"What for?" said Dard sulkily. "No! let them see what they havedotron price prediction digitalne with their little odd jobs: this is my last for one while. Isha'n't go on two legs again this year."The ladies came up with them.
Ha, ha! you are a cool hand, colonel, Ibittorrent apk gingerbread must say. But your batteryis a warm place enough: I shall report it so at headquarters."The grim colonel relaxed."Captain," said he politely, "you shall not have ridden to my postin vain. Will you lend me your horse for ten minutes?""Certainly; and I will inspect your trenches meantime.""Do so; oblige me by avoiding that angle; it is exposed, and theenemy have got the range to an inch."Colonel Dujardin slipped into his quarters; off with his half-dressjacket and his dirty boots, and presently out he came full fig,glittering brighter than the other, with one French and two foreignorders shining on his breast, mounted the aide-de-camp's horse, andaway full pelt.
Admitted, after some delay, into the generalissimo's tent, Dujardinfound the old gentleman surrounded by his staff and wroth: nor wasthe danger to which he had been exposed his sole cause of ire.The shot had burst through his canvas, struck a table on which was alarge inkstand, and had squirted the whole contents over thedespatches he was writing for Paris.Now this old gentleman prided himself upon the neatness of hisdespatches: a blot on his paper darkened his soul.Colonel Dujardin expressed his profound regret. The commander,however, continued to remonstrate. "I have a great deal of writingto do," said he, "as you must be aware; and, when I am writing, Iexpect to be quiet."Colonel Dujardin assented respectfully to the justice of this. Hethen explained at full length why he could not bring a gun in thebattery to silence "Long Tom," and quietly asked to be permitted torun a gun out of the trenches, and take a shot at the offender."It is a point-blank distance, and I have a new gun, with which aman ought to be able to hit his own ball at three hundred yards."The commander hesitated.
"I cannot have the men exposed.""I engage not to lose a man--except him who fires the gun. HE musttake his chance.""Well, colonel, it must be done by volunteers. The men must not beORDERED out on such a service as that."Colonel Dujardin bowed, and retired."Volunteers to go out of the trenches!" cried Sergeant La Croix, ina stentorian voice, standing erect as a poker, and swelling withimportance.Here is an enemy in full retreat, would they encumber themselveswith the colonel? If he was dead, they'd have whipped off hisepaulets, and left him there. Alive? why not? Look at me: I amalive, and I was worse wounded than he was. They took me for dead,you see. Courage, madame! you will see him again, take an oldsoldier's word for it. Dard, attention! this is the colonel'swife."She gazed on the speaker like one in a trance.
Every eye and every soul had been so bent on Sergeant La Croix thatit was only now Raynal was observed to be missing. The next minutehe came riding out of the stable-yard, and went full gallop down theroad."Ah!" cried Rose, with a burst of hope; "he thinks so too; he hashopes. He is gone somewhere for information. Perhaps to Paris."Josephine's excitement and alternations of hope and fear were nowalarming. Rose held her hand, and implored her to try and be calmtill they could see Raynal.Just before dark he came riding fiercely home. Josephine flew downthe stairs. Raynal at sight of her forgot all his caution. Hewaved his cocked hat in the air. She fell on her knees and thankedGod. He gasped out,--"Prisoner--exchanged for two Prussian lieutenants--sent home--theysay he is in France!"The tears of joy gushed in streams from her.Some days passed in hope and joy inexpressible; but the good doctorwas uneasy for Josephine. She was always listening withsupernatural keenness and starting from her chair, and every fibreof her lovely person seemed to be on the quiver.
Nor was Rose without a serious misgiving. Would husband and wifeever meet? He evidently looked on her as Madame Raynal, and made ita point of honor to keep away from Beaurepaire.They had recourse to that ever-soothing influence--her child.
Madame Jouvenel was settled in the village, and Josephine visitedher every day, and came back often with red eyes, but alwayssoothed.One day Rose and she went to Madame Jouvenel, and, entering thehouse without ceremony, found the nurse out, and no one watching thechild."How careless!" said Rose.Josephine stopped eagerly to kiss him. But instead of kissing him,she uttered a loud cry. There was a locket hanging round his neck.
It was a locket containing some of Josephine's hair and Camille's.She had given it him in the happy days that followed their marriage.She stood gasping in the middle of the room. Madame Jouvenel camerunning in soon after. Josephine, by a wonderful effort overherself, asked her calmly and cunningly,--"Where is the gentleman who put this locket round my child's neck?I want to speak with him."Madame Jouvenel stammered and looked confused.
