Two soldiers came to the gate. They walked feecardano ada in the newsbly, for one waslame, and leaned upon the other, who was pale and weak, and leanedupon a stick.
Now if the mayor had not snubbed Picard just before, he would haveuttered those jocose but true words aloud. There was no particularreason why he should not. And if he had,--The threads of the web oflife, how subtle they are! The finest cotton of Manchester, thefiner meshes of the spider, seem three-inch cables by comparisonwith those moral gossamers which vulgar eyes cannot see at all, the"somethings, nothings," on which great fates have hung.bit buy dogecoin canadaIt was a cheerful breakfast, thanks to Raynal, who would be in highspirits, and would not allow a word of regret from any one. MadameRaynal sat by his side, looking up at him every now and then withinnocent admiration. A merry wedding breakfast.
But if men and women could see through the walls of houses!Two doors off sat the wounded colonel alone, recruiting the smallremnant of his sore tried strength, that he might struggle on toBeaurepaire, and lose in one moment years of separation, pain,prison, anguish, martyrdom, in one great gush of joy withoutcompare.The wedding breakfast was ended. The time was drawing near to part.There was a silence. It was broken by Madame Raynal. She askedRaynal very timidly if he had reflected. "On what?" said he."About taking me to Egypt.""No: I have not given it a thought since I said 'no.'""Yet permit me to say that it is my duty to be by your side, myhusband." And she colored at this word, being the first time shehad ever used it. Raynal was silent. She murmured on, "I would notbe an encumbrance to you, sir: I should not be useless. Gentlemen,I could add more to his comfort than he gives me credit for."Warm assent of the mayor and notary to this hint.
"I give you credit for being an angel," said Raynal warmly.He hesitated. Rose was trembling, her fork shaking in her poorlittle hand."Oh! there's no time for that," said Raynal. And as the baronesslooked horrified and amazed, Picard explained: "The state marriesits citizens now, with reason: since marriage is a civil contract.""Marriage a civil contract!" repeated the baroness. "What, is itthen no longer one of the holy sacraments? What horrible impietyshall we come to next? Unhappy France! Such a contract would neverbe a marriage in my eyes: and what would become of an union theChurch had not blessed?""Madame," said Picard, "the Church can bless it still; but it isonly the mayor here that can DO it."All this time Josephine was blushing scarlet, and looking this wayand that, with a sort of instinctive desire to fly and hide, nomatter where, for a week or so.
"Haw! haw! haw!" roared Raynal; "here is a pretty mother. Wants herdaughter to be unlawfully married in a church, instead of lawfullyin a house. Give me the will!""Look here, mother-in-law: I have left Beaurepaire to my lawfulwife.""Otherwise," put in Picard, "in case of death, it would pass to hisheir-at-law.""And HE would turn you all out, and that does not suit me. Nowthere stands the only man who can make mademoiselle my LAWFUL wife.So quick march, monsieur the mayor, for time and Bonaparte wait forno man.""Stay a minute, young people," said the mayor. "We should sootherespectable prejudices, not crush them. Madam, I am at least as oldas you, and have seen many changes. I perfectly understand yourfeelings.""Ah, monsieur! oh!""Calm yourself, dear madam; the case is not so bad as you think. Itis perfectly true that in republican France the civil magistratealone can bind French citizens in lawful wedlock. But this does notannihilate the religious ceremony. You can ask the Church'sblessing on my work; and be assured you are not the only one whoretains that natural prejudice. Out of every ten couples that Imarry, four or five go to church afterwards and perform the ancientceremonies. And they do well. For there before the altar thepriest tells them what it is not my business to dilate upon--thegrave moral and religious duties they have undertaken along withthis civil contract. The state binds, but the Church still blesses,and piously assents to that"--"From which she has no power to dissent.""Monsieur Picard, do you consider it polite to interrupt the chiefmagistrate of the place while he is explaining the law to acitizen?"(This closed Picard.)"I married a daughter last year," continued the worthy mayor."What, after this fashion?""I married her myself, as I will marry yours, if you will trust mewith her. And after I have made them one, there is nothing toprevent them adjourning to the church.""I beg your pardon," cried Raynal, "there are two things to preventit: a couple that wait for no man: Time and Bonaparte. Come, sir;marry us, and have done with it."The mayor assented. He invited Josephine to stand before him. Shetrembled and wept a little: Rose clung to her and wept, and the goodmayor married the parties off hand."Is that all?" asked the baroness; "it is terribly soon done.""It is done effectively, madam," said the mayor, with a smile.
"Permit me to tell you that his Holiness the Pope cannot undo mywork."Picard grinned slyly, and whispered something into Raynal's ear."Oh! indeed," said Raynal aloud and carelessly. "Come, MadameRaynal, to breakfast: follow us, the rest of you."They paired, and followed the bride and bridegroom into thebreakfast-room.
