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again would be to lose life, and hope, and energy." Her heart beat quick. He dropped his voice as he added"But even you would be lost if I lost my honour. I cannot gain you at the expense of my own self-respectI should lose you in becoming unworthy of you.'
He was extremely pleased with this tirade, which threw them into utter consternation. No one believed in it but Adrienne. The theatrical accent betrayed him to the keener eyes of the others; but she had been accustomed to hear him speak so; and, strange as it may seem, she admired him the more for his refusal, and, because it raised him in her estimation, forgot that it ruined their hopes.
"Victor," said the Count, "your scruples do you honour, but they are misplaced. Let no misguided notions warp your judgment. Think of what the Revolutionary Government is, and then think of my offer."
"The notions you are pleased to call misguided," he said haughtily, "are those to the service of which I have devoted my life. I did hope that you," he said, turning to Adrienne, "would have given me courage to persevere in the path of duty. To you I looked for words which would have saved me from the pain of rejecting a marriage, which would have been more to me than an empire. You have failed me. Well! I must bear my burden with what strength I may,
Bowing, and casting a mournful look upon her, he withdrew, gratified with the "point" he had made. A dead silence succeeded. Each was occupied with the thoughts raised by this failure of their scheme.
All this time Nicotte and Henri were persuading Sergeant Roussel, as we have seen, that his being placed as a guard over Henri was meant that he should suffer the escape. They had not quite overruled his scruples, when Goulard paid the Count a visit, and asked him if there was any way in which he could be useful.
"It was I who managed your escape before, in conjunction with Nicotte. But I don't wish it generally known; so that you, M. le Comte, and Nicotte approve, that is
all I desire. Others, you see, might look at the matter in a different light. You understand."
"Perfectly, Goulard, perfectly." How can I assist you? Show me a way, and if it's safe, I'll brave the consequences."
"Thanks; but unhappily we know of no such way."
"Well, that's unfortunate. At any rate I may leave this pistol on the table," he said, drawing out a huge holster-pistol like a small blunderbuss, and placing it on the table; "and then, you know, if I should forget to take it away with me, why, that is no great crime. A man's memory is not always on the alert. And if you should shoot a sentinel by mistake, aiming at a sparrow, why, they can't say I did it, can they?"
"Excellent fellow!" exclaimed the Chevalier, snatching up the pistol.
"Take care," said the barber, "it's loaded, and with ball too. And if there should be any sparrows or bats flying about, all I can say is, that-in pity for the poor dumb creatures,― I hope you'll miss."
"Who's that?" said the Chevalier hastily, looking out of the window.
"Hush! that's no sparrow; you must not aim at him: it's the Commissary."
In another second the sound of a pistol-shot broke the evening silence.
"What have you done!" exclaim
ed the Count.
"He's struck!-he's killed!" triumphantly answered the Chevalier.
"Assassin!" screamed Adrienne, in a transport of grief and indignation. Goulard was out of the room like an arrow.
The Chevalier turned from the window and said
"Now we are safe. No one but the Commissary knew of our plans. He cannot betray us now. self, I am willing to bear the consequences. I shall confess my deedattribute it to jealousy. I shall suffer, but I shall have saved the cause." Boldly and nobly done!" said the Countess.
The Count shook his head. "I fear this has but made our fate
certain," he said. "Victor might have changed his mind."
"Be under no apprehension," re
hope, some breath that might promise her life had not quite departed. He was dead. The others looked on in silence. In silence the Countess rose, when the conviction came upon her, and walking up to the Chevalier, said, in a low but firm voice
"You did not mean this; I forgive you."
The Chevalier was so moved by this, that he burst into tears.
Victor, not wishing to interrupt the scene farther, withdrew, bidding the soldiers, however, remain to watch the prisoners with closeness.
Terrible indeed were the hours which passed. No one spoke, save the soldiers in an occasional whisper. The Countess sat in forlorn grandeur gazing at her only child lying dead beside her. The Count and Chevalier sat mournfully ruminating, expecting every moment the summons to be marched before the Revolutionary Tribunal. Adrienne sat beside the Countess, holding one hand in both of hers, and occasionally kissing it tenderly. Nothing could be said. Feelings too deep for tears, or any other expression, filled them all. Even the rude soldiers were hushed into awe by the sight of such grief.
CHAPTER VI.-THE CLOUDS CLEAR.
Victor had just finished his despatch when an agent tapped at his door, and, without waiting for the words "Come in," entered almost breathless with the news that the Convention had arrested Robespierre, Couthon, St Just, Lebas, and others.
