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´╗┐Title: Valerie
Author: Marryat, Frederick, 1792-1848
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Valerie" ***

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Valerie, by Captain Marryat.

________________________________________________________________________
This book was the last one that Marryat was working on in his last days.
It is unusual for him in that the story concerned the life of a lady,
whereas he normally wrote about the rough-and-tumble of life aboard
ship.  There is a preface which explains more about the way in which
this book was conceived and written.  It was completed by someone whom I
think may well have been Marryat's wife.

There are some interesting episodes, particularly the way in which the
young Lionel is raised from being a junior servant to regain an estate
which is rightfully his.

What is not so easy to cope with these days is the quantity of reported
speech in the last few chapters.  But try it, and see how you get on.

________________________________________________________________________
VALERIE, BY CAPTAIN MARRYAT.



PREFACE.

On August 10, 1845, Marryat wrote to Mrs S., a lady for whom, to the
time of his death, he retained the highest sentiments of friendship and
esteem:--

"I really wish you would write your confessions, I will publish them.  I
have a beautiful opening in some memoranda I have made of the early life
of a Frenchwoman, that is, up to the age of seventeen, when she is cast
adrift upon the world, and I would work it all up together.  Let us
commence, and divide the tin; it is better than doing nothing.  I have
been helping Ainsworth in the _New Monthly_, and I told him that I had
commenced a work called _Mademoiselle Virginie_, which he might perhaps
have.  Without my knowing it, he has announced its coming forth; but it
does not follow that he is to have it, nevertheless, and indeed he now
wishes me to continue one" (_The Privateersman_) "that I have already
begun in the magazine."

However, Mrs S., with whom at one time Washington Irving also wished to
collaborate, declined the offer; and _Mademoiselle Virginie_ was
ultimately published in the _New Monthly_ under the title of _Valerie_.
The first eleven chapters appeared in the magazine 1846, 1847, and the
remaining pages were added--according to _The Life and Letters of
Captain Marryat_--by another hand, when it came out in book form.

There are two special features in _Valerie_, beyond its actual merits,
that inevitably excite our attention.  It is Marryat's last work, and
the only one in which the interest centres entirely on women.  For this
reason, and from the eighteenth century flavour in some of its
characters, the book inevitably recalls Miss Burney and her little-read
_The Wanderer_, in which, as in _Valerie_, a proud and sensitive girl is
thrown on the world, and discovers--by bitter experience as governess,
companion, and music mistress--the sneer that lurks beneath the smile of
fashion and prosperity.

The subject is well handled, on the old familiar lines, and supplies the
groundwork of an eminently readable story, peopled by many life-like
"humours" and an attractive, spirited heroine.  The adventures of
_Valerie_ are various and well-sustained; her bearing throughout secures
the reader's sympathy, and he is conscious of a genuine pleasure in her
ultimate prosperity and happiness.

_Valerie, an autobiography_, is here reprinted from the first edition in
two volumes.  Henry Colburn, 1849.

R.B.J.

After Marryat's death a fragment of a story for the "Juvenile Library"
was found in his desk, and has been published in the _Life and Letters_
by Florence Marryat.  It describes the experience of a man who, like
Marryat himself, was compelled by the failure of speculations to live in
the country and manage his own estate.  It was projected "because few
young people have any knowledge of farming, and there are no books
written by which any knowledge of it may be imparted to children."
Marryat himself was not a very successful farmer, but probably his
theory was in advance of his practice.



CHAPTER ONE.

I have titled these pages with nothing more than my baptismal name.  If
the reader finds sufficient interest in them to read to the end, he will
discover the position that I am in, after an eventful life.  I shall,
however, not trespass upon his time by making many introductory remarks;
but commence at once with my birth, parentage, and education.  This is
necessary, as although the two first are, perhaps, of little comparative
consequence, still the latter is of importance, as it will prepare the
reader for many events in my after-life.  I may add, that much depends
upon birth and parentage; at all events, it is necessary to complete a
perfect picture.  Let me, therefore, begin at the beginning.

I was born in France.  My father, who was of the _ancienne noblesse_ of
France, by a younger branch of the best blood, and was a most splendid
specimen of the outward man, was the son of an old officer, and an
officer himself in the army of Napoleon.  In the conquest of Italy, he
had served in the ranks, and continuing to follow Napoleon through all
his campaigns, had arrived to the grade of captain of cavalry.  He had
distinguished himself on many occasions, was a favourite of the
Emperor's, wore the cross of the Legion of Honour, and was considered in
a fair way to rapid promotion, when he committed a great error.  During
the time that his squadron was occupying a small German town, situated
on the river Erbach, called Deux Ponts, he saw my mother, fell
desperately in love, and married.  There was some excuse for him, for a
more beautiful woman than my mother I never beheld; moreover, she was
highly talented, and a most perfect musician; of a good family, and with
a dower by no means contemptible.

The reader may say that, in marrying such a woman, my father could
hardly be said to have committed a very great error.  This is true, the
error was not in marrying, but in allowing his wife's influence over him
to stop his future advancement.  He wished to leave her with her father
and mother until the campaign was over.  She refused to be left, and he
yielded to her wishes.  Now, Napoleon had no objection to his officers
being married, but a very great dislike to their wives accompanying the
army; and this was the fault which my father committed, and which lost
him the favour of his general.  My mother was too beautiful a woman not
to be noticed, and immediately inquired about, and the knowledge soon
came to Napoleon's ears, and militated against my father's future
advancement.

During the first year of their marriage, my eldest brother, Auguste, was
born, and shortly afterwards my mother promised an increase to the
family, which was the occasion of great satisfaction to my father, who
now that he had been married more than a year, would at times look at my
mother, and, beautiful as she was, calculate in his mind whether the
possession of her was indemnification sufficient for the loss of the
brigade which she had cost him.

To account for my father's satisfaction, I must acquaint the reader with
circumstances which are not very well known.  As I before observed,
Napoleon had no objection to marriage, because he required men for his
army; and because he required men, and not women, he thought very poorly
of a married couple who produced a plurality of girls.  If, on the
contrary, a woman presented her husband with six or seven boys, if he
was an officer in the army, he was certain of a pension for life.  Now,
as my mother had commenced with a boy, and it is well known that there
is every chance of a woman continuing to produce the sex which first
makes its appearance, she was much complimented and congratulated by the
officers when she so soon gave signs of an increase, and they prophesied
that she would, by her fruitfulness, in a few years obtain a pension for
her husband.  My father hoped so, and thought that if he had lost the
brigade, he would be indemnified by the pension.  My mother was certain
of it; and declared it was a boy.

But prophesies, hopes, and declarations, were all falsified and
overthrown by my unfortunate appearance.  The disappointment of my
father was great; but he bore it like a man.  My mother was not only
disappointed, but indignant.  She felt mortified after all her
declarations, that I should have appeared and disproved them.  She was a
woman of violent temper, a discovery which my father made too late.  To
me, as the cause of her humiliation and disappointment, she took an
aversion, which only increased as I grew up, and which, as will be
hereafter shown, was the main spring of all my vicissitudes in
after-life.

Surely, there is an error in asserting that there is no feeling so
strong as maternal love.  How often do we witness instances like mine,
in which disappointed vanity, ambition, or interest, have changed this
love into deadly hate!

My father, who felt the inconvenience of my mother accompanying him on
forced marches, and who, perhaps, being disappointed in his hopes of a
pension, thought that he might as well recover the Emperor's favour, and
look for the brigade, now proposed that my mother should return with her
two children to her parents.  This my mother, who had always gained the
upper-hand, positively refused to accede to.  She did, however, allow me
and my brother Auguste to be sent to her parents' care at Deux Ponts,
and there we remained while my father followed the fortunes of the
Emperor, and my mother followed the fortunes of my father.  I have
little or no recollection of my maternal grandfather and grandmother.  I
remember that I lived with them, as I remained there with my brother
till I was seven years old, at which period my paternal grandmother
offered to receive my brother and me, and take charge of our education.
This offer was accepted, and we both went to Luneville where she
resided.

I have said that my paternal grandmother offered to receive us, and not
my paternal grandfather, who was still alive.  Such was the case; as,
could he have had his own way, he would not have allowed us to come to
Luneville, for he had a great dislike to children; but my grandmother
had property of her own, independent of her husband, and she insisted
upon our coming.  Very often, after we had been received into her house,
I would hear remonstrance on his part relative to the expense of keeping
us, and the reply of my grandmother, which would be, "_Eh bien, Monsieur
Chatenoeuf, c'est mon argent que je depense_."  I must describe Monsieur
Chatenoeuf.  As I before stated, he had been an officer in the French
army; but had now retired upon his pension, with the rank of major, and
decorated with the Legion of Honour.  At the time that I first saw him,
he was a tall, elegant old man, with hair as white as silver.  I heard
it said, that when young he was considered one of the bravest and
handsomest officers in the French army.  He was very quiet in his
manners, spoke very little, and took a large quantity of snuff.  He was
egotistic to excess, attending wholly to himself and his own comforts,
and it was because the noise of children interfered with his comfort,
that he disliked them so much.  We saw little of him, and cared less.
If I came into his room when he was alone, he promised me a good
whipping, I therefore avoided him as much as I could; the association
was not pleasant.

Luneville is a beautiful town in the Department of Meurthe.  The castle,
or rather palace, is a very splendid and spacious building, in which
formerly the Dukes of Lorraine held their court.  It was afterwards
inhabited by King Stanislaus, who founded a military school, a library
and a hospital.  The palace was a square building, with a handsome
facade facing the town, and in front of it there was a fountain.  There
was a large square in the centre of the palace, and behind it an
extensive garden, which was well kept up and carefully attended to.  One
side of the palace was occupied by the officers of the regiments
quartered in Luneville; the opposite side, by the soldiery; and the
remainder of the building was appropriated to the reception of old
retired officers who had been pensioned.  It was in this beautiful
building, that my grandfather and grandmother were established for the
remainder of their lives.  Except the Tuileries, I know of no palace in
France equal to that of Luneville.  Here it was that, at seven years
old, I took up my quarters; and it is from that period that I have
always dated my existence.

I have described my grandfather and my residence, but now I must
introduce my grandmother; my dear, excellent, grandmother, whom I loved
so much when she was living, and whose memory I shall ever revere.  In
person she was rather diminutive, but, although sixty years of age, she
still retained her figure, which was remarkably pretty, and she was as
straight as an arrow.  Never had age pressed more lightly upon the human
frame; for, strange to say, her hair was black as jet, and fell down to
her knees.  It was considered a great curiosity, and she was not a
little proud of it, for there was not a grey hair to be seen.  Although
she had lost many of her teeth, her skin was not wrinkled, but had a
freshness most remarkable in a person so advanced in years.  Her mind
was as young as her body; she was very witty and coquettish, and the
officers living in the palace were continually in her apartments,
preferring her company to that of younger women.  Partial to children,
she would join in all our sports, and sit down to play "hunt the
slipper," with us and our young companions.  But with all her vivacity,
she was a strictly moral and religious woman.  She could be lenient to
indiscretion and carelessness, but any deviation from truth and honesty
on the part of my brother or myself, was certain to be visited with
severe punishment.  She argued, that there could be no virtue, where
there was deceit, which she considered as the hot-bed from which every
vice would spring out spontaneously; that truth was the basis of all
that was good and noble, and that every other branch of education was,
comparatively speaking, of no importance, and, without truth, of no
value.  She was right.

My brother and I were both sent to day-schools.  The maid Catherine
always took me to school after breakfast, and came to fetch me home
about four o'clock in the afternoon.  Those were happy times.  With what
joy I used to return to the palace, bounding into my grandmother's
apartment on the ground floor, sometimes to frighten her, leaping in at
the window and dropping at her feet, the old lady scolding and laughing
at the same time.  My grandmother was, as I observed, religious, but she
was not a devotee.  The great object was to instil into me a love of
truth, and in this she was indefatigable.  When I did wrong, it was not
the fault I had committed which caused her concern; it was the fear that
I should deny it, which worried and alarmed her.  To prevent this, the
old lady had a curious method--she dreamed for my benefit.  If I had
done wrong, and she suspected me, she would not accuse me until she had
made such inquiries as convinced her that I was the guilty person; and
then, perhaps, the next morning, she would say, as I stood by her side:
"Valerie, I had a dream last night; I can't get it out of my head.  I
dreamt that my little girl had forgotten her promise to me, and when she
went to the store-room had eaten a large piece of the cake."

She would fix her eyes upon me as she narrated the events of her dream,
and, as she proceeded, my face would be covered with blushes, and my
eyes cast down in confusion; I dared not look at her, and by the time
that she had finished, I was down on my knees, with my face buried in
her lap.  If my offence was great, I had to say my prayers, and implore
the Divine forgiveness, and was sent to prison, that is, locked up for a
few hours in my bedroom.  Catherine, the maid, had been many years with
my grandmother, and was, to a certain degree, a privileged person; at
all events, she considered herself warranted in giving her opinion, and
grumbling as much as she pleased, and such was invariably the case
whenever I was locked up.  "_Toujours en prison, cette pauvre petite_.
It is too bad, madam; you must let her out."  My grandmother would
quietly reply, "Catherine, you are a good woman, but you understand
nothing about the education of children."  Sometimes, however, she
obtained the key from my grandmother, and I was released sooner than was
originally intended.

The fact is, that being put in prison was a very heavy punishment, as it
invariably took place in the evenings, after my return from school, so
that I lost my play-hours.  There were a great many officers with their
wives located in the palace, and, of course, no want of playmates.  The
girls used to go to the bosquet, which adjoined the gardens of the
palace, collect flowers, and make a garland, which they hung on a rope
stretched across the court-yard of the palace.  As the day closed in,
the party from each house, or apartments rather, brought out a lantern,
and having thus illuminated our ballroom by subscription, the boys and
girls danced the "_ronde_," and other games, until it was bedtime.  As
the window of my bedroom looked out upon the court, whenever I was put
into prison, I had the mortification of witnessing all these joyous
games, without being permitted to join in them.

To prove the effect of my grandmother's system of dreaming upon me, I
will narrate a circumstance which occurred.  My grandfather had a landed
property about four miles from Luneville.  A portion of this land was
let to a farmer, and the remainder he farmed on his own account, and the
produce was consumed in the house-keeping.  From this farm we received
milk, butter, cheese, all kinds of fruit, and indeed everything which a
farm produces.  In that part of France they have a method of melting
down and clarifying butter for winter use, instead of salting it.  This
not only preserves it, but, to most people, makes it more palatable; at
all events I can answer for myself, for I was inordinately fond of it.
There were eighteen or twenty jars of it in the store-room, which were
used up in rotation.  I dared not take any out of the jar in use, as I
should be certain to be discovered; so I went to the last jar, and by my
repeated assaults upon it, it was nearly empty before my grandmother
discovered it.  As usual, she had a dream.  She commenced with counting
over the number of jars of butter; and how she opened such a one, and it
was full; and then the next, and it was full; but before her dream was
half over, and while she was still a long way from the jar which I had
despoiled, I was on my knees, telling her the end of the dream, of my
own accord, for I could not bear the suspense of having all the jars
examined.  From that time, I generally made a full confession before the
dream was ended.

But when I was about nine years old, I was guilty of a very heavy
offence, which I shall narrate, on account of the peculiar punishment
which I received, and which might be advantageously pursued by the
parents of the present day, who may happen to cast their eyes over these
memoirs.  It was the custom for the children of the officers who lived
in the palace, that is, the girls, to club together occasionally, that
they might have a little _fete_ in the garden of the palace.  It was a
sort of pic-nic, to which every one contributed; some would bring cakes,
some fruit; some would bring money (a few sous) to purchase bon-bons, or
anything else which might be agreed upon.

On those occasions, my grandmother invariably gave me fruit, a very
liberal allowance of apples and pears, from the store-room; for we had
plenty from the orchard of the farm.  But one day, one of the elder
girls told me that they had plenty of fruit, and that I must bring some
money.  I asked my grandmother, but she refused me; and then this girl
proposed that I should steal some from my grandfather.  I objected; but
she ridiculed my objections, and pressed me until she overcame my
scruples, and I consented.  But when I left her after she had obtained
my promise, I was in a sad state.  I knew it was wicked to steal, and
the girl had taken care to point out to me how wicked it was to break a
promise.  I did not know what to do: all that evening I was in such a
state of feverish excitement, that my grandmother was quite astonished.
The fact was, that I was ashamed to retract my promise, and yet I
trembled at the deed that I was about to do.  I went into my room and
got into bed.  I remained awake; and about midnight I got up, and
creeping softly into my grandfather's room, I went to his clothes, which
were on a chair, and rifled his pockets of--two sous!

Having effected my purpose, I retired stealthily, and gained my own
room.  What my feelings were when I was again in bed I cannot well
describe--they were horrible--I could not shut my eyes for the remainder
of the night and the next morning I made my appearance, haggard, pale,
and trembling.  It proved, however, that my grandfather who was awake,
had witnessed the theft in silence, and informed my grandmother of it.
Before I went to school, my grandmother called me in to her, for I had
avoided her.

"Come here, Valerie," said she, "I have had a dream--a most dreadful
dream--it was about a little girl, who, in the middle of the night,
crept into her grandfather's room--"

I could bear no more.  I threw myself on the floor, and, in agony,
screamed out--

"Yes, grandmamma, and stole two sous."

A paroxysm of tears followed the confession, and for more than an hour I
remained on the floor, hiding my face and sobbing.  My grandmother
allowed me to remain there--she was very much annoyed--I had committed a
crime of the first magnitude--my punishment was severe.  I was locked up
in my room for ten days: but this was the smallest portion of the
punishment: every visitor that came in, I was sent for, and on my making
my appearance, my grandmother would take me by the hand, and leading me
up, would formally present me to the visitors.

"Permettez, madame (ou monsieur), que je vous presente Mademoiselle
Valerie, qui est enfermee dans sa chambre, pour avoir vole deux sous de
son grand-pere."

Oh! the shame, the mortification that I felt.  This would take place at
least ten times a day; and each succeeding presentation was followed by
a burst of tears, as I was again led back to my chamber.  Severe as this
punishment was, the effect of it was excellent.  I would have endured
martyrdom, after what I had gone through, before I would have taken what
was not my own.  It was a painful, but a judicious, and most radical
cure.

For five years I remained under the care of this most estimable woman,
and, under her guidance, had become a truthful and religious girl; and I
may conscientiously add, that I was as innocent as a lamb--but a change
was at hand.  The Emperor had been hurled from his throne, and was shut
up on a barren rock, and soon great alterations were made in the French
army.  My father's regiment of huzzars had been disbanded, and he was
now appointed to a dragoon regiment, which was ordered to Luneville.  He
arrived with my mother and a numerous family, she having presented him
with seven more children; so that, with Auguste and me, he had now nine
children.  I may as well here observe that my mother continued to add
yearly to the family, till she had fourteen in all, and out of these
there were seven boys; so that, had the Emperor remained on the throne
of France, my father would certainly have secured the pension.

The arrival of my family was a source both of pleasure and pain to me.
I was most anxious to see all my brothers and sisters, and my heart
yearned towards my father and mother, although I had no recollection of
them; but I was fearful that I should be removed from my grandmother's
care, and she was equally alarmed at the chance of our separation.
Unfortunately for me, it turned out as we had anticipated.  My mother
was anything but gracious to my grandmother, notwithstanding the
obligations she was under to her, and very soon took an opportunity of
quarrelling with her.  The cause of the quarrel was very absurd, and
proved that it was predetermined on the part of my mother.  My
grandmother had some curious old carved furniture, which my mother
coveted, and requested my grandmother to let her have it.  This my
grandmother would not consent to, and my mother took offence at her
refusal.  I and my brother were immediately ordered home, my mother
asserting that we had been both very badly brought up; and this was all
the thanks that my grandmother received for her kindness to us, and
defraying all our expenses for five years.  I had not been at home more
than a week, when my father's regiment was ordered to Nance; but, during
this short period, I had sufficient to convince me that I should be very
miserable.  My mother's dislike to me, which I have referred to before,
now assumed the character of positive hatred, and I was very
ill-treated.  I was employed as a servant, and as nurse to the younger
children; and hardly a day passed without my feeling the weight of her
hand.  We set off for Nance, and I thought my heart would break as I
quitted the arms of my grandmother, who wept over me.  My father was
very willing to leave me with my grandmother, who promised to leave her
property to me; but this offer in my favour enraged my mother still
more; she declared that I should not remain; and my father had long
succumbed to her termagant disposition, and yielded implicit obedience
to her authority.  It was lamentable to see such a fine soldierlike man
afraid even to speak before this woman; but he was completely under her
thraldom, and never dared to contradict.

As soon as we were settled in the barracks at Nance, my mother commenced
her system of persecution in downright earnest.  I had to make all the
beds, wash the children, carry out the baby, and do every menial office
for my brothers and sisters, who were encouraged to order me about.  I
had very good clothes, which had been provided me by my grandmother;
they were all taken away, and altered for my younger sisters; but what
was still more mortifying, all my sisters had lessons in music, dancing,
and other accomplishments, from various masters, whose instructions I
was not permitted to take advantage of, although there would have been
no addition to the expense.

"Oh! my father," cried I, "why is this?--what have I done?--am not I
your daughter--your eldest daughter?"

"I will speak to your mother," replied he.

And he did venture to do so; but by so doing, he raised up such a
tempest, that he was glad to drop the subject, and apologise for an act
of justice.  Poor man! he could do no more than pity me.

I well remember my feelings at that time.  I felt that I could love my
mother, love her dearly, if she would have allowed me so to do.  I had
tried to obtain her good-will, but I received nothing in return but
blows, and at last I became so alarmed when in her presence that I
almost lost my reason.  My ears were boxed till I could not recollect
where I was, and I became stupefied with fear.  All I thought of, all my
anxiety, at last, was to get out of the room where my mother was.  My
terror was so great that her voice made me tremble, and at the sight of
her I caught my breath and gasped from alarm.  My brother Auguste was
very nearly as much an object of dislike to my mother as I was, chiefly
because he had been brought up by my grandmother, and moreover because
he would take my part.

The great favourite of my mother was my second brother Nicolas; he was a
wonderful musician, could play upon any instrument and the most
difficult music at sight.  This talent endeared him to my mother, who
was herself a first-rate musician.  He was permitted to order me about
just as he pleased, and if I did not please him, to beat me without
mercy, and very often my mother would fly at me and assist him.  But
Auguste took my part, and Nicolas received very severe chastisement from
him, but this did not help me; on the contrary, if Auguste interfered in
my behalf, my mother would pounce upon me, and I may say that I was
stunned with her blows.  Auguste appealed to his father, but he dared
not interfere.  He was coward enough to sit by and see his daughter
treated in this way without remonstrance; and, in a short time, I was
fast approaching to what my mother declared me to be--a perfect idiot.

I trust that my own sex will not think me a renegade when I say, that,
if ever there was a proof that woman was intended by the Creator to be
subject to man, it is, that once place power in the hands of woman, and
there is not one out of a hundred who will not abuse it.  We hear much
of the rights of woman, and their wrongs; but this is certain, that in a
family, as in a State, there can be no divided rule--no equality.  One
must be master, and no family is so badly managed, or so badly brought
up, as where the law of nature is reversed, and we contemplate that most
despicable of all _lusi naturae_--a hen-pecked husband.  To proceed, the
consequence of my mother's treatment, was to undermine in me all the
precepts of my worthy grandmother.  I was a slave; and a slave under the
continual influence of fear cannot be honest.  The fear of punishment
produced deceit to avoid it.  Even my brother Auguste, from his regard
and pity for me, would fall into the same error.  "Valerie," he would
say, running out to me as I was coming home with my little brother in my
arms, "your mother will beat you on your return.  You must say so and
so."  This so and so was, of course, an untruth; and, in consequence, my
fibs were so awkward, and accompanied by so much hesitation and
blushing, that I was invariably found out, and then punished for what I
did not deserve to be; and when my mother obtained such triumphant proof
against me, she did not fail to make the most of it with my father, who,
by degrees, began to consider that my treatment was merited, and that I
was a bad and deceitful child.

