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perceived on the table of the little indeed, one of those men in whom salon the remains of a feast which, excess of drink, when slept off, is however untempting it might have succeeded by extreme mildness, been in happier times, contrasted the effect of nervous exhaustion, strongly the meagre fare of which and by a dejected repentance, Gustave's parents had deemed which, to his mother, seemed a themselves fortunate to partake at propitious lucidity of the moral the board of his betrothed ;-rem- sense. nants of those viands which offered Certainly on seeing her he threw to the inquisitive epicure an ex- himself on her breast, and began periment in food much too costly to shed tears. Madame Rameau for the popular stomach—dainty had not the heart to reproach him morsels of elephant, hippopota- sternly. But by gentle degrees mus, and wolf, interspersed with she made him comprehend the pain half-emptied bottles of varied and he had given to his father, and the high-priced wines. Passing these destitution in which he had deevidences of unseasonable extrava- serted his parents and his affianced. gance with a mute sentiment of In his present mood Gustave was anger and disgust, Madame Rameau deeply affected by these representapenetrated into a small cabinet, tions. He excused himseĪf feebly the door of which was also ajar, by dwelling on the excitement and saw her son stretched on his of the times, the preoccupation bed half dressed, breathing heavily of his mind, the example of his in the sleep which follows intoxi- companions; but with his excuses cation. She did not attempt to he mingled passionate expressions disturb him. She placed herself of remorse, and before daybreak quietly by his side, gazing mourn- mother and son were completely fully on the face which she had reconciled. Then he fell into a once so proudly contemplated, now tranquil sleep; and Madame Rahaggard and faded,-still strangely meau, quite worn out, slept also beautiful, though it was the beauty in the chair beside him, her arm of ruin.
around his neck. He awoke beFrom time to time he stirred un- fore she did at a late hour in easily, and muttered broken words, the morning; and stealing from in which fragments of his own her arm, went to his escritoire, and delicately worded verse were in- took forth what money he found coherently mixed up with ribald there, half of which he poured slang, addressed to imaginary com- into her lap, kissing her till she panions. In his dreams he was awoke. evidently living over again his late “Mother,” he said, “ henceforth revel, with episodical diversions I will work for thee and my father. into the poet-world, of which he Take this trifle now; the rest I rewas rather a vagrant nomad than serve for Isaura.” a settled cultivator. Then she “Joy! I have found my boy would silently bathe his feverish again. But Isaura, I fear that she temples with the perfumed water will not take thy money, and all she found on his dressing-table. thought of her must also be abanAnd so she watched till, in the doned.” middle of the night, he woke up, Gustave had already turned to and recovered the possession of his his looking-glass, and was arrangreason with a quickness that sur- ing with care his dark ringlets : prised Madame Rameau. He was, his personal vanity-his remorse
appeased by this pecuniary oblation she was followed by the servants, -had revived.
bringing in a daintier meal than “No," he said, gaily, “I they had known for days—a genudon't think I shall abandon her; ine rabbit, potatoes, marrons glacés, and it is not likely, when she sees a bottle of wine, and a pannier of and hears me, that she can wish to wood. The fire was soon lighted, abandon me! Now let us break- the Venosta plying the bellows. fast, and then I will go at once It was not till this banquet, of to her.”
which Isaura, faint as she was, In the meanwhile, Isaura, on her scarcely partook, had been remitreturn to her apartment at the ted to the two Italian womenwintry nightfall, found a cart sta- servants, and another log been tioned at the door, and the Venosta thrown on the hearth, that the on the threshold, superintending Venosta opened the subject which the removal of various articles of was pressing on her heart. She furniture-indeed, all such articles did this with a joyous smile, taking as were not absolutely required. both Isaura's hands in her own, and
"Oh, Piccola !” she said, with stroking them fondly. an attempt at cheerfulness, “I did “My child, I have such good not expect thee back so soon.” news for thee! Thou hast escaped “Hush! I have made a famous —thou art free !” and then she bargain. I have found a broker to related all that M. Rameau had buy these things which we don't said, and finished by producing want just at present, and can re- the copy of Gustave's unhallowed place by new and prettier things journal. when the siege is over and we get When she had read the latter, our money. The broker pays down which she did with compressed on the nail, and thou wilt not go to lips and varying colour, the girl hed without supper. There are no fell on her knees—not to thank ills which are not more supportable heaven that she would now escape after food.”
