Their familiarity had no coarse side; a fbuy dogecoin or notorm, not of custom butaffection, it went hand-in-hand with courtesy by day and night.
"Mother! sister!" cried Josephine, "help me to love this man.""You need no help," cried the baroness, with enthcoinbase bitcoin cash transaction timeusiasm, "not lovehim, we should all be monsters."Raynal came to supper looking bright and cheerful. "No more workto-day. I have nothing to do but talk; fancy that."This evening Josephine de Beaurepaire, who had been silent andthoughtful, took a quiet opportunity, and purred in his ear,"Monsieur!""Mademoiselle!" rang the trombone."Am I not to go to Egypt?""No."Josephine drew back at this brusque reply like a sensitive plant.
But she returned to the attack."But is it not a wife's duty to be by her husband's side to lookafter his comfort--to console him when others vex him--to soothe himwhen he is harassed?""Her first duty is to obey him.""Certainly.""Well, when I am your husband, I shall bid you stay with your motherand sister while I go to Egypt.""I shall obey you."He told her bluntly he thought none the worse of her for making theoffer; but should not accept it.Camille Dujardin slept that night at a roadside inn about twelvemiles from Beaurepaire, and not more than six from the town wherethe wedding was to take place next day.It was a close race.And the racers all unconscious of each other, yet spurred impartiallyby events that were now hurrying to a climax.
Chapter 7The next day at sharp nine two carriages were at the door.Imagine that a sparrow-hawk had seized a trembling pigeon, and thata royal falcon swooped, and with one lightning-like stroke of bodyand wing, buffeted him away, and sent him gaping and glaring andgrasping at pigeonless air with his claws. So swift and majestic,Josephine de Beaurepaire came from her chair with one gesture of herbody between her mother and the notary, who was advancing with armsfolded in a brutal, menacing way--not the Josephine we have seenher, the calm languid beauty, but the demoiselle de Beaurepaire--hergreat heart on fire--her blood up--not her own only, but all theblood of all the De Beaurepaires--pale as ashes with great wrath,her purple eyes on fire, and her whole panther-like body full ofspring. "Wretch! you dare to insult her, and before me! Arrieremiserable! or I soil my hand with your face." And her hand was upwith the word, up, up, higher it seemed than ever a hand was raisedbefore. And if he had hesitated one moment, I really believe itwould have come down; not heavily, perhaps--the lightning is notheavy. But there was no need. The towering threat and the flamingeye and the swift rush buffeted the caitiff away: he recoiled. Shefollowed him as he went, strong, FOR A MOMENT OR TWO, as Hercules,beautiful and terrible as Michael driving Satan. He dared not, orcould not stand before her: he writhed and cowered and recoiled alldown the room, while she marched upon him. But the driven serpenthissed horribly as it wriggled away.
"You shall both be turned out of Beaurepaire by me, and forever; Iswear it, parole de Perrin."He had not been gone a minute when Josephine's courage oozed away,and she ran, or rather tottered, into the Pleasaunce, and clung likea drowning thing to Rose, and, when Edouard took her hand, she clungto him. They had to gather what had happened how they could: theaccount was constantly interrupted with her sobs and self-reproaches. She said she had ruined all she loved: ruined hersister, ruined her mother, ruined the house of Beaurepaire. Why wasshe ever born? Why had she not died three years ago? (Query, whatwas the date at which Camille's letters suddenly stopped?) "Thatcoward," said she, "has the heart of a fiend. He told us he neverforgave an affront; and he holds our fate in his hands. He willdrive our mother from her home, and she will die: murdered by herown daughter. After all, why did I refuse him? What should I havesacrificed by marrying him? Rose, write to him, and say--say--I wastaken by surprise, I--I"--a violent flood of tears interrupted thesentence.Rose flung her arms round her neck. "My beautiful Josephine marrythat creature? Let house and lands go a thousand times sooner. Ilove my sister a thousand times better than the walls of this or anyother house.""Come, come," cried Edouard, "you are forgetting ME all this time.Do you really think I am the sort of man to stand by with my handsin my pockets, and let her marry that cur, or you be driven out ofBeaurepaire? Neither, while I live.""Alas! dear boy," sighed Josephine, "what can you do?""I'll soon show you. From this hour forth it is a duel between thatPerrin and me. Now, Josephine--Rose--don't you cry and fret likethat: but just look quietly on, and enjoy the fight, both of you."Josephine shook her head with a sad smile: but Rose deliveredherself thus, after a sob, "La, yes; I forgot: we have got agentleman now; that's one comfort."Edouard rose to the situation: he saw that Perrin would lose notime; and that every day, or even hour, might be precious. He toldthem that the first thing he must do for them was to leave thecompany he loved best on earth, and run down to the town to consultPicard the rival notary: he would be back by supper-time, when hehoped they would do him the honor, in a matter of such importance,to admit him to a family council.Josephine assented with perfect simplicity; Rose with a deep blush,for she was too quick not to see all the consequences of admittingso brisk a wooer into a family council.
