Yet both were shaken, though bitcoin cash chart yahoo financerooted by centuries to the soil; and byno vulgar earthquake.
"Well, I'll tell you my thought. We married in haste, we were almost strangers, and your mind was so distraterra ultra pet foodcted at the time that I couldn't blame you if you forgot what--what I said. I feared--well, you are carrying out our agreement so sensibly that I want to thank you. It's a relief to find that you're not opposed, even in your heart, that I should remember one that I knew as a little child and married when I was young.""I remember all you said and what I said," she replied, with the same direct, honest gaze. "Don't let such thoughts trouble you any more. You've been kinder and more considerate than I ever expected. You have only to tell me how she did--"
"No, Alida," he said quietly, obeying a subtle impulse. "I'd rather you would do everything your own way--as it's natural for you. There, we've talked so long that it's too late to feed the chickens tonight. You can begin in the morning.""Oh!" she cried, "and you have all your other work to do. I've hindered rather than helped you by coming out.""No," he replied decidedly, "you've helped me. I'll be in before very long."She returned to the house and busied herself in preparations for supper. She was very thoughtful, and at last concluded: "Yes, he is right. I understand. Although I may do WHAT his wife did, he don't wish me to do it AS she did. There could only be a partial and painful resemblance to his eyes. Both he and I would suffer in comparisons, and he be continually reminded of his loss. She was his wife in reality, and all relating to her is something sacred and past to him. The less I am like her, the better. He married me for the sake of his farm, and I can best satisfy him by carrying out his purpose in my own way. He's through with sentiment and has taken the kindest way he could to tell me that I've nothing to do with his past. He feared, yes, he FEARED, I should forget our businesslike agreement! I didn't know I had given him cause to fear; I certainly won't hereafter!" and the wife felt, with a trace of bitterness and shame, that she had been put on her guard; that her husband had wished to remind her that she must not forget his motive in marrying her, or expect anything not in consonance with that motive. Perhaps she had been too wifelike in her manner, and therefore he had feared. She was as sensitive to such a reproach as she would have been in her girlhood.For once her intuition was at fault, and she misjudged Holcroft in some respects. He did think he was through with sentiment; he could not have talked deliberately to Alida or to any other about his old life and love, and he truly felt that she had no part in that life. It had become a sad and sacred memory, yet he wished to feel that he had the right to dwell upon it as he chose. In his downright sincerity he wished her to know that he could not help dwelling on it; that for him some things were over, and that he was not to blame. He was profoundly grateful to her that she had so clearly accepted the facts of his past, and of their own present relations. He HAD feared, it is true, but she had not realized his fears, and he felt that it was her due that he should acknowledge her straightforward carrying out of the compact made under circumstances which might well excuse her from realizing everything fully.
Moreover, direct and matter of fact as he was, he had felt vaguely the inevitable difficulties of their relationship. The very word "wife" might suggest to her mind an affection which he believed it was not in his power to bestow. They had agreed to give an arbitrary and unusual meaning to their marriage, and, while thinking it could have no other meaning for him, his mind was haunted, and he feared that hers might be, by the natural significance of the rite. So far from meaning to hint that she had been too wifelike, he had meant to acknowledge her simple and natural fulfillment of his wishes in a position far more difficult to fill than even he imagined. That she succeeded so well was due to the fact that she entertained for him all the kind feelings possible except the one supreme regard which, under ordinary circumstances, would have accounted for the marriage. The reason that all promised to go so well in their relationship of mere mutual help was the truth that this basis of union had satisfied their mutual need. As the farmer had hoped, they had become excellent friends, supplementing each other's work in a way that promised prosperity.Without the least intention on the part of either, chance words had been spoken which would not be without effect. He had told her to do everything in her own way because the moment he thought of it he knew he liked her ways. They possessed a novelty and natural grace which interested him. There are both a natural and a conventional grace, and the true lady learns to blend the one with the other so as to make a charming manner essentially her own--a manner which makes a woman a lady the world over. Alida had little more than natural grace and refinement, unmodified by society. This the plain farmer could understand, and he was already awakening to an appreciation of it. It impressed him agreeably that Alida should be trim and neat while about her work, and that all her actions were entirely free from the coarse, slovenly manner, the limp carriage, and slatternly aspect of the whole tribe which had come and gone during the past year. They had all been so much alike in possessing disagreeable traits that he felt that Alida was the only peculiar one among them. He never thought of instituting comparisons between her and his former wife, yet he did so unconsciously. Mrs. Holcroft had been too much like himself, matter of fact, materialistic, kind, and good. Devoid of imagination, uneducated in mind, her thoughts had not ranged far from what she touched and saw. She touched them with something of their own heaviness, she saw them as objects--just what they were--and was incapable of obtaining from them much suggestion or enjoyment. She knew when the cherry and plum trees were in blossom just as she knew it was April. The beautiful sounds and changes in nature reminded her that it was time to do certain kinds of work, and with her, work was alpha and omega. As her mother had before her, she was inclined to be a house drudge rather than a housewife. Thrift, neatness, order, marked the limits of her endeavor, and she accomplished her tasks with the awkward, brisk directness learned in her mother's kitchen. Only mind, imagination, and refinement can embroider the homely details of life. Alida would learn to do all that she had done, but the woman with a finer nature would do it in a different way. Holcroft already knew he liked this way although he could not define it to himself. Tired as he was when he came home in the evening, his eyes would often kindle with pleasure at some action or remark that interested him from its novelty. In spite of his weariness and preoccupation, , in spite of a still greater obstacle--the inertia of a mind dulled by material life--he had begun to consider Alida's personality for its own sake. He liked to watch her, not to see what she did to his advantage, but how she did it. She was awakening an agreeable expectancy, and he sometimes smilingly said to himself, "What's next?"what a blessing; to be quit of rage, jealousy, despair, and life,all in a minute!
