Графични страници
PDF файл


during the inclement winter of 1816, he ble and ingenions pretext, which suffi. heard the grumbling tones of the poor ciently indicated to the stranger that she girl's mother, intermixed with the sobs did not desire that he should again see of her daughter, busily employed as she her only through the windows. was in embroidering some roses on a She bowed to her lofty and silent prosplendid muslin dress. He slackened tector in a manner that seemed to say, his pace, and, at the risk of being taken “I can only repay you with my heart." for a robber, crept close to the window, He affected not to understand this and closely scrutinised both mother and mute acknowledgment of a true and daughter through the crevices of the heart-felt gratitude. On his return in shutters. A sealed strip of parchment the evening, Caroline was employed in was upon the table between them, which re-pasting a sheet of paper on the broken he guessed to be a summons; and the sash. She smiled upon him with the lamentations of the mother, and the me- smile of an angel, and in so doing showed, lancholy, yet caressing consolations of as a promise and a pledge, the white Caroline, confirmed him in his thoughts. enamel of her snowy and lustrous teeth.

“Why do you sex yourself so, my dear mother? Our landlord cannot possibly sell our furniture, or attempt to In newly built houses in Paris, there turn us out of doors before I have are apartments which seem expressly de. finished this dress. In two days I shall signed for recently married people to carry it home to Madame Chignard." spend their honey-moon. The paintings

“ And if, as usual, she makes you wait and papering are as fresh as the enafor payment? But, in any case, will it moured couple, and the decorations and pay the baker too?"

their love are in their first blossom. All The stranger who witnessed the scene, is in harmony with young desire, and the was accustomed to read the emotions of purple light of love. the heart upon the features, and he dis- In one of these mansions of the Rue tinguished as much ill-nature and rancour du Helder was a suite of rooms which in the old woman, as truth in the quiet had been occupied for about a month by sorrow of the girl. He disappeared a young female. She had found every. silently and swiftly, and returned before thing furnished and arranged for her by half an hour bad elapsed.

one of those modern upholsterers whose When he again looked through the genius, taste, and tact entitle them to the crevice, Caroline was alone, her mother appellation of artists. having retired. The indefatigable girl A succinct description of one chamber was leaning over her work, and her will suffice to afford an idea of the won. slender fingers were moving to and fro ders of elegance and refinement which with inconceivable rapidity. On the this charming and mysterious spot pretable, by the side of the summons, was sented to its new mistress on her installa. a plate with a slice of bread for her tion there. The walls were decorated with nourishment during the night, which she hangings of dove-coloured satin, relieved was to employ in her task.

by figures of green silk. The furniture The stranger was agitated with tender. was covered with sky-blue cassimere, and ness and sadness. He held in his hand was fashioned in the lightest and most a silk purse, which contained twenty graceful forms which the latest caprice of golden Napoleons. He drew aside the the mode had devised. A wardrobe of shutter, and flung it through the paper rosewood, exquisitively polished, conpane of the window, so that it should tained the treasures of her dress; and a fall at the girl's feet; and without writing table, of a similar material, was stopping to notice her surprise, he fled furnished with every accessory for tender away with beating heart, and with crim- correspondence. The bed, with its drasoned cheeks.

pery disposed after the antique fashion, The next morning, the sad and taciturn inspired an idea of voluptuous ease, by stranger passed on his usual way, affect- the graceful and seducing folds of its ing an abstracted and pre-occupied de- skilfully arranged muslins. Curtains of meanour; but he could not escape the grey silk, with green fringes, hung down recompense which awaited him. Tears across the windows, to intercept the were rolling down Caroline's cheeks, as glare of light, and admit only a softened she pretended to be employed in removing shade into the room. The clock on the the snow from the window-sill ; a palpa- marble mantiepiece represented Love crowning Psyche, and a thick earpet, me to dine with him ; but you, my dar. with Gothic figures upon a crimson ling, can go to the opera with your ground, brought into bolder relief all the mother, and if the conference does not accessories of this chamber of delight. delay me, I will join you there and escort Opposite a glorious marble statue of you home.” Psyche was a dressing table, at which “Go to the opera without you I'l she was seated a young lady, who was im- ejaculated with astonishment. “Partake patient at the slow progress of her of a pleasure in which you don't share ! coiffeur.

Oh, Eugene, you do not deserve this “Do you really intend to finish dress. kiss!" added she, clinging to his neck ing my hair to-day ?" inquired she. with an artless and tender emotion.

"I should have done so long ago, “ You must not detain me, silly one. madame, only your hair is so long and I am compelled to go!" so thick !"' replied the celebrated Plaisir.

