It was eleven o'clock before Holcroft drove to the door with the flowers, chainlink contract addressand he was amply repaid by her pleasure in receiving them. "Why, I only expected geraniums," she said, "and you've bought half a dozen other kinds."
"What! cross all that open under fire? One-half your brigade wouldnever reaccan i buy bitcoin in kenyah the bastion.""But the other half would take it.""That is not so certain."General Raimbaut refused to forward the young colonel's proposal toheadquarters. "I will not subject you to TWO refusals in onematter," said he, kindly.The young colonel lingered. He said, respectfully, "One question,general, when that bastion cuts its teeth will it be any easier totake than now?""Certainly; it will always be easier to take it from the sap than tocross the open under fire to it, and take it. Come, colonel, toyour trenches; and if your friend should cut its teeth, you shallhave a battery in your attack that will set its teeth on edge. Ha!
ha!"The young colonel did not echo his chief's humor; he salutedgravely, and returned to the trenches.The next morning three fresh tiers of embrasures grinned one aboveanother at the besiegers. The besieged had been up all night, andnot idle. In half these apertures black muzzles showed themselves.The bastion had cut its front teeth.Thirteenth day of the siege.The trenches were within four hundred yards of the enemy's guns, andit was hot work in them. The enemy had three tiers of guns in theround bastion, and on the top they had got a long 48-pounder, whichthey worked with a swivel joint, or the like, and threw a greatroaring shot into any part of the French lines.
As to the commander-in-chief and his generals, they were dottedabout a long way in the rear, and no shot came as far as them; butin the trenches the men began now to fall fast, especially on theleft attack, which faced the round bastion. Our young colonel hadgot his heavy battery, and every now and then he would divert thegeneral efforts of the bastion, and compel it to concentrate itsattention on him, by pounding away at it till it was all in soreplaces. But he meant it worse mischief than that. Still, asheretofore, regarding it as the key to Philipsburg, he had got alarge force of engineers at work driving a mine towards it, and tothis he trusted more than to breaching it; for the bigger holes hemade in it by day were all stopped at night by the townspeople.This colonel was not a favorite in the division to which his brigadebelonged. He was a good soldier, but a dull companion. He was alsoaccused of hauteur and of an unsoldierly reserve with his brotherofficers.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."You have been unwell, my child.""A little, dear friend; you know me; always ailing, and tormentingthose I love.""Well! but, Josephine, you know this place and this sweet air alwaysset you up. Look at her now, doctor; did you ever see her lookbetter? See what a color. I never saw her look more lovely.""I never saw her look SO lovely; but I have seen her look better.Your pulse. A little languid?""Yes, I am a little.""Do you stay at Beaurepaire?" inquired Rose; "if so, we will comehome.""On the contrary, you will stay here another fortnight," said thedoctor, authoritatively.
"Prescribe some of your nice tonics for me, doctor," said Josephine,coaxingly."No! I can't do that; you are in the hands of another practitioner.""What does that matter? You were at Paris.""It is not the etiquette in our profession to interfere with anotherman's patients.""Oh, dear! I am so sorry," began Josephine."I see nothing here that my good friend Mivart is not competent todeal with," said the doctor, coldly.Then followed some general conversation, at the end of which thedoctor once more laid his commands on them to stay another fortnightwhere they were, and bade them good-by.
He was no sooner gone than Rose went to the door of the kitchen, andcalled out, "Madame Jouvenel! Madame Jouvenel! you may come intothe garden again."The doctor drove away; but, instead of going straight to Beaurepaire,he ordered the driver to return to the town. He then walked toMivart's house.In about a quarter of an hour he came out of it, looking singularlygrave, sad, and stern.
Chapter 17Edouard Riviere contrived one Saturday to work off all arrears ofbusiness, and start for Beaurepaire. He had received a very kindletter from Rose, and his longing to see her overpowered him. Onthe road his eyes often glittered, and his cheek flushed withexpectation. At last he got there. His heart beat: for four monthshe had not seen her. He ran up into the drawing-room, and therefound the baroness alone; she welcomed him cordially, but soon lethim know Rose and her sister were at Frejus. His heart sank.