My only happiness was to be out in the open air, away from my mother's
presence, and this was only to be obtained when I was ordered out with
my little brother Pierre, whom I had to carry as soon as I had done the
household work.  If Pierre was fractious, my mother would order me out
of the house with him immediately.  This I knew, and I used to pinch the
poor child to make him cry, that I might gain my object, and be sent
away; so that to duplicity I added cruelty.  Six months before this, had
any one told me that I ever would be guilty of such a thing, with what
indignation I should have denied it!

Although my mother flattered herself that it was only in her own
domestic circle that her unnatural conduct towards me was known, such
was not the case, and the treatment which I received from her was the
occasion of much sympathy on the part of the officers and their wives,
who were quartered in the barracks.  Some of them ventured to
remonstrate with my father for his consenting to it; but although he was
cowed by a woman, he had no fear of men, and as he told them candidly
that any future interference in his domestic concerns must be answered
by the sword, no more was said to him on the subject.  Strange, that a
man should risk his life with such indifference, rather than remedy an
evil, and yet be under such thraldom to a woman!--that one who was
always distinguished in action as the most forward and the most brave,
should be a trembling coward before an imperious wife!  But this is a
world of sad contradictions.

There was a lady in the barracks, wife to one of the superior officers,
who was very partial to me.  She had a daughter, a very sweet girl, who
was also named Valerie.  When I could escape from the house, I used to
be constantly with them; and when I saw my name-sake caressing and
caressed, in the arms of her mother, as I was sitting by on a stool, the
tears would run down at the thoughts that such pleasure was debarred
from me.

"Why do you cry, Valerie?"

"Oh! madam, why have I not a mother like your Valerie?  Why am I to be
beat instead of being caressed and fondled like her?  What have I
done?--But she is not my mother--I'm sure she cannot be--I will never
believe it!"

And such had really become my conviction, and in consequence I never
would address her by the title of mother.  This my mother perceived, and
it only added to her ill-will.  Only permit any one feeling or passion
to master you--allow it to increase by never being in the slightest
degree checked, and it is horrible to what an excess it will carry you.
About this time, my mother proved the truth of the above observation, by
saying to me, as she struck me to the ground--

"I'll kill you," cried she; and then, catching her breath, said in a
low, determined tone, "Oh!  I only wish that I dared."



CHAPTER TWO.

One day, a short time after this, I was walking out as usual with my
little brother Pierre in my arms; I was deep in thought; in imagination
I was at Luneville with my dear grandmother, when my foot slipped and I
fell.  In trying to save my brother I hurt myself very much, and he,
poor child, was unfortunately very much hurt as well as myself.  He
cried and moaned piteously, and I did all that I could to console him,
but he was in too much pain to be comforted.  I remained out for an hour
or two, not daring to go home, but the evening was closing in and I
returned at last.  The child, who could not yet speak, still moaned and
cried, and I told the truth as to the cause of it.  My mother flew at
me, and I received such chastisement that I could be patient no longer,
and I pushed my mother from me; I was felled to the ground and left
there bleeding profusely.

After a time I rose up and crawled to bed.  I reflected upon all I had
suffered, and made up my mind that I would no longer remain under my
father's roof.  At daybreak I dressed myself, hastened out of the
barracks, and set off for Luneville, which was fifteen miles distant.  I
had gained about half the way when I was met by a soldier of the
regiment who had once been our servant.  I tried to avoid him, but he
recognised me.  I then begged him not to interfere with me, and told him
that I was running away to my grandmother's.  Jacques, for that was his
name, replied that I was right, and that he would say nothing about it.

"But, mademoiselle," continued he, "you will be tired before you get to
Luneville, and may have a chance of a conveyance if you have money to
pay for it."

He then slipped a five-franc piece into my hand, and left me to pursue
my way.  I continued my journey, and at last arrived at the farm
belonging to my grandfather, which I have before mentioned, as being
about four miles from the town.  I was afraid to go direct to Luneville,
on account of my grandfather, who, I knew from motives of parsimony,
would be unwilling to receive me.  I told my history to the farmer's
wife, showing her my face covered with bruises and scars, and entreated
her to go to my grandmother's and tell her where I was.  She put me to
bed, and the next morning set off for Luneville, and acquainted my
grandmother with the circumstances.  The old lady immediately ordered
her _char-a-banc_ and drove out for me.  There was proof positive of my
mother's cruelty, and the good old woman shed tears over me when she had
pulled off the humble blue cotton dress which I wore and examined my
wounds and bruises.  When we arrived at Luneville, we met with much
opposition from my grandfather, but my grandmother was resolute.

"Since you object to my receiving her in the house," said she, "at all
events you cannot prevent my doing my duty towards her, and doing as I
please with my own money.  I shall, therefore, send her to school and
pay her expenses."

As soon as new clothes could be made for me, I was sent to the best
_pension_ in Luneville.  Shortly afterwards my father arrived; he had
been despatched by my mother to reclaim me and bring me back with him,
but he found the tide too strong against him, and my grandmother
threatened to appeal to the authorities and make an exposure; this he
knew would be a serious injury to his character, and he was therefore
compelled to go back without me, and I remained a year and a half at the
_pension_, very happy and improving very fast in my education and my
personal appearance.

But I was not destined to be so happy long.  True it was, that during
this year and a half of tranquillity and happiness, the feelings created
by my mother's treatment had softened down, and all animosity had long
been discarded, but I was too happy to want to return home again.  At
the expiration of this year and a half, my father's regiment was again
ordered to shift their quarters to a small town, the name of which I now
forget, but Luneville lay in their route.  My mother had for some time
ceased to importune my father about my return.  The fact was, that she
had been so coldly treated by the other ladies at Nance, in consequence
of her behaviour to me, that she did not think it advisable; but now
that they were about to remove, she insisted upon my father taking me
with him, promising that I should be well-treated, and have the same
instruction as my sisters; in fact, she promised everything;
acknowledging to my grandmother that she had been too hasty to me, and
was very sorry for it.  Even my brother Auguste thought that she was now
sincere, and my father, my brother, and even my dear grandmother,
persuaded me to consent.  My mother was now very kind and affectionate
towards me, and as I really wanted to love her, I left the _pension_ and
accompanied the family to their new quarters.

But this was all treachery on the part of my mother.  Regardless of my
advantage, as she had shown herself on every occasion, she had played
her part that she might have an opportunity of discharging an
accumulated debt of revenge, which had been heaped up in consequence of
the slights she had received from other people on account of her
treatment of me.  We had hardly been settled in our new abode, before my
mother burst out again with a virulence which exceeded all her former
cruelty.  But I was no longer the frightened victim that I had been; I
complained to my father, and insisted upon justice; but that was
useless.  My brother Auguste now took my part in defiance of his father,
and it was one scene of continual family discord.  I had made many
friends, and used to remain at their houses all day.  As for doing
household work, notwithstanding her blows, I refused it.  One morning my
mother was chastising me severely, when my brother Auguste, who was
dressed in his hussar uniform, came in and hastened to my assistance,
interposing himself between us.  My mother's rage was beyond all bounds.

"Wretch," cried she, "would you strike your mother?"

"No," replied he, "but I will protect my sister.  You barbarous woman,
why do you not kill her at once, it would be a kindness?"

It was after this scene that I resolved that I would again return to
Luneville.  I did not confide my intentions to anyone, not even to
Auguste.  There was a great difficulty in getting out of the front door
without being perceived, and my bundle would have created suspicion; by
the back of the house the only exit was through a barred window.  I was
then fourteen years old but very slight in figure.  I tried if my head
would pass through the bars, and succeeding, I soon forced my body
through, and seizing my bundle, made all haste to the diligence office.
I found that it was about to start for Luneville, which was more than
half a day's journey distant.  I got in very quickly, and the conducteur
knowing me, thought that all was right, and the diligence drove off.

There were two people in the coupe with me, an officer and his wife;
before we had proceeded far they asked me where I was going, I replied
to my grandmother's at Luneville.  Thinking it, however, strange that I
should be unaccompanied, they questioned, until they extracted the whole
history from me.  The lady wished me to come to her on a visit, but the
husband, more prudent, said that I was better under the care of my
grandmother.

About mid-day we stopped to change horses at an auberge called the Louis
d'Or, about a quarter of a mile from Luneville.  Here I alighted without
offering any explanation to the conducteur; but as he knew me and my
grandmother well, that was of no consequence.  My reason for alighting
was, that the diligence would have put me down at the front of the
palace, where I was certain to meet my grandfather, who passed the major
portion of the day there, basking on one of the seats, and I was afraid
to see him until I had communicated with my grandmother.  I had an uncle
in the town, and I had been very intimate with my cousin Marie, who was
a pretty, kind-hearted girl, and I resolved that I would go there, and
beg her to go to my grandmother.  The difficulty was, how to get to the
house without passing the front of the palace, or even the bridge across
the river.  At last I decided that I would walk down by the river side
until I was opposite to the bosquet, which adjoined the garden of the
palace, and there wait till it was low water, when I knew that the river
could be forded, as I had often seen others do so.

When I arrived opposite to the bosquet I sat down on my bundle, by the
banks of the river for two or three hours, watching the long feathery
weeds at the bottom, which moved gently from one side to the other with
the current of the stream.  As soon as it was low water, I pulled off my
shoes and stockings, put them into my bundle, and raising my petticoats,
I gained the opposite shore without difficulty.  I then replaced my
shoes and stockings, crossed the bosquet, and gained my uncle's house.
My uncle was not at home, but I told my story and showed my bruises to
Marie, who immediately put on her bonnet and went to my grandmother.
That night I was again installed in my own little bedroom, and most
gratefully did I pray before I went to sleep.

This time my grandmother took more decided steps.  She went to the
commandant of the town, taking me with her, pointing out the treatment
which I had received, and claiming his protection; she stated that she
had educated me and brought me up, and that she had a claim upon me.  My
mother's treatment of me was so notorious, that the commandant
immediately decided that my grandmother had a right to detain me; and
when my father came a day or two after to take me back, he was ordered
home by the commandant, with a severe rebuke, and the assurance that I
should not return to a father who could permit such cruelty and
injustice.

I was now once more happy; but as I remained in the house, my
grandfather was continually vexing my grandmother on my account;
nevertheless, I remained there more than a year, during which I learnt a
great deal, particularly lace-work and fine embroidery, at which I
became very expert.  But now there was another opposition raised, which
was on the part of my uncle, who joined my grandfather in annoying the
old lady.  The fact was, that when I was not there, my grandmother was
very kind and generous to my cousin Marie, who certainly deserved it;
but now that I was again with her, all her presents and expenses were
lavished upon me, and poor Marie was neglected.

My uncle was not pleased at this; he joined my grandfather, and they
pointed out that I was now more than fifteen, and my mother dare not
beat me, and as my father was continually writing for me to return, it
was her duty not to oppose.  Between the two, my poor grandmother was so
annoyed and perplexed that she hardly knew what to do.  They made her
miserable, and at last they worried her into consenting that I should
return to my family which had now removed to Colmar.  I did not know
this.  It was my grandmother's birthday.  I had worked for her a
beautiful sachet in lace and embroidery, which, with a large bouquet, I
brought to her as a present.  The old lady folded me in her arms and
burst into tears.  She then told me that we must part, and that I must
return to my father's.  Had a dagger been thrust to my heart, I could
not have received more anguish.

"Yes, dear Valerie," continued she, "you must leave me to-morrow; I can
no longer prevent it.  I have not the health and spirits that I had.  I
am growing old--very old."

I did not remonstrate or try to make her alter her decision.  I knew how
much she had been annoyed and worried for my sake, and I felt that I
would bear everything for hers.  I cried bitterly.  The next morning my
father made his appearance and embraced me with great affection.  He was
much pleased with my personal improvement.  I was now fast budding into
womanhood, although I had the feelings of a mere child.  I bade farewell
to my grandmother, and also to my grandfather, whom I never saw again,
as he died three months after I quitted Luneville.

I trust my readers will not think that I dwell too long upon this
portion of my life.  I do it because I consider it is necessary they
should know in what manner I was brought up, and also the cause of my
leaving my family, as I afterwards did.  If I had stated merely that I
could not agree with my mother who treated me cruelly, they might have
imagined that I was not warranted, in a moment of irritation, in taking
such a decided step; but when they learn that my persecutions were
renewed the moment that I was again in my mother's power, and that
nothing could conquer her inveteracy against me, neither time, nor
absence, nor submission on my part, nor remonstrance from others; not
even a regard for her own character, nor the loss of her friends and
acquaintances, they will then acknowledge that I could have done no
otherwise, unless I preferred being in daily risk of my life.  On my
arrival at Colmar, my mother received me graciously, but her politeness
did not last long.  I now gave a new cause of offence--one that a woman,
proud of her beauty and jealous of its decay, does not easily forgive.
I was admired and paid great attention to by the officers, much more
attention than she received herself.

"M.  Chatenoeuf," the officers would say, "you have begotten a daughter
much handsomer than yourself."  My mother considered this as a polite
way to avoid saying that I was much handsomer than she was.  If she
thought so, she did herself a great injustice, for I could not be
compared to what she was, when she was of my age.  She was even then a
most splendid matron.  But I had youth in my favour, which is more than
half the battle.  At all events, the remarks and attentions of the
officers aroused my mother's spleen, and she was more harsh in language
than ever, although I admit that it was but seldom that she resorted to
blows.

I recollect that one day, when I was not supposed to be in hearing, one
of the officers said to another, "Ma foi, elle est jolie--elle a besoin
de deux ans, et elle sera parfaite."  So childish and innocent was I at
that time, that I could not imagine what they meant.

"Why was I to be two years older?"  I thought, and puzzled over it till
I fell fast asleep.  The attentions of the officers, and the flattery he
received from them on my account, appeared to have more effect on my
father than I could have imagined.  Perhaps he felt that I was somebody
to be proud of, and his vanity gave him that courage to oppose my
mother, which his paternal feelings had not roused.  I recollect one
instance particularly.  There was a great ceremony to be performed in
the church, no less than the christening of the two new bells, previous
to their being hoisted up in the belfry.  The officers told my father
that I must be present, and on his return home he stated to my mother
his intention of taking me with him on the following day to see the
ceremony.

"She can't go--she has no clothes fit to wear," cried my mother.

"Why has she not, madame?" replied my father, sternly.  "Let her have
some ready for to-morrow, and without fail."

My mother perceived that my father was not to be trifled with, and
therefore thought proper to acquiesce.  Pity it was that he did not use
his authority a little more, after he had discovered that he could
regain it if he pleased.

On the following day I accompanied my father, who was one of the
officers on duty in the interior of the church, and as he stood in
advance of his men, I remained at his side, and of course had a very
complete view of the whole ceremony.  I was very neatly-dressed, and my
father received many compliments upon my appearance.  At last the
ceremony began.  The church was lined with troops to keep back the
crowd, and the procession entered the church, the bishop walking under a
canopy, attended by the priests, then the banners, and pretty children,
dressed as angels, tossing frankincense from silver censers.  The two
bells were in the centre of the church, both of them dressed in white
petticoats, which covered them completely, ornamented with ribbons, and
a garland of flowers upon the head of each--if I may so designate their
tops.  The godmothers, dressed in white as on baptismal ceremonies, and
the godfathers in court suits, stood on each side.  They had been
selected from the _elite_ of the families in the town.  The organ and
the military band relieved each other until the service commenced.  The
bishop read the formula; the godmothers and godfathers gave the
customary security; the holy water was sprinkled over the bells, and
thus were they regularly baptised.  One was named Eulalie and the other
Lucile.  It was a very pretty ceremony, and I should have liked to have
been present at their "_premiere communion_" if it ever took place.

My English readers may consider this as a piece of mummery.  At the time
I did not.  As a good Catholic, which I was at that time, and a pretty
Frenchwoman, I thought that nothing could be more correct than the
_decoration des belles_.  I believe that it has always been the custom
to name bells--to consecrate them most certainly--and if we call to mind
what an important part they perform in our religion, I do not wonder at
it.  By being consecrated, they receive the rites of the church.  Why,
therefore, should they not receive the same rites in baptism?  But why
baptise them?  Because they speak to us in many ways, and with their
loud tongues express the feelings, and make known the duties imposed
upon us.  Is there cause for the nation to rejoice, their merry notes
proclaim it from afar; in solemn tones they summon us to the house of
prayer, to the lifting of the Host, and to the blessing of the priest;
and it is their mournful notes which announce to us that one of our
generation has been summoned away, and has quitted this transitory
abode.  Their offices are Christian offices, and therefore are they
received into the church.



CHAPTER THREE.

An elder sister of my mother's resided at Colmar, and I passed most of
my time with her during our stay.  When my father's regiment was ordered
to Paris, this lady requested that I might remain with her; but my
mother refused, telling her sister that she could not, conscientiously
as a mother, allow any of her daughters to quit her care for any worldly
advantage.  That this was mere hypocrisy, the reader will imagine;
indeed, it was fully proved so to be in two hours afterwards, by my
mother telling my father that if her sister had offered to take Clara,
my second sister, she would have consented.  The fact was, that the old
lady had promised to dower me very handsomely (for she was rich), and my
mother could not bear any good fortune to come to me.

We passed through Luneville on our road to Paris, and I saw my dear
grandmother for the last time.  She requested that I might be left with
her, making the same offer as she did before, of leaving me all her
property at her death, but my mother would not listen to any
solicitation.  Now as our family was now fourteen in number, she surely
might, in either of the above instances, have well spared me, and it
would have been a relief to my father; but this is certain, she would
not spare me, although she never disguised her dislike, and would, if
she had dared, have treated me as she had formerly done.  I was very
anxious to stay with my dear grandmother.  She had altered very much
since my grandfather's death, and was evidently breaking up fast; but my
mother was inexorable.  We continued our route, and arrived at Paris,
where we took up our quarters in the barracks close to the Boulevards.

My mother was as harsh as ever, and now recommenced her boxes of the
ear--which during the time we were at Colmar had but seldom been
applied.  In all my troubles I never was without friends.  I now made an
acquaintance with the wife of the colonel of the regiment who joined us
at Paris.  She had no children.  I imparted all my troubles to her, and
she used to console me.  She was a very religious woman, and as I had
been brought up in the same way by my grandmother, she was pleased to
find piety in one so young, and became much attached to me.  She had a
sister, a widow of large fortune, who lived in the Rue St Honore, a very
pleasant, lively woman, but very sarcastic when she pleased, and not
caring what she said if her feelings prompted her.  I constantly met her
at the colonel's house, and she invited me to come and see her at her
own, but I knew that my mother would not permit me, so I did not ask.
As the colonel was my father's superior officer, all attempts to break
off my intimacy with her which my mother made, were unavailing, and I
passed as usual all my time in any other house except my home.

I have now to record but two more beatings.  The reader may think that I
have recorded enough already, but as these were the two last, and they
were peculiar, I must beg him to allow me so to do.  The first beating
was given me for the following cause: A very gentlemanlike young officer
in the regiment was very particular in his attentions to me.  I liked
his company, but my thoughts had never been directed towards marriage,
for I was too childish and innocent.  One morning it appeared that he
proposed to my father, who immediately gave his consent, provided that I
was agreeable, and this he ventured to do without consulting my mother.
Perhaps he thought it a good opportunity to remove me from my mother's
persecution.  At all events when he made known to her what he had done,
and requested her to sound me on the subject, she was in no pleasant
humour.  When she did so, my reply was (he being a very
dark-complexioned man, although well-featured), "Non, maman, je ne veux
pas.  Il est trop noir."

To my astonishment, my mother flew at me, and I received such an
avalanche of boxes on the ears for this reply, that I was glad to make
my escape as fast as I could, and locked myself up in my own room.  Now
I really believe that I was almost a single instance of a young lady
having her ears well boxed for refusing to marry a man that she did not
care for--but such was my fate.

The treatment I received in this instance got wind in the barracks, and
my cause was warmly taken up by every one.  Finding myself thus
supported, I one day ventured to refuse to do a very menial and
unpleasant office, and for this refusal I received the second beating.
It was the last certainly, but it was the most severe, for my mother
caught up a hearth-brush, and struck me for several minutes such a
succession of severe blows, that my face was so disfigured that I was
hardly to be recognised, my head cut open in several places, and the
blood pouring down me in every direction.  At last she left me for dead
on the floor.  After a time I recovered my recollection, and when I did
so, I sprang away from the servants who had been supporting me, and with
my hair flying in the wind, and my face and dress streaming with blood,
I ran across the barrack-yard to the colonel's house, and entering the
room in which she was sitting with her sister, sank at her feet, choking
with the blood which poured out of my mouth.

"Who is it?" exclaimed she, springing up in horror and amazement.

"Valerie--pauvre Valerie," moaned I, with my face on the floor.

They raised me up, sent for the servants, took me into a bedroom, and
sent for the surgeon of the regiment, who lived in the barracks.  As
soon as I was somewhat recovered, I told them that it was my mother's
treatment; and I became so excited, that as soon as the surgeon had left
the house, I cried, "Never, madam, will I again enter my father's house;
never while I live--if you do not protect me--or if nobody else will--if
you send me back again, I will throw myself in the Seine.  I swear it as
I kneel."

"What is to be done, sister?" said the colonel's wife.

"I will see.  At all events, Valerie, I will keep you here a few days
till something can be arranged.  It is now quite dark, and you shall
stay here, and sleep on this bed."

"Or the bed of the river," replied I; "I care not if it were that, for I
should not rise up to misery.  I have made a vow, and I repeat, that I
never will enter my father's house again."

"My dear Valerie," said the colonel's wife, in a soothing tone.

"Leave her to me, sister," said the other, who was busy arranging my
hair now that my wounds had stopped bleeding, "I will talk to her.  The
colonel will be home directly, and you must receive him."

Madame Allarde, for that was the colonel's wife's name, left the room.
As soon as she was gone, Madame d'Albret, her sister, said to me,
"Valerie, I fear that what you have said you will adhere to, and you
will throw yourself into the river."

"Yes, if I am taken back again," replied I.  "I hope God will forgive
me, but I feel I shall, for my mind is overthrown, and I am not sane at
times."

"My poor child, you may go back again to your father's house, because my
sister and her husband, in their position, cannot prevent it, but
believe me, you shall not remain there.  As long as I have a home to
offer, you shall never want one; but you must listen to me.  I wish to
serve you and to punish your unnatural mother, and I will do so, but
Valerie, you must well weigh circumstances before you decide; I say that
I can offer you a home, but recollect life is uncertain, and if it
pleases God to summon me, you will have a home no longer.  What will you
do then?--for you will never be able to return to your father's house."

"You are very kind, madam," replied I, "but my resolution is formed, and
I will work for my daily bread in any way that I can, rather than
return.  Put me but in the way of doing that, and I will for ever bless
you."

"You shall never work for your bread while I live, Valerie, but if I
die, you will have to do something for your own support, and recollect
how friendless you will be, and so young."

"Can I be more friendless than I am at home, madame?" said I, shaking my
head, mournfully.

"Your father deserves punishment for his want of moral courage as well
as your mother," replied Madame d'Albret.  "You had better go to bed
now, and to-morrow give me your decision."

"To-morrow will make no change, madame," answered I, "but I fear that
there is no chance of my escape.  To-morrow my father will arrive for me
as usual, and--but I have said it.  You may preserve my life, madame,
but how I know not," and I threw myself down on the bed in despair.



CHAPTER FOUR.

About an hour afterwards Madame d'Albret, who had left me on the bed
while she went down to her sister, came up again, and spoke to me, but
from weakness occasioned by the loss of blood and from excitement, I
talked for many minutes in the most incoherent manner, and Madame
d'Albret was seriously alarmed.  In the meantime the colonel had come
home, and his wife explained what had happened.  She led him up to my
room just at the time that I was raving.  He took the candle, and looked
at my swelled features, and said, "I should not have recognised the poor
girl.  Mort de ma vie! but this is infamous, and Monsieur de Chatenoeuf
is a contemptible coward.  I will see him to-morrow morning."

