"An honest French soldier fired at you. Why, he told us so himself.""He told you true," said Camille, sullenly. "The bullet grazed myhand; see, here is the mark. Look!" She did look, and gave alittle scream; but recovering herself, said she wished it had gonethrough his heart. "Why prolong this painful interview?" said she;"the soldier told us all.""I doubbitcoin zu eurot that," said Camille. "Did he tell you that under the tableI was chained tight down to the chair I sat in? Did he tell youthat my hand was fastened to a drinking-horn, and my elbow to thetable, and two fellows sitting opposite me with pistols quietlycovering me, ready to draw the trigger if I should utter a cry? Didhe tell you that I would have uttered that cry and died at thattable but for one thing, I had promised her to live?""Not he; he told me nothing so incredible. Besides, what became ofyou all these years? You are a double traitor, to your country andto her."Camille literally gasped for breath. "You are a most cruel younglady to insult me so," said he, and scalding tears forced themselvesfrom his eyes.
She looked round, and saw the baroness at some distabitcoin price history march 2020nce in thecorridor, coming slowly towards her, with eyes bent gloomily on theground. Rose composed her features into a settled gravity, and wentto meet her."I wish to speak with you," said the baroness; "let us sit down; itis cool here."Rose ran and brought a seat without a back, but well stuffed, andset it against the wall. The old lady sat down and leaned back, andlooked at Rose in silence a good while; then she said,--"There is room for you; sit down, for I want to speak seriously toyou.""Yes, mamma; what is it?""Turn a little round, and let me see your face."Rose complied; and began to feel a little uneasy.
"Perhaps you can guess what I am going to say to you?""I have no idea.""Well, I am going to put a question to you.""With all my heart, dear mamma.""I invite you to explain to me the most singular, the mostunaccountable thing that ever fell under my notice. Will you dothis for your mother?""O mamma! of course I will do anything to please you that I can;but, indeed, I don't know what you mean.""I am going to tell you."The old lady paused. The young one, naturally enough, felt a chillof vague anxiety strike across her frame."Rose," said the old lady, speaking very gently but firmly, andleaning in a peculiar way on her words, while her eye worked like anice gimlet on her daughter's face, "a little while ago, when my poorRaynal--our benefactor--was alive--and I was happy--you all chilledmy happiness by your gloom: the whole house seemed a house ofmourning--tell me now why was this.""Mamma!" said Rose, after a moment's hesitation, "we could hardly begay. Sickness in the house! And if Colonel Raynal was alive, stillhe was absent, and in danger.""Oh! then it was out of regard for him we were all dispirited?""Why, I suppose so," said Rose, stoutly; but then colored high ather own want of candor. However, she congratulated herself that hermother's suspicion was confined to past events.Her self-congratulation on that score was short; for the baroness,after eying her grimly for a second or two in silence, put her thisawkward question plump."If so, tell me why is it that ever since that black day when thenews of his DEATH reached us, the whole house has gone into black,and has gone out of mourning?""Mamma," stammered Rose, "what DO you mean?""Even poor Camille, who was so pale and wan, has recovered likemagic.""O mamma! is not that fancy?" said Rose, piteously. "Of what do yoususpect me? Can you think I am unfeeling--ungrateful? I should notbe YOUR daughter.""No, no," said the baroness, "to do you justice, you attempt sorrow;as you put on black. But, my poor child, you do it with so littleskill that one sees a horrible gayety breaking through that thindisguise: you are no true mourners: you are like the mutes or theundertakers at a funeral, forced grief on the surface of your faces,and frightful complacency below.""Tra la! lal! la! la! Tra la! la! Tra la! la!" carolled Jacintha,in the colonel's room hard by.The ladies looked at one another: Rose in great confusion.
"Tra la! la! la! Tra lal! lal! la! la! la!""Jacintha!" screamed Rose angrily."Hush! not a word," said the baroness. "Why remonstrate with HER?You are not dead: you have kept faith as I have: you have lived.
See! look at me. I am alive, I am well, I am happy. I told Rosethat I suffered. If I had suffered I should remember it. It is allgone at sight of you, my love! my love! Oh, my Josephine! my love!"His arm was firm round her waist. His glowing eyes poured love uponher. She felt his beating heart.All that passed in her then, what mortal can say? She seemed twowomen: that part of her which could not get away from his strong armlost all strength to resist, it yielded and thrilled under hisembrace, her bosom heaving madly: all that was free writhed awayfrom him; her face was averted with a glare of terror, and both herhands put up between his eyes and it."You turn away your head. Rose, she turns away. Speak for me.Scold her; for I don't know how to scold her. No answer fromeither; oh, what has turned your hearts against me so?""Camille," cried Rose--the tears streaming down her cheeks--"my poorCamille! leave Beaurepaire. Oh, leave it at once."Returned towards her with a look of inquiry.
