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in the hope of an audience at Ver- as she replaced the letter on the sailles ! But I detain you from the table. letter I was charged to deliver to “Only my wishes for his welfare. you. I have done so purposely, It might wound him if I added, my that I might convince myself that gratitude for the generous manner you welcome that release which your in which he has interpreted my too delicate sense of honour shrank heart, and acceded to its desire." too long from demanding."
“Mademoiselle, accept my conHere he took forth and placed gratulations. My condolences are a letter in Isaura's hand; and, for the poor girl left to my guardianas if to allow her to read it un- ship. Unhappily she loves this observed, retired to the window man; and there are reasons why I recess.
cannot withhold my consent to her Isaura glanced over the letter. It union with him, should he demand ran thus:
it, now that, in the letter remitted to “I feel that it was only to your you, he has accepted your dismissal. compassion that I owed your con- If I can keep him out of all the sent to my suit. Could I have, follies and all the evils into which doubted that before, your words he suffers his vanity to mislead his when we last met sufficed to con- reason, I will do so ;— would I vince me. In my selfish pain at the might say, only in compliance with moment, I committed a great wrong. your compassionate injunctions. I would have held you bound to a But henceforth the infatuation of promise from which you desired to my ward compels me to take some be free. Grant me pardon for that, interest in his career. Adieu, Madeand for all the faults by which I moiselle ! I have no fear for your have offended you. In cancelling happiness now.” our engagement, let me hope that Left alone, Isaura stood as one I may rejoice in your friendship, transfigured. All the bloom of her your remembrance of me, some youth seemed suddenly restored. gentle and kindly thought. My life Round her red lips the dimples may henceforth pass out of contact opened, countless mirrors of one with yours; but you will ever dwell happy smile. “I am free, I am in my heart, an image pure and free," she murmured—“joy, joy !" holy as the saints in whom you may and she passed from the room to well believe—they are of your own seek the Venosta, singing clear, kindred.”
singing loud, as a bird that escapes “May I convey to Gustave Ra- from the cage and warbles to the meau any verbal reply to his let- heaven it regains the blissful tale of ter?” asked De Mauléon, turning its release.
In proportion to the nearer roar news abhorred as falsehood. Listen of the besiegers' cannon, and the to the groups round the cafés. “The sharper gripe of famine within the Prussian funds have fallen three per walls, the Parisians seemed to in- cent at Berlin," says a threadbare crease their scorn for the skill of the ghost of the Bourse (he had been a enemy, and their faith in the sanc- clerk of Louvier's). “Ay," cries a tity of the capital. All false news National Guard, “read extracts from was believed as truth; all truthful “La Liberté.' The barbarians are in despair. Nancy is threatened, “Entre nous, my poor friend, I Belford freed. Bourbaki is invad- am much in the same condition," ing Baden. Our fleets are pointing said Savarin, with a ghastly attheir cannon upon Hamburg. Their tempt at his old pleasant laugh. country endangered, their retreat “See how I am shrunken ! My cut off, the sole hope of Bismarck wife would be unfaithful to the and his trembling legions is to find Savarin of her dreams if she aca refuge in Paris. The increasing cepted a kiss from the slender galfury of the bombardment is a proof lant you behold in me. But I of their despair.”
thought you were in the National " In that case," whispered Savarin Guard, and therefore had not to to De Brézé, “suppose we send a vanish into air." flag of truce to Versailles with a mes- “I was a National Guard, but I sage from Trochu that, on disgorging could not stand the hardships; and their conquests, ceding the left bank being above the age, I obtained my of the Rhine, and paying the ex- exemption. As to pay, I was then penses of the war, Paris, ever mag- too proud to claim my wage of 1 nanimous to the vanquished, will franc 25 centimes. I should not allow the Prussians to retire." be too proud now. Ah, blessed be
“The Prussians ! Retire !” cried heaven! here comes Lemercier ; he Edgar Ferrier, catching the last owes me a dinner-he shall pay it. word and glancing fiercely at Sa- Bon jour, my dear Frederic ! How varin. “What Prussian spy have handsome you look in your kepi. we among us? Not one of the Your uniform is brilliantly fresh barbarians shall escape. We have from the soil of powder. What a but to dismiss the traitors who have contrast to the tatterdemalions of usurped the Government, proclaim the Line!” the Commune and the rights of “I fear,” said Lemercier, ruefully, labour, and we give birth to a Her- "that my costume will not look so cules that even in its cradle can well a day or two hence. I have strangle the vipers."
just had news that will no doubt Edgar Ferrier was the sole mem- seem very glorious—in the newsber of his political party among the papers. But then newspapers are group which he thus addressed; but not subjected to cannon-balls." such was the terror which the Com- “What do you mean?" answered munists already began to inspire De Brézé. among the bourgeoisie that no one “I met, as I emerged from my volunteered a reply. Savarin linked apartment a few minutes ago, that his arm in De Brézé's, and prudent- fire-eater Victor de Mauléon, who ly drew him off.