Yet that was a sordid death for a soldier to die, who had seen greatbattles. Could he not die more nobly than that? With this hesuddenly felt in his pocket; and there sure enough fate had placedhis pistols. He had put them into this coat; and he had not wornthis coat until to-day. He had armed himself unconsciously. "Ah!"said he; "it is to be; all these things are preordained." (Thisnotion of fate has strengthened many a fatal resolution.) Then hehad a cruel regret. To die without a word; a parting word. Then hethought to himself, it was best so; for perhaps he should have takenher with him."Sir! colonel!" uttered a solemn voice behind him.Absorbed and strung up to desperation as he was, this voice seemedunnaturally loud, and discordant with Camille's mood; a suddentrumpet from the world of small things.It was Picard, the notary.
"Can you tell me where Madame Raynal is?""No. At the chateau, I suppose.""She is not there; I inquired of the servant. She was out. Youhave not seen her, colonel?""Not I; I never see her.""Then perhaps I had better go back to the chateau and wait for her:stay, are you a friend of the family? Colonel, suppose I were totell you, and ask you to break it to Madame Raynal, or, betterstill, to the baroness, or Mademoiselle Rose.""Monsieur," said Camille coldly, "charge me with no messages, for Icannot deliver them. I AM GOING ANOTHER WAY.""In that case, I will go to the chateau once more; for what I haveto say must be heard."Picard returned to the chateau wondering at the colonel's strangemanner.
Camille, for his part, wondered that any one could be so mad as totalk to him about trifles; to him, a man standing on the brink ofeternity. Poor soul, it was he who was mad and unlucky. He shouldhave heard what Picard had to say. The very gentleness andsolemnity of manner ought to have excited his curiosity.He watched Picard's retiring form. When he was out of sight, thenhe turned round and resumed his thoughts as if Picard had been nomore than a fly that had buzzed and then gone."Yes, I should have taken her with me," he said. He sat gloomy anddogged like a dangerous maniac in his cell; never moved, scarcethought for more than half an hour; but his deadly purpose grew inhim. Suddenly he started. A lady was at the style, about a hundredyards distant. He trembled. It was Josephine.She came towards him slowly, her eyes bent on the ground in a deepreverie. She stopped about a stone's throw from him, and looked atthe river long and thoughtfully; then casting her eye around, shecaught sight of Camille. He watched her grimly. He saw her give alittle start, and half turn round; but if this was an impulse toretreat, it was instantly suppressed; for the next moment shepursued her way.
Camille stood gloomy and bitter, awaiting her in silence. Heplanted himself in the middle of the path, and said not a word.She looked him all over, and her color came and went."Out so far as this," she said kindly; "and without your cap."He put his hand to his head, and discovered that he was bareheaded."You will catch your death of cold. Come, let us go in and get yourcap."She made as if she would pass him. He planted himself right beforeher.
"No.""Camille!""Why do you shun me as if I was a viper?""I do not shun you. I but avoid conferences that can lead to nogood; it is my duty.""You are very wise; cold-hearted people can be wise.""Am I cold-hearted, Camille?""As marble."She looked him in the face; the water came into her eyes; afterawhile she whispered, sorrowfully, "Well, Camille, I am.""But with all your wisdom and all your coldness," he went on to say,"you have made a mistake; you have driven me to madness anddespair.""Heaven forbid!" said she."Your prayer comes too late; you have done it.""Camille, let me go to the oratory, and pray for you. You terrifyme.""It is no use. Heaven has no mercy for me. Take my advice; staywhere you are; don't hurry; for what remains of your life you gaveto pass with me, do you understand that?""Ah!" And she turned pale.