46 Cruel !" The lovely girl could not help smiling. “ Caroline! I must dress to attend the The flattering excuse of the artist, no minister. It is some distance from here doubt, awakened in her heart the recol- to the department, and the businesslection of her beloved's admiration of the “ Take care what you say,” interrupbeautiful tresses which he idolised. ted Caroline ; “my mother has told me

The door of the room was opened, and that when gentlemen begin to talk about a gentleman hurried in, seized the lovely business, they have already commenced to creature in his arms, and clasped her to tire of us. But never mind, my good his heart, with that effusion of tenderness Eugene, I will spend the evening in which always accompanies the meeting working, and while I amuse myself with of two persons who love each other pas- my embroidery, I will dream over again sionately, and see each other but seldom. those former days, when you passed by He led her, or rather they walked by one my window without speaking, but not impulse, although entwined in each other's without glancing at me. Those happy arms, toward that bridal and balmy apart- days, when the thought of your kind ment. An ottoman before the fire re- looks kept me sleepless all night. You ceived the fond pair, and they gazed upon do not know,'' she added, seating herself each other in silence, while the warm on the knees of the stranger, who, overpressure of their hands expressed the come by irresistible emotion, had sank rapture of their meeting ; and the fervid into a chair. “ Listen to me-what I feelings of their hearts were communi- earn by my embroidery I will give to the cated by the speechless intensity of their poor, for you have made me so rich 1 mutual gaze.

Oh, how I love that beautiful little estate “ Yes,” she said, “it is him! It is of Bellefeuille ! not so much on its own my Eugene! Do you know, sir, that it account, as that it is your present ! is two days since I saw you ; two entire Listen,” she said again—"I can sing days ? Two centuries rather! But what my sonata like an angel." And while is the matter? Something has vexedyou.” her fingers ran over the ivory keys, she "My poor Caroline."

felt herself caught by her waist, and Oh! is that all? your poor Caroline." clasped to her loved one's breast.

“Do not smile, for you cannot go to “Caroline, I ought to be far away by the opera this evening."

this time !" Caroline pouted her rosy lip for an “ You wish to be away; very well, instant, but she quickly recovered her gol for what you wish is my wish too." serenity. Her face became radiant, and She said this poutingly; but as she she said,

looked at the clock, she smiled and “How very silly I am! How could I cried—“At all events, I have detained think of any other spectacle when I have you a quarter of an hour longer !" you to gaze upon ? What dearer pleasure can I enjoy than to look upon him I love?" And she amused herself with Five years after the installation of passing her taper and caressing fingers Mademoiselle Caroline de Bellefeuille in through the dark and perfumed locks of the pretty mansion of the Rue du Helder, her Eugene.

there took place another of those domes“I am obliged to attend the head of tic scenes which tighten so closely the our department about an affair of moment. bonds of affection which unite those who He met me at the palace, and engaged love.


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

In the centre of a saloon richly fur- gene hastened into the saloon, and when nished with blue hangings, and which the first burst of his Caroline's and the opened on a balcony, a boy, about four little fellow's caresses had subsided, he years and a-half old, was shouting and went to the cradle, contemplated the lashing his rocking-horse, which did not slumber of his daughter, and kissed her go fast enough to the taste of the young smooth brow. Then drawing from his cavalier. His beautiful face, whose blond pocket a long slip of paper, covered with ringlets fell in a thousand curls upon his lines of figures embroidered collar, smiled with an angel's “ Caroline, here is a portion for that look upon his mother, when from her little beauty.”' arm-chair she whispered to him—“Not Madame de Bellefeuille took the acso loud, Charles ! or you will wake your knowledgment of her daughter's fortune, little sister!"

which was an inscription in the publie Caroline was at this time about twenty- funds in her name. four years old. A happiness unclouded, Caroline was fair and fresh as a newlyand an uninterrupted scene of pleasures, opened lily ; her tresses falling around had developed all her beauty, and she her neck in thousands of chestnut curls, was in the full perfection of female love. surrounded her head as if with a dark liness. The slightest wish of her Eugene mass of foliage, and the attempered softhad been a law to her, and she had suc- ness of the light from the lamp, brought ceeded in acquiring all the accomplish- out all her graces in strong relief, multiments in which she was deficient. She plying upon her, around her, and throwing played and sang divinely. Unacquainted on hervestments and those of her infant's, with the usages of a society which she those picturesque effects produced by had always shunned, mindful of the the combinations of light and shade. axiom which says—"a happy woman The mother's calm and tranquil visage will not mix with the world”'--she had seemed infinitely gentler than ever to not acquired that empty polish, nor Eugene, who gazed with tenderness upon caught that tone of fashionable talk, so those soft and vermillion lips, on which full of words and destitute of thoughts the accents of discontent had never mur. and feeling, so much prized in good mured. The same thought shone in society.

Caroline's eyes, who furtively scrutinised During these six years of happiness Eugene's features, either to enjoy the and transport, her moderate wishes had effect which she produced upon him, or never, by any misplaced ambition, wearied to guess at the future which would the heart of Eugene, that real treasure succeed these evenings of love. of kindness. She had never sighed for a Her companion discerned the innocent costly diamond, or an extravagant dress. coquetry of that sly and exquisite glance, She had declined the twenty times re- for he observed, with counterfeit sadpeated offer of a carriage—and to wait nessupon the balcony for Eugene's arrival, “I must go now, I have an important to go with him to the opera, or to ram- matter to decide upon, and I am waited ble about the environs of Paris in lovely for even now. Duty before everything weather-to look for him when absent, else, my dearest." to bask in the sunshine of his presence, Caroline looked at him with an air and to begin again to look for his return both of sorrow and sweetness, but with when he departed these were the eras that resignation which shows that the of her whole life, which, though destitute amount of the sacrifice is felt while it is of events, was full of love.

submitted to. Caroline, on this occasion, arranged “ Adieu !" she said

go now, go at he fair damask linen which was to serve once—for if you stay an hour longer, I for the repast at which Eugene was ex- shall never be able to part with you." pected; she saw that the dessert was in “My angel,” he smilingly replied, “I order, and when, with overflowing heart, have three days' leave of absence, and she had seen that nothing was wanting at this moment I am supposed to be that might conduce to his comfort, she twenty leagues from Paris." placed her infant in its cradle, and The scene of domestic happiness was stepped out upon the balcony to look for complete. Eugene's arrival.

She did not wait long before she dis. cerued the well-known cabriolet. Eu. In the first week of December, 1829,


a gentleman, whose snowy locks an- through yon tattered curtain is that of nounced that he was more oppressed by a male or female, or whether the inhabi. sorrows than by years, for he scarcely tant of that garret is contented or miserseemed more than fifty, was passing at able ! If I was surprised to perceive that midnight along the Rue de Gaillon. no one was at work this evening, and if

He stopped before a house of very I stopped to look, it was only to please humble appearance, and gazed fixedly at myself in forming those hundred trifling one of the garret windows, the paper conjectures which make the business of panes of which were scarcely transparent an idle and unoccupied fancy. For the by the feeble glimmer of light within. last two years, I have ceased to wonder The passenger looked at the wavering that old men take such pleasure in culand sickly flame with an indefinable tivating flowers, and planting trees; the feeling of curiosity and interest, when a events of their lives have taught them young man came out hurriedly.

to put no trust in human affections ; “Ah, Monsieur le Count,” said the and, for some little time past, I, too, young man with surprise, “is that you have become old—and, with the like -alone-afoot--and at this hour so far feelings, I would not allow myself to befrom the Rue St. Lazare? Allow me the come attached to anything but to ani. honour of offering you my arm.

The mals that cannot reason, to plants and pavement is so slippery this evening or flowers, in fact, to the external world; rather this morning, that if we do not and I only love to gaze upon the surface support each other,” said he, as if to of things without exposing myself to the spare the self-love of the old nobleman, disappointment and misery of examining "we shall find it difficult to escape a fall.” too closely. The motions of Taglioni

“ But, my dear sir,” said the Count are of more consequence to me now de Grandville, “ I am, unhappily, only than any human sentiment. I am tired fifty; and a physician of your reputation of a world where I am alone! Nothing," ought to know that at that age a man is added the count, with an expression in the vigour of life.”

which made his companion shudder, " In that case, you must be engaged “can agitate or interest me further!" in some intrigue ; for it is not your cus- “But you have children !”. tom, I believe, to move about Paris “ Children !” rejoined he, with a bitter afoot. If I had such a magnificent accent. “ Yes—my daughters are all equipage as you—and I have no doubt well married. They love, and are loved that you have a large sum of money by, their husbands. They have their about your person! Are you not aware, household matters to attend to, and the said the physician, “ that it is an invita- son-in-law supplants the father! As to tion for the dagger of the prowling my sons, they are distinguished in the robber?"