"A soldier--an officer?--come, tell me!""Woman," cried Rose, "why do you hesitate?""What am I to do?" said Madame Jouvenel. "He made me swear never tomention his coming here. He goes away, or hides whenever you come.And since Madame does not love the poor wounded gentleman, what canhe do better?""Not love him!" cried Rose: "why, she is his wife, his lawful weddedwife; he is a fool or a monster to run away for her. She loves himas no woman ever loved before. She pines for him. She dies forhim."The door of a little back room opened at these words of Rose, andthere stood Camille, with his arm in a sling, pale and astounded,but great joy and wonder working in his face.
Josephine gave a cry of love that made the other two women weep, andin a moment they were sobbing for joy upon each other's neck.Away went sorrow, doubt, despair, and all they had suffered. Thatone moment paid for all. And in that moment of joy and surprise, sogreat as to be almost terrible, perhaps it was well for Josephinethat Camille, weakened by his wound, was quite overcome, and nearlyfainted. She was herself just going into hysterics; but, seeing himquite overcome, she conquered them directly, and nursed, andsoothed, and pitied, and encouraged him instead.
Then they sat hand in hand. Their happiness stopped their verybreath. They could not speak. So Rose told him all. He neverowned why he had slipped away when he saw them coming. He forgotit. He forgot all his hard thoughts of her. They took him home inthe carriage. His wife would not let him out of her sight. Foryears and years after this she could hardly bear to let him be anhour out of her sight.The world is wide; there may be a man in it who can paint the suddenbliss that fell on these two much suffering hearts; but I am notthat man; this is beyond me; it was not only heaven, but heavenafter hell.Leave we the indescribable and the unspeakable for a moment, and goto a lighter theme.The day Rose's character was so unexpectedly cleared, Edouard had noopportunity of speaking to her, or a reconciliation would have takenplace. As it was, he went home intensely happy. But he did notresume his visits to the chateau. When he came to think calmly overit, his vanity was cruelly mortified. She was innocent of thegreater offence; but how insolently she had sacrificed him, hislove, and his respect, to another's interest.More generous thoughts prevailed by degrees. And one day that herpale face, her tears, and her remorse got the better of his offendedpride, he determined to give her a good lecture that should drownher in penitent tears; and then end by forgiving her. For one thinghe could not be happy till he had forgiven her.She walked into the room with a calm, dignified, stately air, andbefore he could utter one word of his grave remonstrance, attackedhim thus: "You wish to speak to me, sir. If it is to apologize tome, I will save your vanity the mortification. I forgive you.""YOU forgive ME!" cried Edouard furiously.
"No violence, if you please," said the lady with cold hauteur. "Letus be friends, as Josephine and Raynal are. We cannot be anythingmore to one another now. You have wounded me too deeply by yourjealous, suspicious nature."Edouard gasped for breath, and was so far out-generalled that heaccepted the place of defendant. "Wasn't I to believe your ownlips? Did not Colonel Raynal believe you?""Oh, that's excusable. He did not know me. But you were my lover;you ought to have seen I was forced to deceive poor Raynal. Howdare you believe your eyes; much more your ears, against my truth,against my honor; and then to believe such nonsense?" Then, with agrand assumption of superior knowledge, says she, "You littlesimpleton, how could the child be mine when I wasn't married atall?"At this reproach, Edouard first stared, then grinned. "I forgotthat," said he."Yes, and you forgot the moon isn't made of green cheese. However,if I saw you very humble, and very penitent, I might, perhaps,really forgive you--in time.""No, forgive me at once. I don't understand your angelical,diabolical, incomprehensible sex: who on earth can? forgive me.""Oh! oh! oh! oh!"Lo! the tears that could not come at a remonstrance were flowing ina stream at his generosity.
"What is the matter now?" said he tenderly. She cried away, but atthe same time explained,--"What a f--f--foolish you must be not to see that it is I who amwithout excuse. You were my betrothed. It was to you I owed myduty; not my sister. I am a wicked, unhappy girl. How you musthate me!""I adore you. There, no more forgiving on either side. Let ouronly quarrel be who shall love the other best.""Oh, I know how that will be," said the observant toad. "You willlove me best till you have got me; and then I shall love you best;oh, ever so much."However, the prospect of loving best did not seem disagreeable toher; for with this announcement she deposited her head on hisshoulder, and in that attitude took a little walk with him up anddown the Pleasaunce: sixty times; about eight miles.These two were a happy pair. This wayward, but generous heart neverforgot her offence, and his forgiveness. She gave herself to himheart and soul, at the altar, and well she redeemed her vow. Herose high in political life: and paid the penalty of that sort ofambition; his heart was often sore. But by his own hearth satcomfort and ever ready sympathy. Ay, and patient industry to readblue-books, and a ready hand and brain to write diplomatic notes forhim, off which the mind glided as from a ball of ice.
