you are wanted to chop billets.' Beat the mats, take down thecurtains, walk to church (best part of a league), and heat the pewcushions; come back and cut the cabbages, paint the door, and wheelthe old lady about the terrace, rucardano smart contracts solidityb quicksilver on the little dog'sback,--mind he don't bite you to make hisself sick,--repair theottoman, roll the gravel, scour the kettles, carry half a ton ofwater up twopurostairs, trim the turf, prune the vine, drag thefish-pond; and when you ARE there, go in and gather water lilies forMademoiselle Josephine while you are drowning the puppies; that islittle odd jobs: may Satan twist her neck who invented them!""Very sad all this," said young Riviere.
"But that's just where the difficulty comes in. Blinkwell's made an offer, almostron based appt in plain words, to hand over Miss Thurlow if we promise to leave him and his gang alone. Of course, he doesn't call it his gang, but I should say that's what it is. The question is, if we arrest him now, how's it going to affect that?""You know where Blinkwell is now?"
"Not exactly. We know that Thurlow went to his house and was out again in about three minutes, driving almost certainly to a Dogs' Home in Hampstead. I should say there'll be quite a party there before long.""You mean you let His Excellency - - ""I couldn't have stopped him without knocking him down. We've got a good man - not one of the regular force - in his car with him. And there's another car following him wherever he goes, though he isn't likely to know that. Besides that, when I heard which way he was heading, I sent a squad straight to Snacklit's place. That's the Dogs' Home. I saw them off just before I took the Paris call. They ought to be there by now.""Well, I expect you've done all you could. We must just hope for the best. I suppose we shall soon know.""Yes, sir. I think we have. And as to pulling Blinkwell in - "
"I shouldn't do that, unless you think it will help you in this matter. I want you to put the Thurlows' interests first. Get them out of it, and then - - ""Yes, sir. I understand."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.
Forgive me! I suppose I am jealous.""You are; you are actually jealous of my sister. Well, I tell youplainly I love you, but I love my sister better. I never could loveany man as I do her; it is ridiculous to expect such a thing.""And do you think I could bear to play second fiddle to her all mylife?""I don't ask you. Go and play first trumpet to some other lady.""You speak your wishes so plainly now, I have nothing to do but toobey."He kissed her hand and went away disconsolately.Rose, instead of going to Josephine, her determination to do whichhad mainly caused the quarrel, sat sadly down, and leaned her headon her hand. "I am cruel. I am ungrateful. He has gone awaybroken-hearted. And what shall I do without him?--little fool! Ilove him better than he loves me. He will never forgive me. I havewounded his vanity; and they are vainer than we are. If we meet atdinner I will be so kind to him, he will forget it all. No! Edouardwill not come to dinner. He is not a spaniel that you can beat, andthen whistle back again. Something tells me I have lost him, and ifI have, what shall I do? I will write him a note. I will ask himto forgive me."She sat down at the table, and took a sheet of notepaper and beganto write a few conciliatory words. She was so occupied in makingthese kind enough, and not too kind, that a light step approachedher unobserved. She looked up and there was Edouard. She whippedthe paper off the table.
A look of suspicion and misery crossed Edouard's face.Rose caught it, and said, "Well, am I to be affronted any more?""No, Rose. I came back to beg you to forget what passed just now,"said he.Rose's eye flashed; his return showed her her power. She abused itdirectly."How can I forget it if you come reminding me?""Dear Rose, now don't be so unkind, so cruel--I have not come backto tease you, sweet one. I come to know what I can do to pleaseyou; to make you love me again?" and he was about to kneelgraciously on one knee."I'll tell you. Don't come near me for a month."Edouard started up, white as ashes with mortification and woundedlove."This is how you treat me for humbling myself, when it is you thatought to ask forgiveness.""Why should I ask what I don't care about?""What DO you care about?--except that sister of yours? You have noheart. And on this cold-blooded creature I have wasted a love anempress might have been proud of inspiring. I pray Heaven some manmay sport with your affections, you heartless creature, as you haveplayed with mine, and make you suffer what I suffer now!"And with a burst of inarticulate grief and rage he flung out of theroom.
Rose sank trembling on the sofa a little while: then with a mightyeffort rose and went to comfort her sister.Edouard came no more to Beaurepaire.
There is an old French proverb, and a wise one, "Rien n'est certainque l'imprevu;" it means you can make sure of nothing but this, thatmatters will not turn as you feel sure they will. And, even forthis reason, you, who are thinking of suicide because trade isdeclining, speculation failing, bankruptcy impending, or your lifegoing to be blighted forever by unrequited love--DON'T DO IT.Whether you are English, American, French, or German, listen to aman that knows what is what, and DON'T DO IT. I tell you none ofthose horrors, when they really come, will affect you as you fancythey will. The joys we expect are not a quarter so bright, nor thetroubles half so dark as we think they will be. Bankruptcy comingis one thing, come is quite another: and no heart or life was everreally blighted at twenty years of age. The love-sick girls thatare picked out of the canal alive, all, without exception, marryanother man, have brats, and get to screech with laughter when theythink of sweetheart No. 1, generally a blockhead, or else ablackguard, whom they were fools enough to wet their clothes for,let alone kill their souls. This happens INVARIABLY. The love-sickgirls that are picked out of the canal dead have fled from a year'smisery to eternal pain, from grief that time never failed to cure,to anguish incurable. In this world "Rien n'est certain quel'imprevu."Edouard and Rose were tender lovers, at a distance. How muchhappier and more loving they thought they should be beneath the sameroof. They came together: their prominent faults of characterrubbed: the secret that was in the house did its work: andaltogether, they quarrelled. L'imprevu.
