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  At sight of it Josephine uttered a little cry, not loud but deep--ay, a crethereum net hashy to bring tears into the eye of the hearer, and she stoodtrembling from head to foot, her hands clasped, and her eyefascinated and fixed on the cradle.

Then she spoke slowly to it and said, "Youbuy bitcoin cheap online were here before us: youwill be here when we are gone."A spasm crossed Josephine's face, but she said nothing at the time.And so they went in together.

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Now as this tree was a feat of nature, and, above all, played acurious part in our story, I will ask you to stay a few minutes andlook at it, while I say what was known about it; not the thousandthpart of what it could have told, if trees could speak as well asbreathe.The baroness did not exaggerate; the tree was far older than eventhis ancient family. They possessed among other archives amanuscript written by a monk, a son of the house, about four hundredyears before our story, and containing many of the oral traditionsabout this tree that had come down to him from remote antiquity.According to this authority, the first Baron of Beaurepaire hadpitched his tent under a fair oak-tree that stood prope rivum, neara brook. His grandson built a square tower hard by, and dug a moatthat enclosed both tree and tower, and received the waters of thebrook aforesaid.At this time the tree seems only to have been remarked for itsheight. But, a century and a half before the monk wrote, it hadbecome famous in all the district for its girth, and in the monk'sown day had ceased to grow; but not begun to decay. The mutilatedarm I have mentioned was once a long sturdy bough, worn smooth asvelvet in one part from a curious cause: it ran about as high abovethe ground as a full-sized horse, and the knights and squires usedto be forever vaulting upon it, the former in armor; the monk, whena boy, had seen them do it a thousand times. This bough broke intwo, A.D. 1617: but the mutilated limb was still called the knights'bough, nobody knew why. So do names survive their ideas.

What had not this tree seen since first it came green and tender asa cabbage above the soil, and stood at the mercy of the first hareor rabbit that should choose to cut short its frail existence!Since then eagles had perched on its crown, and wild boars fedwithout fear of man upon its acorns. Troubadours had sung beneathit to lords and ladies seated round, or walking on the grass andcommenting the minstrel's tales of love by exchange of amorousglances. Mediaeval sculptors had taken its leaves, and wiselytrusting to nature, had adorned churches with those leaves cut instone.They were wonder-struck, and looked from the birds to her in mutesurprise, that was not diminished by a certain cynical indifferenceshe put on. She avoided their eyes, and forcibly excluded from herface everything that could imply she did not serve up partridges tothis family every night of her life.

"The supper is served, madame," said she, with a respectful courtesyand a mechanical tone, and, plunging into the night, swam out at herown candle, shut the door, and, unlocking her face that moment,burst out radiant, and so to the kitchen, and, with a tear in hereye, set-to and polished all the copper stewpans with a vigor andexpedition unknown to the new-fangled domestic."Partridges, mamma! What next?""Pheasants, I hope," cried the doctor, gayly. "And after themhares; to conclude with royal venison. Permit me, ladies." And heset himself to carve with zeal.Now nature is nature, and two pair of violet eyes brightened anddwelt on the fragrant and delicate food with demure desire; for allthat, when Aubertin offered Josephine a wing, she declined it. "Nopartridge?" cried the savant, in utter amazement."Not to-day, dear friend; it is not a feast day to-day.""Ah! no; what was I thinking of?""But you are not to be deprived," put in Josephine, anxiously. "Wewill not deny ourselves the pleasure of seeing you eat some.""What!" remonstrated Aubertin, "am I not one of you?"The baroness had attended to every word of this. She rose from herchair, and said quietly, "Both you and he and Rose will be so goodas to let me see you eat.""But, mamma," remonstrated Josephine and Rose in one breath.

"Je le veux," was the cold reply.These were words the baroness uttered so seldom that they werelittle likely to be disputed.