a union from which her soul so Isaura smiled faintly, kissed the recoiled—not that she was indeed Venosta's cheek, and ascended free,--but to pray, with tears rollwith weary steps to the sitting ing down her cheeks, that God room. There she seated herself would yet save to Himself, and quietly, looking with abstracted to good ends, the soul that she eyes round the bare dismantled had failed to bring to Him. All space by the light of the single previous irritation against Gustave candle.
was gone : all had melted into an When the Venosta re-entered, ineffable compassion.
on the moment ther, over datiem
When, a little before noon, Gus- intensely cold : the single log on tave was admitted by the servant the hearth did not burn; there into Isaura's salon, its desolate con- were only two or three chairs in dition, stripped of all its pretty the room; even the carpet, which feminine elegancies, struck him with had been of gaily coloured Aubusa sense of discomfort to himself son, was gone. His teeth chatwhich superseded any more re- tered; and he only replied by a morseful sentiment. The day was dreary nod to the servant, who informed him that Madame Venosta rather the treachery, of our generals, was gone out, and Mademoiselle has reduced you. I only heard of had not yet quitted her own room. it late last night from my mother.
If there be a thing which a true I hasten to claim my right to share Parisian of Rameau's stamp associ- with you the humble resources ates with love of woman, it is a cer- which I have saved by the inteltain sort of elegant surroundings,– lectual labours that have absorhed a pretty boudoir, a cheery hearth, all such moments as my military an easy fauteuil. In the absence of drudgeries left to the talents which, such attributes, “ fugit retro Venus.' even at such a moment, paralysing If the Englishman invented the minds less energetic, have sustained word comfort, it is the Parisian who me:”—and therewith he poured most thoroughly comprehends the several pieces of gold and silver on thing. And he resents the loss of the table beside her chair. it in any house where he has been “Gustave," then said Isaura, “I accustomed to look for it as a per- am well pleased that you thus prove sonal wrong to his feelings.
that I was not mistaken when I Left for some minutes alone, thought and said that, despite all Gustave occupied himself with appearances, all errors, your heart kindling the log, and muttering, was good. Oh, do but follow its * Par tous les diables, quel chien de true impulses, and " rhume je vais attraper !” He “ Its impulses lead me ever to turned as he heard the rustle of a thy feet," interrupted Gustave, robe and a light slow step. Isaura with a fervour which sounded stood before him. Her aspect somewhat theatrical and hollow. startled him. He had come pre- The girl smiled, not bitterly, not pared to expect grave displeasure mockingly ; but Gustave did not and a frigid reception. But the like the smile. expression of Isaura's face was “Poor Gustave,” she said, with more kindly, more gentle, more a melancholy pathos in her soft tender, than he had seen it since voice, “ do you not understand the day she had accepted his suit. that the time has come when such
Knowing from his mother what commonplace compliments ill suit his father had said to his prejudice, our altered positions to each other ? he thought within himself, “ After Nay, listen to me patiently; and all, the poor girl loves me better let not my words in this last interthan I thought. She is sensible view pain you to recall. If either and enlightened; she cannot pre- of us be to blame in the engagetend to dictate an opinion to a man ment hastily contracted, it is I. like me."
Gustave, when you, exaggerating He approached with a complacent in your imagination the nature of self-assured mien, and took her your sentiments for me, said with hand, which she yielded to him such earnestness that on my conquietly, leading her to one of the sent to our union depended your few remaining chairs, and seating health, your life, your career; that himself beside her.
if I withheld that consent you “Dear Isaura,” he said, talking were lost, and in despair would seek rapidly all the while he performed distraction from thought in all this ceremony, “I need not assure from which your friends, your you of my utter ignorance of the mother, the duties imposed upon state to which the imbecility of our Genius for the good of Man to the Government, and the cowardice, or ends of God, should withhold and save you—when you said all this, God, demolish His altars, treat His and I believed it, I felt as if worship as a crime. No; I would Heaven commanded me not to sooner die of a broken heart, that I desert the soul which appealed to might the sooner be one of those me in the crisis of its struggle and souls privileged to pray the Divine peril. Gustave, I repent; I was to Intercessor for merciful light on blame."
those beloved and left dark on “How to blame ?”