always contrives to know what “I suspect," said the former, passes at headquarters. He told " that we shall soon have worse me that preparations are being made calamities to endure than the Prus- for a great sortie. Most probably . sian obus and the black loaf. The the announcement will appear in a Communists will have their day.” proclamation to - morrow, and our
“I shall be in my grave before troops march forth to-morrow night. then," said De Brézé, in hollow ac- The National Guard (fools and asses cents. “It is twenty-four hours since who have been yelling out for deI spent my last fifty sous on the pur- cisive action), are to have their wish, chase of a rat, and I burnt the legs and to be placed in the van of batof my bedstead for the fuel by tle,-amongst the foremost, the batwhich that quadruped was roasted." talion in which I am enrolled.
Should this be our last meeting on Frederic, pathetically. “And cerearth, say that Frederic Lemercier tainly, if I live, Fox will starve ; if has finished his part in life with I am slain, Fox will be eaten. Yet, éclat."
poor Fox, dear Fox, who lay on my “ Gallant friend,” said De Brézé, breast when I was frostbitten! No; feebly seizing him by the arm, “if I have not the heart to order him it be true that thy mortal career is to the spit for you. Urge it not.” menaced, die as thou hast lived. “I will save thee that pang," An honest man leaves no debt un- cried De Brézé. “We are close by paid. Thou owest me a dinner.” thy rooms. Excuse me for a mo
“ Alas! ask of me what is pos- ment: I will run in and instruct sible. I will give thee three, how thy bonne." ever, if I survive and regain my So saying he sprang forward rentes. But to-day I have not even with an elasticity of step which no a mouse to share with Fox."
one could have anticipated from his “Fox lives then ?” cried De previous languor. Frederic would Brézé, with sparkling hungry eyes. have followed, but Savarin, clung
“Yes. At present he is making to him, whimpering — “Stay ; I the experiment how long an animal shall fall like an empty sack, withcan live without food."
out the support of thine arm, young “Have mercy upon him, poor hero. Pooh ! of course De Brézé is beast! Terminate his pangs by a only joking-a pleasant joke. Hist! noble death. Let him save thy —a secret : he has moneys, and friends and thyself from starving. means to give us once more a dinFor myself alone I do not plead; I ner at his own cost, pretending that am but an amateur in polite litera- we dine on thy dog. He was planture. But Savarin, the illustrious ning this when thou camest up. Savarin — in criticism the French Let him have his joke, and we shall Longinus—in poetry the Parisian have a festin de Balthazar.” Horace-in social life the genius of “Hein !” said Frederic, doubtgaiety in pantaloons,-contemplate fully; “thou art sure he has no his attenuated frame! Shall he designs upon Fox?" perish for want of food while thou “Certainly not, except in regalhast such superfluity in thy larder ? ing us. Donkey is not bad, but it I appeal to thy heart, thy conscience, is 14 francs a lb. A pullet is exthy patriotism. What in the eyes cellent, but it is 30 francs. Trust of France are a thousand Foxes to De Brézé; we shall have donkey compared to a single Savarin ? " and pullet, and Fox shall feast upon
“At this moment,” sighed Sa- the remains.” varin, “I could swallow anything, Before Frederic could reply, the however nauseous, even thy flattery, two men were jostled and swept De Brézé. But, my friend Frederic, on by a sudden rush of a noisy thou goest into battle—what will crowd in their rear. They could become of Fox if thou fall? Will but distinguish the words—Glorihe not be devoured by strangers. ous news — victory - FaidherbeSurely it were a sweeter thought to Chanzy. But these words were his faithful heart to furnish a repast sufficient to induce them to join to thy friends ? — his virtues ac- willingly in the rush. They knowledged, his memory blest!” forgot their hunger; they forgot
“Thou dost look very lean, my Fox. As they were hurried on, poor Savarin ! And how hospitable they learned that there was a rethou wert when yet plump!” said port of a complete defeat of the Prussians by Faidherbe near mercier looked after them as they Amiens,—of a still more decided passed by. “ Sur mon âme," mutone on the Loire by Chanzy. tered Frederic to himself, “surely These generals, with armies flushed that is la belle Julie, and she has with triumph, were pressing on got back her truant poet at last !" towards Paris to accelerate the While Lemercier thus solilodestruction of the hated Germans. quised, Gustave, still looking down, How the report arose no one exact was led across the street by his ly knew. All believed it, and were fair companion, and into the midst making their way to the Hotel of the little group with whom de Ville to hear it formally con- Savarin had paused to speak. firmed.