It was a wet evening, and a sad and silent party sat round a woodfire in the great dining-hall. The baroness was almost prostratedby the scene with Perrin; and a sombre melancholy and forebodingweighed on all their spirits, when presently Edouard Riviere enteredbriskly, and saluted them all profoundly, and opened the proceedingswith a little favorite pomposity. "Madame the baroness, and youMonsieur Aubertin, who honor me with your esteem, and youMademoiselle de Beaurepaire, whom I adore, and you MademoiselleRose, whom I hoped to be permitted--you have this day done me thehonor to admit me as your adviser. I am here to lay my plans beforeyou. I believe, madame, I have already convinced you that yourfarms are under-let, and your property lowered in value by generalmismanagement; this was doubtless known to Perrin, and set himscheming. Well, I rely on the same circumstance to defeat him. Ihave consulted Picard and shown him the rent-roll and balance-sheetI had already shown you. He has confessed that the estate is worthmore than its debts, so capitalists can safely advance the money.To-morrow morning, then, I ride to Commandant Raynal for a week'sleave of absence; then, armed with Picard's certificate, shallproceed to my uncle and ask him to lend the money. His estate isvery small compared with Beaurepaire, but he has always farmed ithimself. 'I'll have no go-between,' says he, 'to impoverish bothself and soil.' He is also a bit of a misanthrope, and has made meone. I have a very poor opinion of my fellow-creatures, very.""Well, but," said Rose, "if he is all that, he will not sympathizewith us, who have so mismanaged Beaurepaire. Will he not despiseus?"Edouard was a little staggered, but Aubertin came to his aid.
"Permit me, Josephine," said he. "Natural history steps in here,and teaches by me, its mouth-piece. A misanthrope hates allmankind, but is kind to every individual, generally too kind. Aphilanthrope loves the whole human race, but dislikes his wife, hismother, his brother, and his friends and acquaintances. Misanthropeis the potato: rough and repulsive outside, but good to the core.Philanthrope is a peach: his manner all velvet and bloom, his wordssweet juice, his heart of hearts a stone. Let me read Philanthrope'sbook, and fall into the hands of Misanthrope."Edouard admitted the shrewdness of this remark."And so," said he, "my misanthrope will say plenty of biting words,--which, by-the-by, will not hurt you, who will not hear them, onlyme,--and then he'll lend us the money, and Beaurepaire will be free,and I shall have had a hand in it. Hurrah!"Then came a delicious hour to Edouard Riviere. Young and old pouredout their glowing thanks and praises upon him till his checks burnedlike fire.The baroness was especially grateful, and expressed a gentle regretthat she could see no way of showing her gratitude except in words.
"What can we do for this little angel?" said she, turning toJosephine."Leave that to me, mamma," replied Josephine, turning her lovelyeyes full on Edouard, with a look the baroness misunderstooddirectly.She sat and watched Josephine and Edouard with comical severity allthe rest of the time she was there; and, when she retired, shekissed Rose affectionately, but whispered her eldest daughter, "Ihope you are not serious. A mere boy compared with you.""But such a sweet one," suggested Josephine, apologetically."What will the world come to?" said the baroness out loud, andretreated with a sour glance at all of them--except Rose.
She had not been gone five minutes when a letter came by messengerto Edouard. It was from Picard. He read it out."Perrin has been with me, to raise money. He wants it in forty-eight hours. Promises good legal security. I have agreed to tryand arrange the matter for him."They were all astonished at this.
"The double-faced traitor!" cried Edouard. "Stay; wait a minute.Let us read it to an end.""This promise is, of course, merely to prevent his going elsewhere.
At the end of the forty-eight hours I shall begin to makedifficulties. Meantime, as Perrin is no fool, you had better profitto the full by this temporary delay.""Well done, Picard!" shouted Edouard. "Notary cut notary. I won'tlose an hour. I'll start at five; Commandant Raynal is an earlyriser himself."Accordingly, at five he was on the road; Raynal's quarters lay inthe direct line to his uncle's place. He found the commandant athome, and was well received. Raynal had observed his zeal, andliked his manners. He gave him the week's leave, and kept him tobreakfast, and had his horse well fed. At eight o'clock Edouardrode out of the premises in high spirits. At the very gate he met agaunt figure riding in on a squab pony. It was Perrin the notarycoming in hot haste to his friend and employer, Commandant Raynal.Chapter 5After Edouard's departure, Josephine de Beaurepaire was sad, andweighed down with presentiments. She felt as soldiers sometimesfeel who know the enemy is undermining them; no danger on thesurface; nothing that can be seen, met, baffled, attacked, orevaded; in daily peril, all the more horrible that it imitatesperfect serenity, they await the fatal match. She imparted hermisgivings to Aubertin; but he assured her she exaggerated thedanger."We have a friend still more zealous and active than our enemy;believe me, your depression is really caused by his absence; we allmiss the contact of that young heroic spirit; we are a body, and heits soul."Josephine was silent, for she said to herself, "Why should I dashtheir spirits? they are so happy and confident."Edouard had animated Rose and Aubertin with his own courage, and hadeven revived the baroness.It had been agreed between him and Picard that the latter shouldcommunicate with Dr. Aubertin direct, should anything fresh occur.And on the third day after Edouard's departure, Picard sent up aprivate message: "Perrin has just sent me a line to say he will nottrouble us, as he is offered the money in another quarter."This was a heavy blow, and sent them all to bed more or lessdespondent.