Victor started from his seat at the first words, and hurriedly demanded the details, which the agent could not give. The news had just reached St Malo. Patriots were everywhere in consternation. The arrest of the Triumvirs was certain to be followed by their execution. The Commune had suffered its chiefs to be arrested; France was rising against the Terror. Instead of forwarding his despatch, Victor, when once more alone, quietly destroyed it; and then, leaning his head upon his hands, meditated on the course of action he should pursue. Bitterly reproaching himself for not having accepted the Count's offer, he
now pondered on the means of retrieving that mistake. His first order was, that no one on any pretext was to communicate with the prisoners; but before that order had been given, Nicotte had whispered in the Count's ear the glorious news of Robespierre's arrest. It came like a ray of sunshine athwart the gloom of the scene.
But although the Triumvirs were deposed, they were deposed by the Convention. The Republic still held France, and the Royalists were as little in favour as before. At present all was uncertainty. The new government might be more clement, but it might also be more terrible than the one it destroyed. Victor doubted whether he should inform the Count of Robespierre's fall, and represent it as an indication of greater severity on the part of the Convention, which would consequently make the Count's
position of Royalist conspirator quite as bad as before; or whether he should pretend to relent in favour of Adrienne, and not mention Robes pierre's fall. At length an idea occurred to him, which will be best seen in the following letter which he forthwith wrote to Adrienne :
"They offered me happiness in exchange for honour, my soul's beloved; how could I hesitate which to choose? I who had known you! Oh, Adrienne, you must know the pang which shot through my heart when I saw that alternative before me, and saw so clearly there was but one choice possible. You would have despised me had I accepted! I should have despised myself.
My plan is fixed. I have resolved to save the Republic, to save my honour, and yet to save you all. I have so arranged it that success is certain. Your imprisonment will soon cease. You will soon be on the shores of England, where, if ever you think of me, think of me as one who loved you more than life, but who preferred losing you to making himself unworthy of you. We shall never meet again. Let our thoughts at least be sacred! Adieu!-VICTOR."
me, in confidence, that he didn't intend returning to St Malo, because the citizens were rising there against all the Republicans, and would massacre all the agents of Robespierre to a certainty. Now, they will be sure to come here after the Commissary, and tear him to pieces."
"And what if they do?" asked Chapot; "you won't care.'
"No, I shan't cry my eyes out on his account, certainly. But that isn't the point. He's not a man to be torn to pieces without their saying, By your leave.' He will defend himself. He has got soldiers here. The mob will attack the house, pull it to pieces in order to get at him; and having pulled it down, they won't stop to build it up again, I fancy."
This letter was handed to her by one of the soldiers. She read it, reread it, felt her heart swell with emotion, and then, placing the letter in her bosom, gave herself up to sweet and pensive thought. Victor's idea was this: He would let the Count escape, and by so doing gain a powerful protector in the coming days, should the nation once more return to its allegiance to the Bourbons. Meanwhile Adrienne would be so convinced of his love and his noble character, that he had little doubt of obtaining her consent to a marriage whenever he should find it convenient.
Chapot was alarmed at this reasoning. The idea of the Cheval Blanc being attacked by a mob, roused his noblest feelings as a man and a proprietor. "I'll turn him out at once!" he exclaimed.
"You turn him out!" Nicotte said with considerable scorn. "You may frighten him out, if you go the right way to work.”
Show me, show me; there's a good girl."
"You are not a goose, are you?" Chapot replied that he was not altogether one of those succulent but slightly intelligent birds.
"Then you can invent a story or two, I suppose; and, above all, pretend that what you say springs from a Republican's interest in the Republic's Commissary. Frighten him with the accounts you have heard of the excesses committed by the people at St Malo, on all who were known to be connected with Robespierre. Do you see?"
Capital! Trust me for frightening him."
Chapot instantly proceeded to Victor's apartment, and so well improved on the hints Nicotte had given him, that Victor saw his personal safety depended on flight. Nor did Chapot leave him till he had furnished him with every means of flight,
No sooner was he fairly off than Nicotte persuaded Chapot to get rid of the the way, she thought, would be at once
to tell the sergeant of Victor's flight. Chapot did so; and Nicotte, taking Roussel aside, suggested that he had better march the soldiers back to St Malo. But the sergeant would not hear of such a thing. The prisoners were prisoners of the Republic, and if the Commissary chose to fly, he, Roussel, would not undertake to decide on their fate. The little woman stamped with impatience at his obstinacy. She tried arguments, coaxings, threats, but the old soldier was immovable. At last she boldly asked him on what authority he arrested them? He had not arrested them; he had merely arrested Henri de St Marc.
"Whom you suffered to escape!" said Nicotte. "Remember that; I will betray you." Roussel shrugged his shoulders. If that doesn't move you, tell me why you let him escape?"
Because I thought. cause I was bamboozled."
Well, then, be bamboozled again." "Can't do it."