earth.” “I overrated my power over “ Isaura !” exclaimed Gustave, your heart: I overrated still more, his mobile temperament impressed, perhaps, my power over my own.” not by the words of Isaura, but
“Ah, your own! I understand by the passionate earnestness with now. You did not love me?” which they were uttered, and by
“I never said that I loved you the exquisite spiritual beauty which in the sense in which you use the her face took from the combined word. I told you that the love sweetness and fervour of its dewhich you have described in your vout expression,—“Isaura, I merit verse, and which," she added, fal- your censure, your sentence of conteringly, with heightened colour demnation ; but do not ask me to and with hands tightly clasped, “I give back your plighted troth. I have conceived possible in my have not the strength to do so. dreams, it was not mine to give. More than ever, more than when You declared you were satisfied first pledged to me, I need the aid, with such affection as I could be the companionship, of my guardian stow. Hush ! let me go on. You angel. You were that to me once; said that affection would increase, abandon me not now. In these would become love, in proportion terrible times of revolution, excitas I knew you more. It has not able natures catch madness from done so. Nay, it passed away, each other. A writer in the heat even before, in this time of trial of his passion says much that he and grief, I became aware how does not mean to be literally taken, different from the love you pro- which in cooler moments he repents fessed was the negiect which needs and retracts. Consider, too, the no excuse, for it did not pain me.” pressure of want, of hunger. It is
“You are cruel indeed, Made- the opinions that you so condemn moiselle.”
which alone at this moment supply “No, indeed, I am kind. I wish bread to the writer. But say you you to feel no pang at our parting will yet pardon me, yet give me Truly I had resolved, when the trial if I offend no more-if I withsiege terminated, and the time to draw my aid to any attacks on speak frankly of our engagement your views, your religion-if I came, to tell you that I shrank say, 'Thy God shall be my God, from the thought of a union and thy people shall be my between us ; and that it was for people.” the happiness of both that our “Alas !” said Isaura, softly, promises should be mutually can- “ ask thyself if those be words celled. The moment has come which I can believe again. Hush !” sooner than I thought. Even had she continued, checking his answer, I loved you, Gustave, as deeply as with a more kindling countenance -as well as the beings of Romance and more impassioned voice. “Are love, I would not dare to wed one they, after all, the words that man who calls upon mortals to deny should address to woman? Is it
how to nestly advocately formed
on the strength of Woman that beyond the grave. Give me up Man should rely? Is it to her now, and thou art responsible for that he should say, 'Dictate my me, for all I do, it may be against opinions on all that belongs to the all that thou deemest holy. Keep Mind of man; change the doctrines thy troth yet a while, and test me. that I have thoughtfully formed If I come to thee showing how I and honestly advocate ; teach me could have injured, and how for how to act on earth, clear all my thy dear sake I have spared, nay, doubts as to my hopes of heaven'? aided, all that thou dost believe No, Gustave; in this task man and reverence, then wilt thou dare never should repose on woman. to say, 'Go thy ways alone-I Thou art honest at this moment, forsake thee!!” my poor friend; but could I believe Isaura turned aside her face, but thee to-day, thou wouldst laugh to- she held out her hand-it was as morrow at what woman can be made cold as death. He knew that she to believe."
had so far yielded, and his vanity Stung to the quick by the truth exulted: he smiled in secret triof Isaura's accusation, Gustave ex- umph as he pressed his kiss on that claimed with vehemence — “All icy hand, and was gone. that thou sayest is false, and thou: “ This is duty - it must be knowest it. The influence of duty," said Isaura to herself. “But woman on man for good or for evil where is the buoyant delight that defies reasoning. It does mould belongs to a duty achieved ?his deeds on earth ; it does either where ? oh, where?” And then she make or mar all that future which stole, with drooping head and heavy lies between his life and his grave- step, into her own room, fell on her stone, and of whatsoever may lie knees, and prayed.
In vain persons, be they male or discarded him. But as he wanfemale, there is a complacent self- dered abstractedly in the biting satisfaction in any momentary air, his self-complacency was sucpersonal success, however little ceeded by mortification and disconthat success may conduce to—nay, tent. He felt that he had comhowever much it may militate mitted himself to promises which against-the objects to which their he was by no means prepared to vanity itself devotes its more per- keep. True, the promises were manent desires. A vain woman vague in words; but in substance may be very anxious to win A , they were perfectly clear — " to the magnificent, as a partner for spare, nay, to aid, all that Isaura life, and yet feel a certain triumph esteemed and reverenced.” How when a glance of her eye has made was this possible to him? How an evening's conquest of the pitiful could he suddenly change the B- , although by that achieve whole character of his writings ment she incurs the imminent how become the defender of marhazard of losing A- altogether. riage and property, of Church and So, when Gustave Rameau quitted religion ?-how proclaim himself so Isaura, his first feeling was that of utter an apostate? If he did, how triumph. His eloquence had sub- become a leader of the fresh revoludued her will : she had not finally tion? how escape being its victim ?