Accidentally brushing against SaAlas! before they got there they varin himself, he raised his eyes were met by another crowd return- with a start, about to mutter some ing, dejected but angry. . No such conventional apology, when Julie news had reached the Government. felt the arm on which she leant Chanzy and Faidherbe were no tremble nervously. Before him doubt fighting bravely, with every stood Isaura, the Countess de Vanprobability of success, but
demar by her side; her two other The Parisian imagination re- companions, Raoul and the Abbé quired no more. “ We should als Vertpré, a step or two behind. ways be defeating the enemy," Gustave uncovered, bowed low, said Savarin, “if there were not and stood mute and still for a moalways a but ;” and his audience, ment, paralysed by surprise and the who, had he so expressed himself chill of a painful shame. ten minutes before, would have Julie's watchful eyes, following torn him to pieces, now applauded his, fixed themselves on the same the epigram ; and with execrations face. On the instant she divined on Trochu, mingled with many a the truth. She beheld her to peal of painful sarcastic laughter, whom she had owed mouths of vociferated and dispersed.
jealous agony, and over whom, As the two friends sauntered poor child, she thought she had back toward the part of the Boule- achieved a triumph. But the girl's vards on which De Brézé had heart was so instinctively good that parted company with them, Sa- the sense of triumph was merged varin quitted Lemercier suddenly in a sense of compassion. Her and crossed the street to accost a rival had lost Gustave. To Julie small party of two ladies and two the loss of Gustave was the loss of men who were on their way to the all that makes life worth having. Madeleine. While he was exchang- On her part, Isaura was moved ing a few words with them, a young not only by the beauty of Julie's couple, arm in arm, passed by Le- countenance, but still more by mercier,—the man in the uniform the childlike ingenuousness of its of the National Guard-uniform expression. as unsullied as Frederic's, but So, for the first time in their with as little of a military air as lives, met the child and the stepcan well be conceived. His gait child of Louise Duval. Each so was slouching ; his head bent down- deserted, each so left alone and inwards. He did not seem to listen experienced amid the perils of the to his companion, who was talking world, with fates so different, typiwith quickness and vivacity, her fying orders of Womanhood so fair face radiant with smiles. Le- opposed. Isaura was naturally the first to break the silence that Do not deny it. I am so glad to weighed like a sensible load on all have seen her; it has done me so present.
much good. How it has deepened, She advanced towards Rameau, purified my love for thee! I have with sincere kindness in her look but one return to make; but that and tone.
is my whole life. Thou shalt “Accept my congratulations," never have cause to blame meshe said, with a grave smile. never-never !” “ Your mother informed me last Savarin looked very grave and evening of your nuptials. With thoughtful when he rejoined Leout doubt I see Madame Gustave mercier, Rameau;”—and she extended her “Can I believe my eyes ?" said hand towards Julie. The poor On- Frederic. “Surely that was Julie dine shrank back for a moment, Caumartin leaning on Gustave Rablushing up to her temples. It meau's arm! And had he the aswas the first hand which a woman surance, so accompanied, to salute of spotless character had extended Madame de Vandemar, and Madeto her since she had lost the pro- moiselle Cicogna, to whom I untection of Madame Surville. She derstood he was affianced ? Nay, touched it timidly, humbly, then did I not see Mademoiselle shake drew her bridegroom on; and with hands with the Ondine ? or am I head more downcast than Gustave, under one of the illusions which passed through the group without famine is said to engender in the a word.
brain ?" She did not speak to Gustave “I have not strength now to till they were out of sight and answer all these interrogatives. I hearing of those they had left. have a story to tell ; but I keep it Then, pressing his arm passionately, for dinner. Let us hasten to thy she said, “ And that is the demoi- apartment. De Brézé is doubtless selle thou hast resigned for me! there waiting us." .
Unprescient of the perils that Brézé, “how light the poor beast awaited him, absorbed in the sense has become !" Here he pinched of existing discomfort, cold, and the sides and thighs of the victim. hunger, Fox lifted his mournful “Still," he said, “there is some visage from his master's dressing- flesh yet on these bones. You gown, in which he had encoiled his may grill the paws, fricasser the shivering frame, on the entrance of shoulders, and roast the rest. The De Brézé and the concierge of the rognons and the head accept for house in which Lemercier had his yourself as a perquisite." Here he apartment. Recognising the Vi- transferred Fox to the arms of the comte as one of his master's ac- concierge, adding, " Vite au besogne, quaintances, he checked the first mon ami.” impulse that prompted him to essay “Yes, Monsieur. I must be a feeble bark, and permitted him- quick about it while my wife is self, with a petulant whine, to be ex- absent. She has a faiblesse for the tracted from his covering, and held brute. He must be on the spit bein the arms of the murderous visitor. fore she returns." .“ Dieu des dieux !" ejaculated De “Be it so; and on the table in