"As housekeeper, I should see everythethereum gas station networking that is under my care. That is the right way to look at the matter."
"Yes, indeebuy dogecoin stock robinhoodd, if you think I'm competent.""You are more so than I am. Somehow, little chickens don't thrive under a busy man's care. The mother hens mean well, but they are so confoundedly silly. I declare to you that last year I lost half the little chicks that were hatched out."
"Well, then," she replied, laughing, "I won't be afraid to try, for I think I can beat you in raising chickens. Now, show me how much you feed them at night and how much I'm to give them in the morning, and let me take the whole care of them for a month, get the eggs, and all. If they don't do so well, then I'll resign. I can't break you in a month.""It looks more as if you'd make me. You have a good big bump of order, and I haven't any at all in little things. Tom Watterly was right. If I had tried to live here alone, things would have got into an awful mess. I feel ashamed of myself that I didn't clear up the yard before, but my whole mind's been on the main crops.""As it should be. Don't you worry about the little things. They belong to me. Now show me about the chickens, or they'll go to roost while we're talking.""But I, as well as the chickens, shall want some supper.""I won't let either of you starve. You'll see."
"Well, you see this little measure? You fill it from this bin with this mixture of corn and wheat screenings. That's the allowance, morning and evening. Then you go out to the barnyard there, and call 'kip, kip, kip.' That's the way my wife used--" He stopped in a little embarrassment."I'd be glad if I could do everything as she did," said Alida gently. "It has grown clearer every day how hard her loss was to you. If you'll tell me what she did and how she did things--" and she hesitated."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 doubt 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.
Rose eyed him with merciless scorn.He fought manfully against this weakness, with which his wound andhis fatigue had something to do, as well as Rose's bitter words; andafter a gallant struggle he returned her her haughty stare, andaddressed her thus: "Mademoiselle, I feel myself blush, but it isfor you I blush, not for myself. This is what BECAME of me. I wentout alone to explore; I fell into an ambuscade; I shot one of theenemy, and pinked another, but my arm being broken by a bullet, andmy horse killed under me, the rascals got me. They took me about,tried to make a decoy of me as I have told you, and ended bythrowing me into a dungeon. They loaded me with chains, too, thoughthe walls were ten feet thick, and the door iron, and bolted anddouble-bolted outside. And there for months and years, in spite ofwounds, hunger, thirst, and all the tortures those cowards made mesuffer, I lived, because, Rose, I had promised some one at that gatethere (and he turned suddenly and pointed to it) that I would comeback alive. At last, one night, my jailer came to my cell drunk. Iseized him by the throat and throttled him till he was insensible;his keys unlocked my fetters, and locked him in the cell, and I gotsafely outside. But there a sentinel saw me, and fired at me. Hemissed me but ran after me, and caught me. You see I was stiff,confined so long. He gave me a thrust of his bayonet; I flung myheavy keys fiercely in his face; he staggered; I wrested his piecefrom him, and disabled him.""Ah!""I crossed the frontier in the night, and got to Bayonne; andthence, day and night, to Paris. There I met a reward for all myanguish. They gave me the epaulets of a colonel. See, here theyare. France does not give these to traitors, young lady." He heldthem out to her in both hands. She eyed them half stupidly; all herthoughts were on the oak-tree hard by. She began to shudder.Camille was telling the truth. She felt that; she saw it; andJosephine was hearing it. "Ay! look at them, you naughty girl,"said Camille, trying to be jocose over it all with his poortrembling lip. He went on to say that from the moment he had leftdark Spain, and entered fair France everybody was so kind, sosympathizing. "They felt for the poor worn soldier coming back tohis love. All but you, Rose. You told me I was a traitor to herand to France.""I was told so," said Rose, faintly. She was almost at her wits'end what to say or do.
"Well, are you sorry or not sorry for saying such a cruel thing to apoor fellow?""Sorry, very sorry," whispered Rose. She could not persist ininjustice, yet she did not want Josephine to hear."Then say no more about it; there's my hand. You are not a soldier,and did not know what you were talking about.""I am very sorry I spoke so harshly to you. But you understand.
How you look; how you pant.""There, I will show you I forgive you. These epaulets, dear, I havenever put them on. I said, no; Josephine shall put them on for me.I will take honor as well as happiness from her dear hand. But youare her sister, and what are epaulets compared with what she willgive me? You shall put them on, dear. Come, then you will be sureI bear no malice."Rose, faint at heart, consented in silence, and fastened on theepaulets. "Yes, Camille!" she cried, with sudden terror, "think ofglory, now; nothing but glory.""No one thinks of it more. But to-day how can I think of it, howcan I give her a rival? To-day I am all love. Rose, no man everloved a human creature as I love Josephine. Your mother is well,dear? All are well at Beaurepaire? Oh, where is she all this time?in the house?" He was moving quickly towards the house; but Roseinstinctively put out her hand to stop him. He recoiled a littleand winced."What is the matter?" cried she.
"Nothing, dear girl; you put your hand on my wound, that is all.What is that noise in the tree? Anybody listening to us?""I'll see," said Rose, with all a woman's wit, and whipped hastilyround to hinder Camille from going. She found Josephine white asdeath, apparently fainting, and clutching at the tree convulsivelywith her nails. Such was the intensity of the situation that sheleft her beloved sister in that piteous state, and even hoped shewould faint dead away, and so hear no more. She came back white,and told Camille it was only a bird got into the tree. "And tothink you should be wounded," said she, to divert his attention fromthe tree."Yes," said he, "and it is rather inflamed, and has worried me allthe way. You need not go telling Josephine, though. They wanted meto stop and lay up at Bayonne. How could I? And again at Paris.How could I? They said, 'You will die.'--'Not before I get toBeaurepaire,' said I. I could bear the motion of a horse no longer,so at the nearest town I asked for a carriage. Would you believeit? both his carriages were OUT AT A WEDDING. I could not wait tillthey came back. I had waited an eternity. I came on foot. Idragged my self along; the body was weak, but the heart was strong.
A little way from here my wound seemed inclined to open. I pressedit together tight with my hand; you see I could not afford to loseany more blood, and so struggled on. 'Die?' said I, 'not beforeBeaurepaire.' And, O Rose! now I could be content to die--at herfeet; for I am happy. Oh! I am happy beyond words to utter. What Ihave gone through! But I kept my word, and this is Beaurepaire.Hurrah!" and his pale cheek flushed, and his eye gleamed, and hewaved his hat feebly over his head, "hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!""Oh, don't!--don't!--don't!" cried Rose wild with pity and dismay.
"How can I help?--I am mad with joy--hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!""No! no! no! no! no!""What is the matter?""And must I stab you worse than all your enemies have stabbed you?"sighed Rose, and tears of womanly pity now streamed down her cheeks.Camille's mind began to misgive him. What was become of Josephine?
she did not appear. He faltered out, "Your mother is well; all arewell I hope. Oh, where is she?" and receiving no reply, began totremble visibly with the fear of some terrible calamity.Rose, with a sister fainting close by, and this poor lover tremblingbefore her, lost all self-command, and began to wring her hands andcry wildly. "Camille," she almost screamed, "there is but one thingfor you to do; leave Beaurepaire on the instant: fly from it; it isno place for you.""She is dead," said Camille, very quietly.When he said that, with an unnatural and monotonous calm such asprecedes deliberate suicide, it flashed in one moment across Rosethat it was much best he should think so.She did not reply; but she drooped her head and let him think it."She would have come to me ere this if she was alive," said he."You are all in white: they mourn in white for angels like her, thatgo to heaven, virgins. Oh! I was blind. You might have told me atonce; you see I can bear it. What does it matter to one who lovesas I love? It is only to give her one more proof I lived only forher. I would have died a hundred times but for my promise to her.
Yes, I am coming, love; I am coming."He fell on his knees and smiled, and whispered, "I am coming,Josephine, I am coming."A sob and a moan as of a creature dying in anguish answered him.Rose screamed with terror when she heard it.
Camille rose to his feet, awestruck. "That was her voice, behindthis tree," he whispered."No, no," cried Rose; "it was me."But at that moment a rustle and a rush was heard of some one dartingout of the tree.
Camille darted furiously round it in the same direction. Rose triedto stop him, but was too late. The next moment Raynal's wife was inhis arms.Chapter 10
Josephine wrestled long and terribly with nature in that old oak-tree. But who can so struggle forever? Anguish, remorse, horror,despair, and love wrenched her to and fro; and O mysterious humanheart! gleams of a mad fitful joy shot through her, coming quick aslightning, going as quickly, and leaving the despair darker. Andthen the fierce struggle of the soul to make itself heard! Morethan once she had to close her mouth with her hand: more than onceshe seized her throat not to cry out. But as the struggle endured,she got weaker and weaker, and nature mightier and mightier. Andwhen the wounded hero fell on his knees so close to her; when he whohad resisted death so bravely for her, prepared to give up lifecalmly for her, her bosom rose beyond all control: it seemed to fillto choking, then to split wide open and give the struggling soulpassage in one gasping sob and heart-stricken cry. Could she havepent this in she must have died.It betrayed her. She felt it had: so then came the woman'sinstinct--flight: the coward's impulse--flight: the chaste wife'sinspiration--flight. She rushed from her hiding-place and madewildly for the house.But, unluckily, Camille was at that moment darting round the tree:she ran right into the danger she meant to flee. He caught her inhis arms. He held her irresistibly. "I have got her; I have gother," he shouted in wild triumph. "No! I will not let you go. Nonebut God shall ever take you from me, and he has spared you to me.
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.