Frejus was a long way off. But this was not all. Rose's lastletter was dated from Beaurepaire, yet it must have been written atFrejus. He went to Jacintha, and demanded an explanation of this.The ready Jacintha said it looked as if she meant to be homedirectly; and added, with cool cunning, "That is a hint for me toget their rooms ready.""This letter must have come here enclosed in another," said Edouard,sternly."Like enough," replied Jacintha, with an appearance of sovereignindifference.Edouard looked at her, and said, grimly, "I will go to Frejus.""So I would," said Jacintha, faltering a little, but notperceptibly; "you might meet them on the road, if so be they comethe same road; there are two roads, you know."Edouard hesitated; but he ended by sending Dard to the town on hisown horse, with orders to leave him at the inn, and borrow a freshhorse. "I shall just have time," said he. He rode to Frejus, andinquired at the inns and post-office for Mademoiselle deBeaurepaire. They did not know her; then he inquired for MadameRaynal. No such name known. He rode by the seaside upon the chanceof their seeing him. He paraded on horseback throughout the place,in hopes every moment that a window would open, and a fair faceshine at it, and call him. At last his time was up, and he wasobliged to ride back, sick at heart, to Beaurepaire. He told thebaroness, with some natural irritation, what had happened. She wasas much surprised as he was."I write to Madame Raynal at the post-office, Frejus," said she."And Madame Raynal gets your letters?""Of course she does, since she answers them; you cannot haveinquired at the post.""Why, it was the first place I inquired at, and neither Mademoisellede Beaurepaire nor Madame Raynal were known there."Jacintha, who could have given the clew, seemed so puzzled herself,that they did not even apply to her. Edouard took a sorrowful leaveof the baroness, and set out on his journey home.
Oh! how sad and weary that ride seemed now by what it had beencoming. His disappointment was deep and irritating; and ere he hadridden half way a torturer fastened on his heart. That torture issuspicion; a vague and shadowy, but gigantic phantom that oppressesand rends the mind more terribly than certainty. In this state ofvague, sickening suspicion, he remained some days: then came anaffectionate letter from Rose, who had actually returned home. Inthis she expressed her regret and disappointment at having missedhim; blamed herself for misleading him, but explained that theirstay at Frejus had been prolonged from day to day far beyond herexpectation. "The stupidity of the post-office was more than shecould account for," said she. But, what went farthest to consoleEdouard, was, that after this contretemps she never ceased to invitehim to come to Beaurepaire. Now, before this, though she said manykind and pretty things in her letters, she had never invited him tovisit the chateau; he had noticed this. "Sweet soul," thought he,"she really is vexed. I must be a brute to think any more about it.Still"--So this wound was skinned over.
At last, what he called his lucky star ordained that he should betransferred to the very post his Commandant Raynal had onceoccupied. He sought and obtained permission to fix his quarters inthe little village near Beaurepaire, and though this plan could notbe carried out for three months, yet the prospect of it was joyfulall that time--joyful to both lovers. Rose needed this consolation,for she was very unhappy: her beloved sister, since their returnfrom Frejus, had gone back. The flush of health was faded, and sowas her late energy. She fell into deep depression and languor,broken occasionally by fits of nervous irritation.She would sit for hours together at one window languishing andfretting. Can the female reader guess which way that window looked?
Now, Edouard was a favorite of Josephine's; so Rose hoped he wouldhelp to distract her attention from those sorrows which a lapse ofyears alone could cure.On every account, then, his visit was looked forward to with hopeand joy.
He came. He was received with open arms. He took up his quartersat his old lodgings, but spent his evenings and every leisure hourat the chateau.He was very much in love, and showed it. He adhered to Rose like aleech, and followed her about like a little dog.This would have made her very happy if there had been nothing greatto distract her attention and her heart; but she had Josephine,whose deep depression and fits of irritation and terror filled herwith anxiety; and so Edouard was in the way now and then. On theseoccasions he was too vain to see what she was too polite to show himoffensively.But on this she became vexed at his obtuseness.
"Does he think I can be always at his beck and call?" thought she."She is always after her sister," said he.
He was just beginning to be jealous of Josephine when the followingincident occurred:--Rose and the doctor were discussing Josephine. Edouard pretended tobe reading a book, but he listened to every word.Dr. Aubertin gave it as his opinion that Madame Raynal did not makeenough blood.
