"If Mr. Watterly did know of anyone I would make the trial, buapicola piedra solanat he does not. Your offer is very considerate and reasonable, but--" and he hesitated again, scarcely knowing how to go on.
"It might have beape nft dropen worse: I thought it was worse the more fool I.I deserve to have my head cut off." This was Jacintha's onlycomment at that time.
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."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!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.Why affront the friends and benefactors we have lost by our ownfault?""Oh, then, it is all your fault," said the baroness. "I feared asmuch.""All my fault, all," said Rose; then putting her pretty palmstogether, and casting a look of abject supplication on Edouard, shemurmured, "my temper!""Do not you put words into his mouth," said the shrewd old lady.
"Come, Monsieur Riviere, be a man, and tell me the truth. What hasshe said to you? What has she done?"By this time the abject state of terror the high-spirited Rose wasin, and her piteous glances, had so disarmed Edouard, that he hadnot the heart to expose her to her mother."Madame," said he, stiffly, taking Rose's hint, "my temper andmademoiselle's could not accord.""Why, her temper is charming: it is joyous, equal, and gentle.""You misunderstand me, madame; I do not reproach Mademoiselle Rose.It is I who am to blame.""For what?" inquired the baroness dryly."For not being able to make her love me.""Oh! that is it! She did not love you?""Ask herself, madame," said Edouard, bitterly.
"Rose," said the baroness, her eye now beginning to twinkle, "wereyou really guilty of such a want of discrimination? Didn't you lovemonsieur?"Rose flung her arms round her mother's neck, and said, "No, mamma, Idid not love Monsieur Edouard," in an exquisite tone of love, thatto a female ear conveyed the exact opposite of the words.But Edouard had not that nice discriminating ear. He sighed deeply,and the baroness smiled. "You tell me that?" said she, "and you arecrying!""She is crying, madame?" said Edouard, inquiringly, and taking astep towards them.
"Why, you see she is, you foolish boy. Come, I must put an end tothis;" and she rose coolly from her seat, and begging Edouard toforgive her for leaving him a moment with his deadly enemy, went offwith knowing little nods into Josephine's room; only, before sheentered it, she turned, and with a maternal smile discharged thisword at the pair."Babies!"But between the alienated lovers was a long distressing silence.Neither knew what to say; and their situation was intolerable. Atlast Rose ventured in a timorous voice to say, "I thank you for yourgenerosity. But I knew that you would not betray me.""Your secret is safe for me," sighed Edouard. "Is there anythingelse I can do for you?"Rose shook her head sadly.Edouard moved to the door.
Rose bowed her head with a despairing moan. It took him by theheart and held him. He hesitated, then came towards her."I see you are sorry for what you have done to me who loved you so;and you loved me. Oh! yes, do not deny it, Rose; there was a timeyou loved me. And that makes it worse: to have given me such sweethopes, only to crush both them and me. And is not this cruel of youto weep so and let me see your penitence--when it is too late?""Alas! how can I help my regrets? I have insulted so good afriend."There was a sad silence. Then as he looked at her, her looks beliedthe charge her own lips had made against herself.A light seemed to burst on Edouard from that high-minded, sorrow-stricken face."Tell me it is false!" he cried.
She hid her face in her hands--woman's instinct to avoid being read."Tell me you were misled then, fascinated, perverted, but that yourheart returned to me. Clear yourself of deliberate deceit, and Iwill believe and thank you on my knees.""Heaven have pity on us both!" cried poor Rose.
"On us! Thank you for saying on us. See now, you have not gainedhappiness by destroying mine. One word--do you love that man?--thatDujardin?""You know I do not.""I am glad of that; since his life is forfeited; if he escapes myfriend Raynal, he shall not escape me."Rose uttered a cry of terror. "Hush! not so loud. The life ofCamille! Oh! if he were to die, what would become of--oh, pray donot speak so loud.""Own then that you DO love him," yelled Edouard; "give me truth, ifyou have no love to give. Own that you love him, and he shall besafe. It is myself I will kill, for being such a slave as to loveyou still."Rose's fortitude gave way."I cannot bear it," she cried despairingly; "it is beyond mystrength; Edouard, swear to me you will keep what I tell you secretas the grave!""Ah!" cried Edouard, all radiant with hope, "I swear.""Then you are under a delirium. I have deceived, but never wrongedyou; that unhappy child is not-- Hush! HERE SHE COMES."The baroness came smiling out, and Josephine's wan, anxious face wasseen behind her.
