He stayed upon theseethereum gas price dollar terms. And now he began to examine himself.
"Well, both you anripple coin volumed the robin seem a part of it," she said, laughing."Oh, no, no!" he replied with a guffaw which sent the robin off in alarm. "I aint beautiful and never was."
She joined his laugh, but said with a positive little nod, "I'm right, though. The robin isn't a pretty bird, yet everybody likes him.""Except in cherry time. Then he has an appetite equal to mine. But everybody don't like me. In fact, I think I'm generally disliked in this town.""If you went among them more they wouldn't dislike you.""I don't want to go among them.""They know it, and that's the reason they dislike you."
"Would you like to go out to tea-drinkings, and all that?""No, indeed; and I don't suppose I'd be received," she added sadly.He looked in heavy amazement from one to the other. Rose bent, andwas by some supple process on one knee, taking the measure of thewounded foot. When she first approached it he winced: but the nextmoment he smiled. He had never been touched like this--it wascontact and no contact--she treated his foot as the zephyr theviolets--she handled it as if it had been some sacred thing. By thehelp of his eye he could just know she was touching him. Presentlyshe informed him he was measured for a list shoe: and she would runhome for the materials. During her absence came a timid tap to thedoor; and Edouard Riviere entered. He was delighted to seeJosephine, and made sure Rose was not far off. It was Dard who letout that she was gone to Beaurepaire for some cloth to make him ashoe. This information set Edouard fidgeting on his chair. He sawsuch a chance as was not likely to occur again. He rose withfeigned nonchalance, and saying, "I leave you in good hands; angelvisitors are best enjoyed alone," slowly retired, with a deepobeisance. Once outside the door, dignity vanished in alacrity; heflew off into the park, and ran as hard as he could towards thechateau. He was within fifty yards of the little gate, when sureenough Rose emerged. They met; his heart beat violently.
"Mademoiselle," he faltered."Ah! it is Monsieur Riviere, I declare," said Rose, coolly; all overblushes though."Yes, mademoiselle, and I am so out of breath. MademoiselleJosephine awaits you at Dard's house.""She sent you for me?" inquired Rose, demurely."Not positively. But I could see I should please her by coming foryou; there is, I believe, a bull or so about.""A bull or two! don't talk in that reckless way about such things.
She has done well to send you; let us make haste.""But I am a little out of breath.""Oh, never mind that! I abhor bulls.""But, mademoiselle, we are not come to them yet, and the faster wego now the sooner we shall.""Yes; but I always like to get a disagreeable thing over as soon aspossible," said Rose, slyly."Ah," replied Edouard, mournfully, "in that case let us make haste."After a little spurt, mademoiselle relaxed the pace of her ownaccord, and even went slower than before. There was an awkwardsilence. Edouard eyed the park boundary, and thought, "Now what Ihave to say I must say before we get to you;" and being thusimpressed with the necessity of immediate action, he turned to lead.
Rose eyed him and the ground, alternately, from under her longlashes.At last he began to color and flutter. She saw something wascoming, and all the woman donned defensive armor."Mademoiselle.""Monsieur.""Is it quite decided that your family refuse my acquaintance, myservices, which I still--forgive me--press on you? Ah! MademoiselleRose, am I never to have the happiness of--of--even speaking toyou?""It seems so," said Rose, ironically."Have you then decided against me too?""I?" asked Rose. "What have I to do with questions of etiquette? Iam only a child: so considered at least.""You a child--an angel like you?""Ask any of them, they will tell you I am a child; and it is to thatI owe this conversation, no doubt; if you did not look on me as achild, you would not take this liberty with me," said the young cat,scratching without a moment's notice.
"Mademoiselle, do not be angry. I was wrong.""Oh! never mind. Children are little creatures without reserve, andtreated accordingly, and to notice them is to honor them.""Adieu then, mademoiselle. Try to believe no one respects you morethan I do.""Yes, let us part, for there is Dard's house; and I begin to suspectthat Josephine never sent you.""I confess it.""There, he confesses it. I thought so all along; WHAT A DUPE I HAVEBEEN!""I will offend no more," said poor silly Edouard. "Adieu,mademoiselle. May you find friends as sincere as I am, and more toyour taste!""Heaven hear your prayers!" replied the malicious thing, casting upher eyes with a mock tragic air.Edouard sighed; a chill conviction that she was both heartless andempty fell on him. He turned away without another word. She calledto him with a sudden airy cheerfulness that made him start. "Stay,monsieur, I forgot--I have a favor to ask you.""I wish I could believe that:" and his eyes brightened.Rose stopped, and began to play with her parasol. "You seem," saidshe softly, "to be pretty generous in bestowing your acquaintance onstrangers. I should be glad if I might secure you for a dear friendof mine, Dr. Aubertin. He will not discredit my recommendation; andhe will not make so many difficulties as we do; shall I tell youwhy? Because he is really worth knowing. In short, believe me, itwill be a valuable acquaintance for you--and for him," added shewith all the grace of the De Beaurepaires.Many a man, inferior in a general way to Edouard Riviere, would havemade a sensible reply to this. Such as, "Oh, any friend of yours,mademoiselle, must be welcome to me," or the like. But the proposalcaught Edouard on his foible, his vanity, to wit; and our foiblesare our manias. He was mortified to the heart's core. "She refusesto know me herself," thought he, "but she will use my love to makeme amuse that old man." His heart swelled against her injustice andingratitude, and his crushed vanity turned to strychnine.
"Mademoiselle," said he, bitterly and doggedly, but sadly, "were Iso happy as to have your esteem, my heart would overflow, not onlyon the doctor but on every honest person around. But if I must nothave the acquaintance I value more than life, suffer me to be alonein the world, and never to say a word either to Dr. Aubertin, or toany human creature if I can help it."The imperious young beauty drew herself up directly. "So be it,monsieur; you teach me how a child should be answered that forgetsherself, and asks a favor of a stranger--a perfect stranger," addedshe, maliciously.Could one of the dog-days change to mid-winter in a second, it wouldhardly seem so cold and cross as Rose de Beaurepaire turned from thesmiling, saucy fairy of the moment before. Edouard felt as it werea portcullis of ice come down between her and him. She courtesiedand glided away. He bowed and stood frozen to the spot.
He felt so lonely and so bitter, he must go to Jacintha for comfort.He took advantage of the ladies being with Dard, and marched boldlyinto the kitchen of Beaurepaire.
"Well, I never," cried Jacintha. "But, after all, why not?"He hurled himself on the kitchen table (clean as china), and toldher it was all over. "She hates me now; but it is not my fault,"and so poured forth his tale, and feeling sure of sympathy, askedJacintha whether it was not bitterly unjust of Rose to refuse himher own acquaintance, yet ask him to amuse that old fogy.Jacintha stood with her great arms akimbo, taking it all in, andlooking at him with a droll expression of satirical wonder."Now you listen to a parable," said she. "Once there was a littleboy madly in love with raspberry jam.""A thing I hate.""Don't tell me! Who hates raspberry jam? He came to the storecloset, where he knew there were jars of it, and--oh! misery--thedoor was locked. He kicked the door, and wept bitterly. His mammacame and said, 'Here is the key,' and gave him the key. And whatdid he do? Why, he fell to crying and roaring, and kicking thedoor. 'I don't wa-wa-wa-wa-nt the key-ey-ey. I wa-a-ant the jam--oh! oh! oh! oh!'" and Jacintha mimicked, after her fashion, themingled grief and ire of infancy debarred its jam. Edouard wore apuzzled air, but it was only for a moment; the next he hid his facein his hands, and cried, "Fool!""I shall not contradict you," said his Mentor."She was my best friend. Once acquainted with the doctor, I couldvisit at Beaurepaire.""Parbleu!""She had thought of a way to reconcile my wishes with this terribleetiquette that reigns here.""She thinks to more purpose than you do; that is clear.""Nothing is left now but to ask her pardon, and to consent; I amoff.""No, you are not," and Jacintha laid a grasp of iron on him. "Willyou be quiet?--is not one blunder a day enough? If you go near hernow, she will affront you, and order the doctor not to speak to you.""O Jacintha! your sex then are fiends of malice?""While it lasts. Luckily with us nothing lasts very long. Now youdon't go near her till you have taken advantage of her hint, andmade the doctor's acquaintance; that is easy done. He walks twohours on the east road every day, with his feet in the puddles andhis head in the clouds. Them's HIS two tastes.""But how am I to get him out of the clouds and the puddles?"inquired Riviere half peevishly."How?" asked Jacintha, with a dash of that contempt uneducatedpersons generally have for any one who does not know some littlething they happen to know themselves. "How? Why, with the nearestblackbeetle, to be sure.""A blackbeetle?""Black or brown; it matters little. Have her ready for use in yourhandkerchief: pull a long face: and says you--'Excuse me, sir, Ihave THE MISFORTUNE not to know the Greek name of this merchandisehere.' Say that, and behold him launched. He will christen you thebeast in Hebrew and Latin as well as Greek, and tell you her historydown from the flood: next he will beg her of you, and out will comea cork and a pin, and behold the creature impaled. For that is howmen love beetles. He has a thousand pinned down at home--beetles,butterflies, and so forth. When I go near the rubbish with myduster he trembles like an aspen. I pretend to be going to cleanthem, but it is only to see the face he makes, for even a domesticmust laugh now and then--or die. But I never do clean them, forafter all he is more stupid than wicked, poor man: I have nottherefore the sad courage to make him wretched.""Let us return to our beetle--what will his tirades about itsantiquity advance me?""Oh! one begins about a beetle, but one ends Heaven knows where."Riviere profited by this advice. He even improved on it. In duecourse he threw himself into Aubertin's way. He stopped the doctorreverentially, and said he had heard he was an entomologist. WOULDhe be kind enough to tell him what was this enormous chrysalis hehad just found?"The death's head moth!" cried Aubertin with enthusiasm--"thedeath's head moth! a great rarity in this district. Where found youthis?" Riviere undertook to show him the place.
It was half a league distant. Coming and going he had time to makefriends with Aubertin, and this was the easier that the oldgentleman, who was a physiognomist as well as ologist, had seengoodness and sensibility in Edouard's face. At the end of the walkhe begged the doctor to accept the chrysalis. The doctor coquetted."That would be a robbery. You take an interest in these thingsyourself--at least I hope so."The young rogue confessed modestly to the sentiment of entomology,but "the government worked him so hard as to leave him no hopes ofshining in so high a science," said he sorrowfully.
The doctor pitied him. "A young man of your attainments and tastesto be debarred from the everlasting secrets of nature, by thefleeting politics of the day."Riviere shrugged his shoulders. "Somebody must do the dirty work,"said he, chuckling inwardly.The chrysalis went to Beaurepaire in the pocket of a grateful man,who that same evening told the whole party his conversation withyoung Riviere, on whom he pronounced high encomiums. Rose's saucyeyes sparkled with fun: you might have lighted a candle at one andexploded a mine at the other; but not a syllable did she utter.
The doctor proved a key, and opened the enchanted castle. One fineday he presented his friend in the Pleasaunce to the baroness andher daughters.They received him with perfect politeness. Thus introduced, and ashe was not one to let the grass grow under his feet, he soonobtained a footing as friend of the family, which, being now advisedby Josephine, he took care not to compromise by making love to Rosebefore the baroness. However, he insisted on placing his financialtalent at their service. He surveyed and valued their lands, andsoon discovered that all their farms were grossly underlet. Luckilymost of the leases were run out. He prepared a new rent roll, andshowed it Aubertin, now his fast friend. Aubertin at his requestobtained a list of the mortgages, and Edouard drew a balance-sheetfounded on sure data, and proved to the baroness that in able handsthe said estate was now solvent.
This was a great comfort to the old lady: and she said to Aubertin,"Heaven has sent us a champion, a little republican--with the faceof an angel."Descending to practice, Edouard actually put three of the farms intothe market, and let them at an advance of twenty per cent on theexpired leases. He brought these leases signed; and the baronesshad scarcely done thanking him, when her other secret friend,Monsieur Perrin, was announced. Edouard exchanged civilities withhim, and then retired to the Pleasaunce. There he found bothsisters, who were all tenderness and gratitude to him. By this timehe had learned to value Josephine: she was so lovely and so good,and such a true womanly friend to him. Even Rose could not resisther influence, and was obliged to be kind to him, when Josephine wasby. But let Josephine go, and instead of her being more tender, asany other girl would, left alone with her lover, sauciness resumedits empire till sweet Josephine returned. Whereof cometh anexample; for the said Josephine was summoned to a final conferencewith the baroness and Monsieur Perrin."Don't be long," said Rose, as Josephine glided away, and (takingthe precaution to wait till she was quite out of hearing), "I shallbe so dull, dear, till you come back.""I shall not though," said Edouard."I am not so sure of that. Now then.""Now then, what?""Begin.""Begin what?""Amusing me." And she made herself look sullen and unamusable allover."I will try," said Riviere. "I'll tell you what they say of you:
that you are too young to love.""So I am, much.""No, no, no! I made a mistake. I mean too young to be loved.""Oh, I am not too young for that, not a bit."This point settled, she suggested that, if he could not amuse her,he had better do THE NEXT BEST THING, and that was, talk sense."I think I had better not talk at all," said he, "for I am no matchfor such a nimble tongue. And then you are so remorseless. I'llhold my tongue, and make a sketch of this magnificent oak.""Ay, do: draw it as it appeared on a late occasion: with two ladiesflying out of it, and you rooted with dismay.""There is no need; that scene is engraved.""Where? in all the shops?""No; on all our memories.""Not on mine; not on mine. How terrified you were--ha, ha! and howterrified we should have been if you had not. Listen: once upon atime--don't be alarmed: it was long after Noah--a frightened hareran by a pond; the frogs splashed in the water, smit with awe. Thenshe said, 'Ah ha! there are people in the world I frighten in myturn; I am the thunderbolt of war.' Excuse my quoting La Fontaine:
I am not in 'Charles the Twelfth of Sweden' yet. I am but a child.""And it's a great mercy, for when you grow up, you will be too muchfor me, that is evident. Come, then, Mademoiselle the Quizzer, comeand adorn my sketch.""Monsieur, shall I make you a confession? You will not be angry: Icould not support your displeasure. I have a strange inclination towalk up and down this terrace while you go and draw that tree in thePleasaunce.""Resist that inclination; perhaps it will fly from you.""No; you fly from me, and draw. I will rejoin you in a few minutes.""Thank you, I'm not so stupid. You will step indoors directly.""Do you doubt my word, sir?" asked she haughtily.He had learned to obey all her caprices; so he went and placedhimself on the west side of the oak and took out his sketch-book,and worked zealously and rapidly. He had done the outlines of thetree and was finishing in detail a part of the huge trunk, when hiseyes were suddenly dazzled: in the middle of the rugged bark,deformed here and there with great wart-like bosses, and wrinkled,seamed, and ploughed all over with age, burst a bit of variegatedcolor; bright as a poppy on a dungeon wall, it glowed and glitteredout through a large hole in the brown bark; it was Rose's facepeeping. To our young lover's eye how divine it shone! None of thehalf tints of common flesh were there, but a thing all rose, lily,sapphire, and soul. His pencil dropped, his mouth opened, he wasdownright dazzled by the glowing, bewitching face, sparkling withfun, in the gaunt tree. Tell me, ladies, did she know, even at thatage, the value of that sombre frame to her brightness? The momentshe found herself detected, the gaunt old tree rang musical with acrystal laugh, and out came the arch-dryad. "I have been there allthe time. How solemn you looked! Now for the result of suchprofound study." He showed her his work; she altered her tone.
"Oh, how clever!" she cried, "and how rapid! What a facility youhave! Monsieur is an artist," said she gravely; "I will be morerespectful," and she dropped him a low courtesy. "Mind you promisedit me," she added sharply."You will accept it, then?""That I will, now it is worth having: dear me, I never reckoned onthat. Finish it directly," cried this peremptory young person.