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The doctor carved and helped the young ladies and himself.When they had all eaten a little, a discussion was observed to begoing on between Rose and her sister. At last Aubertin caught thesewords, "It will be in vain; even you have not influence enough forthat, Rose.""We shall see," was the reply, and Rose put the wing of a partridgeon a plate and rose calmly from her chair. She took the plate andput it on a little work-table by her mother's side. The otherspretended to be all mouths, but they were all ears. The baronesslooked in Rose's face with an air of wonder that was not veryencouraging. Then, as Rose said nothing, she raised heraristocratic hand with a courteous but decided gesture of refusal.Undaunted Rose laid her palm softly on the baroness's shoulder, andsaid to her as firmly as the baroness herself had just spoken,--"Il le veut."The baroness was staggered. Then she looked with moist eyes at thefair young face, then she reflected. At last she said, with anexquisite mixture of politeness and affection, "It is his daughterwho has told me 'Il le veut.' I obey."Rose returning like a victorious knight from the lists, saucilyexultant, and with only one wet eyelash, was solemnly kissed andpetted by Josephine and the doctor.Thus they loved one another in this great, old, falling house.

Their familiarity had no coarse side; a form, not of custom butaffection, it went hand-in-hand with courtesy by day and night.The love of the daughters for their mother had all the tenderness,subtlety, and unselfishness of womanly natures, together with acertain characteristic of the female character. And whither thatone defect led them, and by what gradations, it may be worth thereader's while to observe.The baroness retired to rest early; and she was no sooner gone thanJosephine leaned over to Rose, and told her what their mother hadsaid to the oak-tree. Rose heard this with anxiety; hitherto theyhad carefully concealed from their mother that the governmentclaimed the right of selling the chateau to pay the creditors, etc.;and now both sisters feared the old lady had discovered it somehow,or why that strange thing she had said to the oak-tree? But Dr.Aubertin caught their remarks, and laid down his immortal MS. onFrench insects, to express his hope that they were putting a forcedinterpretation on the baroness's words.

"I think," said he, "she merely meant how short-lived are we allcompared with this ancient oak. I should be very sorry to adopt theother interpretation; for if she knows she can at any moment beexpelled from Beaurepaire, it will be almost as bad for her as thecalamity itself; THAT, I think, would kill her.""Why so?" said Rose, eagerly. "What is this house or that? Mammawill still have her daughters' love, go where she will."Aubertin replied, "It is idle to deceive ourselves; at her age menand women hang to life by their habits; take her away from herchateau, from the little oratory where she prays every day for thedeparted, from her place in the sun on the south terrace, and fromall the memories that surround her here; she would soon pine, anddie."Here the savant seeing a hobby-horse near, caught him and jumped on.He launched into a treatise upon the vitality of human beings, andproved that it is the mind which keeps the body of a man alive forso great a length of time as fourscore years; for that he had in theearlier part of his studies carefully dissected a multitude ofanimals,--frogs, rabbits, dogs, men, horses, sheep, squirrels,foxes, cats, etc.,--and discovered no peculiarity in man's organs toaccount for his singular longevity, except in the brain or organ ofmind. Thence he went to the longevity of men with contented minds,and the rapid decay of the careworn. Finally he succeeded inconvincing them the baroness was so constituted, physically andmentally, that she would never move from Beaurepaire except into hergrave. However, having thus terrified them, he proceeded to consolethem. "You have a friend," said he, "a powerful friend; and here inmy pocket--somewhere--is a letter that proves it."The letter was from Mr. Perrin the notary. It appeared by it thatDr. Aubertin had reminded the said Perrin of his obligations to thelate baron, and entreated him to use all his influence to keep theestate in this ancient family.

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Perrin had replied at first in a few civil lines; but his presentletter was a long and friendly one. It made both the daughters ofBeaurepaire shudder at the peril they had so narrowly escaped. Forby it they now learned for the first time that one Jaques Bonard, asmall farmer, to whom they owed but five thousand francs, had goneto the mayor and insisted, as he had a perfect right, on the estatebeing put up to public auction. This had come to Perrin's ears justin time, and he had instantly bought Bonard's debt, and stopped theauction; not, however, before the very bills were printed; for whichhe, Perrin, had paid, and now forwarded the receipt. He concludedby saying that the government agent was personally inert, and wouldnever move a step in the matter unless driven by a creditor."But we have so many," said Rose in dismay. "We are not safe a day."Aubertin assured her the danger was only in appearance. "Your largecreditors are men of property, and such men let their funds lieunless compelled to move them. The small mortgagee, the pettymiser, who has, perhaps, no investment to watch but one small loan,about which he is as anxious and as noisy as a hen with one chicken,he is the clamorous creditor, the harsh little egoist, who for fearof risking a crown piece would bring the Garden of Eden to thehammer. Now we are rid of that little wretch, Bonard, and havePerrin on our side; so there is literally nothing to fear."The sisters thanked him warmly, and Rose shared his hopes; and saidso; but Josephine was silent and thoughtful. Nothing more worthrecording passed that night. But the next day was the first of May,Josephine's birthday.