The next day brought a long letter from Edouard to Rose, telling herhe had found his uncle crusty at first; but at last with a littlepatience, and the co-operation of Martha, his uncle's old servant,and his nurse, the old boy had come round. They might look on theaffair as all but settled.The contents of this letter were conveyed to the baroness. Thehouse brightened under it: the more so that there was some hope oftheir successful champion returning in person next day. MeantimePerrin had applied to Raynal for the immediate loan of a large sumof money on excellent security. Raynal refused plump. Perrin rodeaway disconsolate.
But the next day he returned to the charge with another proposal:and the nature of this second proposal we shall learn from events.
The day Edouard was expected opened deliciously. It was a balmymorning, and tempted the sisters out before breakfast. Theystrolled on the south terrace with their arms round each other'swaists, talking about Edouard, and wondering whether they shouldreally see him before night. Rose owned she had missed him, andconfessed for the first time she was a proud and happy girl."May I tell him so?" asked Josephine.
"Not for all the world. Would you dare?"Further discussion of that nice point was stopped by the baronesscoming out, leaning on Dr. Aubertin.Then--how we young people of an unceremonious age should havestared--the demoiselles de Beaurepaire, inasmuch as this was theirmother's first appearance, lowered their fair heads at the same timelike young poplars bowing to the wind, and so waited reverently tillshe had slightly lifted her hands, and said, "God bless you, mychildren!"It was done in a moment on both sides, but full of grace and piety,and the charm of ancient manners."How did our dear mother sleep?" inquired Josephine. Aubertininterposed with a theory that she slept very well indeed if she tookwhat he gave her."Ay, IF," suggested Rose, saucily.
"I slept," said the baroness, "and I wish I had not for I dreamed anugly dream." They all gathered round her, and she told her dream."I thought I was with you all in this garden. I was admiring theflowers and the trees, and the birds were singing with all theirmight. Suddenly a dark cloud came; it cleared almost directly; butflowers, trees, sky, and birds were gone now, and I could see thechateau itself no more. It means that I was dead. An ugly dream,my children, an ugly dream.""But only a dream, dear mother," said Rose: then with a sweet,consoling smile, "See, here is your terrace and your chateau.""And here are your daughters," said Josephine; and they both cameand kissed her to put their existence out of doubt. "And here isyour Aesculapius," said Aubertin. "And here is your Jacintha.""Breakfast, madame," said Jacintha. "Breakfast, mesdemoiselles.
Breakfast, monsieur:" dropping each a distinct courtesy in turn."She has turned the conversation very agreeably," said the baroness,and went in leaning on her old friend.
But the sisters lagged behind and took several turns in silence.Rose was the first to speak. "How superstitious of you!""I said nothing.""No; but you looked volumes at me while mamma was telling her dream.
For my part I feel sure love is stronger than hate; and we shallstay all our days in this sweet place: and O Josey! am I not a happygirl that it's all owing to HIM!"At this moment Jacintha came running towards them. They took it fora summons to breakfast, and moved to meet her. But they soon sawshe was almost as white as her apron, and she came open-mouthed andwringing her hands. "What shall I do? what shall I do? Oh, don'tlet my poor mistress know!"They soon got from her that Dard had just come from the town, andlearned the chateau was sold, and the proprietor coming to takepossession this very day. The poor girls were stupefied by theblow.If anything, Josephine felt it worst. "It is my doing," she gasped,and tottered fainting. Rose supported her: she shook it off by aviolent effort. "This is no time for weakness," she cried, wildly;"come to the Pleasaunce; there is water there. I love my mother.What will I not do for her? I love my mother."Muttering thus wildly she made for the pond in the Pleasaunce. Shehad no sooner turned the angle of the chateau than she started backwith a convulsive cry, and her momentary feebleness left herdirectly; she crouched against the wall and griped the ancientcorner-stone with her tender hand till it powdered, and she spiedwith dilating eye into the Pleasaunce, Rose and Jacintha pantingbehind her. Two men stood with their backs turned to her looking atthe oak-tree; one an officer in full uniform, the other the humansnake Perrin. Though the soldier's back was turned, his off-handed,peremptory manner told her he was inspecting the place as its master."The baroness! the baroness!" cried Jacintha, with horror. Theylooked round, and the baroness was at their very backs.
"What is it?" cried she, gayly."Nothing, mamma.""Let me see this nothing."They glanced at one another, and, idle as the attempt was, the habitof sparing her prevailed, and they flung themselves between her andthe blow.
"Josephine is not well," said Rose. "She wants to go in." Bothgirls faced the baroness."Jacintha," said the baroness, "fetch Dr. Aubertin. There, I havesent her away. So now tell me, why do you drive me back so?
Something has happened," and she looked keenly from one to theother."O mamma! do not go that way: there are strangers in the Pleasaunce.""Let me see. So there are. Call Jacintha back that I may orderthese people out of my premises." Josephine implored her to becalm.