The light words Picard whispered were five in number.Now if the mayor had not snubbed Picard just before, he would haveuttered those jocose but true words aloud. There was no particularreason why he should not. And if he had,--The threads of the web oflife, how subtle they are! The finest cotton of Manchester, thefiner meshes of the spider, seem three-inch cables by comparisonwith those moral gossamers which vulgar eyes cannot see at all, the"somethings, nothings," on which great fates have hung.It was a cheerful breakfast, thanks to Raynal, who would be in highspirits, and would not allow a word of regret from any one. MadameRaynal sat by his side, looking up at him every now and then withinnocent admiration. A merry wedding breakfast.But if men and women could see through the walls of houses!
Two doors off sat the wounded colonel alone, recruiting the smallremnant of his sore tried strength, that he might struggle on toBeaurepaire, and lose in one moment years of separation, pain,prison, anguish, martyrdom, in one great gush of joy withoutcompare.The wedding breakfast was ended. The time was drawing near to part.There was a silence. It was broken by Madame Raynal. She askedRaynal very timidly if he had reflected. "On what?" said he."About taking me to Egypt.""No: I have not given it a thought since I said 'no.'""Yet permit me to say that it is my duty to be by your side, myhusband." And she colored at this word, being the first time shehad ever used it. Raynal was silent. She murmured on, "I would notbe an encumbrance to you, sir: I should not be useless. Gentlemen,I could add more to his comfort than he gives me credit for."Warm assent of the mayor and notary to this hint.
"I give you credit for being an angel," said Raynal warmly.He hesitated. Rose was trembling, her fork shaking in her poorlittle hand.
She cast a piteous glance at him. He saw it."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!
in 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.
But the young ladies went up to Beaurepaire in the other carriage,for Josephine wished to avoid the gaze of the town, and get home andbe quiet. The driver went very fast. He had drunk the bride'shealth at the mayor's, item the bridegroom's, the bridesmaid's, themayor's, etc., and "a spur in the head is worth two in the heel,"says the proverb. The sisters leaned back on the soft cushions, andenjoyed the smooth and rapid motion once so familiar to them, sorare of late.Then Rose took her sister gently to task for having offered to go toEgypt. She had forgotten her poor sister.
"No, love," replied Josephine, "did you not see I dared not looktowards you? I love you better than all the world; but this was myduty. I was his wife: I had no longer a feeble inclination and afeeble disinclination to decide between, but right on one side,wrong on the other.""Oh! I know where your ladyship's strength lies: my force is--in--myinclinations.""Yes, Rose," continued Josephine thoughtfully, "duty is a greatcomfort: it is so tangible; it is something to lay hold of for lifeor death; a strong tower for the weak but well disposed."Rose assented, and they were silent a minute; and when she spokeagain it was to own she loved a carriage. "How fast we glide! Nowlean back with me, and take my hand, and as we glide shut your eyesand think: whisper me all your feelings, every one of them.""Well, then," said Josephine, half closing her eyes, "in the firstplace I feel a great calm, a heavenly calm. My fate is decided. Nomore suspense. My duties are clear. I have a husband I am proudof. There is no perfidy with him, no deceit, no disingenuousness,no shade. He is a human sun. He will make me a better, truerwoman, and I him a happier man. Yes, is it not nice to think thatgreat and strong as he is I can teach him a happiness he knows notas yet?" And she smiled with the sense of her delicate power, butsaid no more; for she was not the one to talk much about herself.But Rose pressed her. "Yes, go on, dear," she said, "I seem to seeyour pretty little thoughts rising out of your heart like a bubblingfountain: go on."Thus encouraged, Josephine thought on aloud, "And then, gratitude!"said she. "I have heard it said, or read it somewhere, thatgratitude is a burden: I cannot understand that sentiment; why, tome gratitude is a delight, gratitude is a passion. It is thewarmest of all the tender feelings I have for dear Monsieur Raynal.
I feel it glow here, in my bosom. I think I shall love him as Iought long before he comes back.""BEFORE?""Yes," murmured Josephine, her eyes still half closed. "His virtueswill always be present to me. His little faults of manner will notbe in sight. Good Raynal! The image of those great qualities Irevere so, perhaps because I fail in them myself, will be before mymind; and ere he comes home I shall love him dearly. I'll tell youone reason why I wished to go home at once was--no--you must guess.""Guess?" said Rose, contemptuously. "As if I did not see it was toput on your gray silk."Josephine smiled assent, and said almost with fervor, "Good Raynal!I feel prouder of his honest name than of our noble one. And I amso calm, dear, thanks to you, so tranquil; so pleased that mymother's mind is at rest, so convinced all is for the best, socontented with my own lot; so hap--py."A gentle tear stole from beneath her long lashes. Rose looked ather wistfully: then laid her cheek to hers. They leaned back handin hand, placid and silent.The carriage glided fast. Beaurepaire was almost in sight.Suddenly Josephine's hand tightened on Rose's, and she sat up in thecarriage like a person awakened from a strange dream.