"Well," said the baroness, "is the war at an end? What, are westill silent? Let me try then what I can do. Edouard, lend me yourhand."While Edouard hesitated, Josephine clasped her hands and mutelysupplicated him to consent. Her sad face, and the thought of howoften she had stood his friend, shook his resolution. He held outhis hand, but slowly and reluctantly."There is my hand," he groaned."And here is mine, mamma," said Rose, smiling to please her mother.Oh! the mixture of feeling, when her soft warm palm pressed his.How the delicious sense baffled and mystified the cold judgment.Josephine raised her eyes thankfully to heaven.
While the young lovers yet thrilled at each other's touch, yet couldnot look one another in the face, a clatter of horses' feet washeard."That is Colonel Raynal," said Josephine, with unnatural calmness.
"I expected him to-day."The baroness was at the side window in a moment."It is he!--it is he!"She hurried down to embrace her son.
Josephine went without a word to her own room. Rose followed herthe next minute. But in that one minute she worked magic.She glided up to Edouard, and looked him full in the face: not thesad, depressed, guilty-looking humble Rose of a moment before, butthe old high-spirited, and some what imperious girl.
"You have shown yourself noble this day. I am going to trust you asonly the noble are trusted. Stay in the house till I can speak toyou."She was gone, and something leaped within Edouard's bosom, and aflood of light seemed to burst in on him. Yet he saw no objectclearly: but he saw light.Rose ran into Josephine's room, and once more surprised her on herknees, and in the very act of hiding something in her bosom."What are you doing, Josephine, on your knees?" said she, sternly."I have a great trial to go through," was the hesitating answer.
Rose said nothing. She turned paler. She is deceiving me, thoughtshe, and she sat down full of bitterness and terror, and, affectingnot to watch Josephine, watched her."Go and tell them I am coming, Rose.""No, Josephine, I will not leave you till this terrible meeting isover. We will encounter him hand in hand, as we used to go when ourhearts were one, and we deceived others, but never each other."At this tender reproach Josephine fell upon her neck and wept.
"I will not deceive you," she said. "I am worse than the poordoctor thinks me. My life is but a little candle that a breath mayput out any day."Rose said nothing, but trembled and watched her keenly."My little Henri," said Josephine imploringly, "what would you dowith him--if anything should happen to me?""What would I do with him? He is mine. I should be his mother.
Oh! what words are these: my heart! my heart!""No, dearest; some day you will be married, and owe all the motherto your children; and Henri is not ours only: he belongs to some oneI have seemed unkind to. Perhaps he thinks me heartless. For I ama foolish woman; I don't know how to be virtuous, yet show a man myheart. But THEN he will understand me and forgive me. Rose, love,you will write to him. He will come to you. You will go togetherto the place where I shall be sleeping. You will show him my heart.You will tell him all my long love that lasted to the end. YOU neednot blush to tell him all. I have no right. Then you will give himhis poor Josephine's boy, and you will say to him, 'She never lovedbut you: she gives you all that is left of her, her child. She onlyprays you not to give him a bad mother.'"Poor soul! this was her one bit of little, gentle jealousy; but itmade her eyes stream. She would have put out her hand from the tombto keep her boy's father single all his life.
"Oh! my Josephine, my darling sister," cried Rose, "why do you speakof death? Do you meditate a crime?""No; but it was on my heart to say it: it has done me good.""At least, take me to your bosom, my well-beloved, that I may notSEE your tears.""There--tears? No, you have lightened my heart. Bless you! blessyou!"The sisters twined their bosoms together in a long, gentle embrace.You might have taken them for two angels that flowed together in onelove, but for their tears.A deep voice was now heard in the sitting-room.Josephine and Rose postponed the inevitable one moment more, byarranging their hair in the glass: then they opened the door, andentered the tapestried room.
Raynal was sitting on the sofa, the baroness's hand in his. Edouardwas not there.Colonel Raynal had given him a strange look, and said, "What, youhere?" in a tone of voice that was intolerable.
Raynal came to meet the sisters. He saluted Josephine on the brow."You are pale, wife: and how cold her hand is.""She has been ill this month past," said Rose interposing.
"You look ill, too, Mademoiselle Rose.""Never mind," cried the baroness joyously, "you will revive themboth."Raynal made no reply to that."How long do you stay this time, a day?""A month, mother."The doctor now joined the party, and friendly greetings passedbetween him and Raynal.