Late in the afternoon he leaned on the handle of his corn plow, and, in the consciousness of solitude, said aloud: "Things grow clear if you think of them enough, and the Lord knows I don't think of much else any more. It isn't her good qualities which I say over to myself a hundred times a day, or her education, or anything of the kind, that draws me; it's she herself. I like her. Why don't I say love her, and be honest? Well, it's a fact, and I've got to face it. Here I am, plowing out my corn, and it looks splendid for its age. I thought if I could stay on the old place, and plant and cultivate and reap, I'd be more than content, and now I don't seem to caruniswap network feee a rap for the corn or the farm either, compared with Alida; and I care for her just because she is Alida and no one else. But the other side of this fact has an ugly look. Suppose I'm disagreeable to her! When she married me she felt like a woman drowning; she was ready to take hold of the first hand reached to her without knowing much about whose hand it was. Well, she's had time to find out. She isn't drawn. Perhaps she feels toward me somewhat as I did toward Mrs. Mumpson, and she can't help herself either. Well, well, the bare thought of it makes my heart lead. What's a man to do? What can I do but live up to my agreement and not torment her any more than I can help with my company? That's the only honest course. Perhaps she'll get more used to me in time. She might get sick, and then I'd be so kind and watchful that she'd think the old fellow wasn't so bad, after all, But I shan't give her the comfort of no end of self-sacrifice in trying to be pleasant and sociable. If she's foolish enough to think she's in my debt she can't pay it in that way. No, sir! I've got to make the most of it now--I'm bound to--but this business marriage will never suit me until the white arm I saw in the dairy room is around my neck, and she looks in my eyes and says, 'James, I guess I'm ready for a longer marriage ceremony.'"
"What are bitcoin kurs in 2 jahrenyou up to now?" inquired Dard."You will see," said La Croix, affecting mystery; he knew no morethan the other.
Presently off went Long Tom on the top of the bastion, and the shotcame roaring over the heads of the speakers.The flags were changed, and off went Long Tom again at an elevation.Ten seconds had scarcely elapsed when a tremendous explosion tookplace on the French right. Long Tom was throwing red-hot shot; onehad fallen on a powder wagon, and blown it to pieces, and killed twopoor fellows and a horse, and turned an artillery man at somedistance into a seeming nigger, but did him no great harm; only tookhim three days to get the powder out of his clothes with pipe clay,and off his face with raw potato-peel.When the tumbril exploded, the Prussians could be heard to cheer,and they turned to and fired every iron spout they owned. Long Tomworked all day.They got into a corner where the guns of the battery could not hitthem or him, and there was his long muzzle looking towards the sky,and sending half a hundredweight of iron up into the clouds, andplunging down a mile off into the French lines.
And, at every shot, the man on horseback made signals to let thegunners know where the shot fell.At last, about four in the afternoon, they threw a forty-eight-poundshot slap into the commander-in-chief's tent, a mile and a halfbehind trenches.She began to shut her eyes again, and let herself drift. Above all,the doctor's promise comforted her: that she should go to Paris withhim, and have her boy.
This deceitful calm of the heart lasted three days.Carefully encouraged by Rose, it was destroyed by Jacintha.Jacintha, conscious that she had betrayed her trust, was almostheart-broken. She was ashamed to appear before her young mistress,and, coward-like, wanted to avoid knowing even how much harm she haddone.She pretended toothache, bound up her face, and never stirred fromthe kitchen. But she was not to escape: the other servant came downwith a message: "Madame Raynal wanted to see her directly."She came quaking, and found Josephine all alone.
Josephine rose to meet her, and casting a furtive glance round theroom first, threw her arms round Jacintha's neck, and embraced herwith many tears."Was ever fidelity like yours? how COULD you do it, Jacintha? andhow can I ever repay it? But, no; it is too base of me to acceptsuch a sacrifice from any woman."Jacintha was so confounded she did not know what to say. But it wasa mystification that could not endure long between two women, whowere both deceived by a third. Between them they soon discoveredthat it must have been Rose who had sacrificed herself.
"And Edouard has never been here since," said Josephine."And never will, madame.""Yes, he shall! there must be some limit even to my feebleness, andmy sister's devotion. You shall take a line to him from me. I willwrite it this moment."The letter was written. But it was never sent. Rose foundJosephine and Jacintha together; saw a letter was being written,asked to see it; on Josephine's hesitating, snatched it out of herhand, read it, tore it to pieces, and told Jacintha to leave theroom. She hated the sight of poor Jacintha, who had slept at thevery moment when all depended on her watchfulness."So you were going to send to HIM, unknown to me.""Forgive me, Rose." Rose burst out crying."O Josephine! is it come to this? Would you deceive ME?""You have deceived ME! Yes! it has come to that. I know all.
Twill not consent to destroy ALL I love."She then begged hard for leave to send the letter.Rose gave an impetuous refusal. "What could you say to him? foolishthing, don't you know him, and his vanity? When you had exposedyourself to him, and showed him I had insulted him for you, do youthink he would forgive me? No! this is to make light of my love--tomake me waste the sacrifice I have made. I feel that sacrifice asmuch as you do, more perhaps, and I would rather die in a conventthan waste that night of shame and agony. Come, promise me, no moreattempts of that kind, or we are sisters no more, friends no more,one heart and one blood no more."The weaker nature, weakened still more by ill-health and grief, wasterrified into submission, or rather temporized. "Kiss me then,"said Josephine, "and love me to the end. Ah, if I was only in mygrave!"Rose kissed her with many sighs, but Josephine smiled. Rose eyedher with suspicion. That deep smile; what did it mean? She hadformed some resolution. "She is going to deceive me somehow,"thought Rose.From that day she watched Josephine like a spy. Confidence was gonebetween them. Suspicion took its place.Rose was right in her misgivings. The moment Josephine saw thatEdouard's happiness and Rose's were to be sacrificed for her whomnothing could make happy, the poor thing said to herself, "I CANDIE."And that was the happy thought that made her smile.
The doctor gave her laudanum: he found she could not sleep: and hethought it all-important that she should sleep.Josephine, instead of taking these small doses, saved them all up,secreted them in a phial, and so, from the sleep of a dozen nights,collected the sleep of death: and now she was tranquil. This youngcreature that could not bear to give pain to any one else, preparedher own death with a calm resolution the heroes of our sex have notoften equalled. It was so little a thing to her to strikeJosephine. Death would save her honor, would spare her thefrightful alternative of deceiving her husband, or of telling himshe was another's. "Poor Raynal," said she to herself, "it is socruel to tie him to a woman who can never be to him what hedeserves. Rose would then prove her innocence to Edouard. A fewtears for a weak, loving soul, and they would all be happy andforget her."One day the baroness, finding herself alone with Rose and Dr.
Aubertin, asked the latter what he thought of Josephine's state."Oh, she was better: had slept last night without her usualnarcotic."The baroness laid down her knitting and said, with much meaning,"And I tell you, you will never cure her body till you can cure hermind. My poor child has some secret sorrow.""Sorrow!" said Aubertin, stoutly concealing the uneasiness thesewords created, "what sorrow?""Oh, she has some deep sorrow. And so have you, Rose.""Me, mamma! what DO you mean?"The baroness's pale cheek flushed a little. "I mean," said she,"that my patience is worn out at last; I cannot live surrounded bysecrets. Raynal's gloomy looks when he left us, after staying butone hour; Josephine ill from that day, and bursting into tears atevery word; yourself pale and changed, hiding an unaccountablesadness under forced smiles-- Now, don't interrupt me. Edouard,who was almost like a son, gone off, without a word, and never comesnear us now.""Really you are ingenious in tormenting yourself. Josephine is ill!
Well, is it so very strange? Have you never been ill? Rose ispale! you ARE pale, my dear; but she has nursed her sister for amonth; is it a wonder she has lost color? Edouard is gone ajourney, to inherit his uncle's property: a million francs. Butdon't you go and fall ill, like Josephine; turn pale, like Rose; andmake journeys in the region of fancy, after Edouard Riviere, who istramping along on the vulgar high road."This tirade came from Aubertin, and very clever he thought himself.But he had to do with a shrewd old lady, whose suspicions had longsmouldered; and now burst out. She said quietly, "Oh, then Edouardis not in this part of the world. That alters the case: where IShe?""In Normandy, probably," said Rose, blushing.The baroness looked inquiringly towards Aubertin. He put on aninnocent face and said nothing."Very good," said the baroness. "It's plain I am to learn nothingfrom you two. But I know somebody who will be more communicative.Yes: this uncomfortable smiling, and unreasonable crying, andinterminable whispering; these appearances of the absent, anddisappearances of the present; I shall know this very day what theyall mean.""Really, I do not understand you.""Oh, never mind; I am an old woman, and I am in my dotage. For allthat, perhaps you will allow me two words alone with my daughter.""I retire, madame," and he disappeared with a bow to her, and ananxious look at Rose. She did not need this; she clenched herteeth, and braced herself up to stand a severe interrogatory.Mother and daughter looked at one another, as if to measure forces,and then, instead of questioning her as she had intended, thebaroness sank back in her chair and wept aloud. Rose was allunprepared for this. She almost screamed in a voice of agony, "Omamma! mamma! O God! kill me where I stand for making my motherweep!""My girl," said the baroness in a broken voice, and with the mosttouching dignity, "may you never know what a mother feels who findsherself shut out from her daughters' hearts. Sometimes I think itis my fault; I was born in a severer age. A mother nowadays seemsto be a sort of elder sister. In my day she was something more.