Dard had been saying to Jacintha for ever so long, "When grannydies, I will marry you."Granny died. Dard took possession of her little property. Up camea glittering official, and turned him out; he was not her heir.Perrin, the notary, was. He had bought the inheritance of her twosons, long since dead.
Dard had not only looked on the cottage and cow, as his, but hadspoken of them as such for years. The disappointment and the ironyof comrades ate into him."I will leave this cursed place," said he.Josephine instantly sent for him to Beaurepaire. He came, and wasfactotum with the novelty of a fixed salary. Jacintha accommodatedhim with a new little odd job or two. She set him to dance on theoak floors with a brush fastened to his right foot; and, after arehearsal or two, she made him wait at table. Didn't he bang thethings about: and when he brought a lady a dish, and she did notinstantly attend, he gave her elbow a poke to attract attention:then she squeaked; and he grinned at her double absurdity in mindinga touch, and not minding the real business of the table.
But his wrongs rankled in him. He vented antique phrases such as,"I want a change;" "This village is the last place the Almightymade," etc.Then he was attacked with a moral disease: affected the company ofsoldiers. He spent his weekly salary carousing with the military, aclass of men so brilliant that they are not expected to pay fortheir share of the drink; they contribute the anecdotes and thefamiliar appeals to Heaven: and is not that enough?
Present at many recitals, the heroes of which lost nothing by beingtheir own historians, Dard imbibed a taste for military adventure.His very talk, which used to be so homely, began now to be tinselledwith big swelling words of vanity imported from the army. I needhardly say these bombastical phrases did not elevate his generaldialect: they lay fearfully distinct upon the surface, "like lumpsof marl upon a barren soil, encumbering the ground they could notfertilize."Jacintha took leave to remind him of an incident connected withwarfare--wounds.
"Do you remember how you were down upon your luck when you did butcut your foot? Why, that is nothing in the army. They never go outto fight but some come back with arms off, and some with legs offand some with heads; and the rest don't come back at all: and howwould you like that?"This intrusion of statistics into warfare at first cooled Dard'simpatience for the field. But presently the fighting half of hisheart received an ally in one Sergeant La Croix (not a bad name fora military aspirant). This sergeant was at the village waiting tomarch with the new recruits to the Rhine. Sergeant La Croix was aman who, by force of eloquence, could make soldiering appear themost delightful as well as glorious of human pursuits. His tonguefired the inexperienced soul with a love of arms, as do the drumsand trumpets and tramp of soldiers, and their bayonets glittering inthe sun. He would have been worth his weight in fustian here, wherewe recruit by that and jargon; he was superfluous in France, wherethey recruited by force: but he was ornamental: and he set Dard andone or two more on fire. Indeed, so absorbing was his sense ofmilitary glory, that there was no room left in him for that mereverbal honor civilians call veracity.To speak plainly, the sergeant was a fluent, fertile, interesting,sonorous, prompt, audacious liar: and such was his success, thatDard and one or two more became mere human fiction pipes--ofcomparatively small diameter--irrigating a rural district with falseviews of military life, derived from that inexhaustible reservoir,La Croix.
At last the long-threatened conscription was levied: every personfit to bear arms, and not coming under the allowed exceptions, drewa number: and at a certain hour the numbers corresponding to thesewere deposited in an urn, and one-third of them were drawn inpresence of the authorities. Those men whose numbers were drawn hadto go for soldiers. Jacintha awaited the result in great anxiety.She could not sit at home for it; so she went down the road to meetDard, who had promised to come and tell her the result as soon asknown. At last she saw him approaching in a disconsolate way. "ODard! speak! are we undone? are you a dead man?" cried she. "Havethey made a soldier of you?""No such luck: I shall die a man of all work," grunted Dard."And you are sorry? you unnatural little monster! you have nofeeling for me, then.""Oh, yes, I have; but glory is No. 1 with me now.""How loud the bantams crow! You leave glory to fools that be sixfeet high.""General Bonaparte isn't much higher than I am, and glory sits uponhis brow. Why shouldn't glory sit upon my brow?""Because it would weigh you down, and smother you, you little fool."She added, "And think of me, that couldn't bear you to be killed atany price, glory or no glory."Then, to appease her fears, Dard showed her his number, 99; andassured her he had seen the last number in the functionary's handbefore he came away, and it was sixty something.This ocular demonstration satisfied Jacintha; and she ordered Dardto help her draw the water.
"All right," said he, "there is no immortal glory to be picked upto-day, so I'll go in for odd jobs."While they were at this job a voice was heard hallooing. Dardlooked up, and there was a rigid military figure, with a tremendousmustache, peering about. Dard was overjoyed. It was his friend,his boon-companion. "Come here, old fellow," cried he, "ain't Iglad to see you, that is all?" La Croix marched towards the pair."What are you skulking here for, recruit ninety-nine?" said he,sternly, dropping the boon-companion in the sergeant; "the rest areon the road.""The rest, old fellow! what do you mean? why, I was not drawn.""Yes, you were.""No, I wasn't.""Thunder of war, but I say you were. Yours was the last number.""That is an unlucky guess of yours, for I saw the last number. Lookhere," and he fumbled in his pocket, and produced his number.
La Croix instantly fished out a corresponding number."Well, and here you are; this was the last number drawn."Dard burst out laughing.
"You goose!" said he, "that is sixty-six--look at it.""Sixty-six!" roared the sergeant; "no more than yours is--they areboth sixty-sixes when you play tricks with them, and turn them uplike that; but they are both ninety-nines when you look at themfair."Dard scratched his head."Come," said the corporal, briskly, "make up his bundle, girl, andlet us be off; we have got our marching orders; going to the Rhine.""And do you think that I will let him go?" screamed Jacintha. "No!