"Can you read my riddle?"She looked him in the face. "I can read your eyes, and I know youlove me. I think you mean to kill me. I have heard men kill thething they love.""Of course they do; sooner than another should have it, they killit--they kill it.""God has not made them patient like us women. Poor Camille!""Patience dies when hope dies. Come, Madame Raynal, say a prayer,for you are going to die.""God bless you, Camille!" said the poor girl, putting her handstogether in her last prayer. At this sweet touch of affection,Camille hung his head, and sobbed. Then suddenly lashing himselfinto fury, he cried,--"You are my betrothed! you talk of duty; but you forget your duty tome. Are you not my betrothed this four years? Answer me that.""Yes, Camille, I was.""Did I not suffer death a hundred times for you, to keep faith withyou, you cold-blooded traitress with an angel's face?""Ah, Camille! can you speak so bitterly to me? Have I denied yourright to kill me? You shall never dishonor me, but you shall killme, if it is your pleasure. I do not resist. Why, then, speak tome like that; must the last words I hear from your mouth be words ofanger, cruel Camille?""I was wrong. But it is so hard to kill her I love in cold blood.I want anger as well as despair to keep me to it. Come, turn yourhead away from me, and all our troubles shall end.""No, Camille, let me look at you. Then you will be the last thing Ishall see on earth."At this he hesitated a moment; then, with a fierce stamp at what hethought was weakness, he levelled a pistol at her.
She put up her hands with a piteous cry, "Oh! not my face, Camille!pray do not disfigure my face. Here--kill me here--in my bosom--myheart that loved you well, when it was no sin to love you.""I can't shoot you. I can't spill your blood. The river will endall, and not disfigure your beauty, that has driven me mad, and costyou, poor wretch, your life.""Thank you, dear Camille. The water does not frighten me as apistol does; it will not hurt me; it will only kill me.""No, it is but a plunge, and you will be at peace forever; and soshall I. Come, take my hand, Madame Raynal, Madame Raynal."She gave him her hand with a look of infinite love. She only said,"My poor mother!" That word did not fall to the ground. It flashedlike lightning at night across the demented lover, and lighted uphis egotism (suicide, like homicide, is generally a fit of maniacalegotism), even to his eyes blinded by fury."Wretch that I am," he shrieked. "Fly, Josephine, fly! escape thismoment, that my better angel whispers to me. Do you hear? begone,while it is time.""I will not leave you, Camille.""I say you shall. Go to your mother and Rose; go to those you love,and I can pity; go to the chapel and thank Heaven for your escape.""Yes, but not without you, Camille. I am afraid to leave you.""You have more to fear if you stay. Well, I can't wait any longer.Stay, then, and live; and learn from me how to love Jean Raynal."He levelled the pistol at himself.Josephine threw herself on him with a cry, and seized his arm. Withthe strength excitement lent her she got the better, and all butoverpowered him. But, as usual, the man's strength lasted longer,and with a sustained effort he threw her off; then, pale andpanting, raised the pistol to take his life. This time she movedneither hand nor foot; but she palsied his rash hand with a word."No; I LOVE YOU."
Chapter 13There lie the dead corpses of those words on paper; but my art ispowerless to tell you how they were uttered, those words, potent asa king's, for they saved a life.
They were a cry of terror and a cry of reproach and a cry of loveunfathomable.The weapon shook in his hand. He looked at her with growingastonishment and joy; she at him fixedly and anxiously, her handsclasped in supplication.
"As you used to love me?""More, far more. Give me the pistol. I love you, dearest. I loveyou."At these delicious words he lost all power of resistance, she saw;and her soft and supple hand stole in and closed upon his, andgently withdrew the weapon, and threw it into the water. "GoodCamille! now give me the other.""How do you know there is another?""I know you are not the man to kill a woman and spare yourself.Come.""Josephine, have pity on me, do not deceive me; pray do not takethis, my only friend, from me, unless you really love me.""I love you; I adore you," was her reply.
She leaned her head on his shoulder, but with her hand she soughthis, and even as she uttered those loving words she coaxed theweapon from his now unresisting grasp."There, it is gone; you are saved from death--saved from crime."And with that, the danger was over, she trembled for the first time,and fell to sobbing hysterically.He threw himself at her knees, and embraced them again and again,and begged her forgiveness in a transport of remorse and self-reproach.She looked down with tender pity on him, and heard his cries ofpenitence and shame.
"Rise, Camille, and go home with me," said she faintly."Yes, Josephine."They went slowly and in silence. Camille was too ashamed andpenitent to speak; too full of terror too at the abyss of crime fromwhich he had been saved. The ancients feigned that a virgin couldsubdue a lion; perhaps they meant that a pure gentle nature cansubdue a nature fierce but generous. Lion-like Camille walked byJosephine's side with his eyes bent on the ground, the picture ofhumility and penitence.