In thirty years she never once mentioned the servants to him."Oh, let eternal honor crown her name!"It was only a little bit of heel that Dard had left in Prussia.
More fortunate than his predecessor (Achilles), he got off with aslight but enduring limp. And so the army lost him.He married Jacintha, and Josephine set them up in Bigot's,(deceased) auberge. Jacintha shone as a landlady, and custom flowedin. For all that, a hankering after Beaurepaire was observable inher. Her favorite stroll was into the Beaurepaire kitchen, and onall fetes and grand occasions she was prominent in gay attire as aretainer of the house. The last specimen of her homely sagacity Ishall have the honor to lay before you is a critique upon herhusband, which she vented six years after marriage."My Dard," said she, "is very good as far as he goes. What he hasfelt himself, that he can feel FOR: nobody better. You come to himwith an empty belly, or a broken head, or all bleeding with a cut,or black and blue, and you shall find a friend. But if it is a soreheart, or trouble, and sorrow, and no hole in your carcass to showfor it, you had better come to ME; for you might as well tell yourgrief to a stone wall as to my man."The baroness took her son Raynal to Paris, and there, with keen eye,selected him a wife. She proved an excellent one. It would havebeen hard if she had not, for the baroness with the severe sagacityof her age and sex, had set aside as naught a score of seemingangels, before she could suit herself with a daughter-in-law. Atfirst the Raynals very properly saw little of the Dujardins; butwhen both had been married some years, the recollection of thatfleeting and nominal connection waxed faint, while the memory ofgreat benefits conferred on both sides remained lively as ever inhearts so great, and there was a warm, a sacred friendship betweenthe two houses--a friendship of the ancient Greeks, not of themodern club-house.Camille and Josephine were blessed almost beyond the lot ofhumanity: none can really appreciate sunshine but those who come outof the cold dark. And so with happiness. For years they couldhardly be said to live like mortals: they basked in bliss. But itwas a near thing; for they but just scraped clear of life-longmisery, and death's cold touch grazed them both as they went.
Yet they had heroic virtues to balance White Lies in the greatJudge's eye.A wholesome lesson, therefore, and a warning may be gathered fromthis story: and I know many novelists who would have preached thatlesson at some length in every other chapter, and interrupted thesacred narrative to do it. But when I read stories so mutilated, Ithink of a circumstance related by Mr. Joseph Miller.
"An Englishman sojourning in some part of Scotland was afflictedwith many hairs in the butter, and remonstrated. He was told, inreply, that the hairs and the butter came from one source--the cow;and that the just and natural proportions hitherto observed, couldnot be deranged, and bald butter invented--for ONE. 'So be it,'said the Englishman; 'but let me have the butter in one plate, andthe hairs in another.'"Acting on this hint, I have reserved some admirable remarks,reflections, discourses, and tirades, until the story should beended, and the other plate be ready for the subsidiary sermon.
And now that the proper time is come, that love of intruding one'sown wisdom in one's own person on the reader, which has marred somany works of art, is in my case restrained--first, by pure fatigue;secondly, because the moral of this particular story stands out soclear in the narrative, that he who runs may read it without anysermon at all.Those who will not take the trouble to gather my moral from theliving tree, would not lift it out of my dead basket: would notunlock their jaw-bones to bite it, were I to thrust it into theirvery mouths.
TheEndChapter 1 Left AloneThe dreary March evening is rapidly passing from murky gloom to obscurity. Gusts of icy rain and sleet are sweeping full against a man who, though driving, bows his head so low that he cannot see his horses. The patient beasts, however, plod along the miry road, unerringly taking their course to the distant stable door. The highway sometimes passes through a grove on the edge of a forest, and the trees creak and groan as they writhe in the heavy blasts. In occasional groups of pines there is sighing and moaning almost human in suggestiveness of trouble. Never had Nature been in a more dismal mood, never had she been more prodigal of every element of discomfort, and never had the hero of my story been more cast down in heart and hope than on this chaotic day which, even to his dull fancy, appeared closing in harmony with his feelings and fortune. He is going home, yet the thought brings no assurance of welcome and comfort. As he cowers upon the seat of his market wagon, he is to the reader what he is in the fading light--a mere dim outline of a man. His progress is so slow that there will be plenty of time to relate some facts about him which will make the scenes and events to follow more intelligible.James Holcroft is a middle-aged man and the owner of a small, hilly farm. He had inherited his rugged acres from his father, had always lived upon them, and the feeling had grown strong with the lapse of time that he could live nowhere else. Yet he knew that he was, in the vernacular of the region, "going down-hill." The small savings of years were slowly melting away, and the depressing feature of this truth was that he did not see how he could help himself. He was not a sanguine man, but rather one endowed with a hard, practical sense which made it clear that the down-hill process had only to continue sufficiently long to leave him landless and penniless. It was all so distinct on this dismal evening that he groaned aloud.