The colonel and his wife then left the room.  By this time I had
recovered from my paroxysm.  Madame d'Albret came to me, and putting her
face close to mine, said, "Valerie."

"Yes, madame," replied I.

"Are you more composed now?  Do you think that you could listen to me?"

"Yes, madame, and thankfully," replied I.

"Well, then, my plan is this.  I am sure that the colonel will take you
home to-morrow.  Let him do so; in the morning I will tell you how to
behave.  To-morrow night you shall escape, and I will be with a _fiacre_
at the corner of the street ready to receive you.  I will take you to my
house, and no one, not even my sister, shall know that you are with me.
They will believe that you have thrown yourself into the Seine, and as
the regiment is ordered to Lyons, and will leave in ten days or a
fortnight, there will be no chance, if you are concealed till their
departure, of their knowing that you are alive."

"Thank you, thank you, madame, you know not how happy you have made me,"
replied I, pressing my hand to my heart, which throbbed painfully with
joy.  "God bless you, Madame d'Albret.  Oh, how I shall pray for you,
kind Madame d'Albret!"

Madame d'Albret shed tears over me after I had done speaking, and then
wishing me good-night, told me that she would see me in the morning, and
let me know what was going on, and then give me further directions for
my conduct.  She then left me, and I tried to go to sleep, but I was in
too much pain.  Once I did slumber, and dreamt that my mother was
beating me again.  I screamed with the pain that the blows gave me and
awoke.  I slept no more that night.  At daylight I rose, and, as may be
supposed, the first thing that I did was to look into the glass.  I was
terrified; my face was swelled so that my features were hardly
distinguishable; one eye was closed up, and the blood had oozed out
through the handkerchief which had been tied round my head by the
surgeon.  I was, indeed, an object.  The servant brought me up some
coffee, which I drank, and then remained till the colonel's wife came up
to me.

It was the first and only time that I ever beheld that good woman angry.
She called from the top of the stairs for her husband to come up; he
did so, looked at me, said nothing, but went down again.  About
half-an-hour afterwards Madame d'Albret and the surgeon came up
together.  The latter was interrogated by her as to the effects of the
injuries I had received, and after examination, he replied, that
although it would take some days for the inflammation and marks of the
blows to go away, yet he did not consider that eventually I should be in
any way disfigured.  This gave me great pleasure, as I suspect it would
have done any other pretty girl in my situation.  Madame d'Albret waited
till the surgeon was gone, and then gave me some further instructions,
which I obeyed to the letter.  She also brought me a black veil in case
I had not one of my own.  She then left me, saying, that the colonel had
sent for my father, and that she wished to be present at the interview.

My father came, and the colonel, after stating the treatment which I had
received, loaded him with reproaches; told him his conduct was that of a
coward to allow his wife to be guilty of such cruelty towards his child.
Then he sent Madame d'Albret to bring me down; when I entered, my
father started back with surprise; he had answered the colonel
haughtily, but when he beheld the condition I was in, he said, "Colonel,
you are right; I deserve all you have said and even more, but now do me
the favour to accompany me home.  Come, Valerie, my poor child, your
father begs your pardon."

As my father took my hand to lead me away, Madame d'Albret said to the
colonel, "My dear Allarde, do you not incur a heavy responsibility in
allowing that girl to go back again?  You know what she said yesterday."

"Yes, ma chere, I have been told by your sister, but it was said in a
state of excitement, and I have no doubt that kindness will remove all
such ideas.  Monsieur de Chatenoeuf, I am at your orders."

I never said a word during all this interview.  Madame d'Albret tied the
black veil round my head and let it fall to conceal my features, and I
was led home by my father accompanied by the colonel.  We went into the
room where my mother was sitting.  My father lifted the veil from my
face.

"Madame," said my father, in a severe tone, "do you see the condition to
which your barbarity has reduced this poor girl?  I have brought
Monsieur Allarde here to tell you before him, that your conduct has been
infamous, and that mine has been unpardonable in not having protected
her from your cruelty; but I now tell you, that you have bent the bow
till it has broken, and your power in this house is ended for ever."

My mother was so much astonished at this severe rebuke before witnesses,
that she remained with her mouth open and her eyes staring.  At last she
gave a sort of chuckling laugh.

"Madame, I am in earnest," continued my father, "and you shall find that
in future I command here.  To your room, madame, immediately!"

The last word was pronounced in a voice of thunder.  My mother rose, and
as she retired, burst into a passionate flood of tears.  The colonel
then took his leave, saying to my father.

"Tenez-vous la."

My father remained a quarter of an hour with me, consoling me and
blaming himself, and promising that in future he would see me done
justice to.  I heard him without reply.  The tears started in my eyes at
his kind expressions, but I felt there was no security for his adhering
to all he promised, and I trembled as I thought so.  He left me and went
out.  My mother, who had been watching, as soon as she saw that he had
left the house, hastened downstairs from her room, and came into the one
where I was sitting alone.

"So, mademoiselle," said she, panting, and apparently striving to
contain herself, "my power in this house is gone for ever, and all
through you.  Ha, ha, ha! we shall see, we shall see.  D'ye hear me,
creature?" continued she, with her clenched hand close to my face.  "No,
not yet," said she, after a pause, and then she left the room.

If my father's kindness had somewhat staggered my resolution, this
conduct of my mother's confirmed it.  I felt that she was right in what
she said, and that in a month she would regain her sway, and drive me to
desperation.  During the whole of that day I made no reply to anything
that was said to me by my brothers and sisters, who came in by stealth
to see me.  In this I followed the advice of Madame d'Albret, and at the
same time my own feelings and inclinations.  The servants who offered me
dinner, and coaxed me to take some nourishment, could not get any answer
from me, and at last one of them, who was a kind-hearted girl, burst out
into tears, crying that mademoiselle was _folle_.  My father did not
come home to dinner; my mother remained in her room till he came in in
the evening, and then he went up to her.  It wanted but half-an-hour of
the time that I had agreed to meet Madame d'Albret.  I waited that time,
during which I heard sounds of high altercation above stairs.  I was
quite alone, for my mother had prevented the children coming to me, and
as the clock struck, I dropped my veil over my face and quietly walking
out of the house, made for the rendezvous agreed.

I found the _fiacre_ with Madame d'Albret waiting for me, and stepping
into it, I was in a few minutes safely lodged in her splendid
comfortable apartments.  Madame d'Albret put me in a little cabinet
inside of her own room, so that no one, except one servant whom she
could trust, knew of my being on the premises.  There I was left to
recover from my bruises, and regain, if possible, my good looks.  On the
following day she repaired to the barracks, and remained with her sister
till the evening, when she returned, and came up to me.

"All has happened as I wished," said she, as she took off her bonnet;
"you are nowhere to be found, and they have not the least suspicion that
you are here.  When you were first missed, they thought you had returned
to the colonel's, and your father did not think it advisable to make
inquiry until the next morning, when to his surprise he learnt that you
had never been there.  The dismounted hussar, who was sentry during the
evening, was then examined; and he replied, that about half-past eight
o'clock, a young person, who by her figure he presumed to be
Mademoiselle Chatenoeuf, had gone out of the gates, but that she had a
thick veil over her face, and he could not see it.  When your father and
the colonel had interrogated the man and dismissed him, my poor sister
burst into tears and said, `Alas! alas! then she has kept her word, and
has thrown herself into the Seine.  Oh, Monsieur Allarde, my sister said
you would incur a heavy responsibility by sending that poor girl back,
and now it has proved but too true: poor dear Valerie!'  Your father and
the colonel were almost as much distressed as my sister, and it was just
at that time that I came in.

"`Sister,' cried Madame Allarde to me, `Valerie has left the barracks.'

"`What!' exclaimed I, `When? oh my fear was too true!' said I, clasping
my hands and then taking out my handkerchief, I covered my face and
sobbed.  I tell you, Valerie, that nothing but my affection for you
would have induced me to be so deceitful, but under the circumstances I
hope I was justified.  My assumed grief and distress quite removed any
suspicion of your being here, and shortly afterwards the colonel made a
sign to your father, and they both left the barracks; I have no doubt
they went down to the Morgue, to ascertain if their fears had already
been proved correct."

"What is the Morgue, madame?" said I.

"Do you not know, my child?  It is a small building by the side of the
Seine, where all bodies which are found in the river are laid out for
the examination of the friends of those who are missing.  Below the
bridges there is a large strong net laid across, which receives all the
bodies as they are swept away by the tide; that is, it receives many, if
not most of them, but some are never found again."

Madame Allarde did not fail to return to the barracks on the next day,
and found that a general excitement prevailed, not only among the
officers but the men.  My supposed suicide had been made known.  My
father had visited the Morgue a second time, and the police had been on
the search without success.  My mother dared not even show herself at
the window of her apartments, and found herself avoided even by her own
children.  As for my father, he was half mad, and never met her but to
load her with reproaches, and to curse his own folly in having so long
submitted to her imperious will.

"At all events, one good has arisen from your supposed death, Valerie,"
said Madame d'Albret, "which is, that your father has completely resumed
his authority, and I do not think will ever yield it up again."

"My poor father," replied I, shedding tears, "I feel for him."

"He is certainly to be pitied," replied Madame d'Albret, "but it is his
own conscience which must be his greatest tormentor.  He was selfish
enough not to feel for you during your years of persecution, and rather
than have his own comforts invaded by domestic brawls for a short
period, he allowed you to be sacrificed.  But observe, Valerie, if you
have still a wish to return to your parents, it is not too late.  The
regiment does not leave Paris till next Thursday."

"Oh, no, no," cried I, "my mother would kill me; don't mention that
again, madame," continued I, trembling.

"I will not, my child, for to tell you the truth, you would not appear
in so favourable a light, if you were now to return.  You have caused
much grief to my sister and husband, and they would not receive you with
cordiality after having thus trifled with their feelings.  It would also
be a victory for your mother; and I doubt not but that in a short time
she would again recover that power which for the present she has lost.
You never can be happy in your family after what has passed, and I think
that what has been done is for the best.  Your father can well spare one
child out of fourteen, having little more than a long sword for their
support.  Your supposed death will be the cause of your father retaining
his lawful authority, and preventing any of the remaining children
receiving such injustice as you have done; and remorse will check, if it
does not humanise your mother, and I trust that the latter will be the
case.  I had well weighed all this in my mind, my dear Valerie, before I
made the proposal, and I consider still that for your sake and for the
sake of others, it is better that you should be the sacrifice.
Nevertheless, I repeat, consult your own feelings, and if you repent the
step which you have taken, there is yet time for you to return."

"My dear madame, return I never will, unless I am taken by force.  All I
feel is, that I should like that my father's bitter anguish was assuaged
by his knowledge of my being still in existence."

"And so should I, Valerie, were it possible that the communication could
be made, and the same happy results be arrived at; but that cannot be,
unless it should please Heaven to summon your mother, and then you might
safely inform your father of your existence."

"You are right, madame."

"Yes, I think I am, Valerie; for, after all, your father duly deserves
his severe penance, which is, to visit the Morgue every day; but painful
as is the remedy, it is necessary for the cure."

"Yes, madame," replied I, sobbing, "all you say is true, but still I
cannot help weeping and pitying my poor father; not that it alters my
determination, but I cannot command my feelings."

"Your feelings do you honour, Valerie, and I do not blame you for your
grief.  Do not, however, indulge it to excess, for that is turning a
virtue into a failing."

There were still three days remaining previous to the departure of the
regiment for Lyons.  I was sorely distressed during this time.  I
pictured to myself my father's remorse, and would gladly have hastened
to the barracks and thrown myself into his arms, but my mother's image
rose before me, and her last words, "We shall see if my power is gone
for ever," rung in my ears; her clenched hand was apparently close to my
face, and then my resolution remained fixed.  The swelling of my
features had now subsided, and I had in some degree recovered my good
looks; still my eye and cheeks were tinged black and yellow in various
places, and the cuts on my head not quite healed.  However, I was
satisfied that the surgeon of the regiment was correct in his assertion
that I should not be the least disfigured by the treatment which I had
received.

"I have news for you," said Madame d'Albret, as she returned from the
barracks, where she had been to see her sister off on her journey.
"Your brother, Auguste, who you know has been away, has returned to
rejoin his regiment, but has since obtained his rank in another, which
is stationed at Brest."

"Why has he done so, madame? do you know? have you seen him?"

"Yes; he was at the colonel's; he stated that he could not remain in the
regiment if his mother continued with his father; that he should never
be able after what had happened to treat his mother with common
courtesy, still less with the duty of a son, and therefore he preferred
leaving the regiment."

"And my father, madame?"

"Your father allows him to act as he pleases; indeed, he feels the force
of what your brother says, and so does my brother-in-law, who has given
his assent, as commanding officer, to your brother's exchange.  Auguste
laments you very much, and the poor fellow looks very ill.  I think he
has done right, although it is a severe blow to your mother; but for her
I have no compassion."

"My mother never liked Auguste, madame."

"No, I believe that; but what annoys her is the cause of his leaving his
regiment, as it is open condemnation of her conduct."

"Yes, I can understand that feeling on her part," replied I.

"Well, Valerie, I did not return until the regiment was gone and the
barracks cleared.  You know the commandant always goes the last.  I saw
my sister safe off, and now I am here to tell you that you are no longer
a prisoner, but may make yourself comfortable by roving through my
apartments.  But the first affair which we must take in hand is your
wardrobe.  I am rich enough to furnish you, so that shall be seen to
immediately.  And, Valerie dear, let me now say once for all, what I do
not intend to repeat in words, but I hope to prove by my actions.  Look
upon me as your mother, for I have not taken you away from your family
without the resolution of supplying, as far as I can, not the mother you
have lost, but the mother which in your dreams you have fancied.  I love
you, my child, for you are deserving of love.  Treat me, therefore, with
that unlimited confidence and affection which your young and pure heart
yearns to pour out."

"Bless you, madame, bless you," cried I, bursting into tears, and
burying my face in her lap; "I feel that now I have a mother."



CHAPTER FIVE.

For several days I remained quiet in the little ante-chamber, during
which Madame d'Albret had been busy every morning driving in her
carriage, and ordering me a wardrobe; and as the various articles came
in, I was as much surprised as I was pleased at the taste which had been
shown, and the expense which must have been incurred.

"My dear madame," cried I, as each parcel was opened, "these are much
too good for me; recollect I am but a poor soldier's daughter."

"You were so," replied Madame d'Albret; "but you forget," continued she,
kissing my forehead, "that the poor soldier's daughter was drowned in
the Seine, and you are now the _protegee_ of Madame d'Albret.  I have
already mentioned to all my friends that I expect a young cousin from
Gascony, whom I have adopted, having no children of my own.  Your own
name is noble, and you may safely retain it, as there are no want of
Chatenoeufs in Gascony, and there have been former alliances between
them and the d'Albrets.  I have no doubt that if I were to refer back to
family records, that I could prove you to be a cousin, some three
hundred times removed, and that is quite enough.  As soon as you are
quite well, and I think in a week all vestiges of your ill-treatment
will be effaced, we will go down to my chateau for a few months, and we
will return to Paris in the season.  Has Madame Paon been here?"

"Yes, my dear madame, she has, and has taken my measure for the dresses;
but don't scold me.  I must cry a little, for I am so happy and so
grateful.  My heart will burst if I do not.  Bless you, bless you, dear
madame; little did I think before I saw you, that I should ever cry for
joy."

Madame d'Albret embraced me with much affection, and allowed me to give
vent to my feelings, which I did, bedewing her hands with my tears.  A
week afterwards, everything was ready, and we set off for the chateau in
Brittany, travelling in Madame d'Albret's post-chariot with an _avant
courier_, and without regard to expense.

And now I must make the reader somewhat better acquainted with my kind
protectress.  I little thought at the time that she offered me her
protection, that she was a personage of such consequence, but the fact
was, that her sister having made a very inferior match to her own, she,
out of delicacy, while the Colonel and his wife were at Paris, avoided
anything like state in paying them a visit, and I supposed that she was
much in the same rank and society as they were; but such was not the
case.

Madame d'Albret had married into one of the highest and most noble
families of France.  Her husband had died three years after their
marriage, and having no children, had left her a large revenue entirely
at her own disposal during her life, and wishing her to marry again, had
the property entailed upon her children if she had any, if not, after
her death, it was to go to a distant brand of the d'Albret family.  I
was informed that her income amounted to 60,000 livres per annum,
besides her chateau in the country, and the hotel in the Rue St Honore,
which belonged to her, although she only occupied a portion of it.  Her
husband had now been dead more than ten years, and Madame d'Albret had
not been persuaded by her numerous suitors to marry again.  She was
still handsome, about thirty-four years of age, and I hardly need say,
was in the very best society in Paris.  Such was the person who came to
the barracks in so unassuming a manner, and whose protection I was so
fortunate as to obtain.

I could dwell long upon the happy days that I passed at the chateau.
There was no want of society, and the _reunions_ were charming; and
being in the country, I was allowed to join them, having been formally
introduced by Madame d'Albret to all her visitors, as her cousin.  My
time was fully occupied.  Madame d'Albret, perceiving that I had great
talent for music and a fine voice, had procured me good masters, and
wishing to prove my gratitude by attention, I was indefatigable, and
made so rapid a progress, that my masters were surprised.  Music and
embroidery, at which I had before mentioned I was very expert, were my
only occupations--and on the latter my talents were exerted to please
Madame d'Albret, by offering her each piece as they were successively
taken from the frame.  So far from wishing to return to Paris, I was
unhappy at the idea of leaving the chateau.  Indeed, if the reader will
recall what I have narrated of my former life, he will at once perceive
that I could but be in a state of perfect happiness.

Until I was received by Madame d'Albret, I had lived a life of
persecution, and had not known kindness.  Fear was the passion which had
been acted upon, and which, I may say, had crushed both mind and body:
now all was kindness and love.  Praise, which I had never before
received, was now lavished upon me, and I felt my energies and talents
roused, and developing themselves in a way that astonished myself.  I
had not known what I was, or what I was capable of.  I had had no
confidence in myself, and I had believed myself to be almost as
incapable as my mother would have persuaded me, and everybody else.
This sudden change of treatment had a most surprising effect.  In the
course of a few months I had grown nearly three inches taller, and not
only my figure, but my features, had become so improved, that, although
not vain, it was impossible for me not to believe what every one said,
and what my glass told me, that I was very handsome, and that I should
make a great sensation when I was introduced at Paris.  But although I
believed this, I felt no desire.  I was too happy as I was, and would
not have exchanged the kindness of Madame d'Albret for the best husband
that France could produce; and when anything was mentioned by ladies who
visited Madame d'Albret, to that effect, and they talked about my future
establishment, my reply invariably was, "_Je ne veux pas_."  I had
always expressed my regrets that we should be obliged to go to Paris for
the season, and Madame d'Albret, who of course had no wish to part with
me so soon, and who felt that I was still young enough to remain for
some years single, made me very happy by telling me that she did not
intend to stay long in the capital, and that although I should appear at
her parties, she did not intend that I should be much at public places.
And so it proved; we went to Paris, and the best masters were procured
for me, but I did not go out with Madame d'Albret, except occasionally,
in her morning drives, and once or twice to the Opera and theatres.  My
music occupied the major portion of my time, and having expressed a wish
to learn English, I had a good master; but I had another resource from
an intimacy having arisen between me and Madame Paon, whom, I believe, I
have before mentioned as the first milliner in Paris.

This intimacy was brought about in the following manner.  Being very
clever with my needle, and having a great taste for dress, I used to
amuse myself at the chateau with inventing something new, not for
myself, but for Madame d'Albret, and very often surprised and pleased
her by making alterations or additions to her dresses, which were always
admired, and declared to be in the best taste.  On our arrival at Paris,
Madame Paon was visited of course, that the new fashions might be
ascertained, and she immediately remarked and admired my little
inventions.  I was therefore consulted whenever a new dress was to be
made for Madame d'Albret, and as Madame Paon was a very lady-like and
superior person, of a decayed, but good family, we soon became very
intimate.  We had been at Paris about two months, when one morning
Madame Paon observed to Madame d'Albret, that as I was learning English
it would not be a bad plan if Madame d'Albret was to drop me at her
establishment when she took her morning airing, as she had two highly
respectable English _modistes_ in her employ, who she found were
necessary for her English customers, and that I should learn more
English by an hour's conversation with them than a master could supply.
Madame d'Albret agreed with her, I was pleased at the idea, and
consequently three or four mornings in the week were passed at Madame
Paon's.

But the reader must be introduced to the establishment of Madame Paon,
or he may imagine that it was too condescending for a young lady in my
position to visit at a milliner's.  Madame Paon was the first milliner
at Paris, and as is generally the case, was on the most intimate terms
with all the ladies.  She made for the court, and, indeed, for every
lady to whom she could dedicate her time, as it was almost a favour to
be permitted to be one of her customers.  Her establishment was in the
Rue St Honore, I forget the name of the hotel, but it was one of the
largest.

The suite of apartments were magnificent.  You passed from one room to
another, each displaying every variety of rich and graceful costume.  In
every room were demoiselles well-dressed to attend to the customers, and
everything bespoke a degree of taste and elegance quite unparalleled.
At last you arrived at the reception-room of madame, which was spacious
and most superbly furnished.  There were no men in the establishment
except in one room, called the Comptoir, in which were six clerks at
their desks.  When I add that Madame Paon was elegant in her manners,
and handsome in her person, very tall and majestic, that she was rich,
kept several servants, a handsome carriage, and had a _maison de
campagne_, to which she retired every Saturday afternoon, the reader may
acknowledge that she was a person whom Madame d'Albret might permit me
to visit.

This intimacy soon became very great.  There was a certain degree of
_eclat_ at my being so constantly in the house, and, moreover, as I had
a decided taste for dress, I often brought forward some new invention
which was not only approved of, but a source of profit to Madame Paon.
Everything was submitted to my judgment as Madame Paon more than once
observed, "What a first-rate _modiste_ you would make, mademoiselle;
but, unfortunately for the fashions, there is no chance of your being so
employed."

At last the Paris season was nearly over, and truly glad was I when
Madame d'Albret mentioned the day of our departure.  I had very much
improved in my music and my English during our residence at Paris.  I
had not been out except to small parties, and had no wish whatever to go
out at all.  I was satisfied with Madame d'Albret's company, and had no
wish to leave her.  I may say that I was truly happy, and my countenance
was radiant, and proved that I was so.  My thoughts would occasionally
revert to my father and my brother Auguste, and make me melancholy for
the time, but I felt that all was for the best, and I built castles, in
which I imagined my suddenly breaking in upon them, throwing myself in
my father's arms, and requesting him to share the wealth and luxury with
which I fancied myself to be endowed.

I was now nearly eighteen years old.  I had been one year under the
protection of Madame d'Albret, and the old dowagers who visited us at
the chateau were incessantly pointing out to Madame d'Albret that it was
time to look out for an establishment for me.  Madame d'Albret was, to a
certain degree, of their opinion, but she did not wish to part with me,
and I was resolute in my determination not to leave her.  I had no wish
to be married; I had reflected much upon the subject; the few married
lives I had witnessed were not to my taste.  I had seen my kind-hearted
amiable grandmother thwarted by a penurious husband; I had witnessed my
father under the control of a revengeful woman; and when I beheld, as I
did every day, the peace and happiness in the establishment of Madame
d'Albret as a single woman, I felt certain that marriage was a lottery
in which there were thousands of blanks to one prize.  When, therefore,
any of Madame d'Albret's acquaintances brought up the subject, when they
left the room I earnestly implored Madame d'Albret not to be influenced
by their remarks, as I had made up my mind to remain single, and that
all I asked was to remain with her and prove my gratitude.

"I believe you, Valerie," replied Madame d'Albret, "but I should not be
doing my duty if I permitted you to act upon your own feelings.  A girl
like you was not intended by Heaven to pine away in celibacy, but to
adorn the station in life in which she is placed.  At the same time, I
will not press the matter, but if an advantageous offer were to be made,
I shall then consider it my duty to exert my influence with you to make
you change your mind, but, at the same time, I will never use anything
more than persuasion.  I am too happy with you as a companion to wish to
part with you, but, at the same time, I should be very selfish if I did
not give you up when your own interest told me that such was my duty."

"Well, madame, I thank Heaven that I have no fortune, and that will, I
trust, be a bar to any proposals from the interested gentleman of the
present day."

"That may not save you, Valerie," replied Madame d'Albret, laughing,
"gentlemen may be satisfied with expectancies; nay, it is possible that
one may be found who may be satisfied with your own pretty self, and ask
no more."

"I rather think not, madame," replied I.  "You have too good an opinion
of me, and must not expect others to view me with your partial eyes; all
I can say is, that if such a gentleman could be found, his
disinterestedness would make me think more highly of him than I do of
the sex at present, although not sufficiently well to wish me to change
my present condition."

"Well, well, we shall see," replied Madame d'Albret, "the carriage is at
the door, so bring me my bonnet and cashmere."

A few weeks after our return to the chateau, a Monsieur de G--, of an
old family in Brittany, who had been for the last two years in England,
returned to his father's house, and called upon Madame d'Albret.  She
had known him from childhood, and received him most cordially.  I must
describe him fully, as he played no small part in my little drama.  He
was, I should think, nearly thirty years of age, small in person but
elegantly made, with a very handsome but rather effeminate face.  His
address and manners were perfect.  He was very witty, and apparently
very amiable.  His deportment towards our sex was certainly most
fascinating--so tender and so respectful.  I certainly never had before
seen so polished a man.  He sang well, and played upon several
instruments; drew, caricatured--indeed, he did everything well that he
attempted to do; I hardly need say that with such qualifications, and
being so old a friend, that he was gladly welcomed by Madame d'Albret,
and became a daily visitor at the chateau.  I was soon intimate with him
and partial to his company, but nothing more; indeed, his attentions to
Madame d'Albret were quite as great as to me, and there was nothing to
permit any one to suppose that he was paying his court either to her or
to me.  Madame d'Albret thought otherwise, because we sang together, and
because he talked to me in English, and she as well as others rallied me
in consequence.

After two months had passed away, Monsieur de G--was supposed to be
paying his attentions more particularly to me, and I thought so myself;
Madame d'Albret certainly did, and gave him every opportunity.  He was
the heir to a large property, and did not require money with his wife.
About this time, an English lady of the name of Bathurst who was
travelling with a niece, a little girl about fourteen years old, had
accepted an invitation from Monsieur de G--'s father, to pass a week
with them at their chateau, which was about five miles from that of
Madame d'Albret, and this lady was introduced.  She was apparently very
amiable, and certainly very _distinguee_ in her manners, and we saw a
great deal of her as she was a great favourite with Madame d'Albret.

A few weeks after the introduction of this English lady, I was one day
on the terrace alone, when I was accosted by Monsieur de G--.  After a
remark or two upon the beauty of the autumnal flowers, he observed, "How
different are the customs of two great nations, with but a few leagues
of water between them--I refer to the French and the English.  You would
be surprised to see how great they are if you were ever to go to
England--in none, perhaps, more so than in the affairs of the heart.  In
France we do not consult the wishes or the feelings of the young lady,
we apply to her parents, and if the match is considered equally
advantageous, the young lady is told to prepare herself for changing her
condition.  In England the very reverse is the case; we apply to the
young lady, gain her affections, and when certain of them, we then
request the sanction of those who are her guardians.  Which do you think
is the most natural and satisfactory, Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf?"

"I have been brought up in France, Monsieur de G--, and I prefer the
mode of France; our parents and our guardians are the people most able
to decide upon the propriety of a match, and I think that until that
point is ascertained, no affections should be engaged, as, should the
marriage not be considered advisable, much pain and disappointment will
be prevented."

"In some instances, I grant that such may be the case," replied he; "but
still, is it not treating your sex like slaves to permit no love before
marriage? and is it agreeable for ours, that we lead to the altar a
person who may consent from a sense of duty, without having the least
regard for her husband; nay, perhaps feeling an aversion?"

"I do not think that any kind parents would force their child to marry a
man for whom she felt an aversion," replied I; "and if there is not much
love before marriage, there may be a great deal after; but the fact is,
it is a subject upon which I am not able, nor do I wish to give my
opinion."

"As you disagree with me, Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf," replied he, "I
fear you will not be pleased at my courting you in the English fashion;
and previous to addressing myself to Madame d'Albret, making known to
you my sincere regard for you, and my humble hopes that I am not
indifferent to you."

"I will answer you very plainly, Monsieur de G--; and perhaps it is as
well you have taken this unusual step, as it will save you the trouble
of making any application to Madame d'Albret.  Flattered as I am by your
compliment, I beg to decline the honour you propose, and now that you
know my feelings, you will of course not be so ungenerous as to make any
application to Madame d'Albret."

"Certainly, mademoiselle," replied he, with great pique, "but on one
condition, which is, that you will promise me that you will not mention
to Madame d'Albret what has now passed between us."

"That I willingly promise, Monsieur de G--, as I may consider it as your
secret."

"And I trust," continued he, "that you will not discard me from your
friendship, but receive me as before."

"I shall always be happy to receive the friends of Madame d'Albret,"
replied I, "and now I wish you a good-morning."

I went to my own room and reflected upon what had passed.  I was angry
with Monsieur de G--for what I considered the unwarrantable liberty he
had taken, the greater as he must have known my utter dependence upon
Madame D'Albret; and how unlikely it was that I would form any such
engagement without her knowledge and sanction.  That I had no love for
Monsieur de G--was certain, although I was pleased with his company and
conversation.  I was sorry on reflection that I had given my promise not
to mention what had passed, but having made the promise, although
hastily, I resolved to adhere to it.

I took it for granted that he would gradually withdraw himself, and that
we should see little more of him; but in this I was mistaken; he was as
frequent in his visits as before, dividing his attentions between Madame
d'Albret and me.  This annoyed me, and I avoided him as much as I could,
and the consequence was, that he was oftener with Madame d'Albret than
with me.  At first when Madame d'Albret perceived this, she appeared to
be vexed, as she had evidently set her mind upon the match, and expected
daily to receive a formal proposal from him in my behalf; but gradually,
why I know not, it gave her no further concern, and I was permitted to
leave the room, and do as I pleased without being subjected to any
remarks.

Such was the state of affairs when the Paris season drew near.  Madame
Bathurst had been induced to remain in Brittany, and was continually
with us.  She had often asked me to come over to England, and pass a few
weeks with them, and I had jokingly replied that I would.  One morning
Madame d'Albret said to me--

"My dear Valerie, Madame Bathurst has again requested me to allow you to
go to England with her.  Now if you think that you would like to pass a
short time with her, instead of remaining at Paris during the season, I
really have no objection, if it would give you pleasure."

"My dear madame, I was only joking when I said so."

"Well, you have made Madame Bathurst think you were in earnest, my
dear," replied she; "and I thought so too, and have this morning
promised that you shall go with her.  I thought you would perfect
yourself in English, and it would be a good opportunity of relieving you
for a short time of your constant attendance upon me; so, my dear
Valerie, I advise you to go.  It will amuse you, and a little change
will do you good: besides, my dear, I perceive that the attentions of
Monsieur de G--are not agreeable to you, and it is as well to break it
off by a short absence."

"I shall not dispute your wishes, madame," replied I, mournfully, for my
heart misgave me, why I knew not, "but if I do go, it will be to oblige
you, and not because I really wish it."

"My dear Valerie, I think it will be for the best, and therefore you
will oblige me.  I have promised for you, and I should be sorry to have
to recall my promise--so consent, my dear, and I will write to Madame
Bathurst, that she may be prepared to receive you."

"Certainly, madame," replied I, "your wishes will ever be a law to me:"
and so saying, I left the room, and going to my own chamber, I threw
myself down on the bed, and wept bitterly without knowing why.

About ten days after this, Madame Bathurst called for me to take me to
the chateau of Monsieur de G--'s father, where I was to remain till the
next morning, when we were to post to Paris.  It was with great pain
that I quitted Madame d'Albret, but her kindness to me appeared to have
increased rather than diminished, after the proposal of our short
separation.  "God bless you, my dear Valerie," she said, "you must write
to me twice a week; I shall be most impatient for your return."  I
parted from her with many tears, and did not leave off weeping till we
arrived at the chateau, at which Madame Bathurst resided.

I was received with formal politeness by the old gentleman, and Monsieur
de G--, who was also at home, and in an excessive gay humour.  "Alas,
mademoiselle," cried he, "what a desert you will leave behind you!  It
is too cruel, this travelling mania on your part.  We never shall see
you again."

There was so much irony in his face as he said this, that I hardly knew
what to make of it; but it made me feel anxious and dissatisfied.  I
would have given much to have abandoned the journey, but Madame
d'Albret's wishes were a law to me.  To avoid reflection, which was
painful, I talked with Caroline, the niece of Madame Bathurst, and as we
were to set off at daylight, we retired early.  The following morning we
set off, and in due time arrived at Paris, where we remained but one
day, and then proceeded to Boulogne, where we embarked.

It was now November, and half-way across the Channel we were enveloped
in a fog, and it was with difficulty that we made the harbour.  We set
off for London, the fog continued during the whole day, and on our
arrival at the suburbs it was thicker than ever, and the horses were led
through the streets by people carrying flambeaux.  I had heard that
England was a _triste pays_, and I thought it so indeed.  At last I
observed to Madame Bathurst, "Est-ce qu'il n'y a jamais de soleil dans
ce pays, madame?"

"Oh, yes," replied she, laughing, "and a very beautiful sun too."

The next day we set off for Madame Bathurst's country seat, to pass the
Christmas.  Before we were three miles out of London, the fog had
disappeared, the sun shone out brilliantly, and the branches of the
leafless trees covered with rime, glittered like diamond wands, as we
flew past them.  What with the change in the weather, and the rapid
motion produced by the four English post-horses, I thought England
beautiful; but I must say that the first two days were a trial, the more
so as I was very despondent from having quitted Madame d'Albret.  I was
delighted with Madame Bathurst's country seat, the well-arranged
gardens, the conservatories, the neatness displayed in every thing so
different from France, the cleanness of the house and furniture; the
London carpets over the whole of the rooms and staircases, were, in my
opinion, great improvements; but I cared little for the society, which I
found not only dull, but it appeared to me to be selfish.  I found a
lively companion in Caroline, and we sat up in a little boudoir, where
we were never interrupted.  Here I practised my music, and at Madame
Bathurst's request, spoke alternately English and French with my little
companion, for our mutual improvement.

I had written twice to Madame d'Albret, and had received one very kind
answer; but no mention was made of my return, although it was at first
arranged that my visit was to be three weeks or a month.  A fortnight
after my arrival at Fairfield, I received a second letter from Madame
d'Albret, kind as usual, but stating, to my great grief, that she was
not well, having had an attack on her chest from having taken a violent
cold.  I answered the letter immediately, requesting that I might be
permitted to return home and nurse her, for I felt very uneasy.  For
three weeks, during which I had no reply, I was in a state of great
anxiety and distress, as I imagined that Madame d'Albret must have been
too ill to write, and I was in a fever of suspense.  At last I received
a letter from her, stating that she had been very ill, and that she had
been recommended by the physicians to go to the south of France for the
winter.  At the same time, as she could not put off her departure, she
wrote to Madame Bathurst, requesting, if not inconvenient, that she
would allow my visit to be extended till the spring, at which season she
expected to return to Paris.  Madame Bathurst read her letter to me, and
stated how happy she should be for me to remain.  I could do no
otherwise but thank her, although I was truly miserable.  I wrote to
Madame d'Albret, and stated what my feelings were; but as she had, by
what was said in her letter, already left for the south of France, I
knew that my letter would arrive too late to enable her to alter her
determination.  All I requested was, that she would give me continual
intelligence of her health.

I was, however, much consoled in my distress by the kindness of Madame
Bathurst, and affectionate manners of her niece Caroline, who was my
constant companion.  There was a great deal of company not only
visiting, but staying in the house; but although there was much company,
there was very little society.  Horses, dogs, guns, were the amusements
of the gentlemen during the day.  In the evening we saw little of them,
as they seldom left the dinner-table before Caroline and I had retired
to our rooms; and the ladies appeared to me to be all afraid of each
other, and to be constantly on the reserve.

Christmas had passed, and I had not heard again from Madame d'Albret,
which was a source of great vexation and many bitter tears.  I fancied
her dying in the south of France, without anyone to take care of her.  I
often spoke to Madame Bathurst on the subject, who offered all the
excuses that she could devise, but I thought at the same time appeared
to be very grave, and unwilling to continue the conversation.  At last I
thought of Madame Paon, and I wrote to her, inquiring whether she knew
how Madame d'Albret was, detailing to her how I had come to England, and
how Madame D'Albret had been seriously indisposed, stating my fears from
not having received any reply to my last letters.  The day after I had
written to Madame Paon, Caroline, who was sitting with me in the
boudoir, observed, "I heard Mrs Corbet say to my aunt that she had seen
Madame d'Albret at Paris about ten days ago."

"Impossible!" replied I; "she is in the south of France."

"So I understood," replied Caroline; "but she did say so, and my aunt
immediately sent me out of the room on a message.  I am sure it was to
get rid of me, that she might talk to Mrs Corbet."

"What can this mean?" exclaimed I.  "Oh, my heart forebodes evil!
Excuse me, Caroline, but I feel very miserable;" and I laid my face down
on the table, covering it with my hands, and tears trickled fast through
my fingers.

"Speak to my aunt," said Caroline, consolingly; "do not cry, Valerie, it
may be all a mistake."

"I will at once speak to Madame Bathurst," said I, raising my head, "it
will be the best plan."

I went into my room, bathed my eyes, and then sought Madame Bathurst,
whom I found in the conservatory, giving directions to the gardener.
After a time she took my arm and we walked down the terrace.

"Madame Bathurst," said I, "I have been made very miserable by Caroline
stating that Mrs Corbet had told you that she met Madame d'Albret at
Paris.  How can this be?"

"I cannot imagine more than yourself, my dear Valerie," replied Madame
Bathurst, "except that Mrs Corbet was mistaken."

"Do you think it was Madame?"

"I cannot say, Valerie, but I have written to Paris to ascertain the
fact, which is to me incomprehensible.  A few days will let us into the
truth; I cannot believe it--indeed, if it were true, I shall consider
that Madame d'Albret has treated me ill, for much as I am pleased to
have you here, she has not been candid with me in proposing that you
should remain the winter, upon the plea of her being obliged to go to
the south, when she is still at Paris.  I cannot understand it, and
until confirmed, I will not believe it.  Mrs Corbet is not an
acquaintance of hers, and may, therefore, be mistaken."

"She must be, madame," replied I; "still it is strange that I do not
hear from her.  I am fearful something is wrong, and what it can be, I
cannot surmise."

"Let us talk no more about it, my dear Valerie.  A few days will decide
the point."

A few days did decide the point, for I received an answer from Madame
Paon, in which she said:--

"My dear Mademoiselle Chatenoeuf,--You may imagine my surprise at
receiving your letter, and I fear you must prepare yourself for
unpleasant intelligence.  Madame d'Albret is in Paris, and has never
been in the south of France that I have heard.  When she first called, I
inquired after you.  The reply was that you were on a visit to a lady in
England; that you had left her; that you had a _manie pour
l'Angleterre_; and so saying, she shrugged up her shoulders.  I was
about to inquire more particularly, but she cut the conversation short
by asking to see a new pelisse, and I perceived at once that there was
something wrong, but what I could not comprehend.  I did not see her
till four or five weeks afterwards, when she called, accompanied by a
Monsieur de G--, a person well known in Paris, where he bears a very
indifferent character, as a desperate gambler, and a man of very bad
disposition concealed under a very polished exterior; but his character
is better known in England, which country, I am told, he was obliged to
quit in consequence of some gaming transaction anything but honourable.
I again made inquiries after you, and this time the reply was given by
Monsieur de G--, who replied that you were an _ingrate_, and your name
must not be in future mentioned by anyone to Madame d'Albret.

"The handsome face of Monsieur de G--, was changed to that of a demon
when he made this remark, and fully proved to me the truth of the report
that he was a person of very bad disposition.  Madame d'Albret made no
remark, except that she should be careful how she ever engaged a
_demoiselle de compagnie_ again.  I was struck at this remark from her,
as I always considered that you were (and indeed I know you were at one
time), viewed in a very different light, and I was quite mystified.
About a fortnight afterwards Madame d'Albret called upon me and
announced her intended marriage to Monsieur de G--, and requested me to
make her wedding dresses.  Here the whole mystery was out, but why,
because she marries Monsieur de G--, you should lose her protection, and
why Monsieur de G--should be so inveterate against you, is more than I
can tell.  I have now, my dear mademoiselle, given you a detail of all I
know, and shall be most happy to hear from you if you will please to
write to me, etcetera, etcetera.

"Emile Paon, nee Merce."

Here was a solution of the whole mystery.  I read the letter and fell
back on the sofa, gasping for breath.  It was some time before I could
recover myself.  I was alone in my bedroom, my head and eyes swimming;
but I staggered to the washing-stand, and obtained some water.  It was
half-an-hour before I could recall my astonished senses, and then
everything appeared as clear to me as if it had been revealed.  Monsieur
de G--'s double attentions; his spiteful look at my refusal; his
occupying himself wholly with Madame d'Albret after I refused him; her
wishing to get rid of me, by sending me to England with Madame Bathurst,
and her subsequent false and evasive conduct.  Monsieur de G--had had
his revenge, and gained his point at the same time.  He had obtained the
wealth of Madame d'Albret to squander at the gaming-table, and had
contrived, by some means or another, to ruin me in her good opinion.  I
perceived at once that all was lost, and when I considered the
awkwardness of my position, I was almost in despair.



CHAPTER SIX.

As I continued for more than an hour on the sofa, gloomily passing in
review my short career, my present position, and occasionally venturing
a surmise upon the future, a feeling which I had not had before,--one
which had hitherto been latent--pride, gradually was awakened in my
bosom, and as it was aroused, it sustained me.  I have before observed
that fear had been my predominating feeling till I had quitted my
parents, love and gratitude had succeeded it, but now, smarting under
injustice, pride, and, with pride, many less worthy passions, were
summoned up, and I appeared in the course of two short hours to be
another being.  I felt confidence in myself, my eyes were opened all at
once as it were to the heartlessness of the world; the more I considered
the almost hopeless condition in which I was in, the more my energy was
roused.  I sat down on the sofa a confiding, clinging girl.  I rose up a
resolute, clear-sighted woman.

I reflected, and had made up my mind that Madame d'Albret would never
forgive one whom she had injured as she had me.  She had induced me to
break off all family and parental ties (such as they were), she had made
me wholly dependent upon her, and had now cast me off in a cruel and
heartless manner.  She had used deceit because she knew that she could
not justify her conduct.  She had raised calumnies against me, accusing
me of ingratitude, as an excuse for her own conduct.  Anything like a
reconciliation therefore was impossible, and any assistance from her I
was determined not to accept.

Besides, was she not married to Monsieur de G--, whom pique at my
refusal had made my enemy, and who had, in all probability, as he
pressed his own suit, perceived the necessity, independent of the
gratification it afforded him to be my ruin, of removing me as a serious
obstacle to Madame d'Albret's contracting a new alliance?  From that
quarter, therefore, there was nothing to be expected or hoped for, even
if it were desired.  And what was my position with Madame Bathurst?  On
a visit!  At the termination of which I was houseless.

That Madame Bathurst would probably offer me a temporary asylum, for she
would hardly turn me out of doors, I felt convinced; but my new-born
pride revolted at the idea of dependence upon one on whom I had no claim
whatever.  What, then, was to be done?  I examined my capital.  I was
handsome, but that was of no use to me; the insidious conduct of
Monsieur de G--had raised to positive dislike the indifference that I
felt for his sex, and I had no inclination to make a market of my
personal advantages.  I could sing and play well.  I spoke French and
English, and understood Italian.  I could embroider the work well with
my needle.  Such were my capabilities, my stock-in-trade with which to
commence the world; I was, therefore, competent to a certain degree to
give lessons in music and in French, or to take a governess's place, or
to become a modiste.

I thought of Madame Paon, but when I reflected in what manner I had
visited her, the respect and homage, I may say, which had been offered
up to me, and how different my reception and treatment would be if I
entered the establishment as one of themselves, the reflection was too
mortifying, and I determined that if I were driven to such an employment
for my livelihood, it should be where I was not known.  After much
consideration, I decided that I would see Madame Bathurst, make known to
her my intentions, and ask her assistance and recommendation to procure
me a situation.  I arranged my hair, removed all traces of my late
agitation, and went down to her.  I found her alone, and asking her
whether she could spare me a few minutes of her time, I handed to her
the letter which I had received from Madame Paon, and then made her
acquainted with that portion of my history with which she had been
unacquainted.  As I spoke my courage revived, and my voice became firm--
I felt that I was no longer a girl.

"Madame Bathurst, I have confided this to you, because you will agree
with me that there can be nothing more between Madame d'Albret and me,
for even if she made an offer, I would never accept it.  I am now in a
very false position, owing to her conduct.  I am here on a visit,
supposed by you to be the _protegee_ of that lady, and a person of some
consequence.  Her protection has been taken away from me, and I am now a
beggar, with nothing but my talents for my future support.  I explain
this to you frankly, because I cannot think of remaining as your
visitor; and if I do not ask too much, all that I wish of your
friendship is, that you will give me such a recommendation as you think
I deserve, by which I may obtain the means of future livelihood."

"My dear Valerie," replied Madame Bathurst, "I will not hurt your
feelings.  It is a heavy blow, and I am glad to perceive, that instead
of being crashed by it, you appear to rise.  I have heard of Madame
d'Albret's marriage, and the deceit which she has been practising
evidently to get rid of you.  Not many days ago I wrote to her, pointing
out the variance between what she stated in her letters, and her actual
position, and requesting to know what was to be done relative to you.
Her answer I have received this day.  She states that you have cruelly
deceived her; that at the very time that you professed the utmost
gratitude and affection, you were slandering her and laughing at her
behind her back, particularly to Monsieur de G--, to whom she is now
married; and that, however she might be inclined to forgive and overlook
your conduct herself, that Monsieur de G--is resolute, and determined
that you never shall come again under his roof.  She has, therefore,
transmitted a billet of 500 francs to enable you to return to your
father's house."

"Then," replied I, "it is as I suspected; Monsieur de G--is the cause of
all."

"Why did you trust him, Valerie, or rather why were you so imprudent,
and I must add, ungrateful, to speak of Madame d'Albret as you did."

"And you believe it, Madame Bathurst, you believe that I did so?  I can
only say that if such is your belief, the sooner we part the better."

I then told her what I had omitted in my narrative, how I had refused
Monsieur de G--, and explaining his character, showed that he had acted
thus out of interest and revenge.

"I believe it all now, Valerie, and I must beg your pardon for having
supposed that you had been ungrateful.  This explanation relieves me,
and enables me to make you the offer which I had thought of doing, had I
not been checked by this calumny against you.  I say, therefore, for the
present, my dear Valerie, remain here.  You are quite equal to be
governess to Caroline, but I prefer you should remain with me more as a
friend than as a governess.  I say this, because I fear you will be too
proud to remain as a dependent, without making yourself useful.  You
know that I did intend to take a governess for Caroline as soon as we
went to London.  I will now take you if you will consent, and shall feel
the obligation on my side, as I shall not only have retained a capable
person, but shall also not lose a dear young friend."

"I thank you for the offer, my dear madame," replied I, rising and
courtseying; "I trust, however, that you will allow me a little time for
reflection before I decide.  You must admit that this is a most critical
epoch in my life, and I must not make one false step if it is possible
to prevent it."

"Certainly," replied Madame Bathurst, "certainly.  You are right,
Valerie, in reflecting well before you decide; but I must say that you
are rather haughty in your manner towards me."

"I may have been, my dear Madame Bathurst, but if so, take my excuses.
Recollect the Valerie of yesterday, who was your visitor and young
friend, is not the Valerie of to-day!" and with these words I took up
the cheque for 500 francs which Madame Bathurst had laid on the table,
left the room, and returned to my own apartment.

I returned to my room, and was glad to be once more alone, for although
I bore up well under the circumstances, still the compressed excitement
was wearying to the frame.  I had resolved to accept the offer of Madame
Bathurst at the time that she made it, but I did not choose to appear to
jump at it, as she probably expected that I would.  I felt no confidence
in anyone but my own self after the treatment of Madame d'Albret, and I
considered that Madame Bathurst would probably dismiss me as soon as my
services were no longer required, with as little ceremony as had Madame
d'Albret.  That I was capable of taking charge of and instructing
Caroline, I knew well, and that Madame Bathurst would not easily procure
a governess so capable in singing and music as myself.  There would be
consequently no obligation, and I resolved that I would reject her terms
if they were not favourable.  I had some money, for I had spent but a
small portion of twenty sovereigns which Madame d'Albret had given me in
a purse when I quitted her.  I had therefore the means of subsistence
for some little time, should I not come to terms with Madame Bathurst.

After an hour's reflection, I sat down and wrote a letter to Madame
Paon, stating what had occurred, and my determination to obtain my own
livelihood, and adding that as I was not sure whether I should accept of
Madame Bathurst's offer, I wished her to give me a letter of
introduction to some French acquaintance of hers in London, as I was an
utter stranger to everything, and without advice, should probably be
cheated in every way.  As soon as this letter was finished I commenced
another to Madame d'Albret, which was in the following words:--

"My dear Madame,

"Yes, I will still say my dear madame, for although you will never hear
of me again, you are still dear to me, more dear perhaps than you were,
when I considered you my patroness and my more than mother.  And why
so,--because when those we love are in misfortune, when those who have
benefited us are likely to soon want succour themselves, it is then the
time that we should pour out our gratitude and love.  I do not consider
it your fault, my dear Madame d'Albret, that you have been deceived by a
base hypocrite, who wears so captivating a mask; I do not blame you that
you have been persuaded by him that I have slandered and behaved
ungratefully to you.  You have been blinded by your own feelings towards
him and by his consummate art.  I am also to blame for not having
communicated to you that _he_ made me a proposal of marriage but a short
time previous to my departure, and which I indignantly rejected, because
he had taken such an unusual step without any previous communication
with you on the subject--not that I would have accepted him, even if you
had wished it, for I knew how false and unworthy he was considered to
be.  I should have told you, my dear madame, of this offer of marriage
on his part, but he requested me as a favour not to mention it to you,
and I did not then know that he was a ruined man, a desperate gambler,
and that he had been obliged to quit this country for dishonourable
practices at the gaming-table, as you may easily discover to be true;
for even Madame Paon can give you all the necessary information.  And
into this man's hands have you fallen, my dear Madame d'Albret.  Alas,
how you are to be pitied! my heart bleeds for you, and I fear that a few
months will suffice to prove to you the truth of what I now write.  That
I am a sufferer by the conduct of Monsieur de G--is true.  I have lost a
kind patroness, an indulgent mother, and am now left to obtain my own
livelihood how I can.  All my visions, all my dreams of happiness with
you, all my wishes of proving my gratitude and love for your kindness
have vanished, and here I am, young, alone, and unprotected.  But I
think not of myself; at all events I am free--I am not chained to such a
person as Monsieur de G--, and it is of you, and all that you will have
to suffer, that my thoughts and heart are full.  I return you the cheque
for 500 francs--I cannot take the money.  You are married to Monsieur de
G--, and I can accept nothing from one who has made you believe that
Valerie could be calumnious and ungrateful.  Adieu, my dear madame; I
shall pray for you, and weep over your misfortunes.

"Yours ever gratefully,

"Valerie de Chatenoeuf."

That there was a mixed feeling in this letter, I confess.  As I said in
it, I really pitied Madame d'Albret and forgave her her unkindness; but
I sought revenge upon Monsieur de G--, and in seeking that, I planted
daggers into the heart of Madame d'Albret; but I did not at the time
that I wrote reflect upon this.  What I wished to do was to vindicate
myself, and that I could not do without exposing Monsieur de G--, and
exposing him in his true colours was, of course, awakening Madame
d'Albret to her position sooner than she would have been, and filling
her mind with doubts and jealousy.  That this was not kind, I felt when
I had perused what I had written previous to folding the letter, but I
felt no inclination to alter it, probably because I had not quite so
wholly forgiven Madame d'Albret as I thought that I had.  Be it as it
may, the letter was sealed and despatched by that night's post, as well
as that written to Madame Paon.

I had now only to arrange with Madame Bathurst, and I went down into the
drawing-room where I found her alone.  "I have considered, my dear
Madame Bathurst," said I, "your kind proposal.  I certainly have had a
little struggle to get over, as you must admit that it is not pleasant
to sink from a visitor in a family into a dependent, as I must in future
be, if I remain with you, but the advantages of being with a person whom
I respect as much as I do you, and of having charge of a young person to
whom I am so attached as I am to Caroline, have decided me on accepting
your offer.  May I know then, what may be the terms upon which I am
received as governess?"

"Valerie, I feel that this is all pride," replied Madame Bathurst, "but
still it is not disreputable pride, and though I shall yield to it, I
would have made no terms, but retained you as a dear friend, my purse
and everything in the house at your command, and I hoped that you would
have allowed me so to do; but as you will not, I have only to say that I
should have expected to pay any governess whom I might have retained for
Caroline, a salary of 100 pounds per annum, and that I offer you the
same."

"It is more than sufficient, my dear madame," replied I, "and I accept
your offer if you will take me on trial for six months."

"Valerie, you make me laugh, and make me angry at the same time, but I
can bear much from you now, for you have had a heavy blow, my poor
child.  Now let's say no more on the subject; all is settled, and the
arrangement will remain a secret, unless you publish it yourself."

"I certainly shall make no secret of it, Madame Bathurst; I should be
sorry to show false colours, and be supposed by your friends to be
otherwise than what I really am.  I have done nothing that I ought to be
ashamed of, and I abhor deceit.  Whatever may be my position in life, I
trust that I shall never disgrace the name that I bear, and I am not the
first of a noble name who has had a reverse in fortune."

How strange that I now, for the first time in my life, began to feel
pride in my family name.  I presume because when we have lost almost
everything, we cherish more that which remains to us.  From the time
that Madame Bathurst had first known me till the last twenty-four hours,
not a symptom of pride had ever been discovered in me.  As the
_protegee_ and adopted daughter of Madame d'Albret, with brilliant
prospects, I was all humility--now a dependent, with a salary of 100
pounds per annum, Valerie was as proud as Lucifer himself.  Madame
Bathurst perceived this, and I must do her the justice to say, that she
was very guarded in her conduct towards me.  She felt sympathy for me,
and treated me with more kindness, and, I may say, with more respect
than she did when I was her visitor and her equal.

The next day I informed Caroline of the change in my prospects, and of
my having accepted the office of governess--that was to say, on a six
months' trial.  I pointed out to her that it would now be my duty to see
that she did not neglect her studies, and that I was determined to do
justice to Madame Bathurst's confidence reposed in me.  Caroline, who
was of a very amiable and sweet disposition, replied, "That she should
always look upon me as her friend and companion, and from her love for
me, would do everything I wished," and she kept her word.

The reader will agree with me, that it was impossible for any one to
have been lowered down in position more gently than I was in this
instance.  The servants never knew that I had accepted the offer of
governess, for I was invariably called Valerie by Madame Bathurst and
her niece, and was treated as I was before when a visitor to the house.
I bestowed much time upon Caroline, and taught myself daily, that I
might be more able to teach her.  I went back to the elements in
everything, that I might be more capable of instructing, and Caroline
made rapid progress in music, and promised to have, in a few years, a
very fine voice.  We went to town for the season, but I avoided company
as much as possible--so much so, that Madame Bathurst complained of it.

"Valerie, you do wrong not to make your appearance.  You retire in such
a way that people naturally put questions to me, and ask if you are the
governess, or what you are."

"I wish them to do so, my dear madame, and I want you to reply frankly.
I am the governess, and do not like anything like concealment."

"But I cannot admit that you are what may be called a governess,
Valerie.  You are a young friend staying with me, who instructs my
niece."

"That is what a governess ought to be," replied I, "a young friend who
instructs your children."

"I grant it," replied Madame Bathurst; "but I fear if you were to take
the situation in another family, you would find that a governess is not
generally so considered or so treated.  I do not know any class of
people, who are more to be pitied than these young people who enter
families as governesses; not considered good enough for the
drawing-room, they are too good for the kitchen; they are treated with
_hauteur_ by the master and mistress, and only admitted, or suffered for
a time to be in their company; by the servants they are considered as
not having claims to those attentions and civilities, for which they are
paid and fed; because receiving salaries, or `wages like themselves,' as
they assert, they are not entitled in their opinion to be attended upon.
Thus are they, in most houses, neglected by all parties.  Unhappy
themselves, they cause ill-will and dissension, and more servants are
dismissed, or given warning, on account of the governesses, than from
any other cause.  In the drawing-room they are a check upon
conversation; in the school-room, if they do their duty, they are the
cause of discontent, pouting and tears; like the bat, they are neither
bird nor beast, and they flit about the house like ill-omens; they lose
the light-heartedness and spring of youth; become sour from continual
vexation and annoyance, and their lives are miserable, tedious, and full
of repining.  I tell you this candidly; it is a harsh picture, but I
fear too true a one.  With me I trust you will be happy, but you will
run a great risk if you were to change and go into another family."

"I have heard as much before, my dear madame," replied I; "but your
considerate kindness has made me forget it.  I can only say that it will
be a melancholy day when I am forced to quit your roof."

Visitors announced, interrupted the conversation.  I have before
mentioned the talent I had for dress, and the kindness of Madame
Bathurst, induced me to exert all that I possessed in her favour.  Every
one was pleased, and expressed admiration at the peculiar elegance of
her attire, and asked who was the _modiste_ she employed, and Madame
Bathurst never failed to ascribe all the merit to me.

Time passed on rapidly, and the season was nearly over.  Madame Bathurst
had explained to her most intimate friends the alteration which had
taken place in my prospects, and that I remained with her more as a
companion than in any other capacity.  This procured me consideration
and respect, and I very often had invitations to parties; but I
invariably refused; except, occasionally, accepting a seat in the box at
the Opera and French plays I was content to remain quiet.

Madame Paon had, as I requested, sent me a letter of introduction to a
friend of hers, a Monsieur Gironac, who lived in Leicester Square.  He
was a married man, without family.  He obtained his livelihood by giving
lessons on the flute, on the guitar, and in teaching French during the
day, and at night was engaged as second violin in the orchestra of the
Opera House; so that he had many strings to his bow, besides those of
his fiddle.  His wife, a pretty little lively woman, taught young ladies
to make flowers in wax, and mended lace in the evenings.  They were a
very amiable and amusing couple, always at good-natured warfare with
each other, and sparring all day long, from the time they met until they
parted.  Their battles were the most comical and amusing I ever
witnessed, and generally ended in roars of laughter.  They received me
with the greatest kindness and consideration, treating me with great
respect, until our extreme intimacy no longer required it, and our
friendship increased more than it could have done from Caroline
expressing a wish to learn to model flowers, and becoming the pupil of
Madame Gironac.  Such was the state of affairs when the London season
was over, and we once more returned to the country.

The time flew away rapidly.  Madame Bathurst treated me with kindness
and respect, Caroline with affection, and I was again quite happy and
contented.  I was earnest in my endeavours to improve Caroline, and
moreover had the satisfaction to feel and hear it acknowledged that my
attempts were not thrown away.  I looked forward to remaining at least
till Caroline's education was complete, which it could not be under two
or three years, and feeling security for such a period I gave myself
little thought of the future, when a circumstance occurred which put an
end to all my calculations.

I have stated that Caroline was the niece of Madame Bathurst; she was
the daughter of a younger sister who had contracted an unfortunate
marriage, having eloped with a young man who had not a shilling that he
could call his own, and whose whole dependence was upon an uncle,
without a family.  This imprudent match had, however, raised the
indignation of his relative, who from that moment told him he was to
expect nothing from him either before or after his death.  The
consequence was that Madame Bathurst's sister and husband were in a
state of great distress, until Madame Bathurst, by exerting herself in
his behalf, procured for him a situation of 300 pounds per annum in the
Excise.  Upon this sum, and the occasional presents of Madame Bathurst,
they contrived to live, but having two boys and a girl to educate,
Madame Bathurst took charge of the latter, who was Caroline, promising
that she would either establish her in life, or leave her a sufficiency
at her death.  Madame Bathurst had a very large jointure, and could well
afford to save up every year for Caroline, which she had done ever since
she had taken charge of her, at seven years old.  At the time that I
have been speaking of, it appeared that the uncle of the father of
Caroline died, and notwithstanding his threat bequeathed to his nephew
the whole of his large property, by which he became even more wealthy
than Madame Bathurst.  The consequence was that Madame Bathurst received
a letter announcing this intelligence, and winding up with a
notification that Caroline was to be immediately taken back to her
father's house.  In the letter--which I read, for Madame Bathurst, who
was in great distress, handed it to me, observing at the time, "This
concerns you as well as me and Caroline."--There were not any
expressions of gratitude for the great kindness which they had received
from her hands; it was an unkind, unfeeling letter, and I was disgusted
when I had gone through it.

"Is this all the return that you receive for what you have done for your
sister and her husband?" observed I; "the more I see of this world, the
more I hate it."

"It is indeed most selfish and unfeeling," replied Madame Bathurst:
"Caroline has been so long with me, that I have looked upon her as my
own child, and now she is to be torn from me, without the least
consideration of my feelings.  It is very cruel and very ungrateful."

Madame Bathurst, after this remark, rose and left the room.  As I
afterwards discovered, she replied to the letter, pointing out how long
she had had charge of Caroline, and now considered her as her daughter,
and requesting her parents to allow her to return to her after she paid
them a visit; pointing out how unkind and ungrateful it was of them to
take her away, now that their circumstances were altered, and how very
painful it would be for her if they did so.  To this appeal on her part
she received a most insulting answer, in which she was requested to make
out an account of the expenses incurred for the education and
maintenance of her niece, that they might be reimbursed forthwith.  On
this occasion, for the first time, I saw Madame Bathurst really angry,
and certainly not without good cause.  She sent for Caroline, who as yet
had only been informed that her father and mother had succeeded to a
large inheritance, and put the letter into her hands with a copy of her
own, requesting that she would read them, watching her countenance with
the severest scrutiny as she complied with the injunction, as if to
discover if she inherited the ingratitude of her parents.  Such was not
the case, for poor Caroline sunk, covered her face with her hands, and
then rushing to Madame Bathurst, fell on her knees before her, and
burying her face in her aunt's lap, cried as if her heart would break.
After a few minutes, Madame Bathurst raised up her niece, and kissed
her, saying, "I am satisfied; my dear Caroline at least is not
ungrateful.  Now, my child, you must do your duty and obey your
parents--as we must part, the sooner we part the better.  Valerie, will
you see that everything is ready for Caroline's going away to-morrow
morning?"

Saying this, Madame Bathurst disengaged herself from Caroline and
quitted the room.  It was a long while before I could reason the poor
girl into anything like composure.  I could not help agreeing with her
that the conduct of her parents was most ungracious towards Madame
Bathurst, but at the same time I pointed out to her how natural it was,
that having but one daughter, her parents should wish for her return to
their own care; that the resigning her to Madame Bathurst must have been
a severe trial to them, and that it could only be from consulting her
advantage that they could have consented to it; but notwithstanding all
that I could urge, Caroline's indignation against her parents, of whom
she knew but little, was very great, and her dislike to return home as
strong.  However, there was no help for it as Madame Bathurst had
decided that she was to go, and I persuaded her to come with me and
prepare her clothes ready for packing up.  We did not meet at dinner
that day, Madame Bathurst sending an excuse that she was too much out of
spirits to leave her room; Caroline and I were equally so, and we
remained where we were.  In the evening, Madame Bathurst sent for me; I
found her in bed and looking very ill.

"Valerie," said she, "I wish Caroline to start early to-morrow morning,
that, as you accompany her, you may be able to return here before night.
I shall not be able to see her to-morrow morning.  I must, therefore,
bid her farewell this night; bring her here, and the sooner it is over
the better."

I went for Caroline, and a bitter parting it was; I hardly know which of
the three cried the most, but after half-an-hour Madame Bathurst signed
to me to take Caroline away, which I did, and afterwards put her into
bed as soon as I could.  Having remained with her till she had sobbed
herself to sleep, I went down to the servants and gave Madame Bathurst's
directions for the next morning, and then retired myself.  Worn out as I
was with such a day of anxiety and distress, I could not close my eyes
for some time, reflecting upon what might be the issue of this breaking
up of the connection to myself.  I had been engaged as governess to
Caroline, and I could not well expect that Madame Bathurst would wish to
retain me now that Caroline was removed from her care; neither, indeed,
would my pride permit me to accept such an offer if made, as I should
become a mere dependent on her bounty, with no services to offer in
return.  That I must leave Madame Bathurst was certain, and that I must
look out for some other situation.  I took it for granted that Madame
Bathurst would not permit me to leave immediately, but allow me a short
time to look out for a suitable situation; but whether I should decide
upon taking the situation of a governess after what Madame Bathurst had
told me, or what situation I should seek was the cause of much thought
and indecision.  At last I could make no mind up, and decided that I
would trust to Providence, and having so far come to a conclusion, I
fell asleep.

After an early breakfast, I set off in the carriage with Caroline in
charge, and before noon, we arrived at her father's house.  The servants
dressed in very gaudy liveries, ushered us into the library, where we
found her father and mother waiting to receive her.  A first glance
satisfied me that they were swelled with pride at the change in their
fortunes.  Caroline was not received with great cordiality.  There was a
stiffness on the part of her parents which would have checked any
feelings of affection on her part, had she been inclined to show them,
which I was sorry to perceive she did not; indeed, her feelings appeared
rather those of resentment for the conduct they had shown to her aunt.
After the salutation of meeting, Caroline sat down on a sofa, opposite
to her father and mother.  I remained standing, and when the pause took
place I said, "I was deputed by Madame Bathurst to convey your daughter
safe to you, and as soon as the horses are baited, I am to return home."

"Who may this person be, Caroline?" demanded her mother.

"I must apologise to Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf for not having
introduced her," replied Caroline, blushing with annoyance.  "She is a
very dear friend of mine and my aunt's."

"Latterly I have been the governess of your daughter, madame," said I.

"Oh!" said the lady.  "Will somebody ring the bell?"

I presumed by this somebody it was intended to convey to me that I was
to perform that office; but as they had not had the common civility to
ask me to take a chair I took no notice.

"Will you ring the bell, my dear," said the lady to her husband.

The gentleman complied; and when the servant entered the lady said,
"Show the governess into the small breakfast-room, and tell the coachman
to put up his horses and bait them.  He must be round again in an hour."

The man stood with the door in his hand waiting for me to follow him.
Not a little indignant, I turned to Caroline, and said to her, "I had
better wish you good-bye now."

"Yes, indeed, Valerie, you had," replied Caroline rising from the sofa,
"for I am ashamed to look you in the face, after such treatment as you
have received.  Will you," continued she, with great spirit, "accept my
apology for the behaviour of my parents towards one who is of a much
higher family, and much higher breeding than they can boast of."

"Hush!  Caroline," said I; "recollect--"

"I do recollect, and shall continue to recollect, the insults to my dear
aunt in the first place, and now the insult to you, my dear Valerie,"
retorted Caroline, who then put her arms round my neck and kissed me
several times; having so done she darted from me, threw herself on the
sofa and burst into tears, while I hastened to follow the servant, to
escape from such an unpleasant scene.

I was shown into a small room, where I remained some little time,
thinking how true were Madame Bathurst's observations as to what I might
expect in the position of a governess, when a servant came in, and in a
condescending manner asked if I did not wish to have some lunch.  I
replied in the negative.

"You can have a glass of wine if you choose," continued he.

"You may leave the room," I replied, calmly, "I wish for nothing."

The man went out, slamming the door, and I was again alone.  I reflected
upon the scene I had just been witness to, and I own that I was
surprised at Caroline's conduct, who had always appeared so mild and
amiable; but the fact appeared to me to be, that when parents give up
their children to the care of another, they surrender at the same time
all those feelings which should exist between parent and child to the
party who undertakes the charge of them.  The respect and love which by
nature belonged to them were now transferred to her aunt, to whom
Caroline was always obedient and attached.  The insult to me was
resented by Caroline as if it had been offered by perfect strangers to
her; Caroline not feeling herself at all checked by filial duty.  There
appeared to be little prospect of any addition to the happiness of
either of the parties by the return of Caroline to her father's house,
and how it would end I could not surmise.

At last my reverie was interrupted by the servant coming in and telling
me that the carriage was at the door.  I immediately followed him and
set off on my return, during which I resolved that I would not leave my
own expectations any longer in doubt, but come immediately to an
understanding with Madame Bathurst.

As it was late when I arrived, I did not see Madame Bathurst that
evening, but she came down to breakfast the next morning, when I
informed her of all that had occurred at her sister's, and the
unceremonious manner in which I had been treated, and having done so, I
then observed, that of course I did not expect to remain with her now
that Caroline was gone, and begged she would give me her advice and
assistance in procuring another situation.

"At all events, do not be in a hurry, Valerie," replied Madame Bathurst;
"I trust you will not refuse to be my visitor until you are suited to
your liking.  I will not ask you to stay with me, as I know you will
refuse, and I do not pay unnecessary compliments.  And yet, why should
you not?  I know you well, and am attached to you.  I shall feel the
loss of Caroline severely.  Why not remain?"

"Many thanks, my dear madame," replied I, "for your kind wishes and
expressions, but you know my resolution has been made to earn my own
livelihood."

"I know that; but a resolution may be altered when circumstances demand
it.  Madame d'Albret was no more related to you than I am, and yet you
accepted her offer."

"I did, madame," replied I, bitterly, "and you know the result.  I would
have staked my life upon her sincerity and affection, and yet how was I
cast away?  With every feeling of gratitude, my dear madame, I cannot
accept your offer, for I never will put myself in a similar position a
second time."

"You do not pay me a very great compliment by that remark, Valerie,"
said Madame Bathurst somewhat harshly.

"Indeed, my dear madame, I should be sorry if anything I have said
should annoy one who has been so kind and considerate to me as you have
been; but I know that I should be miserable and unhappy if not
independent, and I never can risk a second shock, like that I received
from the conduct of Madame d'Albret.  I entreat as a favour that you
will not continue the subject."

"Well, Valerie, I will not; perhaps had I been treated as you have been,
I might feel the same.  What then do you propose to seek?  Is it the
situation of a governess?"

"Anything in preference, my dear madame; I was sufficiently humiliated
yesterday.  I should prefer that of a lady's-maid, although I hope not
to descend quite so low."

"There are so few situations for a person educated as you have been.
There is a companion for a lady, which I believe is anything but
pleasant.  There is that of amanuensis, but it is seldom required.  You
might certainly go out and give lessons in music, and singing, and in
the French language; but there are so many French masters and
mistresses, and for music and singing a master is always preferred, why,
I do not exactly know.  However, I think something may be done when we
go to town, but till then all that we can do is to talk the matter over.
Perhaps something may turn up when we least expect it.  I will,
however, now that I know your decision, make every inquiry, and give you
all the assistance in my power."

I expressed my thanks and gratitude, and the conversation ended.

I did not, however, trust altogether to Madame Bathurst.  I wrote a
letter to my acquaintance, Madame Gironac, in Leicester Square, stating
what had occurred, and what my ideas and intentions were, requesting her
to give me her advice and opinion as to the best plan I could follow.
In a few days I received from her the following reply, which I insert as
characteristic of the party.

