministry. France is so poor in men! and then, passed before the Marquis at a distance of about my dear idol, you had better believe that only ten steps, and uttered a little scream of joyful old men know how to love! They are so pleased surprise. Monsieur de Miraval saw a chignon that they are tolerated; I will add also that Mon- of most beautiful red come between him and the sieur de Miraval has fine taste—he appreciates Alps; he would have preferred it to have been our writing. He stamps it of the highest or- blonde, but made the best of it. der'.”
“Thanks be to this good chance !” exclaimed Thereupon Madame Véretz left her work Madame Véretz. “You are my prisoner, Monagain, rushed at her daughter, and, pressing her sieur le Marquis, and must surrender at discre. in her arms, said:
tion." “Are you vexed ? Then we will say no more He offered her his arm, saying to her: about it. Monsieur de Penneville and his uncle "I am much pleased with my jailer, dear maare totally unlike. You like one"
dame." “ You never get the right word—I do not dis- “I will excuse you from being gallant," anlike him."
swered she. “I only wish you to speak to me “And you do dislike the other?”
openly, if that can ever be asked of a diplomate. “Heavens! I did dislike him.”
Will you be sincere ? " “Well, now they are both on the same foot- "I will be as sincere as Amen-Heb, surnamed ing, on the same level. The lists are open.” the truth-telling keeper of the flocks of Ammon.”
“You are quite right; you will end in offend- "You must at once acknowledge that I have ing me in good earnest,” answered Madame Cor- the right to question you. Has not your conduct neuil, lighting a candle to retire to her room. toward us been most peculiar? Since the day
As she was going out she drew near the win- Monsieur de Penneville introduced you, you have dow, and for a moment gazed upon the starry taken every pains to avoid us." vault as if to seek an inspiration therefrom. "Believe me, madame-"
“Really, what harm could we have done to sued she, “since he repeated to us a conversation you? You certainly must have discovered that which he had had with you, without keeping back I was a fool.”
any of the objections which occurred to you on Dear madame, from the first moment when the subject of his marriage.” I had the honor of meeting you, I have consid- "I recognize him there, the wretch !" said ered you a woman of great talent."
the Marquis. " If that be so, can it be my daughter who " It has given me a great deal to think of, and has had the misfortune to displease you ?" I am forced to respect your excellent reason. I
“ Your daughter !” exclaimed the Marquis. am greatly to blame, for I have been cruelly mis"Could I be so cursed by God and man! Why, taken. There is not between those young people your daughter is adorable.”
that harmony of character and of taste which is “ The very words of the letter," thought the first condition of happiness.” Madame Véretz; "he is right in sticking to it." “How pleased I am to hear you speak thus !" Then she resumed : “ Monsieur le Marquis, what exclaimed he. “The great point is harmony of means all this mystery, then ? "
tastes; neither is that enough. According to the “ Ah ! madame," said he to her, looking slyly ideas of Providence and also of my own, marat her, “ you are a very clever woman, and you riage should be a mutual admiration society. live with those who can decipher hieroglyphics. Now, I have become acquainted with-yes, dear I am afraid you may have divined me.”
madame, I am acquainted with a woman of most “ You exaggerate my clairvoyance. I have uncommon merit. She has published admirdivined nothing whatever. Is it true, as Mon- able sonnets, which Petrarch might envy if he sieur de Penneville pretends, that you have a were still alive, and a treatise on the duties and secret?"
virtues of woman, which Fénelon would have “Can my nephew accidentally have discov- consented to sign if Bossuet would not have ered that secret? You alarm me; he is the last disputed the honor with him. Are you listening ? man in the world to whom I would make my She lent those precious volumes to a man who confession."
pretends to be in love with her; the unfortunate “ I can easily believe that,” thought she; “we fellow could not read them through. I have seen have the hare by the ears now."
both volumes : one is only cut through the first Gently pressing the Marquis's arm, she said half, the other is still untouched, absolutely uncut. to him: “Indeed, I do not understand you at The best part of the whole thing is, that the poor all, and I like nothing better than making out fellow fancies he has read them, and is ready to people. Will you not reveal this dreadful secret swear that he admires them. But don't repeat to me?"
my story to Madame Corneuil.” “Never, madame, never. I have not yet lost “As for Madame Corneuil," answered she all respect for my white hairs ; I stand in awe with a smile, “she will undoubtedly publish at of them: should you want me to cover them some future day a book on the duties of mothwith everlasting ridicule?”
ers, and I am sure she will number indiscretion “ You are the only one who sees that they are among their virtues. Alas! mothers are often white,” said she, with a most encouraging glance. considered indiscreet, and the story you have just
" And then,” resumed he, “ you would betray related is well suited to enlighten my daughter me to Horace. For the first time, an uncle upon her own feelings and those which Horace trembles before his nephew."
pretends to have toward her. Besides, I ought “ I shall have to give it up," thought Madame to confess to you that she herself—" Véretz, a little angry;
“his white hairs and his "Speak, madame, speak; you ought, you say, nephew are a restraint upon him. He will not to confess to me that she herself—" speak until the other has left the place.”
"Oh! my daughter has so profound a soul After a pause she resumed : “ Monsieur le that she keeps her feelings to herself. But for a Marquis, if you had been less stingy of your vis- long time I have observed that she is thoughtful, its, you would have both honored and delighted serious, almost sad, and I ask myself if she, too, us, for I longed to see you, and talk with you may not have reflected." about something which troubles me. I have my The Marquis let go the arm of Madame Vésecret as well, and I longed to confide it to you. retz that he might wipe his forehead with his Yes, for several days I have been very much dis- handkerchief. There is such a thing in the world turbed. Monsieur de Penneville, who has the as perspiration caused by delight. unfortunate habit of telling everything,"
Ah! you are glad, old fellow !" said Ma“ Very unfortunate indeed, madame ; I have dame Véretz within herself. “You have forgotoften reproved him for it.”
ten your white hairs. Let us see if you are going “ Without curing him of it, however,” pur- to speak."