Now they always celebrated this day as well as they could; and usedto plant a tree, for one thing. Dard, well spurred by Jacintha, hadgot a little acacia; and they were all out in the Pleasaunce toplant it. Unhappily, they were a preposterous time making up theirfeminine minds where to have it set; so Dard turned rusty and saidthe park was the best place for it. There it could do no harm,stick it where you would."And who told you to put in your word?" inquired Jacintha. "You'rehere to dig the hole where mademoiselle chooses; not to argufy."Josephine whispered Rose, "I admire the energy of her character.Could she be induced to order once for all where the poor thing isto be planted?""Then where WILL you have it, mademoiselle?" asked Dard, sulkily."Here, I think, Dard," said Josephine sweetly.Dard grinned malignantly, and drove in his spade. "It will never bemuch bigger than a stinging nettle," thought he, "for the roots ofthe oak have sucked every atom of heart out of this." His blacksoul exulted secretly.Jacintha stood by Dard, inspecting his work; the sistersintertwined, a few feet from him. The baroness turned aside, andwent to look for a moment at the chaplet she had placed yesterday onthe oak-tree bough. Presently she uttered a slight ejaculation; andher daughters looked up directly.

"Come here, children," said she. They glided to her in a moment;and found her eyes fixed upon an object that lay on the knights'bough.

It was a sparkling purse.I dare say you have noticed that the bark on the boughs of thesevery ancient trees is as deeply furrowed as the very stem of an oaktree that boasts but a few centuries; and in one of these deepfurrows lay a green silk purse with gold coins glittering throughthe glossy meshes.

Josephine and Rose eyed it a moment like startled deer; then Rosepounced on it. "Oh, how heavy!" she cried. This brought up Dardand Jacintha, in time to see Rose pour ten shining gold pieces outof the purse into her pink-white palm, while her face flushed andher eyes glittered with excitement. Jacintha gave a scream of joy;"Our luck is turned," she cried, superstitiously. Meanwhile,Josephine had found a slip of paper close to the purse. She openedit with nimble fingers; it contained one line in a hand like that ofa copying clerk: FROM A FRIEND: IN PART PAYMENT OF A GREAT DEBT.Keen, piquant curiosity now took the place of surprise. Who couldit be? The baroness's suspicion fell at once on Dr. Aubertin. ButRose maintained he had not ten gold pieces in the world. Thebaroness appealed to Josephine. She only blushed in an extraordinaryway, and said nothing. They puzzled, and puzzled, and were as muchin the dark as ever, when lo! one of the suspected parties deliveredhimself into the hands of justice with ludicrous simplicity. Ithappened to be Dr. Aubertin's hour of out-a-door study; and hecame mooning along, buried in a book, and walked slowly into thegroup--started, made a slight apology, and was mooning off, lostin his book again. Then the baroness, who had eyed him with grimsuspicion all the time, said with well-affected nonchalance, "Doctor,you dropped your purse; we have just picked it up." And she handedit to him. "Thank you, madame," said he, and took it quietly withoutlooking at it, put it in his pocket, and retired, with his soul inhis book. They stared comically at one another, and at this coolhand. "It's no more his than it's mine," said Jacintha, bluntly.

Rose darted after the absorbed student, and took him captive. "Now,doctor," she cried, "be pleased to come out of the clouds." Andwith the word she whipped the purse out of his coat pocket, andholding it right up before his eye, insisted on his telling herwhether that was his purse or not, money and all. Thus adjured,he disowned the property mighty coolly, for a retired physician,who had just pocketed it."No, my dear," said he; "and, now I think of it, I have not carrieda purse this twenty years."The baroness, as a last resource, appealed to his honor whether hehad not left a purse and paper on the knights' bough. The questionhad to be explained by Josephine, and then the doctor surprised themall by being rather affronted--for once in his life."Baroness," said he, "I have been your friend and pensioner nearlytwenty years; if by some strange chance money were to come into myhands, I should not play you a childish trick like this. What! haveI not the right to come to you, and say, 'My old friend, here Ibring you back a very small part of all I owe you?'""What geese we are," remarked Rose. "Dear doctor, YOU tell us whoit is."Dr. Aubertin reflected a single moment; then said he could make ashrewd guess."Who? who? who?" cried the whole party.

