Imagens das páginas

Jules was convinced that he was serving the cause of Maʼmselle Isoline, by ascertaining whether it was absolutely her shawl, and no other, which had been transferred to Ma’mselle Aglaè's chest of drawers in consideration of two thousand francs, lawful coin of the realm ; and all moral obligations consequently vanished from his mind. Madame Dosne was gone, Mademoiselle Aglae engaged ; he glanced stealthily round the deserted room, glided to the fatal drawer, turned the key in the hateful ward, drew forth the detestable shawl, ascertained beyond a doubt that the “ damned spot” was on the spot, replaced it cautiously among the spotless lawn, cambric and calico of the soubrette ; and was about to reclose the drawer when, with flashing eyes, and burning cheeks, Aglaé—the indignant Aglae-stood beside him !

A la bonne heure !'' cried she, in thundering accents. 6 This is the way, is it, that our property is secured during our absence ? Subjected to the prying of a dirty, pitiful, spying, eaves-dropping fellow, who begins with picking, and will end with stealing, or rather, whose picking and stealing will end at Brest or Toulon! Ay, ay ! I see you from here, Monsieur Jules, marching off from Bicêtre with a chain of forcats, and wearing pretty nearly the same hang-dog look, which sits so well upon you at this moment !"

Jules felt that his case was desperate. He had done wrong, and he stood detected. To appeal to the mercy of generosity of Ma’m. selle Aglaé with an avowal of his repentance would be much the same as to prostate his soul at the feet of the bronze Apollo gracing the clock on her chimney-piece ; he therefore adopted an Irishman's philosophy, and attempted to brazen it out.

Be not angry, fairest of creatures !” said he, attempting cavalierly to seize her hand ; “I had the happiness to be in the coulour just now, and to see that shawl thrown over your shoulders for the first time, as you returned from a visit to the honourable deputy up stairs, (who, par parenthèse, is not visible to everybody at this early hour of the morning !)—knowing the unprincipled covetousness of Goody Dosne, I trembled lest the lovely Aglaé should have been made a victim in her bargain with the old jade ; and being from my Arabian experience, something of a judge of shawls, I could not resist my inclination to have a peep at this. Had you been here I should have entreated your permission ; had you been here I am convinced you would have granted it. Moderate, there. fore, your indignation. My care for your interest led me into an er. ror ; let not your indifference to mine betray you into too severely resenting it.”

Mademoiselle Aglaé was by this time satisfied, at least, that the gallant frotteur had insinuated himself too far into her secrets for her to indulge, without imprudence, in the exposure she had meditated. It would not do to alarm the house and cry

stop thief !” when Jules might retaliate by exclaiming “stop” something else. contented herself therefore, for the present, with calling him an impertinent fellow ; bidding him avoid both her presence and her room, which seemed more inviting to him than her company ; threatening for the future to lock her drawers, and to keep her keys as charily as St. Peter ; all this time secretly determining to have her revenge the first moment it was to be had without danger to herself.

Rejoiced to escape at so easy a rate, poor Jules now proceeded, with a crest grievously falen, to take his share in the aufs au miroir provided for him by his loving mother. He was conscious that he had done a shabby thing. Even for Isoline's sake, he had no business to go prying into secrets under lock and key. Nor was he even able to obtain the reward of his frailty. Madem iselle Isoline's door was closed, and he had not so much as repaid himself by her thanks for his still-to-be-expiated fault. But Jules concluded her to be, where she ought to have been, at rehearsal ; and almost despaired of seeing her again till he took his nightly stand that evening in an obscure corner of the pit, to greet with all the force of his lungs and palms her exits and entrances in her bran new part of “ Inez de Castro.”

Little did he conjecture that poor Isoline, after counting over the four hundred and eighty francs given to her by Madame Dosne as the price of her shawl, (deducting the twenty which she protested she was obliged to bestow as job-money on the femme de chambre of the Russian princess by whom it was purchased,) as tendering to the ex-ouvreuse, as her sale-fee, the double napoleon she had brought in gold, as if to point out the amount of her personal expectations,- was assisting Mademoiselle Claire in her attendance upon the unfortunate Madame Courson. Jules, who knew and appreciated the Good-Samaritanism of the back-attic, would have been little surprised at the discovery ; still it would have cut him to the soul to know how grateful the poor destitute girl was to Madame Dosne for the four hundred and forty francs transfered to her strong-box, and how wholly unsuspicious of the fifteen hundred and sixty realized by the vile old woman in the iniquitous transaction.

