"Soldiers," said Raynal, "aethereum 2.0 krakennd invalided.""Give them food and wine," said Josephine.
"You shall go with me next time," said he. "Let us speak of it nomore."Josephine bowed her head. "At least give me something to do for youwhile you are away. Tell me what I can do for my absent friend toshow my gratitude, my regard, my esteem.""Well, let me think. I saw a plain gray dress at Beaurepaire.""Yes, monsieur. My gray silk, Rose.""I like that dress.""Do you? Then the moment I reach home after losing you I shall putit on, and it shall be my constant wear. I see; you are right; graybecomes a wife whose husband is not dead, but is absent, and alas!buy dogecoin thailandin hourly danger.""Now look at that!" cried Raynal to the company. "That is her allover: she can see six meanings where another would see but one. Inever thought of that, I swear. I like modest colors, that is all.
My mother used to be all for modest wives wearing modest colors.""I am of her mind, sir. Is there nothing more difficult you will beso good as give me to do?""No; there is only one order more, and that will be easier still tosuch a woman as you. I commit to your care the name of Raynal. Itis not so high a name as yours, but it is as honest. I am proud ofit: I am jealous of it. I shall guard it for you in Egypt: youguard it in France for me.""With my life," cried Josephine, lifting her eyes and her hand toheaven.Soon after this Raynal ordered his charger.The baroness began to cry. "The young people may hope to see youagain," said she; "but there are two chances against your poor oldmother.""Courage, mother!" cried the stout soldier. "No, no; you won't playme such a trick: once is enough for that game.""Brother!" cried Rose, "do not go without kissing your littlesister, who loves you and thanks you." He kissed her. "Bravo,generous soul!" she cried, with her arms round his neck. "Godprotect you, and send you back safe to us!""Amen!" cried all present by one impulse, even the cold notary.Raynal's mustache quivered. He kissed Josephine hastily on thebrow, the baroness on both cheeks; shook the men's hands warmly buthastily, and strode out without looking behind him. He was movedfor once.They all followed him to the door of the house. He was tighteninghis horse's girths. He flung himself with all the resolution of hissteel nature into the saddle, and, with one grand wave of his cockedhat to the tearful group, he spurred away for Egypt.
Chapter 9The baroness took the doctor a-shopping; she must buy Rose a graysilk. In doing this she saw many other tempting things. I say nomore.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 11
The 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.But the next day early, Josephine took Rose to a door outside thehouse, a door that had long been disused. Nettles grew before it.
She produced a key and with great difficulty opened this door. Itled to the tapestried chamber, and years ago they used to steal upit and peep into the room.Rose scarcely needed to be told that she was to watch Camille, andreport to her. In truth, it was a mysterious, vague protectionagainst a danger equally mysterious. Yet it made Josephine easier.But so unflinching was her prudence that she never once could beprevailed on to mount those stairs, and peep at Camille herself. "Imust starve my heart, not feed it," said she. And she grew palerand more hollow-eyed day by day.Yet this was the same woman who showed such feebleness andirresolution when Raynal pressed her to marry him. But then dwarfsfeebly drew her this way and that. Now giants fought for her.
Between a feeble inclination and a feeble disinclination her deadheart had drifted to and fro. Now honor, duty, gratitude,--whichlast with her was a passion,--dragged her one way: love, pity, andremorse another.Not one of these giants would relax his grasp, and nothing yieldedexcept her vital powers. Yes; her temper, one of the loveliestHeaven ever gave a human creature, was soured at times.
Was it a wonder? There lay the man she loved pining for her;cursing her for her cruelty, and alternately praying Heaven toforgive him and to bless her: sighing, at intervals, all the daylong, so loud, so deep, so piteously, as if his heart broke witheach sigh; and sometimes, for he little knew, poor soul, that anyhuman eye was upon him, casting aside his manhood in his despair,and flinging himself on the very floor, and muffling his head, andsobbing; he a hero.And here was she pining in secret for him who pined for her? "I amnot a woman at all," said she, who was all woman. "I am crueller tohim than a tiger or any savage creature is to the victim she tears.
I must cure him of his love for me; and then die; for what shall Ihave to live for? He weeps, he sighs, he cries for Josephine."Her enforced cruelty was more contrary to this woman's nature thanblack is to white, or heat to cold, and the heart rebelled furiouslyat times. As when a rock tries to stem a current, the water fightsits way on more sides than one, so insulted nature dealt withJosephine. Not only did her body pine, but her nerves wereexasperated. Sudden twitches came over her, that almost made herscream. Her permanent state was utter despondency, but across itcame fitful flashes of irritation; and then she was scarce mistressof herself.Wherefore you, who find some holy woman cross and bitter, stop amoment before you sum her up vixen and her religion naught: inquirethe history of her heart: perhaps beneath the smooth cold surface ofduties well discharged, her life has been, or even is, a battleagainst some self-indulgence the insignificant saint's very bloodcries out for: and so the poor thing is cross, not because she isbad, but because she is better than the rest of us; yet only human.