"What is it?" asked Rose."Some one in uniform.""Oh, is that all? Ah! you thought it was a message from Raynal.""Oh! no! on foot--walking very slowly. Coming this way, too.
Coming this way!" and she became singularly restless, and lookedround in the carriage. It was one of those old chariots with noside windows, but a peep hole at the back. This aperture, however,had a flap over it. Josephine undid the flap with nimble thoughagitated fingers; and saw--nothing. The road had taken a turn."Oh," said Rose, carelessly, "for that matter the roads are full ofsoldiers just now.""Ay, but not of officers on foot."Rose gave her such a look, and for the first time this many a dayspoke sternly to her, and asked her what on earth she had to do withuniforms or officers except one, the noblest in the world, herhusband.
A month ago that word was almost indifferent to Josephine, or rathershe uttered it with a sort of mild complacency. Now she started atit, and it struck chill upon her. She did not reply, however, andthe carriage rolled on."He seemed to be dragging himself along." This was the first wordJosephine had spoken for some time. "Oh, did he?" replied Rosecarelessly; "well, let him. Here we are, at home.""I am glad of it," said Josephine, "very glad."On reaching Beaurepaire she wanted to go up-stairs at once and puton her gray gown. But the day was so delightful that Rose beggedher to stroll in the Pleasaunce for half an hour and watch for theirmother's return. She consented in an absent way, and presentlybegan to walk very fast, unconscious of her companion. Rose laid ahand upon her playfully to moderate her, and found her skin burning.
"Why, what is the matter?" said she, anxiously."Nothing, nothing," was the sharp reply."There's a fretful tone; and how excited you look, and feel too.Well, I thought you were unnaturally calm after such an event.""I only saw his back," said Josephine. "Did not you see him?""See who? Oh, that tiresome officer. Why, how much more are we tohear about him? I don't believe there WAS one."At this moment a cocked hat came in sight, bobbing up and down abovethe palings that divided the park from the road. Josephine pointedto it without a word.
Rose got a little cross at being practically confuted, and saidcoldly, "Come, let us go in; the only cocked hat we can see is onthe way to Paris."Josephine assented eagerly. But she had not taken two steps towardsthe house ere she altered her mind, and said she felt faint, shewanted air; no, she should stay out a little longer. "Look, Rose,"said she, in a strangely excited way, "what a shame! They put allmanner of rubbish into this dear old tree: I will have it all turnedout." And she looked with feigned interest into the tree: but hereyes seemed turned inward.Rose gave a cry of surprise. "He is waving his hat to me! What onearth does that mean?""Perhaps he takes you for me," said Josephine.
"Who is it? What do you mean?""IT IS HE! I knew his figure at a glance." And she blushed andtrembled with joy; she darted behind the tree and peered round athim unseen: turning round a moment she found Rose at her back paleand stern. She looked at her, and said with terrible simplicity,"Ah, Rose, I forgot.""Are you mad, Josephine? Into the house this moment; if it IS he, Iwill receive him and send him about his business."But Josephine stood fascinated, and pale as ashes; for now thecocked hat stopped, and a pale face with eyes whose eager fire shoneeven at that distance, rose above the palings. Josephine crouchedbehind Rose, and gasped out, "Something terrible is coming,terrible! terrible!""Say something hateful," said Rose, trembling in her turn, but onlywith anger. "The heartless selfish traitor! He never notices youtill you are married to the noblest of mankind; and then he comeshere directly to ruin your peace. No; I have altered my mind. Heshall not see you, of course; but YOU shall hear HIM. I'll soonmake you know the wretch and loathe him as I do. There, now he hasturned the corner; hide in the oak while he is out of sight. Hide,quick, quick." Josephine obeyed mechanically; and presently,through that very aperture whence her sister had smiled on her lovershe hissed out, in a tone of which one would not have thought hercapable, "Be wise, be shrewd; find out who is the woman that hasseduced him from me, and has brought two wretches to this. I tellyou it is some wicked woman's doing. He loved me once.""Not so loud!--one word: you are a wife. Swear to me you will notlet him see you, come what may.""Oh! never! never!" cried Josephine with terror. "I would ratherdie. When you have heard what he has to say, then tell him I amdead. No, tell him I adore my husband, and went to Egypt this daywith him. Ah! would to God I had!""Sh! sh!""Sh!"Camille was at the little gate.Rose stood still, and nerved herself in silence. Josephine pantedin her hiding-place.
Rose's only thought now was to expose the traitor to her sister, andrestore her peace. She pretended not to see Camille till he wasnear her. He came eagerly towards her, his pale face flushing withgreat joy, and his eyes like diamonds."Josephine! It is not Josephine, after all," said he. "Why, thismust be Rose, little Rose, grown up to a fine lady, a beautifullady.""What do you come here for, sir?" asked Rose in a tone of icyindifference.