The heart of the poor actress was in fact dancing within her for joy to think that, by the sacrifice of a luxury, she was insuring the necessaries of life to two suffering fellow-crcatures of her own sex. Claire de Courson's tear of gratitude poured down like rain when she saw the influx of nourishing food and comfortable fuel which, with Guguste's assistance, was transferred to her mother's apartment in the course of the day. Already small quantities of strong broth and old Malaga had done wonders in reviving the exhausted frame of the invalid, who was now resting comfortably in a room swept and garnished, with a cheerful fire and a cheerful face awaiting her awaking.

But indulgence in these toils end pleasures had made fearful inroads upon the duties of the deputy-double ! Never had she found study so difficult

, retention so impossible. The verbose prose she was to imbibe passed through her brains like tepid water through a sieve ;

But, like affection's dream,

It left no trace behind !

The day waned ; the murmur of the streets diminished ; the time was come for repairing to her post,—for putting up the wooden barriers, erected on the nights of new pieces at the doors of the Parisian theatres, with a view of lessening the pressure of the throng,—for opening the doors,—for appearing full-dressed in ‘he green-room, in expectation of the prompter's call ;—and Madame Isoline was at her post, and almost as dull as a post. Her tongue was in her head,

and her rouge upon her cheek, her part in her hand,—but not, alas ! in her head, not in her heart, not on her tongue? Instead of speaking her speech “trippingly,” according to the advice of Hamlet, there was every probability that she would be unable to halt through half a dozen sentences. Her companions looked exulting—the stage-manager black as midnight, or as Peter the Cruel ; for something in Mademoiselle Isoline's conscious, yet downcast looks, assured them that all was up with Inez de Castro.

It is believed in the French provinces that every theatre in Paris contains a box called the author's box, or la loge matelassée, lined and cushioned with wool, to enable the author of a falling piece to dash his head against the sides during the process of damnation, without danger of fracture to his skull. Had such a retreat existed in the obscure theatre of the Boulevards, to which the moderate talents of poor Isoline were pledged at an equally moderate salary, the unhappy Corneille of “ Inez de Castro" would have done wisely to repair to it during the very first scene of his very first act. From the moment of her appearance, his heroine was evidently as bewildered in her wits as Ophe. lia or Tilburina! It was in vain that Jules, from the uproarious par. terre, or Guguste from the upper paradis, which kept whistling* as though the souls of its blest were so many bullfinches, attempted to overpower with their applause the murmurs of the malcontents. No one could say that a cabal was formed against either the piece or the actress. The house was unanimous, with the exception of the single gamin and solitary foot-soldier, who persisted in swearing that the one was equal to Racine, and the other superior to Madame Darval. Ils avaient beau dire !--the public would not sit out poor Isoline's stammerings. The curtain fell amid a general clamour; and as it happened (ominously enough) of all the nights in the week to be Friday, Made. moiselle Isoline was acquainted by the manager, on her return to her dressing room, that her salary would be at her disposal on the follow. ing morning for the last time,—" the theatre having no farther occa. sion for her services of a deputy-double to its much esteemed jeune. premierè Mademoiselle Eglantine, who had arrived that night from her engagement at Dijon, in an Anserre passage-boat, to delight the public, and redeem the theatre from its disgraces.” Isoline was, in short, ignominiously dismissed the company.

Let those who can conjecture the feelings of the mighty Napoleon during the last half-hour of the Battle of Waterloo, or the troubled faculties of the still more illustrious Sir Walter when perusing the criticisms of Ballantyne the printer, on the last volume of * Count Robert of Paris," conjecture the anguish of spirit of the poor

actress, whose bread was not only taken from her, but who had adopted the support of others, whose bread must now become as scanty as her own! It was not wounded self-love which caused her ears to tingle, and her cheeks to become blanched beneath their coating of rouge, while she listened to the contemptuous shouts of the fastidious audience ; it was mercy nipped in the bud, like a snow-drop withered by a still bitterer blast than its usual bit. ter atmosphere. She could have found it in her heart to weep,

* On the Continent whistling is substituted for hissing in the condemnation of a play.

but that the eyes of many a sneering rival were upon her humiliation!

As she passed onwards through the dark, damp, dirty passage, where, by the light of a lanthern, the tender-hearted Jules waited for her with her cloak and clogs, she ran against a person whom, on look. ing up, she recognised, by his coëflure à la moyen age, and cravatles

hroat, as the luckless author of the piece whose fortunes her careless. ness had marred.

“ Monsieur Ferdinand,” said she, stopping short, and blushing at the tremulous sound of her own voice, “may I take the liberty of asking what sum you expected to receive from the theatre for the copyright of your play?"

“ Ten louis, madam !" cried he, scarcely able to articulate for rage, -“ ten louis; which you may be said to have abstracted from my pocket; to say nothing of the injury permanently inflicted on my reputation !”

“Would to Heaven it were in my power to repair either injury!" replied the poor girl in an humble tone. “Consider me at least your debtor for one-half the sum of money. You may remember," added she, with a faint smile, “ that I advised you from the first not to intrust me with your verses. I now recommend you not to trust me in your debt. Do me the favour to call upon me tomorrow morning for the amount.”

“No wonder she played so badly to-night !" cried a knot of walking ladies by whom this apostrophe was overheard. “Ma'mselle Isoline is clearly overflowing with louis-d'ors. Ma'mselle Isoline has found a rich and generous ami.

And their envy pursued the discarded deputy.double, as leaning on the charitable arm of Jules, she took her melancholy way towards home : the home which her new duties rendered doubly precious, and doubly painful. The private of the twenty-third of the line said not a word during their plashy trudge homewards under a thrice-soaked, reeking cotton umbrella. He felt that the moment was too critical to trouble her with inquiries after an object so trivial as the sale of a cashmere shawl. Little suspecting that an inquiry leading to the dis. covery of Madame Dosne's nefarious proceedings would, even in that moment of despondency, freshen her heart with gladness by the intelligence that more than sixty louis.d'ors were still due to her from the ex ouvreuse, he said not a syllable of the entresol transaction ; on which slender axis, by the way, revolved the destinies of his future life ; the fraudulent rapacity of Madame Dosne being about to entail eternal ruin and disgrace upon the gallant soldier, as well as upon one to whom his happiness was dearer than her own!




and verse

I don't know why I should call this “ Nonsense;" perhaps it is because so much has been written upon the subject in prose that it seemed impossible to write anything like sense upon it. But in that case, Nonsense itself has been exhausted, and the title would still be bad. Perhaps it is that the very hope of inditing some novelty even upon a theme which has lasted since the world began till now, induced the thought that such inventions must of necessity be greater nonsense than had appeared before. Perhaps it is that not being quite so young as one was, the same matter which formerly was deemed the main business, aim, scope, and material, may have chang. ed its hue, and so become to be looked upon as the Nonsense of Life. But after all, what signifies a title ?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." and a bouquet of violet, may, carnation, heliotrope, tulip, mignionette, and lily, and rose, tied up with rhyme and prose, may be as pleasing under the appellation of " Miscellany," as under the most grandiloquent epithet in the language. So here goes.

Were this an essay I would proceed to divide Love into deep, shal. low, pure, impure, passionate, worldly, affectionate, mad, and a hundred other great and little divisions ; but, letting all that alone, I will begin by invoking his picture as, painted by Cangiaggio, he hangs before my eyes in my studious retreat.

" It was the image of a sleeping boy,

Lying upon one side and rosy cheek,
With a delicious look of slumbering joy;

And down his brow a golden iress would break
Like a young sunbeam on his ivory neck:

And from the ripe lip peep'd the pearly teeth
Like lilies, when the morning dew-di fleck

Their unclosed bells, waking their fragrant breath,

Kindling the violets blue and hyacinths beneath.
“ And on the air are fluttering two white wings,

Light as the gossamer when evening's glooms
Brood o'er the earth, and purple starlight springs

As from a fount in heaven; the dove like plumes
Shake all the flowers, and soon a spirit comes,

Kissing his eyebrow with empurpled lips,
And in the rose and violet's living blooms,

Dipping all, one by one, the arrow's tips
Of his gold shaft, till night involve him in eclipse.
Oh, miracle of beauty! thou art Love,

Sleeping or waking still the same sweet thing,
Ruler of stars, and seas, and skies above,

Sweeping eternity with glowing wing;
Divine, disastrous, smiling, suffering;

Killer of hearts, and healer, -on thy shrines
The young and lovely perish in their spring,

The cypress wreath the marble brow intwines,
And all that blessing-blest to death declines.''

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