"First I must trouble you to stand out there near the tree.""Me? what for?""Because art loves contrasts. The tree is a picture of age andgradual decay; by its side then I must place a personification ofyouth and growing loveliness."She did not answer, but made a sort of defiant pirouette, and wentwhere she was bid, and stood there with her back to the artist."That will never do," said he; "you really must be so good as toturn round.""Oh, very well." And when she came round, behold her color hadrisen mightily. Flattery is sweet.This child of nature was delighted, and ashamed it should be seenthat she was.And so he drew her, and kept looking off the paper at her, and had aright in his character of artist to look her full in the face; andhe did so with long lingering glances. To be sure, they all begansevere and businesslike with half-closed eyes, and the peculiarhostile expression art puts on; but then they always ended open-eyed, and so full and tender, that she, poor girl, who was all realgold, though sham brass, blushed and blushed, and did not know whichway to look not to be scorched up by his eye like a tender flower,or blandly absorbed like the pearly dew. Ah, happy hour! ah, happydays of youth and innocence and first love!
Trouble loves to intrude on these halcyon days.The usually quiet Josephine came flying from the house, pale andagitated, and clung despairingly to Rose, and then fell to sobbingand lamenting piteously.
I shall take leave to relate in my own words what had just occurredto agitate her so. When she entered her mother's room, she foundthe baroness and Perrin the notary seated watching for her. She satdown after the usual civilities, and Perrin entered upon the subjectthat had brought him.He began by confessing to them that he had not overcome therefractory creditor without much trouble; and that he had sincelearned there was another, a larger creditor, likely to press forpayment or for sale of the estate. The baroness was greatlytroubled by this communication: the notary remained cool as acucumber, and keenly observant. After a pause he went on to say allthis had caused him grave reflections. "It seems," said he withcool candor, "a sad pity the estate should pass from a family thathas held it since the days of Charlemagne.""Now God forbid!" cried the baroness, lifting her eyes and herquivering hands to heaven.
The notary held the republican creed in all its branches."Providence, madame, does not interfere--in matters of business,"said he. "Nothing but money can save the estate. Let us then bepractical. Has any means occurred to you of raising money to payoff these incumbrances?""No. What means can there be? The estate is mortgaged to its fullvalue: so they say, at least.""And they say true," put in the notary quickly. "But do notdistress yourself, madame: confide in me.""Ah, my good friend, may Heaven reward you.""Madame, up to the present time I have no complaint to make ofHeaven. I am on the rise: here, mademoiselle, is a gimcrack theyhave given me;" and he unbuttoned his overcoat, and showed them apiece of tricolored ribbon and a clasp. "As for me, I look to 'thesolid;' I care little for these things," said he, swelling visibly,"but the world is dazzled by them. However, I can show yousomething better." He took out a letter. "This is from theMinister of the Interior to a client of mine: a promise I shall bethe next prefect; and the present prefect--I am happy to say--is onhis death-bed. Thus, madame, your humble servant in a few shortmonths will be notary no longer, but prefect; I shall then sell myoffice of notary: and I flatter myself when I am a prefect you willnot blush to own me.""Then, as now, monsieur," said the baroness politely, "we shallrecognize your merit. But"--"I understand, madame: like me you look to 'the solid.' Thus thenit is; I have money.""Ah! all the better for you.""I have a good deal of money. But it is dispersed in a great manysmall but profitable investments: to call it in suddenly wouldentail some loss. Nevertheless, if you and my young lady there haveever so little of that friendly feeling towards me of which I haveso much towards you, all my investments shall be called in, and two-thirds of your creditors shall be paid off at once. A single clientof mine, no less a man than the Commandant Raynal, will, I am sure,advance me the remaining third at an hour's notice; and soBeaurepaire chateau, park, estate, and grounds, down to the old oak-tree, shall be saved; and no power shall alienate them from you,mademoiselle, and from the heirs of your body."The baroness clasped her hands in ecstasy.