world, and the oldest is even now at the They are my slightest apprehen- head of the law; but they have their sion,” replied the count, with a sad and affairs, their cares, and their inquietudes, indifferent tone. “But you have caught and they, too, know how to calculateme acting the part of a spy. At what. at this moment they are anticipating my ever hour of the day or night I pass this fortune.” house, on foot or in my carriage, for “ How could this fancy have taken some time past, I have never failed to possession of your mind, my lord ? You, observe the shadow of a person at that who are so good, so generous, so hu. garret window, who appears to labour mane! In truth, were I not myself a with a most heroic and persevering living example of that noble and extencourage.” At these words the count sive benevolencepaused, as if he was struck by a sudden “ It was only for my own pleasure,” pang; but he instantly added, “ do you energetically responded the count. “I know I take as much interest in that pay for a sensation, as I would give a garret, as a citizen of Paris takes in the pound weight of gold to-morrow for the completion of the Palais Royal ?” most puerile excitement, if it could only

“ Ah!” said a young man, eagerly, stir my numbed heart. I succour my “I am enabled to inform you that- fellow-creatures from selfishness, and

“Do not interrupt me,” said the for the same reason that I go to the count, hastily interrupting the young gaming-table ; but I no longer count physician. I would not give a cent to upon the gratitude of any one. Ah, know whether the shadow that glances young man! the incidents of life have




swept over my heart like the lava stream I came to visit them, it was an affecting of Vesuvius over Herculaneum. The picture.” city exists still, it is true--but it is The young physician ceased. At this dead!"

moment Count de Grandville, as if me. “Those persons have much to answer chanically, thrust his hand into his for who reduced so tender and and warm pocket. a heart as yours was, to such a point of “ I perceive, my young friend,” said insensibility.”

he" and if you took her in charge, she Say not another word on the sub. might yet survive?ject,” said the count, with a trembling “Poor creature," said the physician, voice.

“who would not succour her? I wish I “You have a disorder, my lord count," was richer than I am ; I would try and observed the youth, with emotion,“which cure her of her frenzied passion." you must permit me to cure.''

“But," rejoined the count, drawing “ Have you any remedy for death ?" from his pocket his hand filled with gold, inquired the count impatiently.

without the physician noticing the ges" I would lay any wager that I could ture," why should I pity sorrows, whose warm that heart, which you fancy is so blended transports I would purchase at petrified.”

the cost of all my revenues ? This woman Are you equal to Talma ?" demanded feels, and though she suffers, her excite. De Grandville, ironically.

ment is ecstatic. Would not Louis the “No, my lord count. But nature is Fifteenth willingly surrender his broad as superior to what Talma was, as Talma kingdom, to rise again from his coffin, surpassed me. The garret in which you and enjoy three days of youth and life?" are interested, is inhabited by a female “Poor Caroline," sighed the phyabout thirty years of age, and a youth sician. not yet twenty. In her heart, love is a At these words the Count de Grandsort of fanaticism. He is a gambler, and ville trembled. He clutched the arm of I know not whether he is more addicted the physician, who thought it was clasped to wine than to low amours. This un. in an iron vice. happy woman has sacrificed for him a “ Is her name Caroline Crochard ?" splendid career, and abandoned a man asked the count, in a voice whose gasping who adored her. But what ails you, tones were scarcely intelligible. count?'"

“Do you know her?" inquired the “ Nothing at all! Continue your nar- astonished young man. ration."

“ You have, indeed, kept your word “She has allowed him to waste a with me," replied the noble; “ for you handsome fortune. She would give him have shaken my heart with the most the world if she possessed it. She vivid emotion it can feel ere it crumbles works night and day; and she has fre- to dust!" quently witnessed the wretch to whom At this moment the count and the she is so passionately attached, snatch physician had reached the corner of the from her the hard-earned money which Rue de la Chaussée d'Antin. There one she has destined for the clothing and of the children of darkness and poverty, nourishment of her children. Three with a wicket basket at his back, and days ago, she cut off the most silky, and an iron crooked stick in his hand, was the longest tresses I ever beheld, and leaning against the lamp-post when De sold them for food. He came, and be- Grandville approached. The count adfore she had concealed the money, he dressed the rag collector : demanded it of her; and for a smile, a “Do you ever find bank-notes for a caress, she surrendered to him the means thousand francs in your researches ?" of procuring subsistence and tranquillity asked he. for herself and children for a fortnight. “ Sometimes, sir." It is both horrible and sublime! But “And do you ever restore them ?” incessant toil has begun to trace furrows “ That's according to the reward offerin her cheeks, and the cries of her chil. ed for their recovery.” dren have pierced her heart. She fell “Here, then," said the count, " is one sick, and is now languishing on a bed of of them. Take it—but remember the straw. This very evening she had no- condition on which I give it. Get you to thing to eat, and her children were worn the tavern, spend it in drinking, brawling, out and exhausted with crying. When and rioting ; beat your wife, and outrage

« ПредишнаНапред »