"If it comes to that, I don't know what I'll do--crawl away on a night like this and give up, like enough."Perhaps he was right. When a man with a nature like his "gives up," the end has come. The low, sturdy oaks that grew so abundantly along the road were types of his character--they could break, but not bend. He had little suppleness, little power to adapt himself to varied conditions of life. An event had occurred a year since, which for months, he could only contemplate with dull wonder and dismay. In his youth he had married the daughter of a small farmer. Like himself, she had always been accustomed to toil and frugal living. From childhood she had been impressed with the thought that parting with a dollar was a serious matter, and to save a dollar one of the good deeds rewarded in this life and the life to come. She and her husband were in complete harmony on this vital point. Yet not a miserly trait entered into their humble thrift. It was a necessity entailed by their meager resources; it was inspired by the wish for an honest independence in their old age.
There was to be no old age for her. She took a heavy cold, and almost before her husband was aware of her danger, she had left his side. He was more than grief-stricken, he was appalled. No children had blessed their union, and they had become more and more to each other in their simple home life. To many it would have seemed a narrow and even a sordid life. It could not have been the latter, for all their hard work, their petty economies and plans to increase the hoard in the savings bank were robbed of sordidness by an honest, quiet affection for each other, by mutual sympathy and a common purpose. It undoubtedly was a meager life, which grew narrower with time and habit. There had never been much romance to begin with, but something that often wears better--mutual respect and affection. From the first, James Holcroft had entertained the sensible hope that she was just the girl to help him make a living from his hillside farm, and he had not hoped for or even thought of very much else except the harmony and good comradeship which bless people who are suited to each other. He had been disappointed in no respect; they had toiled and gathered like ants; they were confidential partners in the homely business and details of the farm; nothing was wasted, not even time. The little farmhouse abounded in comfort, and was a model of neatness and order. If it and its surroundings were devoid of grace and ornament, they were not missed, for neither of its occupants had ever been accustomed to such things. The years which passed so uneventfully only cemented the union and increased the sense of mutual dependence. They would have been regarded as exceedingly matter-of-fact and undemonstrative, but they were kind to each other and understood each other. Feeling that they were slowly yet surely getting ahead, they looked forward to an old age of rest and a sufficiency for their simple needs. Then, before he could realize the truth, he was left alone at her wintry grave; neighbors dispersed after the brief service, and he plodded back to his desolate home. There was no relative to step in and partially make good his loss. Some of the nearest residents sent a few cooked provisions until he could get help, but these attentions soon ceased. It was believed that he was abundantly able to take care of himself, and he was left to do so. He was not exactly unpopular, but had been much too reticent and had lived too secluded a life to find uninvited sympathy now. He was the last man, however, to ask for sympathy or help; and this was not due to misanthropy, but simply to temperament and habits of life. He and his wife had been sufficient for each other, and the outside world was excluded chiefly because they had not time or taste for social interchanges. As a result, he suffered serious disadvantages; he was misunderstood and virtually left to meet his calamity alone.But, indeed he could scarcely have met it in any other way. Even to his wife, he had never formed the habit of speaking freely of his thoughts and feelings. There had been no need, so complete was the understanding between them. A hint, a sentence, reveled to each other their simple and limited processes of thought. To talk about her now to strangers was impossible. He had no language by which to express the heavy, paralyzing pain in his heart.
For a time he performed necessary duties in a dazed, mechanical way. The horses and live stock were fed regularly, the cows milked; but the milk stood in the dairy room until it spoiled. Then he would sit down at his desolate hearth and gaze for hours into the fire, until it sunk down and died out. Perhaps no class in the world suffers from such a terrible sense of loneliness as simple-natured country people, to whom a very few have been all the company they required.At last Holcroft partially shook off his stupor, and began the experiment of keeping house and maintaining his dairy with hired help. For a long year he had struggled on through all kinds of domestic vicissitude, conscious all the time that things were going from bad to worse. His house was isolated, the region sparsely settled, and good help difficult to be obtained under favoring auspices. The few respectable women in the neighborhood who occasionally "lent a hand" in other homes than their own would not compromise themselves, as they expressed it, by "keepin' house for a widower." Servants obtained from the neighboring town either could not endure the loneliness, or else were so wasteful and ignorant that the farmer, in sheer desperation, discharged them. The silent, grief-stricken, rugged-featured man was no company for anyone. The year was but a record of changes, waste, and small pilferings. Although he knew he could not afford it, he tried the device of obtaining two women instead of one, so that they might have society in each other; but either they would not stay or else he found that he had two thieves to deal with instead of one--brazen, incompetent creatures who knew more about whisky than milk, and who made his home a terror to him.