"This is the last walk you and I shall take together," saidJosephine solemnly."I know it," said he humbly. "I have forfeited all right to be byyour side.""My poor, lost love," sighed Josephine, "will you never understandme? You never stood higher in my esteem than at this moment. It isthe avowal you have forced from ME that parts us. The man to whom Ihave said 'I'--must not remain beneath my husband's roof. Does notyour sense of honor agree with mine?""It does," faltered he.
"To-morrow you must leave the chateau.""I will obey you.""What, you do not resist, you do not break my heart by complaints,by reproaches?""No, Josephine, all is changed. I thought you unfeeling: I thoughtyou were going to be HAPPY with him; that was what maddened me.""I pray daily YOU may be happy, no matter how. But you and I arenot alike, dear as we are to one another. Well, do not fear: Ishall never be happy--will that soothe you, Camille?""Yes, Josephine, all is changed; the words you have spoken havedriven the fiends out of my heart. I have nothing to do now but toobey, you to command: it is your right. Since you love me a littlestill, dispose of me. Bid me live: bid me die: bid me stay: bid mego. I shall never disobey the angel who loves me, my only friendupon the earth."A single deep sob from Josephine was all the answer.Then he could not help asking her why she had not trusted him?
"Why did you not say to me long ago, 'I love you, but I am a wife;my husband is an honest soldier, absent, and fighting for France: Iam the guardian of his honor and my own; be just, be generous, beself-denying; depart and love me only as angels love'? Perhaps thismight have helped me to show you that I too am a man of honor.""Perhaps I was wrong," sighed Josephine. "I think I should havetrusted more to you. But then, who would have thought you couldreally doubt my love? You were ill; I could not bear you to go tillyou were well, quite well. I saw no other way to keep you but this,to treat you with feigned coldness. You saw the coldness, but notwhat it cost me to maintain it. Yes, I was unjust; and inconsiderate,for I had many furtive joys to sustain me: I had you in my houseunder my care--that thought was always sweet--I had a hand ineverything that was for your good, for your comfort. I helpedJacintha make your soup and your chocolate every day. I had thedelight of lining the dressing-gown you were to wear. I had alwayssome little thing or other to do for you. These kept me up: I forgotin my selfishness that you had none of these supports, and that Iwas driving you to despair. I am a foolish, disingenuous woman:I have been very culpable. Forgive me!""Forgive you, angel of purity and goodness? I alone am to blame.What right had I to doubt your heart? I knew the whole story ofyour marriage; I saw your sweet pale face; but I was not pure enoughto comprehend angelic virtue and unselfishness. Well, I am broughtto my senses. There is but one thing for me to do--you bade meleave you to-morrow.""I was very cruel.""No! not cruel, wise. But I will be wiser. I shall go to-night.""To-night, Camille?" said Josephine, turning pale."Ay! for to-night I am strong; to-morrow I may be weak. To-nighteverything thrusts me on the right path. To-morrow everything willdraw me from it. Do not cry, beloved one; you and I have a hardfight. We must be true allies; whenever one is weak, then is thetime for the other to be strong. I have been weaker than you, to myshame be it said; but this is my hour of strength. A light fromheaven shows me my path. I am full of passion, but like you I havehonor. You are Raynal's wife, and--Raynal saved my life.""Ah! is it possible? When? where? may Heaven bless him for it!""Ask HIM; and say I told you of it--I have not strength to tell ityou, but I will go to-night."Then Josephine, who had resisted till all her strength was gone,whispered with a blush that it was too late to get a conveyance.
"I need none to carry my sword, my epaulets, and my love for you. Ishall go on foot."Josephine said nothing, but she began to walk slower and slower.And so the unfortunate pair came along creeping slowly with droopingheads towards the gate of the Pleasaunce. There their last walk inthis world must end. Many a man and woman have gone to the scaffoldwith hearts less heavy and more hopeful than theirs.
"Dry your eyes, Josephine," said Camille with a deep sigh. "Theyare all out on the Pleasaunce.""No, I will not dry my eyes," cried Josephine, almost violently. "Icare for nothing now."The baroness, the doctor, and Rose, were all in the Pleasaunce: andas the pair came in, lo! every eye was bent on Josephine.She felt this, and her eyes sought the ground: benumbed as she waswith despondency, she began now to dread some fresh stroke or other.
Camille felt doubly guilty and confused. How they all look at us,he thought. Do they know what a villain I have been? He determinedto slip away, and pack up, and begone. However, nobody took anynotice of him. The baroness drew Josephine apart. And Rosefollowed her mother and sister with eyes bent on the ground.There was a strange solemnity about them all.