Here the story ceases, but it does not end. In life stories seldom end, for every crisis is the commencement of a new episode in the long story of our existence. On the stage the principal personages are married or killed-no great matter which; in third volumes the same "roundingoff" is given. But as I am neither writing a play nor a novel, I need not obey the conventional necessity of a satisfactory ending. I have finished my episode, and lay down the pen.
A few words will answer all questions respecting the subsequent fortunes of our characters. The Countess and
Goulard was appointed butler to the chateau, and drew the corks with a dexterity greater even than that which he formerly bestowed on teeth and these were perfectly painless extractions. The little man grew stout, not to say obese. But his dignity was unimpaired. He looked down upon the "universe" from the same lofty moral altitude as of old. He spat with even greater emphasis. He rolled the words "my wife" and "my children" over his tongue with a slow and gustatory grandeur. He patronised the peasants with serene and kindly magnificence. But he was never heard to utter a word in favour of Republicanism.
Of Victor nothing was heard after his disappearance. He is supposed to have perished in obscurity, or to have joined the army under another name. Certain it is that Adrienne never discovered any trace of his existence. Poor girl! she cherished the remembrance of him whom she believed to be so heroic, and refused every offer of marriage. Years rolled on; she lost her youth and all but slight traces of her former beauty; it was sad to see one who had been so brilliant now become so subdued and grave. Kindly and gentle she was to all, but seldom did a smile steal over her sad face. Belief in her lover, admiration for his high and noble qualities, and vague dreamy hopes that he might one day reappear, sustained her existence. the age of fifty-four, she died quite suddenly of enlargement of the heart. Upon that heart was found a little silken bag containing the last letter Victor had written to her.
"For this the passion to excess was given, That self might be annuiled!
GREECE AND ITALY.
AFTER that of the country which gave them birth, these two names lie nearest to the hearts of all civilised men. There is nothing strange or foreign about them. They do not sound as unfamiliar to the educated Briton as Spain or Sweden, or even our nearest neighbour, France. They come to our ears like the names of friends, heard first when we first learned to speak; as the names of countries which the least travelled amongst us know more by eyesight than by hearsay,-if not in the hard reality, at least from having seen them in some trance or dream, far brighter and more glorious than reality. The reason for this feeling is obvious enough. We owe these two countries, if not our muscle, bone, and blood, our courage and our truth, the land that we tread and the air that we breathe, at least almost everything else. We owe them everything that distinguishes the civilised from the savage man-laws, government, manners, art, literature, and in a manner religion. For if the spirit of our laws existed ages ago in the heart of the German forests, Rome and Greece bequeathed to us the forms in which alone they could permanently live. If the personal freedom we so highly prize was nursed in the same rough cradle, we were first awakened to the consciousness of that precious possession by the literature of the East. If the chivalry that underlies modern society inspired the intercourse of the old Franks and Normans, the manners of Greece and Rome alone polished the asperities of its surface, and made the diamond a marketable commodity. Of art, but through them, we should have known positively nothing, or perhaps so much as is known by the New Zealander. Our literature, but for their teaching, would probably have consisted of a few wild war-songs, or wilder lovesongs, delivered by oral tradition; and our religion might have been, for all we know, even now, that of the Druids, with its human holocausts, or that of the warriors of Odin, with their Valhalla and Valkyries. First
and foremost, if Greece did not give us the New Testament, she gave us the language in which it was written the second and more intelligible language by which the voice of God has spoken to man; and if the sword of Rome conquered the world, it gave the world a creed which turned conquest itself into a blessing, and which in turn was powerful to conquer her conquerors, when the sword of Rome had lost its edge for ever. This subject is so trite, that we must not dwell upon it too long. Its very triteness may be one cause why it is apt to pass out of sight, as the constant recurrence of light is the reason why we are blind to its ineffable excellence. If it were not for Italy and Greece, there is nothing in the nature of things to prevent us from being, even at this day, a kind of white Choctaws or Ojibbeways. The Red Men of the Far West have much the same virtues and vices that our ancestors possessed before their contact with Greece and Italy. But to be unmindful of immense and invaluable benefits, is the saddest sin of omission to which human nature is liable. Gratitude for small services is common to all men; few only are willing to allow that they feel the perpetual chain of a boundless obligation. In our highest relations of the kind, we are all of us, even the best, most notorious defaulters. Nor are we much more perfect in acknowledging what we owe to those beings from whom we derive our physical and intellectual sustenance. It might be urged as a palliation of this fault in the highest cases, that powers immeasurably above us would be little benefited by our gratitude; but it is not so in all such cases it is by no means so in that particular case which we now adduce as one in which we have received manifold and multiplex benefit, which it is difficult too highly to appreciate. A very small part of the educated world in modern Europe cares about Italy and Greece, their state, their position, their sufferings and their hopes, as it ought to care.