At that Josephine, like some feeble but nimble wild creature on whoma grasp has relaxed, writhed away from him and got free: "Farewell!Farewell!" she cried, in despair's own voice, and made swiftly forthe house.
Camille stood aghast, and did not follow her.Now ere she had gone many steps who should meet her right in frontbut Jacintha."Madame Raynal, the baroness's carriage is just in sight. I thoughtyou'd like to know." Then she bawled proudly to Rose, "I was thefirst to call her madame;" and off went Jacintha convinced she haddone something very clever.This blow turned those three to stone.
Josephine had no longer the power or the wish to fly. "Better so,"she thought, and she stood cowering.The great passions that had spoken so loud were struck dumb, and adeep silence fell upon the place. Madame Raynal's quivering eyeturned slowly and askant towards Camille, but stopped in terror ereit could see him. For she knew by this fearful stillness that thetruth was creeping on Camille. And so did Rose.At last Camille spoke one word in a low whisper."Madame?"Dead silence.
"White? both in white?"Rose came between him and Josephine, and sobbed out, "Camille, itwas our doing. We drove her to it. O sir, look how afraid of youshe is. Do not reproach her, if you are a man."He waved her out of his way as if she had been some idle feather,and almost staggered up to Josephine."It is for you to speak, my betrothed: are you married?"The poor creature, true to her nature, was thinking more of him thanherself. Even in her despair it flashed across her, "If he knewall, he too would be wretched for life. If I let him think ill ofme he may be happy one day." She cowered the picture of sorrow andtongue-tied guilt.
"Are you a wife?""Yes."He winced and quivered as if a bullet had pierced him."This is how I came to be suspected; she I loved was false.""Yes, Camille.""No, no!" cried Rose; "don't believe HER: she never suspected you.
We have brought her to this, we alone.""Be silent, Rose! oh, be silent!" gasped Josephine."I lived for you: I would have died for you; you could not even waitfor me."A low moan, but not a word of excuse."What can I do for you now?""Forget me, Camille," said she despairingly, doggedly."Forget you? never, never! there is but one thing I can do to showyou how I loved you: I will forgive you, and begone. Whither shallI go? whither shall I go now?""Camile, your words stab her.""Let none speak but I," said Camille; "none but I have the right tospeak. Poor weak angel that loved yet could not wait: I forgiveyou. Be happy, if you can; I bid you be hap-py."The quiet, despairing tones died away, and with them life seemed toend to her, and hope to go out. He turned his back quickly on her.He cried hoarsely, "To the army! Back to the army, and a soldier'sgrave!" Then with a prodigious effort he drew himself haughtily upin marching attitude. He took three strides, erect and fiery andbold.At the next something seemed to snap asunder in the great heart, andthe worn body that heart had held up so long, rolled like a dead logupon the ground with a tremendous fall.
Chapter 11The baroness and Aubertin were just getting out of their carriage,when suddenly they heard shrieks of terror in the Pleasaunce. Theycame with quaking hearts as fast as their old limbs would carrythem. They found Rose and Josephine crouched over the body of aman, an officer.
Rose was just tearing open his collar and jacket. Dard and Jacinthahad run from the kitchen at the screams. Camille lay on his back,white and motionless.The doctor was the first to come up. "Who! what is this? I seem toknow his face." Then shaking his head, "Whoever it is, it is a badcase. Stand away, ladies. Let me feel his pulse."Whilst the old man was going stiffly down on one knee, Jacinthauttered a cry of terror. "See, see! his shirt! that red streak!
Ah, ah! it is getting bigger and bigger:" and she turned faint in amoment, and would have fallen but for Dard.The doctor looked. "All the better," said he firmly. "I thought hewas dead. His blood flows; then I will save him. Don't clutch meso, Josephine; don't cling to me like that. Now is the time to showyour breed: not turn sick at the sight of a little blood, like thatfoolish creature, but help me save him.""Take him in-doors," cried the baroness.
