介绍 Philanthrope is a peach: his manner all velvet and bloom, his wordssweet jubitcoin core no incoming connectionsice, 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.
介绍In the general consciousness Nature is regarded as feminine, and even those who love her most will have to adopt Mrs. Mumpson's oft-expressed opinion of the sex and admit that she is sometimes a "peculiar female." During the month of March, in which our story opens, there was ethereum mining rig calculatorscarcely any limit to her varying moods. It would almost appear that she was taking a mysterious interest in Holcroft's affairs; but whether it was a kindly interest or not, one might be at a loss to decide. When she caught him away from home, she pelted him with the coldest of rain and made his house, with even Mrs. Mumpson and Jane abiding there, seem a refuge. In the morning after the day on which he had brought, or in a sense had carted, Mrs. Wiggins to his domicile, Nature was evidently bent on instituting contrasts between herself and the rival phases of femininity with which the farmer was compelled to associate. It may have been that she had another motive and was determined to keep her humble worshiper at her feet, and to render it impossible for him to make the changes toward which he had felt himself driven.介绍Being an early riser he was up with the sun, and the sun rose so serenely and smiled so benignly that Holcroft's clouded brow cleared in spite of all that had happened or could take place. The rain, which had brought such discomfort the night before, had settled the ground and made it comparatively firm to his tread. The southern breeze which fanned his cheek was as soft as the air of May. He remembered that it was Sunday, and that beyond feeding his stock and milking, he would have nothing to do. He exulted in the unusual mildness and thought, with an immense sense of relief, "I can stay outdoors nearly all day." He resolved to let his help kindle the fire and get breakfast as they could, and to keep out of their way. Whatever changes the future might bring, he would have one more long day in rambling about his fields and in thinking over the past. Feeling that there need be no haste about anything, he leisurely inhaled the air, fragrant from springing grass, and listened with a vague, undefined pleasure to the ecstatic music of the bluebirds, song-sparrows, and robins. If anyone had asked him why he liked to hear them, he would have replied, "I'm used to 'em. When they come, I know that plowing and planting time is near."
介绍It must be admitted that Holcroft's enjoyment of spring was not very far removed from that of the stock in his barnyard. All the animal creation rejoices in the returning sun and warmth. A subtle, powerful influence sets the blood in more rapid motion, kindles new desires, and awakens a glad expectancy. All that is alive becomes more thoroughly alive and existence in itself is a pleasure. Spring had always brought to the farmer quickened pulses, renewed activity and hopefulness, and he was pleased to find that he was not so old and cast down that its former influence had spent itself. Indeed, it seemed that never before had his fields, his stock, and outdoor work--and these comprised Nature to him--been so attractive. They remained unchanged amid the sad changes which had clouded his life, and his heart clung more tenaciously than ever to old scenes and occupations. They might not bring him happiness again, but he instinctively felt that they might insure a comfort and peace with which he could be content.介绍At last he went to the barn and began his work, doing everything slowly, and getting all the solace he could from the tasks. The horses whinnied their welcome and he rubbed their noses caressingly as he fed them. The cows came briskly to the rack in which he foddered them in pleasant weather, and when he scratched them between the horns they turned their mild, Juno-like eyes upon him with undisguised affection. The chickens, clamoring for their breakfast, followed so closely that he had to be careful where he stepped. Although he knew that all this good will was based chiefly on the hope of food and the remembrance of it in the past, nevertheless it soothed and pleased him. He was in sympathy with this homely life; it belonged to him and was dependent on him; it made him honest returns for his care. Moreover, it was agreeably linked with the past. There were quiet cows which his wife had milked, clucking biddies which she had lifted from nests with their downy broods. He looked at them wistfully, and was wondering if they ever missed the presence that he regretted so deeply, when he became conscious that Jane's eyes were upon him. How long she had been watching him he did not know, but she merely said, "Breakfast's ready," and disappeared.介绍With a sigh he went to his room to perform his ablutions, remembering with a slight pang how his wife always had a basin and towel ready for him in the kitchen. In the breaking up of just such homely customs, he was continually reminded of his loss.