"Oh! if I thought that!" cried Rose."Well, then, it is so, I assure you.""Doctor," said Rose, "do you remember, one day you said healthyblood could be drawn from robust veins and poured into a sickperson's?""It is a well-known fact," said Aubertin.
"I don't believe it," said Rose, dryly."Then you place a very narrow limit to science," said the doctor,coldly."Did you ever see it done?" asked Rose, slyly."I have not only seen it done, but have done it myself.""Then do it for us. There's my arm; take blood from that for dearJosephine!" and she thrust a white arm out under his eye with such abold movement and such a look of fire and love as never beamed fromcommon eyes.
A keen, cold pang shot through the human heart of Edouard Riviere.The doctor started and gazed at her with admiration: then he hunghis head. "I could not do it. I love you both too well to draineither of life's current."Rose veiled her fire, and began to coax. "Once a week; just once aweek, dear, dear doctor; you know I should never miss it. I am sofull of that health, which Heaven denies to her I love.""Let us try milder measures first," said the doctor. "I have mostfaith in time.""What if I were to take her to Frejus? hitherto, the sea has alwaysdone wonders for her.""Frejus, by all means," said Edouard, mingling suddenly in theconversation; "and this time I will go with you, and then I shallfind out where you lodged before, and how the boobies came to saythey did not know you."Rose bit her lip. She could not help seeing then how much dearEdouard was in her way and Josephine's. Their best friends are inthe way of all who have secrets. Presently the doctor went to hisstudy. Then Edouard let fall a mock soliloquy. "I wonder," saidhe, dropping out his words one by one, "whether any one will everlove me well enough to give a drop of their blood for me.""If you were in sickness and sorrow, who knows?" said Rose, coloringup.
"I would soon be in sickness and sorrow if I thought that.""Don't jest with such matters, monsieur.""I am serious. I wish I was as ill as Madame Raynal is, to be lovedas she is.""You must resemble her in some other things to be loved as she is."You have often made me feel that of late, dear Rose."This touched her. But she fought down the kindly feeling. "I amglad of it," said she, out of perverseness. She added after awhile, "Edouard, you are naturally jealous.""Not the least in the world, Rose, I assure you. I have manyfaults, but jealous I am not.""Oh, yes, you are, and suspicious, too; there is something in yourcharacter that alarms me for our happiness.""Well, if you come to that, there are things in YOUR conduct I couldwish explained.""There! I said so. You have not confidence in me.""Pray don't say that, dear Rose. I have every confidence in you;only please don't ask me to divest myself of my senses and myreason.""I don't ask you to do that or anything else for me; good-by, forthe present.""Where are you going now? tic! tic! I never can get a word in peacewith you.""I am not going to commit murder. I'm only going up-stairs to mysister.""Poor Madame Raynal, she makes it very hard for me not to dislikeher.""Dislike my Josephine?" and Rose bristled visibly.
"She is an angel, but I should hate an angel if it came foreverbetween you and me.""Excuse me, she was here long before you. It is you that camebetween her and me.""I came because I was told I should be welcome," said Edouardbitterly, and equivocating a little; he added, "and I dare say Ishall go when I am told I am one too many.""Bad heart! who says you are one too many in the house? But you aretoo exigent, monsieur; you assume the husband, and you tease me. Itis selfish; can you not see I am anxious and worried? you ought tobe kind to me, and soothe me; that is what I look for from you, and,instead of that, I declare you are getting to be quite a worry.""I should not be if you loved me as I love you. I give YOU norival. Shall I tell you the cause of all this? you have secrets.""What secrets?""Is it me you ask? am I trusted with them? Secrets are a bond thatnot even love can overcome. It is to talk secrets you run away fromme to Madame Raynal. Where did you lodge at Frejus, Mademoisellethe Reticent?""In a grotto, dry at low water, Monsieur the Inquisitive.""That is enough: since you will not tell me, I will find it outbefore I am a week older."This alarmed Rose terribly, and drove her to extremities. Shedecided to quarrel."Sir," said she, "I thank you for playing the tyrant a littleprematurely; it has put me on my guard. Let us part; you and I arenot suited to each other, Edouard Riviere."He took this more humbly than she expected. "Part!" said he, inconsternation; "that is a terrible word to pass between you and me.