"My dear Mademoiselle,

"Your letter gave great pain to me; and as for my husband, he was quite
furious, and declared that he would not live a minute longer in such an
abominable world.  However, to oblige me, he has not yet made away with
himself.  It really is dreadful to see a young lady-like you in such an
awkward position, from the weakness and follies of others; but we must
submit to what the _bon Dieu_ disposes, and when things come to the
worst, hope that a change will take place, as any change must then be
for the better.  I have consulted my husband about what you propose, but
he negatives everything.  He says you are too good for a governess;
would be thrown away as a companion to a lady; that you must not be seen
in a cab, going about giving lessons--in fact, he will listen to nothing
except that you must come and live with us.  I can only say, my dear
mademoiselle, that I join in the latter request, and that it would make
me perfectly happy, and that the honour and pleasure of your company
would be more than a compensation.  Still, it is but a poor home to
offer to you, but at all events one that you might condescend to take
advantage of rather than remain to be mortified by those who think, as
they do in this country, that money is everything.  Do, pray, then come
to us, if you feel inclined, and then we can talk over things quietly,
and wait upon Providence.  My husband has now hardly time to eat his
dinner, he has so many pupils of one kind and the other; and I am happy
to say that I have also most of my time occupied; and if it pleases God
to continue us in good health, we hope to be able to put by a little
money for a rainy day, as they say in this country, where it is always
raining.  Assure yourself, my dear mademoiselle, of our love, respect,
consideration.

"Annette Gironac."

We went to town earlier than usual, Madame Bathurst feeling lonely in
the country after the departure of Caroline, from whom she had not
received a line since her quitting her.  This of course was to be
ascribed to her parents, who thus returned all Madame Bathurst's
kindness, as soon as they no longer required her assistance.  I know not
how it was, but gradually a sort of coolness had arisen between Madame
Bathurst and me.  Whether it was that she was displeased at my refusing
her offer to remain with her, or thought proper to wean herself from one
who was so soon to quit her, I know not.  I did nothing to give offence:
I was more quiet and subdued, perhaps, than before, because I had become
more reflective; but I could not accuse myself of any fault or error,
that I was aware of.

We had been about a week in London, when an old acquaintance of Madame
Bathurst's, who had just returned from Italy, where she had resided for
two years, called upon her.  Her name was Lady R--: she was the widow of
a baronet, not in very opulent circumstances, although with a
sufficiency to hire, if not keep, a carriage.  She was, moreover, an
authoress, having written two or three novels, not very good I was told,
but still, emanating from the pen of a lady, they were well paid.  She
was very eccentric, and rather amusing.  When a woman says everything
that comes into her head, out of a great deal of chaff there will drop
some few grains of wheat; and so sometimes, more by accident than
otherwise, she said what is called a good thing.  Now, a good thing is
repeated, while all the nonsense is forgotten; and Lady R--was
considered a wit as well as an authoress.  She was a tall woman; I
should think very near, if not past, fifty years of age, with the
remains of beauty in her countenance: apparently, she was strong and
healthy, as she walked with a spring, and was lively and quick in all
her motions.

"Cara mia," exclaimed she, as she was announced, running up to Madame
Bathurst, "and how have you been all this while--my biennial absence in
the land of poetry--in which I have laid up such stores of beauteous
images and ideas in my mind, that I shall make them last me during my
life.  Have you read my last?  It's surprising, every one says, and
proves the effect of climate on composition--quite new--an Italian story
of thrilling interest.  And you have something new here, I perceive,"
continued she, turning to me; "not only new, but beautiful--introduce
me: I am an enthusiast in the sublime and beautiful.  Is she any
relation?  No relation!--Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf!--what a pretty name
for a novel.  I should like to borrow it, and paint the original from
nature.  Will you sit for your likeness?"

That Lady R--allowed no one to talk but herself was evident.  Madame
Bathurst, who knew her well, allowed her to run on; and I, not much
valuing the dose of flattery so unceremoniously bestowed upon me, took
an opportunity, when Lady R--turned round to whisper something to Madame
Bathurst, to make my escape from the room.  The following morning,
Madame Bathurst said to me, "Valerie, Lady R--was very much pleased with
your appearance when she made her visit yesterday; and as she told me,
after you had left the room, that she wanted just such a person as
yourself as a companion and amanuensis, I thought it right to say that
you were looking out for something of the kind, and that you were
remaining under my protection until you could procure it.  We had more
conversation on the subject, and she said before she left, that she
would write to me on the subject.  Her note has just been put into my
hands; you can read it.  She offers you a salary of one hundred pounds
per annum, all your expenses paid, except your dress.  As far as salary
goes, I think her terms liberal.  And now, as to Lady R--.  My opinion
of her is in few words.  You saw her yesterday, and I never knew her
otherwise; never more or less rational.  She is an oddity; but she is
good-natured; and, I am told, more liberal and charitable than many
others who can afford it better.  Now you know all I can tell you about
her, and you must decide for yourself.  Here is her note; you need not
give me an answer till to-morrow morning."

I made one or two observations, and then left the room.  The note was
very kind, certainly, but it was as flighty as her manners.  I hastened
to my own bedchamber, and sat down to reflect.  I felt that I was not
exactly comfortable with Madame Bathurst, and certainly was anxious to
be independent; but still, I could not exactly make up my mind to accept
the offer of Lady R--.  She was so different from those I had been
accustomed to live with.  I was still deliberating, when Mrs Bathurst's
maid came into my room, telling me it was time to change my dress for
dinner.  As she was assisting me, she said, "And so, Miss Chatenoeuf,
you are about to quit us, I find.  I am so sorry--first, Miss Caroline--
now you.  I hoped you would stay with us, and I should soon have become
an expert milliner under your directions."

"Who told you, Mason, that I was going to leave you?"

"Mrs Bathurst told me so, and not a quarter of an hour ago," replied
the woman.

"Well," replied I, "she told you truly, Mason; such is the case;" for
this information of Mason's decided me upon accepting the offer of Lady
R--; for Madame Bathurst, it appeared to me, had certainly decided it
for me, by making such a premature communication to her servant.

The reader may suppose, that when I made this discovery, I felt little
pain at the idea of parting with Madame Bathurst; and the following
morning I coolly announced my intention of accepting the offer of Lady
R--.  Madame Bathurst looked at me very hard, as if surprised at not
hearing from me any regrets at leaving her, and expressions of gratitude
for all favours; but I could not express what I really did not feel at
the time.  Afterwards I thought that I had been wrong, as, to a certain
degree, I was under obligations to her; not that I think, had she been
ever so inclined to get rid of me, she could have well turned me out of
the house, although I had been foisted upon her in such a way by Madame
d'Albret.  Still I was under obligations to her, and should have
expressed myself so, if it had not been for the communication made to me
by the maid, which proved that her expressions to me were not sincere.

"Well, then," replied Madame Bathurst, at last, "I will write to Lady
R--immediately.  I presume I may say that you are at her commands as
soon as she can receive you."

"Yes, madame, at an hour's notice," replied I.

"You really appear as if you were anxious to quit me, mademoiselle,"
said Madame Bathurst, biting her lip.

"I certainly am," replied I.  "You informed Mason that I was to go,
previous to having my decision; and therefore I gladly withdraw myself
from the company of those who have made up their minds to get rid of
me."

"I certainly did tell Mason that there was a prospect of your quitting
me," replied Madame Bathurst, colouring up; "but--however, it's no use
entering into an investigation of what I really said, or catechising my
maid: one thing is clear, we have been mutually disappointed with each
other, and therefore it perhaps is better that we should part.  I
believe that I am in your debt, Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf.  Have you
reckoned how long you have been with me?"

"I have reckoned the time that I instructed Caroline."

"_Miss_ Caroline, if you please, Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf."

"Well, then, madame, Miss Caroline, since you wish it; it is five months
and two weeks," replied I, rising from my chair.

"You may sit down, mademoiselle, while I make the calculation," said
Madame Bathurst.

"It is too great an honour for a Chatenoeuf to sit in your presence,"
replied I, quietly, remaining on my feet.

Madame Bathurst made no reply, but calculating the sum of money due to
me on a sheet of note paper, handed it to me and begged me to see if it
was correct.

"I have no doubt of it, madame," replied I, looking at it and then
laying it down on the desk before her.

Madame Bathurst put the sum in bank-notes and sovereigns down before me,
and said, "Do me the favour to count it, and see if it is correct;" and
then rising, said, "your wishes will be complied with by my servants as
usual, mademoiselle, as long as you remain under my roof.  I wish you
farewell."

The last words were accompanied with a low courtesy, and she then
quitted the room.

I replied with a salute as formal as her own, and mortified at the
treatment I had received, I sat down, and a few tears escaped, but my
pride came to my assistance, and I soon recovered myself.

This scene was, however, another proof to me of what I must in future
expect; and it had the effect of hardening me and blunting my feelings.
"_Miss_ Caroline!" said I to myself, "when the _protegee_ of Madame
d'Albret, and the visitor of Madame Bathurst, it was Caroline and dear
Valerie.  She might have allowed me to quit her without pointing out to
me in so marked a manner how our relative positions have been changed.
However, I thank you, Madame Bathurst; what obligations I may have been
under to you are now cancelled, and I need not regret the weight of them
as I might have done.  Ah!  Madame d'Albret, you took me from my home
that I might not be buffeted by my mother, and now you have abandoned me
to be buffeted by the whole world; well, be it so, I will fight my way,
nevertheless;" and as I left the room to pack up my trunks, I felt my
courage rise from this very attempt on the part of Madame Bathurst to
humiliate me.

The letter of Madame Bathurst to Lady R--, brought the latter to the
house that afternoon.  I was up in my room when I was informed by the
servants that she waited below to see me.  When I entered she was alone,
Madame Bathurst having gone out in her carriage, and as soon as she saw
me, she rushed into my arms almost, taking me by both hands, and saying
how happy she was that she had acquired such a treasure as a friend and
companion; wished to know whether I could not come with her immediately,
as her carriage was at the door, and went on for nearly ten minutes
without a check, asking fifty questions, and not permitting me to answer
one.  At last I was able to reply to the most important, which was, that
I would be happy to come to her on the following morning, if she would
send for me.  She insisted that I should come to breakfast, and I
acceded to her request, as Madame Bathurst, who was not an early riser,
would not be down at the hour mentioned, and I wished to leave the house
without seeing her again, after our formal adieux.  Having arranged
this, she appeared to be in a great hurry to be off, and skipped out of
the room before I could ring the bell to order her carriage.

I completed my preparations for departure, and had some dinner brought
into my own room, sending down an excuse for not joining Madame
Bathurst, stating that I had a bad headache, which was true enough.  The
next morning, long before Madame Bathurst was up, I was driven to Baker
Street, Portman Square, where Lady R--resided.  I found her ladyship in
her _robe de chambre_.

"Well," said she, "this is delightful.  My wishes are crowned at last.
I have passed a night of uncertainty, rolling about between hopes and
fears, as people always do when they have so much at stake.  Let me show
you your room."

I found a very well-furnished apartment prepared for me, looking out
upon the street.

"See, you have a front view," she said, "not extensive, but still you
can rise early and moralise.  You can see London wake up.  First, the
drowsy policeman; the tired cabman and more tired horse after a night of
motion, seeking the stable and repose; the housemaid, half awake,
dragging on her clothes; the kitchen-wench washing from the steps the
dirt of yesterday; the milkmaid's falsetto and the dustman's bass; the
baker's boys, the early post delivery, and thus from units to tens, and
from tens to tens of thousands, and London stirs again.  There is poetry
in that, and now let us down to breakfast.  I always breakfast in my
_robe de chambre_; you must do the same, that is if you like the
fashion.  Where's the page?"

Lady R--rang the bell of the sitting-room, which she called a boudoir,
and a lad of fourteen, in a blue blouse and leather belt made his
appearance.

"Lionel, breakfast in a moment.  Vanish, before the leviathan can swim a
league--bring up hot rolls and butter."

"Yes, my lady," replied the lad, pertly, "I'll be up again before the
chap can swim a hundred yards," and he shot out of the room in a second.

"There's virtue in that boy, he has wit enough for a prime minister or a
clown at Astley's.  I picked him up by a mere chance; he is one of my
models."

What her ladyship meant by models I could not imagine, but I soon found
out; the return of the lad with breakfast put an end to her talking for
the time being.  When we had finished, the page was again summoned.

"Now then, Lionel, do your spiriting gently."

"I know," said the boy, "I'm not to smash the cups and saucers as I did
yesterday."

The lad collected the breakfast things on a tray with great rapidity,
and disappeared with such a sudden turn round, that I fully anticipated
he would add to yesterday's damage before he was down the stairs.

As soon as he was gone, Lady R--coming up to me, said, "And now let me
have a good look at you, and then I shall be content for some time.
Yes, I was not mistaken, you are a perfect model, and must be my future
heroine.  Yours is just the beauty that I required.  There, that will
do, now sit down and let us converse.  I often have wanted a companion.
As for an amanuensis that is only a nominal task, I write as fast as
most people, and I cannot follow my ideas, let me scribble for life, as
I may say; and as for my writing being illegible, that's the
compositor's concern not mine.  It's his business to make it out, and
therefore I never have mine copied.  But I wanted a beautiful companion
and friend--I wouldn't have an ugly one for the world, she would do me
as much harm as you will do me service."

"I am sure I hardly know how I am to do you service, Lady R--, if I do
not write for you."

"I daresay not, but when I tell you that I am more than repaid by
looking at you when I feel inclined, you will acknowledge that you do me
service; but we will not enter into metaphysics or psychological
questions just now, it shall all be explained by-and-bye.  And now the
first service I ask of you is at once to leap over the dull fortnight of
gradual approaching, which at last ends in intimacy.  I have ever held
it to be a proof of the suspiciousness of our natures and unworthy.  You
must allow me to call you Valerie at once, and I must entreat of you to
call me Sempronia.  Your name is delightful, fit for a first-class
heroine.  My real baptismal name is one that I have abjured, and if my
godfathers and godmothers did give it to me, I throw it back to them
with contempt.  What do you think it was?--Barbara.  Barbara, indeed.
`My mother had a _maid_ called Barbara,' Shakespeare says, and such a
name should be associated with brooms and yellow soap.  Call me
Sempronia from this time forward, and you confer a favour on me.  And
now I must write a little, so take a book and a seat on the sofa, for,
at the opening of this chapter my heroine is exactly in that position,
`in maiden meditation, fancy free.'"



CHAPTER SEVEN.

Lady R--sat down before her writing materials, and I took my seat on the
sofa, as she had requested, and was soon occupied with my reading.  I
perceived that, as she wrote, her ladyship continually took her eyes off
her paper, and fixed them upon me.  I presumed that she was describing
me, and I was correct in my idea, for, in about half-an-hour, she threw
down her pen, and cried:

"There, I am indebted to you for the best picture of a heroine that I
ever drew!  Listen."

And her ladyship read to me a most flattering description of my sweet
person, couched in very high-flown language.

"I think, Lady R--," said I, when she had finished, "that you are more
indebted to your own imagination than to reality in drawing my
portrait."

"Not so, not so, my dear Valerie.  I may have done you justice, but
certainly not more.  There is nothing like having the living subject to
write from.  It is the same as painting or drawing, it only can be true
when drawn from nature; in fact, what is writing but painting with the
pen?"

As she concluded her sentence, the page, Lionel, came in with a letter
on a waiter, and hearing her observation, as he handed the letter, he
impudently observed:

"Here's somebody been painting your name on the outside of this paper;
and as there's 7 pence to pay, I think it's rather dear for such a
smudge."

"You must not judge from outside appearance, Lionel," replied Lady R--:
"the contents may be worth pounds.  It is not prepossessing, I grant, in
its superscription, but may, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wear a
precious jewel in its head.  That was a vulgar error of former days,
Lionel, which Shakespeare has taken advantage of."

"Yes, that chap painted with a pen at a fine rate," replied the boy, as
Lady R--opened the letter and read it.

"You may go, Lionel," said she, putting the letter down.

"I just wanted to know, now that you've opened your toad, if you have
found the jewel, or whether it's a vulgar error?"

"It's a vulgar letter, at all events, Lionel," replied her ladyship,
"and concerns you; it is from the shoemaker at Brighton, who requests me
to pay him eighteen shillings for a pair of boots ordered by you, and
not paid for."

"Well, my lady, I do owe for the boots, true enough; but it's impossible
for me always to recollect my own affairs, I am so busy with looking
after yours."

"Well, but now you are reminded of them, Lionel, you had better give me
the money, and I will send it to him."

At this moment Lady R--stooped from her chair to pick up her
handkerchief.  There were some sovereigns lying on the desk, and the
lad, winking his eye at me, took one up, and, as Lady R--rose up, held
it out to her in silence.

"That's right, Lionel," said Lady R--; "I like honesty."

"Yes, madame," replied the impudent rogue, very demurely; "like most
people who tell their own stories, I was born of honest, but poor
parents."

"I believe your parents were honest; and now, Lionel, to reward you, I
shall pay for your boots, and you may keep your sovereign."

"Thank your ladyship," replied the lad.  "I forgot to say that the cook
is outside for orders."

Lady R--rose, and went out of the room; and Mr Lionel, laughing at me,
put the sovereign down with the others.

"Now, I call that real honesty.  You saw me borrow it, and now you see
me pay it."

"Yes; but suppose her ladyship had not given you the sovereign, how
would it have been then?" said I.

"I should have paid her very honestly," replied he.  "If I wished to
cheat her, or rob her, I might do so all day long.  She leaves her money
about everywhere, and never knows what she has; besides, if I wanted to
steal, I should not do so with those bright eyes of yours looking at me
all the time."

"You are a very saucy boy," replied I, more amused than angry.

"It's all from reading, and it's not my fault, for her ladyship makes me
read, and I never yet read any book about old times in which the pages
were not saucy; but I've no time to talk just now--my spoons are not
clean yet," so saying he quitted the room.

I did not know whether I ought to inform her ladyship of this freak of
her page's; but, as the money was returned, I thought I had better say
nothing for the present.  I soon found out that the lad was correct in
asserting that she was careless of her money, and that, if he chose, he
might pilfer without chance of discovery; and, moreover, that he really
was a good and honest lad, only full of mischief and very impudent;
owing, however, to Lady R--'s treatment of him, for she rather
encouraged his impudence than otherwise.  He was certainly a very
clever, witty boy, and a very quick servant; so quick, indeed, at his
work, that it almost appeared as if he never had anything to do, and he
had plenty of time for reading, which he was very fond of.

Lady R--returned, and resumed her writing.

"You sing, do you not?  I think Mrs Bathurst told me you were very
harmonious.  Now, Valerie, do me a favour: I want to hear a voice
carolling some melodious ditty.  I shall describe it so much better, if
I really heard you sing.  I do like reality; of course, you must sing
without music, for my country girl cannot be crossing the mead with a
piano in one hand, and a pail of water in the other."

"I should think not," replied I, laughing; "but am not I too near?"

"Yes, rather; I should prefer it on the stairs, or on the first floor
landing, but I could not be so rude as to send you out of the room."

"But I will go without sending," replied I; and I did so, and having
arrived at my station, I sang a little French refrain, which I thought
would answer her ladyship's purpose.  On my return her ladyship was
writing furiously, and did not appear to notice my entrance.  I took my
seat quietly, and in about ten minutes she again threw down the pen,
exclaiming:

"I never wrote so effective a chapter!  Valerie, you are more precious
to me than fine gold; and as Shylock said of his ring, `I would not
change thee for a wilderness of monkeys.'  I make the quotation as
expressive of your value.  It was so kind-hearted of you to comply with
my wish.  You don't know an author's feelings.  You have no idea how our
self-love is flattered by success, and that we value a good passage in
our works more than anything else in existence.  Now, you have so kindly
administered to my ruling passion twice in one morning, that I love you
exceedingly.  I daresay you think me very odd, and people say that I am
so; I may ask you to do many odd things for me, but I shall never ask
you to do what a lady may not do, or what would be incorrect for you to
do, or for me to propose; that you may depend upon, Valerie: and now I
close my manuscript for the present, being well satisfied with the day's
work."

Lady R--rang the bell, and on Lionel making his appearance, she desired
him to take away her writing materials, put her money into her purse--if
he knew where the purse was--and then asked him what were her
engagements for the evening.

"I know _we_ have an engagement," replied the boy; "I can't recollect
it, but I shall find it in the drawing-room."

He went out, and in a minute returned.

"I have found it, my lady," said he.  "Here's the ticket; Mrs Allwood,
at home, nine o'clock."

"Mrs Allwood, my dear Valerie, is a literary lady, and her parties are
very agreeable."

The page looked at me from behind Lady R--'s chair, and shook his head
in dissent.

"Shall we go?" continued Lady R--.

"If you please, madame," replied I.

"Well, then, we will take a drive before dinner, and the evening after
dinner shall be dedicated to the feast of reason and the flow of soul.
Dear me, how I have inked my fingers, I must go upstairs and wash them."

As soon as Lady R--left the room, Master Lionel began.

"Feast of reason and flow of soul; I don't like such entertainment.
Give me a good supper and plenty of champagne."

"Why, what matter can it make to you?" said I, laughing.

"It matters a good deal.  I object to literary parties," replied he.
"In the first place, for one respectable carriage driving up to the
door, there are twenty cabs and jarveys, so that the company isn't so
good; and then at parties, when there is a good supper, I get my share
of it in the kitchen.  You don't think we are idle down below.  I have
been to Mrs Allwood's twice, and there's no supper, nothing but feast
of reason, which remains upstairs, and they're welcome to my share of
it.  As for the drink, it's negus and cherry-water; nothing else, and if
the flow of soul is not better than such stuff, they may have my share
of that also.  No music, no dancing, nothing but buzz, buzz, buzz.
Won't you feel it stupid!"

"Why, one would think you had been upstairs instead of down, Lionel."

"Of course I am.  They press all who have liveries into the service, and
I hand the cakes about rather than kick for hours at the legs of the
kitchen-table.  I hear all that's said just as well as the company, and
I've often thought I could have given a better answer than I've heard
some of your great literaries.  When I hand the cakes to-night, take
them I point out to you: they'll be the best."

"Why, how can you tell?"

"Because I try them all before I come in the room."

"You ought to be ashamed to acknowledge it."

"All comes of reading, miss," replied he.  "I read that in former times
great people, kings and princes and so on, always had their victuals
tasted first, lest there should be poison in them: so I taste upon that
principle, and I have been half-poisoned sometimes at these cheap
parties, but I'm getting cunning, and when I meet a suspicious-looking
piece of pastry, I leave it for the company; but I can't wait to talk
any longer, miss, I must give coachman his orders."

"I never asked you to talk, Mr Lionel," said I.

"No, you didn't, but still I know you like to hear me: you can't deny
that.  Now to use my lady's style, I am to tell the coachman to put a
girdle round the park in forty minutes;" so saying, the lad vanished, as
he usually did, in a second.

The lad was certainly right when he said that I did like to hear him
talk, for he amused me so much, that I forgave his impudence and
familiarity.  Shortly afterwards, we went out in the carriage, and
having driven two or three times round the park, returned home to
dinner.  At ten o'clock, we went to Mrs Allwood's party.  I was
introduced to a great many great literary stars, whom I had never before
heard of; but the person who attracted the most attention was a Russian
Count, who had had his ears and nose cut off by the Turks.  It certainly
did not add to his beauty, however it might have to his interest.
However, Lionel was right.  It was a very stupid party to me: all
talking at once and constantly on the move to find fresh listeners; it
_was_ all buzz, buzz, buzz, and I was glad when the carriage was
announced.  Such were the events of the first day which I passed under
the roof of Lady R--.

Indeed, this first day may be taken as a sample of most others, and a
month passed rapidly away.  Each day, however, was marked with some
peculiar eccentricity on her part, but these diverted me.  I was often
requested to do strange things in my position as a model, but with all
her oddities Lady R--was a gentlewoman in manner and in feeling, and
what I should certainly have refused to anyone else, I did for her
without reluctance.  I now called her Sempronia, as she requested, and,
moreover, I became very intimate with Master Lionel, who would be
intimate, whether or no, and who, like Lady R--, was a source of great
amusement.  At times, when I was alone and communed with myself, I could
not help surveying my peculiar position.  I was engaged at a large
salary--for what? to look handsome, to put myself in attitudes, and to
do nothing.  This was not flattering to my talents (such as I had), but
still I was treated with kindness and confidence; was the companion of
her ladyship; was introduced and taken to all the parties to which she
was asked, and never made to feel my dependence.  I had already imbibed
a strong friendship for Lady R--, and I was, therefore, content to
remain.  One morning she said to me, "My dear Valerie, do me the favour
to tighten the laces of my stays."

She was, as usual, writing in her dressing-gown.

"Oh, tighter yet; as tight as you can draw them.  That will do nicely."

"Why you can hardly breathe, Sempronia."

"But I can write, my dear child, and, as I before observed, the mind and
the body influence each other.  I am about to write a strictly moral
dialogue, and I never could do it unless I am strait-laced.  Now I feel
fit for the wife of Cato and of Rome."

A few days afterwards she amused me still more.  After writing about
half-an-hour, she threw down her pen--

"I never can do it; come upstairs, my dear Valerie, and help me off with
my stays.  I must be _a l'abandon_."

I followed her, and having removed these impediments we returned to the
boudoir.

"There," said she, sitting down, "I think I shall manage it now: I feel
as if I could."

"Manage what?" inquired I.

"My dear, I am about to write a love scene, very warm and impassioned,
and I could not do it, confined as I was.  Now that I am loose, I can
give loose to the reins of my imagination, and delineate with the arrow
of Cupid's self.  My heroine is reclining, with her hand on her cheek;
put yourself in that attitude, my dear dear Valerie, as if you were
meditating upon the prolonged absence of one dear to you.  Exactly--
beautiful--true to nature--but I forgot, a page enters--don't move, I'll
ring the bell."

Lionel answered quickly, as usual.

"Here, Lionel, I want you to play the page."

"I've no time for play, my lady; I'm page in earnest.  There's all the
knives to clean."

"Never mind the knives just now.  Observe, Lionel, you are supposed to
be sent a message to that lovely girl, who is sitting absorbed in a soft
reverie.  You enter her presence unperceived, and are struck with her
beauty; you lean against a tree, in a careless but graceful attitude,
with your eyes fixed upon her lovely features.  Now lean against the
door, as I have described, and then I shall be able to write."

I could not help smiling at the absurdity of this scene, the more so as
Lionel, just passing his fingers through his hair, and then pulling up
his shirt collar, took his position, saying, "Now, Miss Valerie, we'll
see who performs best: I think you will be sooner tired of sitting than
I shall be of looking at you."

"Excellent, Lionel!--exactly the position that I wished," said Lady R--,
scribbling as fast as she could; "that stare of yours is true to
nature--Cymon and Iphigenia--a perfect tableau!--don't move, I beg; I
only require ten minutes."

I looked up at Master Lionel, and he made such a grimace, that I could
hardly keep my countenance, and I did not exactly feel satisfied at thus
performing, as it were, with a servant; but still, that servant was
Lionel, who was very unlike other servants.  In ten minutes, as
promised, we were released, much to my satisfaction.  Lionel went off to
clean his knives, and I took up my book, and really when I perceived the
delight of Lady R--, at what she called her success, I no longer felt
anything like annoyance at having complied with her wishes.

One morning, when Lady R--had walked out, and the page Lionel was in the
room, I entered into conversation with him, and asked how it was that he
had been so much better educated than were lads in his position in
general?

"That's a question that I often ask myself, Miss Valerie," replied he,
"as they say in some autobiographies.  The first recollection I have of
myself was finding myself walking two-and-two, in a suit of
pepper-and-salt, along with about twenty other very little boys, at a
cheap preparatory school, kept by the Misses Wiggins.  There I
remained--nobody came to see me: other boys talked of their papas and
mammas--I had none to talk about: they went home at the holidays, and
brought back toys and plum-cakes; I enjoyed my holidays alone, scraping
holes in the gravel, for want of better employment, between my meals,
and perhaps not opening my mouth, or hearing the sound of my own voice,
more than three or four times in the twenty-four hours.  As I had plenty
of time for reflection during the vacations, as I grew bigger I began to
imagine that somehow or another I must have had a father and mother,
like the other boys, and began to make very impertinent (as I was told)
inquiries about them.  The Misses Wiggins gave me a good wigging, as
they call it, for my unwarranted curiosity, pointing out the indelicacy
of entering upon such subjects, and thus was my mouth stopped.

"At last I grew up too big for the school, and was not to be managed by
two old maids, and I presume it was through their representations that I
was at last honoured by a visit from an old housekeeper, a woman above
fifty, whom I never saw before.  I ventured to put the forbidden
questions to her, and she replied that I had neither father nor mother,
that they were both dead, and that I was educated by the kindness of a
great lady, whose dependents they had been, and that the great lady
would call and see me perhaps, or if she did not, would send for me and
do something for me.  Well, about four years ago (I was then twelve
years old, I was told, but my idea is that I am older than they say), I
was sent for by Lady R--, and at first I was dressed in a turban and red
jacket, and sat on the floor.  I was told that I was to be her page, and
I liked it very much, as I did nothing but run messages and read books,
which I was very fond of; and Lady R--took some pains with me; but as I
grew bigger, so did I fall off from my high estate, and by degrees
descended from the drawing-room to the kitchen.

"My finery was not renewed; at first I had a plain suit and did my work
under the footman, and two years ago, when the footman was sent away,
rather than be under the orders of another, I volunteered to do the
work, which I have done ever since, and now receive high wages, and wear
sugar-loaf buttons, as you perceive.  Now, Miss Valerie, that's all I
know of _myself_; but I suspect that Lady R--knows more; still it may be
that what the old woman told me was correct, and that I was the child of
one of her favourite dependents, and was educated by her in the manner
that I was, for you know how many odd things she does."

"What is your other name, Lionel?"

"Bedingfield, I am told, is my name," replied he.

"Have you ever spoken to Lady R--," inquired I, "relative to your
parents?"

"I once did; but she said they were Sir Richard's people, not hers (that
is, her father's, the late baronet's), and that she knew nothing about
them, except that my father was a steward or bailiff to him in the
country, and that he had left directions that she should do something
for me.  Her ladyship did not appear to be inclined to talk about them
much, and sent me away as soon as she had told me what I now repeat to
you; however, I have found out something since that--but there's her
ladyship's knock"--so saying, Lionel vanished.

Soon after her ladyship's return, Madame Gironac, who had called upon me
two or three times, was announced.  I went out of the room, and when I
met her in the dining-parlour, she told me that she had brought some of
her imitations of flowers on wax, to show them to her ladyship.  I
immediately went up, and asked Lady R--if she would like to see them, to
which proposal she assented.  When Madame Gironac displayed her
performances, which were very natural and beautiful, her ladyship was
delighted, and purchased several of them, after which I again went
downstairs, and had a long conversation with my warm-hearted little
friend.

"I don't like this situation of yours, mademoiselle," said she, "nor
does my husband.  Now I was thinking, Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf, that
it would not be a bad plan if you were to learn how to make those
flowers.  I will teach you for nothing; and I will teach you what I
never teach my pupils, which is how to prepare the wax, and a great many
other little secrets which are worth knowing."

"I shall be very glad to learn, my dear madame," replied I, "but I can
afford to pay you for your time and trouble, and must insist upon doing
so; if not, I will not be your pupil."

"Well, well, we must not quarrel about that.  I know that no one likes
to be under an obligation, especially one like you--but learn you must--
so let us arrange for the lessons."

I did so; and from that day until I quitted Lady R--

I applied myself so assiduously to the art, that, with the unreserved
communications of Madame Gironac, I became a proficient, and could equal
her own performances--Madame Gironac declared that I excelled her,
because I had more taste--but to return.

After I had parted with Madame Gironac, I went upstairs, and found Lady
R--sitting at the table, looking at the purchases she had made.

"My dear Valerie," cried she, "you don't know how you have obliged me by
introducing that little woman and her flowers.  What a delightful and
elegant employment for a heroine to undertake--so lady-like!  I have
determined that mine shall support herself by imitating flowers in wax.
I am just at the point of placing her in embarrassed circumstances, and
did not well know how she was to gain her livelihood, but, thanks to
you, that is selected, and in a most charming and satisfactory manner.
It is so hard to associate poverty with clean hands."

About a fortnight afterwards, after some other conversation, Lady R--
said, "My dear Valerie, I have a surprise for you.  The season is nearly
over, and, what is more important, my third volume will be complete in a
fortnight.  Last night as I was wooing Somnus in vain, an idea came into
my head.  I proposed going to pass the autumn at Brighton, as you know,
but last night I made up my mind that we would go over the water; but
whether it is to be Havre, or Dieppe, or Paris, or anywhere else I
cannot say, but certainly La Belle France.  How do you like the idea?  I
think of making a sort of sentimental journey.  We will seek adventures.
Shall we go like Rosamond and Celia?  I with `gallant curtal axe,'
dressed as a youth.  Shall we be mad, Valerie?  What say you?"

I hardly knew what to say.  Lady R--appeared to have a most unusual
freak in her head, and to be a little more odd than usual.  Now I had no
wish to go to France, as I might fall in with people whom I did not wish
to see; and moreover, from what I had heard of her ladyship's adventures
in Italy, I was convinced that she was one of many, I may say, who fancy
that they may do as they please out of their own country, and I
certainly did not wish to figure in her train; I therefore replied, "I
know my own country well, Lady R--, and there cannot be a less eligible
one for a masquerade.  We should meet with too many _desagremens_, if
unprotected by male society, and our journey would be anything but
sentimental.  But if you do go to France, does Lionel accompany you?"

"Well, I do not know, but I should like him to learn the language.  I
think I shall take him.  He is a clever boy."

"Very," replied I; "where did you pick him up?"

"He is a son of my late father's"--(`a son of--' exclaimed I)--"tenant,
or something I was going to say," continued Lady R--, colouring; "but I
could not recollect exactly what the man was.  Bailiff, I think.  I know
nothing about his father, but he was recommended to me by Sir Richard
before he died."

"Recommended as a servant?" replied I; "he appears to me to be too good
for so menial a position."

"I have made him above his position, Valerie; not that he was
recommended as a servant, but recommended to my care.  Perhaps some day
I may be able to do more for him.  You know that we are to go to Lady
G--'s ball to-night.  It will be a very brilliant affair.  She gives but
one during the season, and she always does the thing in good style.
Bless me, how late it is!  The carriage will be round in two minutes;
I've a round of visits to pay."

"Will you excuse me?  I have promised to take a lesson of Madame
Gironac."

"Very true; then I must enter upon my melancholy task alone.  What can
be so absurd as a rational and immortal soul going about distributing
pasteboard!"

We went to Lady G--'s ball, which was very splendid.  I had been
dancing, for although I was not considered probably good enough among
the young aristocrats to be made a partner for life, as a partner in a
waltz or quadrille I was rather in request, for the odium of governess
had not yet been attached to my name, having never figured in that
capacity in the metropolis, where I was unknown.  I had but a short time
taken my seat by Lady R--, when the latter sprang off in a great hurry,
after what I could not tell, and her place was immediately occupied by a
lady, who I immediately recognised as a Lady M--, who had, with her
daughters, composed a portion of the company at Madame Bathurst's
country seat.

"Have you forgotten me, Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf?" said Lady M--,
extending her hand.

"No, my lady, I am glad to see you looking so well.  I hope your
daughters are also quite well?"

"Thank you; they look very well in the evening, but rather pale in the
morning.  It is a terrible thing a London season, very trying to the
constitution, but what can we do?  We must be out and be seen
everywhere, or we lose caste--so many balls and parties every night.
The fact is, that if girls are not married during the three first
seasons after they come out, their chance is almost hopeless, for all
the freshness and charm of youth, which are so appetising to the other
sex, are almost gone.  No constitution can withstand the fatigue.  I've
often compared our young ladies to the carriage horses--they are both
worked to death during the season, and then turned out to grass in the
country to recover themselves, and come up fresh for the next winter.
It really is a horrible life, but girls must be got off.  I wish mine
were, for what with fatigue and anxiety I'm worn to a shadow.  Come,
Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf, let us go into the next room.  It is cooler,
and we shall be more quiet; take my arm: perhaps we shall meet the
girls."

I accepted her ladyship's invitation, and we went into the next room,
and took a seat upon a sofa in a recess.

"Here we can talk without being overheard," said Lady M--; "and now, my
dear young lady, I know that you have left Madame Bathurst, but why I do
not know.  Is it a secret?"

"No, my lady; when Caroline went away I was of no further use, and
therefore I did not wish to remain.  You may perhaps know that I went to
Madame Bathurst's on a visit, and that an unforeseen change of
circumstances induced me to remain for some time as instructress to her
niece."

"I heard something of that sort, a kind of friendly arrangement, at
which Madame Bathurst had good cause to be content.  I'm sure I should
have been, had I been so fortunate; and now you are residing with Lady
R--, may I inquire, without presuming too much, in what capacity you are
with Lady R--."

"I went there as an amanuensis, but I have never written a line.  Lady
R--is pleased to consider me as a companion, and I must say that she has
behaved to me with great kindness and consideration."

"I have no doubt of it," replied Lady M--; "but still it appears to me
(excuse the liberty I take, or ascribe it to a feeling of good-will),
that your position with Lady R--is not quite what those who have an
interest in you would wish.  Everyone knows how odd she is, to say the
least of it, and you may not be perhaps aware, that occasionally her
tongue outruns her discretion.  In your presence she of course is on her
guard, for she is really good-natured, and would not willingly offend
anyone or hurt their feelings, but when led away by her desire to shine
in company, she is very indiscreet.  I have been told that at Mrs W--'s
dinner-party the other day, to which you were not invited, on your name
being brought up, she called you her charming model, I think was the
phrase; and on an explanation being demanded of the term, she said you
stood for her heroines, putting yourself in postures and positions while
she drew from nature, as she termed it; and that, moreover, on being
complimented on the idea, and some of the young men offering, or rather
intimating, that they would be delighted to stand or kneel at your feet,
as the hero of the tale, she replied that she had no occasion for their
services, as she had a page or footman, I forget which, who did that
portion of the work.  Surely this cannot be true, my dear Mademoiselle
de Chatenoeuf?"

Oh! how my blood boiled when I heard this.

How far it was true, the reader already knows; but the manner in which
it was conveyed by Lady M--, quite horrified me.  I coloured up to the
temples, and replied, "Lady M--, that Lady R--has very often, when I
have been sitting, and she has been writing, told me that she was taking
me as a model for her heroine, is very true, but I have considered it as
a mere whim of hers, knowing how very eccentric she is.  I little
thought from my having good-naturedly yielded to her caprice, that I
should have been so mortified as I have been by what you have
communicated to me.  That she must have been indiscreet, is certain, for
it was known only to herself and me."

"And the footman."

"Footman, my lady?  There is a boy--a sort of page there."

"Exactly; a lad of fifteen or sixteen, a precocious, pert boy, who is
much indulged by Lady R--, and, if report says true, is nearer related
to her than she is willing to acknowledge.  Did you never observe that
there is a strong likeness?"

"Good heavens, my lady, you surprise me."

"And, I fear, have also annoyed you; but," continued Lady M--, laying
her hand on mine, "I thought it kinder to let you know your peculiar
position than to sneer and ridicule, as others do, behind your back.
This is a sad world in one respect; if there is any scandal or false
report spread against us, it is known to everyone but ourselves.  We
cannot find, but rarely, a friend who is so really our friend as to tell
us of it.  The poison is allowed to circulate without the power being
given to us of applying an antidote--so hollow is friendship in this
world.  My dear mademoiselle, I have done otherwise; whether you thank
me for it or not, I cannot tell; perhaps not, for those who communicate
unpleasant intelligence, are seldom looked kindly upon."

"Lady M--," replied I, "I do thank you most heartily.  I do consider
that you have acted a friendly part.  That I have been dreadfully
shocked and mortified, I admit," continued I, wiping away the tears that
forced their passage; "but I shall not give an opportunity for future
unjust insinuations or remarks, as I have made up my mind that I shall
leave Lady R--as soon as possible."

"My dear mademoiselle, I did not venture to make you acquainted with
what I knew would, to a person of your sensitive mind, be the cause of
your quitting the protection of Lady R--without having considered
whether an equivalent could not be offered to you; and I am happy to say
that I can offer you a home, and I trust comfort and consideration, if
you will accept of them.  The fact is, that had I known that you had any
idea of quitting Madame Bathurst, I should have made the offer then--now
I do so with all sincerity;--but at present you are agitated and
annoyed, and I will say no more.  If I send the carriage for you
to-morrow at two o'clock, will you do me the favour to come and see me?
I would call upon you, but of course the presence of Lady R--would be a
check to our free converse.  Say, my dear, will you come?"

I replied in the affirmative, and Lady M--then rose, and giving me her
arm, we walked back to the bench which I had left, where I found Lady
R--in a hot dispute with a member of Parliament.  I sat down by her
unnoticed, and Lady M--having smiled an adieu, I was left to my own
reflections, which were anything but agreeable.  My head ached
dreadfully, and I looked so ill that Lady R--'s warm antagonist
perceived it, and pointed it out to her, saying, "Your _protegee_ is not
well, I fear, Lady R--."

I replied to Lady R--, "that I had a violent headache, and wished to get
home if it were possible."

She immediately consented, and showed great concern.  As soon as we were
home, I need hardly say, that I hastened to my room.

I sat down and pressed my forehead with my hands: my knowledge of the
world was increasing too fast.  I began to hate it--hate men, and women
even more than men.  What lessons had I learnt within the last year.
First Madame d'Albret, then Madame Bathurst, and now Lady R--.  Was
there no such thing as friendship in the world--no such thing as
generosity?  In my excited state it appeared to me that there was not.
All was false and hollow.  Self was the idol of mankind, and all
worshipped at its altar.  After a time I became more composed, I thought
of little Madame Gironac, and the recollection of her disinterested
kindness put me in a better frame of mind.  Mortified as I was, I could
not help feeling that it was only the vanity of Lady R--and her desire
to shine, to which I had been made a sacrifice, and that she had no
intention of wounding my feelings.  Still, to remain with her after what
had been told to me by Lady M--was impossible.

And then I reflected upon what steps I should take.  I did not like to
tell Lady R--the real grounds of my leaving her.  I thought it would be
prudent to make some excuse and part good friends.  At last it occurred
to me that her intention of going to France would be a good excuse.  I
could tell her that I was afraid of meeting my relatives.

Having decided upon this point, I then canvassed the words of Lady M--.
What could she offer me in her house?  She had three daughters, but they
were all out, as the phrase is, and their education supposed to be
completed.  This was a mystery I could not solve, and I was obliged to
give up thinking about it, and at last I fell asleep.  The next moment I
woke up, jaded in mind, and with a bad headache, but I dressed and went
down to breakfast.  Lady R--asked after my health, and then said, "I
observed you talking very confidentially with Lady M--.  I was not aware
that you knew her.  Between ourselves, Valerie, she is one of my
models."

"Indeed," replied I, "I do not think that her ladyship is aware of the
honour conferred upon her."

"Very likely not, but in the last work she was portrayed to the life.
Lady M--is a schemer, always plotting; her great object now is to get
her three daughters well married."

"I believe that most mothers wish that, Lady R--."

"I grant it, and perhaps manoeuvre as much, but with more skill than she
does, for every one sees the game that she is playing, and the
consequence is, that the young men shy off, which they probably would
not if she were quiet, for they are really clever, unaffected, and
natural girls, very obliging, and without any pride; but how came you to
be so intimate with Lady M--?"

"Lady M--and her eldest daughter were staying for some time with Madame
Bathurst in the country when I was there."

"Oh, I understand, that accounts for it."

"I am going to call upon Lady M--, if she sends her carriage for me,"
replied I.  "She told me that she would, if she could, at two o'clock.
She has proposed my paying her a visit; I presume it will be after she
leaves town."

"But that you will not be able to do, Valerie; you forget our trip to
France."

"I did not think that you were serious," replied I; "you mentioned it as
the resolution of a night, and I did not know that you might not think
differently upon further consideration."

"Oh no, my resolutions are hastily formed, but not often given up.  Go
to Paris we certainly shall."

"If you are determined upon going, Lady R--, I am afraid that I cannot
accompany you."

"Indeed!" exclaimed her ladyship, in surprise.  "May I ask why not?"

"Simply because I might meet those I am most anxious to avoid; there is
a portion of my history that you are not acquainted with, Lady R--,
which I will now make known to you."

I then told her as much as I thought necessary relative to my parents,
and stated my determination not to run the risk of meeting them.  Lady
R--argued, persuaded, coaxed, and scolded, but it was all in vain; at
last she became seriously angry, and left the room.  Lionel soon
afterwards made his appearance, and said to me, in his usual familiar
way, "What's the matter, Miss Valerie?  The governess is in a rage about
something; she gave me a box on the ear."

"I suppose you deserved it, Lionel," replied I.

"Well, there may be differences of opinion about that," replied the boy.
"She went on scolding me at such a rate that I was quite astonished,
and all about nothing.  She blew up cook--didn't she--blew her half up
the chimney--and then she was at me again.  At last I could bear it no
longer, and I said, `Don't flare up, my lady.'"

"`Don't my lady me,' cried she, `or I'll box your ears.'"

"Well, then, as she is always angry if you call her my lady, I thought
she was angry with me for the same reason, so I said, `Sempronia, keep
your temper,'--and didn't I get a box on the ear."

I could not help laughing at this recital of his cool impudence, the
more so as he narrated it with such an air of injured innocence.

"Indeed, Lionel," said I at last, "you well deserved the box on the ear.
If you ever quit the service of Lady R--, you will find that you must
behave with proper respect to those above you; if not, you will not
remain an hour in any other house.  Lady R--is very odd and very
good-tempered, and permits more liberties than any other person would.
I will, however, tell you why Lady R--is displeased.  It is because she
wishes me to go to France with her and I have refused."

"Then you are going to leave us?" inquired Lionel, mournfully.

"I suppose so," replied I.

"Then I shall go, too," said the boy.  "I'm tired of it."

"But why should you go, Lionel?  You may not find another situation half
so comfortable."

"I shall not seek one.  I have only stayed here with the hope that I may
find out from her ladyship who and what my parents were, and she will
not tell me.  I shall live by my wits, never fear; `the world's my
oyster,' as Shakespeare says, and I think I've wit enough to open it."

I had not forgotten the observations of Lady M--relative to Lionel, and
what the lad now said made me surmise that there was some mystery, and,
on examination of his countenance, there _was_ a family likeness to Lady
R--.  I also called to mind her unwillingness to enter upon the subject
when I brought it up.

"But, Lionel," said I, after a pause, "what is it that makes you suppose
that Lady R--conceals who were your parents--when we last talked on the
subject, you said you had found out something--she told me that your
father was a bailiff, or steward to Sir Richard."

"Which I have proved to be false.  She told me that my father was Sir
Richard's butler; that I have also discovered to be false, for one day
the old housekeeper, who called upon me at school, came here, and was
closeted with Lady R--for half-an-hour.  When she went away, I called a
hackney-coach for her, and getting behind it, went home with her to her
lodgings.  When I found out where she lived, I hastened back immediately
that I might not be missed, intending to have made a call upon her.  The
next day Lady R--gave me a letter to put in the twopenny-post; it was
directed to a Mrs Green, to the very house where the hackney-coach had
stopped, so I knew it was for the old housekeeper.  Instead of putting
the letter in the post, I kept it till the evening, and then took it
myself.

"`Mrs Green,' said I, for I found her at home with another old woman,
sitting over their tea, `I have brought you a letter from Lady R--.'
This is about a year ago, Miss Valerie.

"`Mercy on me,' said she, `how strange that Lady R--should send you
here.'

"`Not strange that she should send a letter by a servant,' said I, `only
strange that I should be a servant.'

"I said this, Miss Valerie, as a random throw, just to see what answer
she would make.

"`Why, who has been telling you anything?' said she, looking at me
through her spectacles.

"`Ah,' replied I, `that's what I must keep to myself, for I'm under a
promise of secrecy.'