Yet I loved my mother as well, or better than I did my sisters. Butit is not so with those I have borne in my bosom, and nursed upon myknee."At this Rose flung herself, sobbing and screaming, at her mother'sknees. The baroness was alarmed. "Come, dearest, don't cry likethat. It is not too late to take your poor old mother into yourconfidence. What is this mystery? and why this sorrow? How comesit I intercept at every instant glances that were not intended forme? Why is the very air loaded with signals and secrecy? (Rosereplied only by sobs.) Is some deceit going on? (Rose sobbed.) AmI to have no reply but these sullen sobs? will you really tell menothing?""I've nothing to tell," sobbed Rose."Well, then, will you do something for me?"Such a proposal was not only a relief, but a delight to thedeceiving but loving daughter. She started up crying, "Oh, yes,mamma; anything, everything. Oh, thank you!" In the ardor of hergratitude, she wanted to kiss her mother; but the baroness declinedthe embrace politely, and said, coldly and bitterly, "I shall notask much; I should not venture now to draw largely on youraffection; it's only to write a few lines for me."Rose got paper and ink with great alacrity, and sat down allbeaming, pen in hand.
The baroness dictated the letter slowly, with an eye gimleting herdaughter all the time."Dear--Monsieur--Riviere."The pen fell from Rose's hand, and she turned red and then pale.
"What! write to him?""Not in your own name; in mine. But perhaps you prefer to give methe trouble.""Cruel! cruel!" sighed Rose, and wrote the words as requested.The baroness dictated again,--"Oblige me by coming here at your very earliest convenience.""But, mamma, if he is in Normandy," remonstrated Rose, fightingevery inch of the ground.
"Never you mind where he is," said the baroness. "Write as Irequest.""Yes, mamma," said Rose with sudden alacrity; for she had recoveredher ready wit, and was prepared to write anything, being now fullyresolved the letter should never go."Now sign my name." Rose complied. "There; now fold it, andaddress it to his lodgings." Rose did so; and, rising with acheerful air, said she would send Jacintha with it directly.She was half across the room when her mother called her quietlyback."No, mademoiselle," said she sternly. "You will give me the letter.
I can trust neither the friend of twenty years, nor the servant thatstayed by me in adversity, nor the daughter I suffered for andnursed. And why don't I trust you? Because YOU HAVE TOLD ME ALIE."At this word, which in its coarsest form she had never heard fromthose high-born lips till then, Rose cowered like a hare."Ay, A LIE," said the baroness. "I saw Edouard Riviere in the parkbut yesterday. I saw him. My old eyes are feeble, but they are notdeceitful. I saw him. Send my breakfast to my own room. I come ofan ancient race: I could not sit with liars; I should forgetcourtesy; you would see in my face how thoroughly I scorn you all."And she went haughtily out with the letter in her hand.
Rose for the first time, was prostrated. Vain had been all thisdeceit; her mother was not happy; was not blinded. Edouard mightcome and tell her his story. Then no power could keep Josephinesilent. The plot was thickening; the fatal net was drawing closerand closer.She sank with a groan into a chair, and body and spirit alikesuccumbed. But that was only for a little while. To thisprostration succeeded a feverish excitement. She could not, wouldnot, look Edouard in the face. She would implore Josephine to besilent; and she herself would fly from the chateau. But, ifJosephine would not be silent? Why, then she would go herself toEdouard, and throw herself upon his honor, and tell him the truth.
With this, she ran wildly up the stairs, and burst into Josephine'sroom so suddenly, that she caught her, pale as death, on her knees,with a letter in one hand and a phial of laudanum in the other.Chapter 24
Josephine conveyed the phial into her bosom with wonderful rapidityand dexterity, and rose to her feet. But Rose just saw her concealsomething, and resolved to find out quietly what it was. So shesaid nothing about it, but asked Josephine what on earth she wasdoing."I was praying.""And what is that letter?""A letter I have just received from Colonel Raynal."Rose took the letter and read it. Raynal had written from Paris.He was coming to Beaurepaire to stay a month, and was to arrive thatvery day.Then Rose forgot all about herself, and even what she had come for.
She clung about her sister's neck, and implored her, for her sake,to try and love Raynal.Josephine shuddered, and clung weeping to her sister in turn. Forin Rose's arms she realized more powerfully what that sister wouldsuffer if she were to die. Now, while they clung together, Rosefelt something hard, and contrived just to feel it with her cheek.
It was the phial.A chill suspicion crossed the poor girl. The attitude in which shehad found Josephine; the letter, the look of despair, and now thislittle bottle, which she had hidden. WHY HIDE IT? She resolved notto let Josephine out of her sight; at all events, until she had seenthis little bottle, and got it away from her.
She helped her to dress, and breakfasted with her in the tapestriedroom, and dissembled, and put on gayety, and made light ofeverything but Josephine's health.Her efforts were not quite in vain. Josephine became more composed;and Rose even drew from her a half promise that she would giveRaynal and time a fair trial.