"Into our house, mamma?" gasped Rose; "no, no.""What," said the baroness, "a wounded soldier who has fought forFrance! leave him to lie and die outside my door: what would my sonsay to that? He is a soldier himself."Rose cast a hasty look at Josephine. Josephine's eyes were bent onthe ground, and her hands clenched and trembling."Now, Jacintha, you be off," said the doctor. "I can't have cowardsabout him to make the others as bad. Go and stew down a piece ofgood beef for him. Stew it in red wine and water.""That I will: poor thing!""Why, I know him," said the baroness suddenly; "it is an oldacquaintance, young Dujardin: you remember, Josephine. I used tosuspect him of a fancy for you, poor fellow! Why, he must have comehere to see us, poor soul.""No matter who it is; it is a man. Now, girls, have you courage,have you humanity? Then come one on each side of him and take handsbeneath his back, while I lift his head and Dard his legs.""And handle him gently whatever you do," said Dard. "I know what itis to be wounded."These four carried the lifeless burden very slowly and gently acrossthe Pleasaunce to the house, then with more difficulty and cautionup the stairs.All the while the sisters' hands griped one another tight beneaththe lifeless burden, and spoke to one another. And Josephine's armupheld tenderly but not weakly the hero she had struck down. Sheavoided Rose's eye, her mother's, and even the doctor's: one gaspingsob escaped her as she walked with head half averted, and vacant,terror-stricken eyes, and her victim on her sustaining arm.The doctor selected the tapestried chamber for him as being mostairy. Then he ordered the women out, and with Dard's help undressedthe still insensible patient.
Josephine sat down on the stairs in gloomy silence, her eyes on theground, like one waiting for her deathblow.Rose, sick at heart, sat silent too at some distance. At last shesaid faintly, "Have we done well?""I don't know," said Josephine doggedly. Her eyes never left theground.
"We could not let him die for want of care.""He will not thank us. Better for him to die than live. Better forme."At this instant Dard came running down. "Good news, mesdemoiselles,good news! the wound runs all along; it is not deep, like mine was.He has opened his eyes and shut them again. The dear good doctorstopped the blood in a twinkle. The doctor says he'll be bound tosave him. I must run and tell Jacintha. She is taking on in thekitchen."Josephine, who had risen eagerly from her despairing posture,clasped her hands together, then lifted up her voice and wept. "Hewill live! he will live!"When she had wept a long while, she said to Rose, "Come, sister,help your poor Josephine.""Yes, love, what shall we do?""My duty," faltered Josephine. "An hour ago it seemed so sweet,"and she fell to weeping patiently again. They went to Josephine'sroom. She crept slowly to a wardrobe, and took out a gray silkdress.
"Oh, never mind for to-day," cried Rose."Help me, Rose. It is for myself as well; to remind me every momentI am Madame Raynal."They put the gray gown on her, both weeping patiently. It will beknown at the last day, all that honest women have suffered weepingsilently in this noisy world.
Camille soon recovered his senses and a portion of his strength:then the irritation of his wound brought on fever. This in turnretired before the doctor's remedies and a sound constitution, butit left behind it a great weakness and general prostration. And inthis state the fate of the body depends greatly on the mind.The baroness and the doctor went constantly to see him, and soothehim: he smiled and thanked them, but his eager eyes watched the doorfor one who came not.When he got well enough to leave his bed the largest couch was sentup to him from the saloon; a kind hand lined the baron's silkdressing-gown for him warm and soft and nice; and he would sit orlie on his couch, or take two turns in the room leaning upon Rose'sshoulder, and glad of the support; and he looked piteously in hereyes when she came and when she went. Rose looked down; she coulddo nothing, she could say nothing.
With his strength, Camille lost a portion of his pride: he pined fora sight of her he no longer respected; pined for her, as the thirstypine for water in Sahara.At last one day he spoke out. "How kind you are to me, Rose! howkind you all are--but one."He waited in hopes she would say something, but she held her tongue.
"At least tell me why it is. Is she ashamed? Is she afraid?""Neither.""She hates me: it is true, then, that we hate those whom we havewounded. Cruel, cruel Josephine! Oh, heart of marble against whichmy heart has wrecked itself forever!""No, no! She is anything but cruel: but she is Madame Raynal.""Ah! I forgot. But have I no claim on her? Nearly four years shehas been my betrothed. What have I done? Was I ever false to her?I could forgive her for what she has done to me, but she cannotforgive me. Does she mean never to see me again?""Ask yourself what good could come of it.""Very well," said Camille, with a malicious smile. "I am in herway. I see what she wants; she shall have it."Rose carried these words to Josephine. They went through her like asword.
Rose pitied her. Rose had a moment's weakness."Let us go to him," she said; "anything is better than this.""Rose, I dare not," was the wise reply.