"Perrin the notary."It was the baroness's turn to be surprised; for there was nothingromantic about Perrin the notary. Aubertin, however, let her knowthat he was in private communication with the said Perrin, and thiswas not the first friendly act the good notary had done her in secret.While he was converting the baroness to his view, Josephine and Roseexchanged a signal, and slipped away round an angle of the chateau.

"Who is it?" said Rose."It is some one who has a delicate mind.""Clearly, and therefore not a notary.""Rose, dear, might it not be some person who has done us some wrong,and is perhaps penitent?""Certainly; one of our tenants, or creditors, you mean; but then,the paper says 'a friend.' Stay, it says a debtor. Why a debtor?

Down with enigmas!""Rose, love," said Josephine, coaxingly, "think of some one thatmight--since it is not the doctor, nor Monsieur Perrin, might it notbe--for after all, he would naturally be ashamed to appear before me.""Before you? Who do you mean?" asked Rose nervously, catching aglimpse now."He who once pretended to love me.""Josephine, you love that man still.""No, no. Spare me!""You love him just the same as ever. Oh, it is wonderful; it isterrible; the power he has over you; over your judgment as well asyour heart.""No! for I believe he has forgotten my very name; don't you think so?""Dear Josephine, can you doubt it? Come, you do doubt it.""Sometimes.""But why? for what reason?""Because of what he said to me as we parted at that gate; the wordsand the voice seem still to ring like truth across the weary years.

He said, 'I am to join the army of the Pyrenees, so fatal to ourtroops; but say to me what you never yet have said, Camille, I loveyou: and I swear I will come back alive.' So then I said to him, 'Ilove you,'--and he never came back.""How could he come here? a deserter, a traitor!""It is not true; it is not in his nature; inconstancy may be. Tellme that he never really loved me, and I will believe you; but notthat he is a traitor. Let me weep over my past love, not blush forit.""Past? You love him to-day as you did three years ago.""No," said Josephine, "no; I love no one. I never shall love anyone again.""But him. It is that love which turns your heart against others.Oh, yes, you love him, dearest, or why should you fancy our secretbenefactor COULD be that Camille?""Why? Because I was mad: because it is impossible; but I see myfolly. I am going in.""What! don't you care to know who I think it was, perhaps?""No," said Josephine sadly and doggedly; she added with coldnonchalance, "I dare say time will show." And she went slowly in,her hand to her head."Her birthday!" sighed Rose.The donor, whoever he was, little knew the pain he was inflicting onthis distressed but proud family, or the hard battle that ensuedbetween their necessities and their delicacy. The ten gold pieceswere a perpetual temptation: a daily conflict. The words thataccompanied the donation offered a bait. Their pride and dignitydeclined it; but these bright bits of gold cost them many a sharppang. You must know that Josephine and Rose had worn out theirmourning by this time; and were obliged to have recourse to gayermaterials that lay in their great wardrobes, and were older, butless worn. A few of these gold pieces would have enabled the poorgirls to be neat, and yet to mourn their father openly. And it wentthrough and through those tender, simple hearts, to think that theymust be disunited, even in so small a thing as dress; that whiletheir mother remained in her weeds, they must seem no longer toshare her woe.

The baroness knew their feeling, and felt its piety, and yet couldnot bow her dignity to say, "Take five of these bits of gold, andlet us all look what we are--one." Yet in this, as in everythingelse, they supported each other. They resisted, they struggled, andwith a wrench they conquered day by day. At last, by generalconsent, Josephine locked up the tempter, and they looked at it nomore. But the little bit of paper met a kinder fate. Rose made alittle frame for it, and it was kept in a drawer, in the salon: andoften looked at and blessed. Just when they despaired of humanfriendship, this paper with the sacred word "friend" written on it,had fallen all in a moment on their aching hearts.They could not tell whence it came, this blessed word.

But men dispute whence comes the dew?Then let us go with the poets, who say it comes from heaven.

And even so that sweet word, friend, dropped like the dew fromheaven on these afflicted ones.So they locked the potent gold away from themselves, and took thekind slip of paper to their hearts.

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Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC#

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster