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deepest courtesy and respect, and yet, somehow or other, they held one another by the hand during the whole of a long interview. Gontran contented himself on separating with ceremoniously kissing her band, and Eliane went away with increased confidence in herself and strengthened resolves to carry out the good work. She felt, indeed, that proselytism had gained a complete mastery over her, and that there was something wanting when she was not with her cherished neophyte. Both were next morning at the mass said by the good fathers, but neither spoke nor scarcely looked at one another. Eliane was grateful for this respectful demeanour, and rewarded Gontran by a long visit and an intimate conversation. The orphans were of the party, but they played in the garden. It was thus that she accustomed herself to live in the society of M. de Mably. She went there again and again; she felt that she loved him with all the devotion of her soul, but she persisted in believing that she loved him after the fashion of angels-abstraction made of all corporeal elements. These frequent interviews had not, however, been lost upon one person. An old lady with very white hair, but dark, piercing eyes, had recently watched her so narrowly as even to attract her attention. She had asked one of the fathers who the old woman was, but all that they knew was that her Dame was Madame Martin, and that she was a widow from the provinces. Eliane felt so strong in the purity of her motives that she paid no further attention to the
matter. Madame Martin was, however, an employé of M. de Fafiaux, the arch-enemy of the Lanroses, and she duly made known the movements of the marchioness to her husband. M. de Lanrose, a type of the old French aristocracy, was far too susceptible on the point of honour to accept an anonymous intimation, or to act as a spy upon his wife, and it was not till after he had received several distinct and detailed communications, which left no doubt in his mind that his wife's honour had been sacrificed at the shrine of her religious zeal, that he resolved upon moving in the matter. “Eliane,” he said to himself, “is of an upright, proud nature, incapable of the baseness which so often attends upon the infidelity of women. She may have betrayed me out of love for another, but she would not betray her accomplice from a shameless policy. The infallible means for ascertaining if she is guilty is to pretend a revival of love."
The scene enacted between the suspicious old marquis and his guilty wife, in which the former assumes the appearance of an affection which he does not entertain, and the latter is terrified at demonstrations which she can neither fathom nor understand, is one of the best in the whole work. It is touched off with infinite tact and delicacy. M. de Lanrose noticed the cloud that hung upon madame's brow when the marchioness found, on her return home, that she was to dine tête-àtête with her husband, but he did not remark upon it. “ My dear love,” he said, “your drive has done wonders.” Really !" she replied, blushing with vexation.
6 And what won. ders, if you please ?
“Why, it has made you even more beautiful than when you went out.”
“I only see in that your customary indulgence.”
“ You think so, do you ?" she replied, somewhat superciliously.
“I think so, and I will prove it.” And, as he said so, he opened his arms with much grace, and saw distinctly that she dreaded his embrace.
“ Soyez sage! behave yourself,” she said, trying to force a smile; they are coming to announce that dinner is ready.”
The tenderness of her husband filled the fair marchioness with alarm. She never dreamed that she was suspected, but she dreaded a danger quite as formidable to a woman of heart. The marquis, on his side, carefully watched the effect of his words, and registered in his mind the gradually increasing trouble produced as he began, like a chess-player, to move his pawns. He presented his hand to his wife to lead her to the table. He was sensible, upon merely touching it, of coldness and aversion on her part, not unmingled with fear. It was, however, impossible to converse upon any save general topics in the presence of servants.
Eliane, in reply to questions, gave a detail of where she had been that day, but she hastened to change the conversation, and the marquis was satisfied that an interrogatory in public was not agreeable. Dinner over, man and wife adjourned to the terrace. Eliane, seated in an American chair, sought to decipher the impenetrable physiognomy of her husband as he sipped his coffee. She even so far forgot her usual pride as to offer him the box of cigars. M. de Lanrose smiled, shook his head, and thanked her.
“No,” he said, “I would rather converse with you.” “ You can talk while
smoke. We are in the open air.” “Your indulgence overwhelms me, dear Eliane. But the things I have to say to you are too direct and too personal that an atom of smoke should intervene between us."
It was with difficulty that she suppressed an outward manifestation of fear, but the expression was not lost upon her husband.
“Come near me,” he said, taking her by the hand. “Why, Heaven pardon me, but one would think that you were frightened of me.”
“ What an idea!”
But the marquis felt that her hand trembled in his. It did not prevent bis retaining possession. He began by reminding his wife of past times, spoke in eloquent terms of the love and affection he had ever borne towards her, of the confidence he had placed in her honour and virtue, and he concluded by asserting that he would give up club and opera, everything that tended to keep them apart, and devote the whole of his life to her. “Will you receive me, dear Eliane ?” he concluded by saying, “and we will be to one another what we were eight years ago. Can you have less mercy upon my want of attention than Heaven has even for crime itself ? Speak, I await my sentence, and if thou art still Eliane, thou wilt give it in a kiss !"
The last words were uttered in a frank, decided, and energetic tone, whilst to himself he said, “ Get out of that, if you can.” He extended his arms towards his wife, but at the same moment a torrent of kicks proved to him that the marchioness had adopted an extreme measure, and was giving him the spectacle of a magnificent attaque de nerfs.
A doctor was sent for, Madame de Lanrose was consigned to her apartment, and M. de Lanrose sat by her bedside until three in the morning. He then withdrew to his own room, but it was not to sleep.
An instinct more infallible than the closest reasoning forewarned him that a solution to his perplexities was proximate. The scene on the terrace had left no doubts in his mind as to his wife's guilt. For a second time in his life he was widowed-ruined in his best affections. It was not an agreeable prospect, but the marquis was, above all things, a gentleman and a philosopher, and as he ruminated over his position, the idea that perhaps annoyed him most was the stupid drama that would follow, and in which he would be involuntarily a chief actor. “There will be scandal,” he said to himself, “ recriminations, excuses, tears, fits, articles in the newspapers, condolences, a duel, a trial, a forced journey; and all this for what-because Mademoiselle de Batéjins has taken a greater fancy to another man than to me!”
The marquis was one of those men who held by an heterodox opinion which, M. About says, would be hissed off the stage. He was too proud to be jealous, a feeling which he considered to belong exclusively to the bourgeoisie. He also remembered certain adventures of his own youth in which the husbands had called him out for having seduced their wives, when he could conscientiously declare that it was they who had seduced him !
The first thing to do the next morning was to make inquiries after madame's health. Madame, he was told, had suffered much, but was better, and even inclined to sleep a little. To pass away the time he went out, and his steps led him mechanically to the convent of Ave Maria, the place indicated by his anonymous correspondent; but as he approached the great gates he hurried back. “No, never,” he said, “ will a Lanrose become a spy upon his wife's honour!"
He hastened home. Eliane was still asleep. He ordered breakfast, but could not taste a thing. He rose up, put on his hat, and walked out again. It seemed as if the open air could alone soothe the dreadful anxiety from which he was suffering. He walked along the quays, crossed and re-crossed the bridges, and at length found his way home again. But all the doors were open, and the chambermaid was busy setting madame's room in order.
“And madame ?" he exclaimed.
“ Madame ? did not monsieur meet ber? Madame has just gone out on foot, not five minutes ago.”
The marquis drew forth his watch with imperturbable coolness. It was a quarter past two. · Ab, yes,” he said, “I remember; madame had a charitable meeting to attend at two o'clock.”
He then withdrew slowly, walked quietly down-stairs, and got out into the street, but, once there, he ran rather than walked in the direction of the convent of Ave Maria. But perceiving that the house of his friend the Count de Mably was close by, be determined to go
in. When the porter opened the door, he was seized with a panic on recognising his visitor, and without replying to his inquiries beat a hasty retreat. M. de Lanrose was too much at home at M. de Mably's to stop at the threshold, and he walked into the apartments, and finding no one there, he advanced towards the garden. The spectacle that presented itself to his eyes when there was the form of a lady escaping amid the bushes, and which form singularly resembled that of Eliane, whilst Gontran stood in the foreground as if thunderstruck.
All he could say was, Monsieur!" As to M. de Lanrose there was no expression of anger in his face-nothing but regret mingled with resignation. He crossed his arms, and looking at M. de Mably, sighed forth, “So it was you.” M. de Mably replied by intimating that it was not a subject for explanations, and that he was at the orders of the marquis. The suggestion, however, naturally aroused the old man's philosophy. “No doubt,” he replied; "but do the means you propose repair the evil you have done? I have loved you, Gontran, and have proved it. I, too, have had my 'bonnes fortunes,' but I have never sacrificed a friendship like ours to my pleasures. As to her, the daughter of a peasant, to whom I gave a name, rank, and fortune, what have I done to her to treat me thus? Well, I have neglected her, and I have no right to despise her.”
M. de Mably, who had regained his composure, could scarcely help smiling as the marquis philosophised upon the subject of the heaviest calamity that can befal a man of honour. But when M. de Lanrose, changing the ground of his reflections, began to reproach Gontran for his conduct towards Valentine, a person in every way so worthy of his love and respect, the young man, profligate as he was, lost his temper, and submitted that he was at the marquis's orders, and that he allowed no one to interfere between Monsieur and Madame de Mably.
“Be it so," calmly replied the marquis ; " and it had better be at once, so that if, in an hour hence, Madame de Lanrose's name becomes a term of reproach, it shall not be said that she had a complacent husband.”
“Well, a garden is not precisely the proper spot for an affair of honour,” remarked Gontran; but he was interrupted by the approach of a valet, who announced M. le Baron de St. Genin. Gontran looked inquiringly at the marquis, who returned the look. “Yes,” he
we must have a witness; he will just do.” Lambert was approaching with cautious steps. His bosom was loaded with the great scandal of Carville, the escapade of Valentine, and his own duel with Bourgalys, and he was not sure how he might be received by Gontran. His uncertainty was, however, soon relieved by the latter saying to him, “You have arrived just in time. Go up into my room, and bring down two swords." Lambert naturally concluded that the weapons were destined for himself and Gontran, so he ventured an objection. “What !" he said, “must you go to extremes ? I assure you, Gontran, you are in the wrong:
“I know I am in the wrong; but what is the use of discussing things that are inevitable ?” “Well, I will go; but I assure you there is a misunderstanding."
When Lambert returned with the swords, Gontran and M. de Lanrose were seated in silence. “Here they are,” he said ; “and since you say the thing is inevitable, let us make haste." So saying, he began to disembarrass himself of his outer garments.
Why! what are you doing?”' exclaimed Gontran.
But M. de Lanrose, who knew what bad occurred at Carville, saw at once through the qui pro quo, and, addressing Lambert, he said to him, “ Cousin, it is we who request you to act as witness in settling an affair which will admit of no postponement.”!
“What, you! you and Gontran! Why, cousin, it is impossible ! You are a kind of sacred person in the family. What is it all about? Some mistake, I warrant it—something that merely wants a moment's explanation. If Gontran is in the wrong, I am sure he will apologise.”
But whilst the bewildered baron was pouring forth his detached sentences, the marquis and Gontran were divesting themselves of their superfluous garments, and putting sword in hand. It was in vain that the good-hearted Lambert interposed his body between them -the combat was soon engaged. The marquis was a fencer of the classical school, as taught by Pons, cool and mathematically precise. Gontran belonged, on the contrary, to the romantic school, that of Lozès, and which indulges in advances and retreats, great play of the sword, and as much of the body. M. de Lanrose would undoubtedly have carried the day, but his attention was called off for the fraction of a second; Gontran made a forward thrust, and the marquis fell to the ground.
What had distracted the attention of M. de Lanrose was the sudden appearance of Valentine leaning on the arm of M. de Fafiaux. Such an advent, at such a moment, complicated matters terribly. “Never mind me,” he said, as Gontran and Lambert stooped to help him up, "that
poor child will be more easily killed than I. It is a mere scratch, and I beg of you to spare her feelings—not mine."
The swords were accordingly cast into the bushes, outer garments were readjusted, and M. de Lanrose's overcoat concealed a spot of blood on his waistcoat about as large as a five-franc piece. Lambert had satisfied himself, however, by ocular inspection of the weapon, that it had penetrated a good six inches into the person of the marquis. Valentin, on her side, was far too much interested in knowing how Gontran would receive her after the escapade at Carville, to notice that the gentlemen were in a state of disorder when they made their appearance in the house. Husband and wife looked doubtingly at one another; but each soon discovering that, whatever amount of embarrassment there might be, there was no real anger, they soon embraced and became good friends. The fact is, neither knew a word of the other's peccadilloes. M. de Lanrose, anxious that the illusions of Madame de Mably should not be dispelled, gave no signs of suffering, and yet he felt deeply anxious to get away. At length an opportunity presented itself; he took bold of Lambert's arm, and gaining the street, a hackney-carriage was summoned, and he had just strength enough to reach home, when he fainted from pain and loss of blood. The Baron de St. Genin sent for a surgeon, and remained to tender his friend in his sickness, but still utterly ignorant as to what had brought about this sad disaster. As to the household, they were told that it was an accident. The tip of a foil had broken off in a fencing bout, and an awkward wound" had been the result.
M. de Fafiaux in the mean time, having seen Monsieur and Madame de Mably agreeably reconciled, had taken his way to his own private abode, where he had to hold important conferences. The first was with Madame Martin, who informed him of Madame de Lanrose’s proceedings; but when she also added that the culpable party was M. de Mably—the man who had wedded his beloved Valentine the old