介绍On awakening to the light of this Sabbath morning, Mrs. Mumpson had thought deeply and reasoned everything out again. She felt that it must be an eventful day and that there was much to be accomplished. In the first place there was Mrs. Wiggins. She disapproved of her decidedly. "She isn't the sort of person that I would prefer to superintend," she remarked to Jane while making a toilet which she deemed befitting the day, "and the hour will assuredly come when Mr. Holcroft will look upon her in the light that I do. He will eventually realize that I cannot be brought in such close relationship with a pauper. Not that the relationship is exactly close, but then I shall have to speak to her--in brief, to superintend her. My eyes will be offended by her vast proportions and uncouth appearance. The floor creaks beneath her tread and affects my nerves seriously. Of course, while she is here, I shall zealously, as befits one in my responserble position, try to render useful such service as she can perform. But then, the fact that I disapprove of her must soon become evident. When it is discovered that I only tolerate her, there will be a change. I cannot show my disapproval very strongly today for this is a day set apart for sacred things, and Mrs. Viggins, as she called herself,--I cannot imagine a Mr. Viggins for no man in his senses could have married such a creature,--as I was saying, Mrs. Viggins is not at all sacred, and I must endeavor to abstract my mind from her till tomorrow, as far as posserble. My first duty today is to induce Mr. Holcroft to take us to church. It will give the people of Oakville such a pleasing impression to see us driving to church. Of course, I may fail, Mr. Holcroft is evidently a hardened man. All the influences of his life have been adverse to spiritual development, and it may require some weeks of my influence to soften him and awaken yearnings for what he has not yet known."介绍"He may be yearnin' for breakfast," Jane remarked, completing her toilet by tying her little pigtail braid with something that had once been a bit of black ribbon, but was now a string. "You'd better come down soon and help."
介绍"If Mrs. Viggins cannot get breakfast, I would like to know what she is here for" continued Mrs. Mumpson loftily, and regardless of Jane's departure. "I shall decline to do menial work any longer, especially on this sacred day, and after I have made my toilet for church. Mr. Holcroft has had time to think. My disapproval was manifest last night and it has undoubtedly occurred to him that he has not conformed to the proprieties of life. Indeed, I almost fear I shall have to teach him what the proprieties of life are. He witnessed my emotions when he spoke as he should not have spoken to ME. But I must make allowances for his unregenerate state. He was cold, and wet, and hungry last night, and men are unreasonerble at such times. I shall now heap coals of fire upon his head. I shall show that I am a meek, forgiving Christian woman, and he will relent, soften, and become penitent. Then will be my opportunity," and she descended to the arena which should witness her efforts.介绍During the period in which Mrs. Mumpson had indulged in these lofty reflections and self-communings, Mrs. Wiggins had also arisen. I am not sure whether she had thought of anything in particular or not. She may have had some spiritual longings which were not becoming to any day of the week. Being a woman of deeds, rather than of thought, probably not much else occurred to her beyond the duty of kindling the fire and getting breakfast. Jane came down, and offered to assist, but was cleared out with no more scruple than if Mrs. Wiggins had been one of the much-visited relatives.介绍"It might have been worse: I thought it was worse the more fool I.
介绍I deserve to have my head cut off." This was Jacintha's onlycomment at that time.介绍It was Josephine's turn to be amazed. "It could have been worse?"said she. "How? tell me," added she bitterly. "It would be aconsolation to me, could I see that."Jacintha colored and evaded this question, and begged her to go on,to keep nothing back from her. Josephine assured her she hadrevealed all. Jacintha looked at her a moment in silence.介绍"It is then as I half suspected. You do not know all that is beforeyou. You do not see why I am afraid of that old man.""No, not of him in particular.""Nor why I want to keep Mademoiselle Rose from prattling to him?""No. I assure you Rose is to be trusted; she is wise--wiser than Iam.""You are neither of you wise. You neither of you know anything. Mypoor young mistress, you are but a child still. You have a deepwater to wade through," said Jacintha, so solemnly that Josephinetrembled. "A deep water, and do not see it even. You have told mewhat is past, now I must tell you what is coming. Heaven help me!介绍But is it possible you have no misgiving? Tell the truth, now.""Alas! I am full of them; at your words, at your manner, they flyaround me in crowds.""Have you no ONE?""No.""Then turn your head from me a bit, my sweet young lady; I am anhonest woman, though I am not so innocent as you, and I am forcedagainst my will to speak my mind plainer than I am used to."Then followed a conversation, to detail which might anticipate ourstory; suffice it to say, that Rose, coming into the room rathersuddenly, found her sister weeping on Jacintha's bosom, and Jacinthacrying and sobbing over her.
She stood and stared in utter amazement.Dr. Aubertin, on his arrival, was agreeably surprised at MadameRaynal's appearance. He inquired after her appetite.
"Oh, as to her appetite," cried the baroness, "that is immense.""Indeed!""It was," explained Josephine, "just when I began to get better, butnow it is as much as usual." This answer had been arrangedbeforehand by Jacintha. She added, "The fact is, we wanted to seeyou, doctor, and my ridiculous ailments were a good excuse fortearing you from Paris."--"And now we have succeeded," said Rose,"let us throw off the mask, and talk of other things; above all, ofParis, and your eclat.""For all that," persisted the baroness, "she was ill, when I firstwrote, and very ill too.""Madame Raynal," said the doctor solemnly, "your conduct has beenirregular; once ill, and your illness announced to your medicaladviser, etiquette forbade you to get well but by his prescriptions.Since, then, you have shown yourself unfit to conduct a malady, itbecomes my painful duty to forbid you henceforth ever to be ill atall, without my permission first obtained in writing."This badinage was greatly relished by Rose, but not at all by thebaroness, who was as humorless as a swan.He stayed a month at Beaurepaire, then off to Paris again: and beingnow a rich man, and not too old to enjoy innocent pleasures, he gota habit of running backwards and forwards between the two places,spending a month or so at each alternately. So the days rolled on.Josephine fell into a state that almost defies description; herheart was full of deadly wounds, yet it seemed, by some mysterious,half-healing balm, to throb and ache, but bleed no more. Beams ofstrange, unreasonable complacency would shoot across her; the nextmoment reflection would come, she would droop her head, and sighpiteously. Then all would merge in a wild terror of detection. Sheseemed on the borders of a river of bliss, new, divine, andinexhaustible: and on the other bank mocking malignant fiends daredher to enter that heavenly stream. The past to her was full ofregrets; the future full of terrors, and empty of hope. Yet she didnot, could not succumb. Instead of the listlessness and languor ofa few months back, she had now more energy than ever; at times itmounted to irritation. An activity possessed her: it broke out inmany feminine ways. Among the rest she was seized with what we mencall a cacoethes of the needle: "a raging desire" for work. Herfingers itched for work. She was at it all day. As devotees retireto pray, so she to stitch. On a wet day she would often slip intothe kitchen, and ply the needle beside Jacintha: on a dry day shewould hide in the old oak-tree, and sit like a mouse, and ply thetools of her craft, and make things of no mortal use to man orwoman; and she tried little fringes of muslin upon her white hand,and held it up in front of her, and smiled, and then moaned. It waswinter, and Rose used sometimes to bring her out a thick shawl, asshe sat in the old oak-tree stitching, but Josephine nearly alwaysdeclined it. SHE WAS NEARLY IMPERVIOUS TO COLD.
Then, her purse being better filled than formerly, she visited thepoor more than ever, and above all the young couples; and took awarm interest in their household matters, and gave them muslinarticles of her own making, and sometimes sniffed the soup in ayoung housewife's pot, and took a fancy to it, and, if invited totaste it, paid her the compliment of eating a good plateful of it,and said it was much better soup than the chateau produced, and,what is stranger, thought so: and, whenever some peevish little bratset up a yell in its cradle and the father naturally enough shookhis fist at the destroyer of his peace, Madame Raynal's lovely facefilled with concern not for the sufferer but the pest, and she flewto it and rocked it and coaxed it and consoled it, till the younghousewife smiled and stopped its mouth by other means. And, besidesthe five-franc pieces she gave the infants to hold, these visits ofMadame Raynal were always followed by one from Jacintha with abasket of provisions on her stalwart arm, and honest Sir JohnBurgoyne peeping out at the corner. Kind and beneficent as she was,her temper deteriorated considerably, for it came down from angelicto human. Rose and Jacintha were struck with the change, assentedto everything she said, and encouraged her in everything it pleasedher caprice to do. Meantime the baroness lived on her son Raynal'sletters (they came regularly twice a month). Rose too had acorrespondence, a constant source of delight to her. EdouardRiviere was posted at a distance, and could not visit her; but theirlove advanced rapidly. Every day he wrote down for his Rose theacts of the day, and twice a week sent the budget to his sweetheart,and told her at the same time every feeling of his heart. She wasless fortunate than he; she had to carry a heavy secret; but stillshe found plenty to tell him, and tender feelings too to vent on himin her own arch, shy, fitful way. Letters can enchain hearts; itwas by letters that these two found themselves imperceptiblybetrothed. Their union was looked forward to as certain, and notvery distant. Rose was fairly in love.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.