"`Mercy on me, it couldn't be--no, that's impossible,' muttered the old
woman, as she opened the letter and took out a bank-note, which she
crumpled up in her hand.  She then commenced reading the letter; I
walked a little way from her, and stood between her and the window.
Every now and then she held the letter up to the candle, and when the
light was strong upon it, I could read a line from where I stood, for I
have been used to her ladyship's writing, as you know.  One line I read
was, `remains still at Culverwood Hall;' another was, `the only person
now left in Essex.'  I also saw the words `secrecy' and `ignorant' at
the bottom of the page.  The old woman finished the letter at last, but
it took her a good while to get through it.

"`Well,' says she, `have you anything more to say?'

"`No,' says I; `you are well paid for your secrecy, Mrs Green.'

"`What do you mean?' said she.

"`Oh, I'm not quite so ignorant as you suppose,' replied I.

"`Ignorant,' said she, confused, `ignorant of what?'

"`When were you last in Essex?' said I.

"`When, why? what's that to you, you impudent boy?'

"`Nay, then, I'll put another question to you.  How long is it since you
were at Culverwood Hall?'

"`Culverwood Hall!  What do you know about Culverwood Hall? the boy's
mad, I believe; go away, you've done your message; if you don't, I'll
tell her ladyship.'

"`Certainly, Mrs Green,' said I.  `I wish you a good-night.'

"I left the room, slamming the door, but not allowing the catch to fall
in, so that I held it a little ajar, and then I heard Mrs Green say to
the other woman,

"`Somebody's been with that boy; I wonder who it can be?  He's put me in
such a flurry.  Well, these things will out.'

"`Yes, yes, it's like murder,' replied the other; `not that I know what
it's all about, only I see there's a secret--perhaps you'll tell me,
Mrs Green?'

"`All I dare tell you is that there is a secret,' replied Mrs Green,
`and the boy has got an inkling of it somehow or another.  I must see my
lady--no, I had better not,' added she; `for she is so queer that she'll
swear that I've told him.  Now there's only one besides myself and her
ladyship who knows anything, and I'll swear that he could not have been
with the boy, for he's bedridden.  I'm all of a puzzle, and that's the
truth.  What a wind there is; why the boy has left the door open.  Boys
never shut doors.'

"Mrs Green got up and slammed the door to, and I walked off; and now,
Miss Valerie, that's all that I know of the matter; but why I should be
sent to a good school and wear pepper and salt, and to be taken away to
be made first a page, and now a footman, I can't tell; but you must
acknowledge that there is some mystery, after what I have told you."

"It certainly is strange, Lionel," replied I, "but my advice is that you
remain patiently till you can find it out, which by leaving Lady R--you
are not likely to do."

"I don't know that, Miss Valerie; let me get down to Culverwood Hall,
and I think I would find out something, or my wits were given me to no
purpose.  But I hear her ladyship coming upstairs: so good-bye, Miss
Valerie."

And Lionel made a hasty retreat.

Lady R--slowly ascended the stairs, and came into the room.  Her
violence had been exhausted, but she looked sullen and moody, and I
could hardly recognise her; for I must do her the justice to say, that I
had never before seen her out of temper.  She sat down in her chair, and
I asked her whether I should bring her her writing materials.

"A pretty state I am in to write," replied she, leaning her elbows on
the table, and pressing her hands to her eyes.  "You don't know what a
rage I have been in, and how I have been venting it upon innocent
people.  I struck that poor boy--shame on me!  Alas!  I was born with
violent passions, and they have been my curse through life.  I had hoped
that years had somewhat subdued them, but they will occasionally master
me.  What would I not give to have had your placid temper, Valerie!  How
much unhappiness I should have been spared!  How much error should I
have avoided!  I was going to say, how much crime."

Lady R--was evidently more talking to herself than to me when she said
the last words, and I therefore made no reply.  A silence of more than a
quarter of an hour followed, which was broken by Lionel coming in, and
announcing the carriage of Lady M--.

"That woman is the cause of all this," said Lady R--; "I am sure that
she is.  Pray do not wait, Valerie.  Go and see her.  I shall be better
company when you come back."

I made no reply, but left the room, and putting on my bonnet, was driven
to Lady M--'s.  She received me with great cordiality, and so did her
daughters, who were in the room; but they were dismissed by their
mother, who then said, "I told you last night, my dear Mademoiselle de
Chatenoeuf, that I wished you to reside with me.  You may say in what
capacity, and I acknowledge that I hardly know what answer to give.  Not
as governess, certainly, for I consider it an odious position, and one
that I could not offer you; indeed, my girls do not require teaching, as
they have finished their studies; in only one thing you could be of
advantage to them in that respect, which is in music and singing.  But I
wish you to come as their companion, as I am convinced that they will
gain much by your so doing.  I wish you, therefore, to be considered by
others as a visitor at the house, but at the same time I must insist
that from the advantages my girls will derive from your assisting them
in music and singing, you will accept the same salary per annum which
you have from Lady R--.  Do you understand me: I wish you to remain with
me, not as a model after the idea of Lady R--, but as a model for my
girls to take pattern by.  I shall leave it to yourself to act as you
please.  I am sure my girls like you already, and will like you better.
I do not think that I can say more, except that I trust you will not
refuse my offer."

There was a delicacy and kindness in this proposal on the part of Lady
M--which I felt gratefully; but it appeared to me that after all it was
only an excuse to offer me an asylum without any remuneration on my
part, and I stated my feeling on that point.

"Do not think so," replied Lady M--.  "I avoided saying so, because I
would not have you styled a music-mistress; but on that one point alone
you will more than earn your salary, as I will prove to you by showing
you the annual payments to professors for lessons; but you will be of
great value to me in other points, I have no doubt.  May I, therefore,
consider it as an _affaire arrangee_?"  After a little more
conversation, I acquiesced, and having agreed that I would come as soon
as Lady R--went to the continent, or at all events in three weeks, when
Lady M--quitted London, I took my leave, and was conveyed back to Lady
R--, in the carriage which had been sent for me.

On my return, I found Lady R--seated where I had left her.

"Well," said she, "so you have had your audience; and I have no doubt
but that you were most graciously received.  Oh!  I know the woman; and
I have been reflecting upon it during your absence, and I have
discovered what she wants you for; but this she has not mentioned, not
even hinted at.  She knows better; but when once in her house, you will
submit to it, rather than be again in search of a home."

"I really do not know what you mean, Lady R--," said I.

"Has not Lady M--asked you to come as a visitor, without specifying any
particular employment?"

"No, she has not.  She has proposed my staying in the house to give
lessons to her daughters in music, and to be their companion; but there
is nothing stated as to a fixed residence with her."

"Well, Valerie, I know that I am odd; but you will soon find out whether
you have gained by the change."

"Lady R--, I really do not consider you should be so sarcastic or unkind
towards me.  I do not like to go to France with you for reasons which I
have fully explained, at the expense of disclosing family affairs, which
I had much rather not have mentioned.  You leave me by myself, and I
must seek protection somewhere.  It is kindly offered by Lady M--, and
in my unfortunate position I have not to choose.  Be just and be
generous."

"Well, well, I will," said Lady R--, the tears starting in her eyes;
"but you do not know how much I am annoyed at your leaving me.  I had
hoped, with all my faults, that I had created in you a feeling of
attachment to me--God knows, that I _have tried_.  If you knew all my
history, Valerie, you would not be surprised at my being strange.  That
occurred when I was of your age which would have driven some people to
despair or suicide.  As it is, it has alienated me from all my
relations, not that I have many.  My brother, I never see or hear from,
and have not for years.  I have refused all his invitations to go down
to see him, and he is now offended with me; but there are causes for it,
and years cannot wipe away the memory of what did occur."

"I assure you, Lady R--, I have been very sensible of your kindness to
me," replied I, "and shall always remember it with gratitude; and if you
think I have no regard for you, you are mistaken; but the subject has
become painful--pray let us say no more."

"Well, Valerie, be it so; perhaps it is the wisest plan--"

To change the conversation, I said--"Is not your brother the present
baronet?"

"Yes," replied Lady R--

"And where does he reside?"

"In Essex, at Culverwood Hall, the seat of all my misfortunes."

I started a little at the mention of the place, as it was the one which
the reader may remember was spoken of by Lionel.  I then turned the
conversation to other matters, and by dinner-time Lady R--had recovered
herself, and was as amiable as ever.

From that day until Lady R--set off for Paris, there was not a word said
relative to Lady M--.  She was kind and polite, but not so warm and
friendly as she had been before, and in her subdued bearing towards me
was more agreeable.  Her time was now employed in making preparations
for her tour.  Lionel was the only one who was to accompany her except
her own maid.  At last she fixed the day of her departure, and I wrote
to Lady M--, who returned an answer that it suited her exactly, as she
would go to the country the day after.  The evening before Lady R--was
to start was passed very gloomily.

I felt great sorrow at our separation, more than I could have imagined;
but when you have been associated with a person who is good-tempered and
kind, you soon feel more for them than you would suppose until you are
about to quit them.

Lady R--was very much dispirited, and said to me, "Valerie, I have a
presentiment that we never shall meet again, and yet I am anything but
superstitious.  I can truly say that you are the only person to whom I
have felt real attachment since my youth, and I feel more than I can
describe.  Something whispers to me, `Do not go to France,' and yet
something impels me to go.  Valerie, if I do come back I trust that you
will consider my house your home, if at any time you cannot place
yourself more to your satisfaction; I will not say more, as I know that
I am not exactly a lovable person, and my ways are odd; but do pray look
upon me as your sincere friend, who will always be ready to serve you.
I have to thank you for a few happy months, and that is saying much.
God bless you, my dear Valerie."

I was moved to tears by what Lady R--said, and I thanked her with a
faltering voice.

"Come now," said she, "I shall be off too early in the morning to see
you: let us take our farewell."

Lady R--put a small packet into my hand, kissed me on the forehead, and
then hastened up to her own room.

That people love change is certain, but still there is a mournfulness
connected with it; even in a change of residence, the packing up, the
litter attending it, the corded trunks and packages, give a forlorn
appearance to the house itself.  To me it was peculiarly distressing; I
had changed so often within the last year, and had such a precarious
footing wherever I went, I felt myself to be the sport of fortune, and a
football to the whims and caprices of others.  I was sitting in my
bedroom, my trunks packed but not yet closed down, thinking of Lady
R--'s last conversation, and very _triste_.  The packet was lying on the
table before me, unopened, when I was roused by a knock at the door.  I
thought it was Lady R--'s maid, and I said, "Come in."

The door opened, and Lionel made his appearance.

"Is it you, Lionel?  What do you want?"

"I knew that you were up, and I recollected as we leave before you do,
to-morrow, that you would have no one to cord your luggage, so I thought
I would come up and do it for you to-night, Miss Valerie, if it is
ready."

"Thank you, Lionel, it is very considerate of you.  I will lock the
trunks up, and you can cord them outside."

Lionel took out the trunks and corded them in the passage.  When he had
finished he said to me, "Good bye, Miss Valerie.  You will see me again
very soon."

"See you very soon, Lionel!  I am afraid there is no chance of that, for
Lady R--intends to stay abroad for six months."

"I do not," replied he.

"Why, Lionel, it would be very foolish for you to give up such a good
situation.  You have such unusual wages: twenty pounds a year, is it
not?"

"Yes, Miss Valerie.  I should not get half that in another situation,
but that is one reason why I am going to leave.  Why should she give me
twenty pounds a year.  I must find out why, and find out I will, as I
said to you before.  She don't give me twenty pounds for my beauty,
although she might give you a great deal more, and yet not pay you half
enough."

"Well, Lionel, I think you have been here long enough.  It is too late
to sit up to pay compliments.  Fare you well."

I shut my door upon him gently, and then went to bed.  As usual after
excitement, I slept long and soundly.  When I awoke the next morning, I
found it was broad day, and nearly ten o'clock.  I rang the bell, and it
was answered by the cook, who told me that she and I were the only
people in the house.  I rose, and as I passed by my table, I perceived
another package lying by the side of the one which Lady R--had given me.
It was addressed to me and I opened it.  It contained a miniature of
Lady R--when she was about my age, and very beautiful she must have
been.  It was labelled "Sempronia at eighteen.  Keep it for my sake,
dear Valerie, and do not open the paper accompanying it until you have
my permission, or you hear of my being no more."

I laid the miniature down and opened the first packet given me by Lady
R--.  It contained bank-notes to the amount of one hundred pounds,
nearly double the salary due to me.  The contents of both these packets
only made me feel more melancholy, and I sighed heavily as I put them in
my dressing-case; but time ran on, and I had agreed to be at Lady M--'s
at one o'clock, when the carriage would be sent for me.  I therefore
hastened my toilet, closed the remainder of my luggage, and went down to
the breakfast which the cook had prepared for me.  While I was at
breakfast a letter was brought by the post.  It had been directed to
Madame Bathurst, and was redirected to Lady R--'s address.  It was from
Madame Paon, and as follows:--

"My dear Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf,--

"As I take it for granted that you do not see the French papers, I write
to tell you that your predictions relative to Monsieur G--, have all
proved correct.  A month after the marriage, he neglected madame, and
spent his whole time at the gaming-table, only returning home to obtain
fresh supplies from her.  These were at last refused, and in his rage he
struck her.  A suit for separation of person and property was brought
into court last week, and terminated in favour of Madame d'Albret, who
retains all her fortune, and is rid of a monster.  She came to me
yesterday morning, and showed me the letter which you had written to
her, asking me whether I did not correspond with you, and whether I
thought, that after her conduct you could be prevailed upon to return to
her.  Of course I could not give any opinion, but I am convinced that if
you only say that you forgive her, that she will write to you and make
the request.  I really do not well see how you can do otherwise, after
the letter which you wrote to her, but of course you will decide for
yourself.  I trust, mademoiselle, you will favour me with a speedy
answer, as Madame d'Albret is here every day, and is evidently very
impatient,--I am, my dear mademoiselle, yours,

"Emile Paon.

"Nee Merce."

To this letter I sent the following reply by that day's post:--

"My dear Madame Paon,

"That I sincerely forgive Madame d'Albret is true; I do so from my
heart; but although I forgive her, I cannot listen to any proposal to
resume the position I once held.  Recollect that she has driven all over
Paris, and accused me among all her friends of ingratitude and slander.
How then, after having been discarded for such conduct, could I again
make my appearance in her company.  Either I have done as she has
stated, and if so, am unworthy of her patronage, or I have not done so,
and therefore have been cruelly used: made to feel my dependence in the
bitterest way, having been dismissed and thrown upon the world with loss
of character.  Could I ever feel secure or comfortable with her after
such injustice? or could she feel at her ease on again presenting one as
her _protegee_, whom she had so ill-treated? would she not have to blush
every time that she met with any of our former mutual friends and
acquaintances?  It would be a series of humiliations to us both.  Assure
her of my forgiveness and good-will, and my wishes for her happiness;
but to return to her is impossible.  I would rather starve.  If she knew
what I have suffered in consequence of her hasty conduct towards me, she
would pity me more than she may do now; but what is done is done.  There
is no remedy for it.  Adieu, Madame Paon.  Many thanks for your kindness
to one so fallen as I am.

"Yours truly and sincerely,

"Valerie."

I wrote the above under great depression of spirits, and it was with a
heavy heart that I afterwards alighted at Lady M--'s residence in St
James's Square.  If smiles, however, and cordial congratulations, and
shakes of the hand could have consoled me, they were not wanting on the
part of Lady M--and her daughters.  I was shown all the rooms below,
then Lady M--'s room, the young ladies' rooms, and lastly my own, and
was truly glad when I was at last left alone to unpack and arrange my
things.

The room allotted to me was very comfortable, and better furnished than
those in which the young ladies slept, and as far as appearances went, I
was in all respects treated as a visitor and not as a governess.  The
maid who attended me was very civil, and as she assisted and laid my
dresses in the wardrobe, made no attempt to be familiar.  I ought to
have informed the reader that Lady M--was a widow, Lord M--having died
about two years before.  Her eldest son, the present Lord M--, was on
the continent.  Dinner was announced; there were only two visitors, and
I was treated as one of the company.  In fact, nothing could be more
gratifying than the manner in which I was treated.  In the evening, I
played and sang.  The young ladies did the same; their voices were good,
but they wanted expression in their singing, and I perceived that I
could be useful.

Lady M--asked me, when we were not overheard, "what I thought of her
daughters' singing?"

I told her frankly.

"It is impossible to doubt the truth of what you say, my dear
Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf, after having heard your performance.  I knew
that you were considered a good performer, but I had no idea of the
perfection which you have arrived at."

"If your daughters are really fond of music, they would soon do as well,
my lady," replied I.

"Impossible," exclaimed her ladyship; "but still they must gain
something from listening to you.  You look fatigued.  Do you wish to go
to bed?  Augusta will go up with you."

"I have a nervous headache," replied I, "and I will accept your
ladyship's considerate proposal."

Augusta, the eldest daughter, lighted a chamber-candle, and went up with
me into my room.  After a little conversation, she wished me good-night,
and thus passed the first day in St James's Square.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

As arranged by Lady M--, the next day we went to Harking Castle, the
family seat, in Dorsetshire, and I was not sorry to be again quiet,
after the noise and bustle of a London season.  As Lady M--had observed,
the young ladies were sadly jaded with continual late hours and hot
rooms, but they had not been a week in the country before they were
improved in appearance and complexion.  They certainly were amiable,
nice girls; clever, and without pride, and I soon became attached to
them.  I attended to their music, and they made great progress.  I also
taught them the art of making flowers in wax, which I had so lately
learned myself.  This was all I could do, except mildly remonstrating
with them when I saw what did not appear to me to be quite correct, in
their conduct and deportment.  Lady M--appeared quite satisfied, and
treated me with great consideration, and I was in a short time very
happy in my new position.

For the first month, there were no visitors in the house; after that,
invitations were sent out.  Lady M--had said that she would have a
month's quiet to recover herself from the fatigues of the season, and I
had no doubt but that she also thought her daughters would be much
benefited, as they really were, by a similar retirement.  It was on the
Monday that company was expected, and on Friday Lady M--desired Augusta,
the eldest daughter, to put on a new dress which had just been made by
the two lady's-maids, and come down in it that she might see it on.
When Augusta made her appearance, and her mother had surveyed the dress,
she said, "I do not quite like it, Augusta, and yet I do not exactly
know where it's wrong; but something requires to be altered: it does not
hang gracefully."

As she said this, I was reading a book, and I naturally looked up, and
immediately perceived the alteration which the dress required.  I
pointed it out, and with a few pins made the dress sit well.

"Why this is a new talent, my dear Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf, one that
I had no idea that you possessed; although I admit that no one dresses
more elegantly than you do," said Lady M--.  "How much I am obliged to
you for taking so much trouble."

"I am most happy to be of any service, Lady M--, and you may always
command me," replied I.  "I have the credit of being a very good
milliner."

"I believe you can do anything," replied Lady M--.

"Augusta, go up to Benson and show her the alterations that are
required, and tell her to make them directly.

"After all," continued Lady M--, to me, "it is bad economy making
dresses at home, but I really cannot afford to pay the extravagant
prices charged by Madame Desbelli.  My bills are monstrous, and my
poverty, but not my will, consents.  Still it does make such a
difference in the appearance, being well-dressed, that if I could, I
never would have a dress made at home; but the saving is astonishing--
nearly two-thirds, I assure you."

"If you will allow me to interfere a little, my lady," replied I, "I
think you can have them as well made at home as by Madame Desbelli.  I
think I can be useful."

"You are very kind, Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf, but it will be taxing
you too much."

"Not at all, Lady M--, if I have your sanction."

"You shall do just as you please, my dear," replied Lady M--; "I give
you full authority over the whole household, if you wish it; but indeed
I think Benson will be much obliged to you for any slight hint that you
may give her, and I am sure that I shall; but the carriage is at the
door--do you drive to-day?"

"Not to-day, I thank you, Lady M--," replied I.

"Well, then, I will take Hortense and Amy with me, and leave Augusta
with you."

After Lady M--'s departure, I went up to the room where the maids were
at work.  I altered the arrangement of Augusta's dress so as to suit her
figure, and cut out the two others for Hortense and Amy.  Wishing to
please Lady M--, I worked myself at Augusta's dress, and had it
completed before Lady M--had returned from her drive.  It certainly was
now a very different affair, and Augusta looked remarkably well in it.
She was delighted herself, and hastened down to her mother to show it to
her.  When I came down to dinner, Lady M--was profuse in her
acknowledgments; the two other dresses, when finished, gave equal
satisfaction, and from that time till the period of my quitting Lady
M--, all the dresses, not only of the young ladies, but those of Lady
M--, were made at home, and my taste and judgment invariably appealed to
and most cheerfully given.  I felt it my duty to be of all the use that
I could be, and perhaps was not a little gratified by the compliments I
received upon my exquisite taste.  Time passed on; during the shooting
season, Augusta, the eldest daughter, received a very good offer, which
was accepted; and at the Christmas festivities, Hortense, the second
girl, accepted another proposal, which was also very favourable.  Lady
M--was delighted at such success.

"Is it not strange, my dear Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf, that I have been
fagging two seasons, night and day, to get husbands for those girls, and
now alone here, in solitude and retirement almost, they have both
obtained excellent establishments.  I do really declare that I believe
it is all owing to you, and the delightful manner in which you have
dressed them."

"I should rather think that it is owing, in the first place, to their
having so much improved in personal appearance since they have been down
in the country," replied I; "and further, to the gentlemen having now an
opportunity of discovering their truly estimable qualities, which they
were not likely to do at Almack's or other parties during a London
season."

"You may think so," replied Lady M--, "but it is my conviction that all
is owing to their being so tastefully-dressed.  Why every one admires
the elegance of their costume, and requests patterns.  Well, now I have
only Amy on my hands, and I think that her sister's high connections
will assist in getting her off."

"She is a sweet girl, Amy," replied I, "and were I you Lady M--, I
should be in no hurry to part with her."

"Indeed, but I am," replied Lady M--, "you don't know the expense of
girls, and my jointure is not so very large; however, I must not
complain.  Don't you think Amy looks better in lilac than any other
colour?"

"She looks well in almost any colour," replied I.

"Yes, with your taste, I grant," replied Lady M--.  "Are you aware that
we go to town in a fortnight?  We must look after the _trousseaux_.  It
was arranged last night that both marriages shall take place in
February.  Amy will, of course be one of the brides'-maids, and I trust
to you, my dear Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf, to invent something very
_distingue_ for her on that occasion.  Who knows but that it may get her
off? but it's late, so good-night."

I could not admire Lady M--'s apparent hurry to get rid of her
daughters, but it certainly was the one thing needful which had occupied
all her thoughts and attention during the time that I had been with her.
That it was natural she should wish that her children were well
established, I granted, but all that she appeared to consider was good
connection, and the means of living in good style, every other point as
to the character of the husbands being totally overlooked.

A fortnight after Christmas we all went to London, and were, as Lady M--
had observed, very busy with the _trousseaux_, when one day the butler
came to say that a young gentleman wished to see me, and was waiting in
the breakfast parlour below.  I went down, wondering who it could be,
when to my surprise, I found Lionel, the page of Lady R--, dressed in
plain clothes, and certainly looking very much like a gentleman.  He
bowed very respectfully to me when he entered, much more so than he had
ever done when he was a page with Lady R--, and said, "Miss Valerie, I
have ventured to call upon you, as I thought when we parted, that you
did me the honour to feel some little interest about me, and I thought
you would like to know what has taken place.  I have been in England now
four months, and have not been idle during that time."

"I am certainly glad to see you, Lionel, although I am sorry you have
left Lady R--, and I hope you have been satisfied with the result of
your inquiries."

"It is rather a long story, Miss Valerie, and, if you wish to hear it,
you will oblige me by sitting down while I narrate it to you."

"I hope it will not be too long, Lionel, as I shall be wanted in an hour
or so, to go out with Lady M--, but I am ready to hear you," continued
I, sitting down as he requested.

Lionel stood by me, and then commenced--"We arrived at Dover the evening
of the day that we left, Miss Valerie; and Lady R--, who had been in a
state of great agitation during the journey, was so unwell, that she
remained there four or five days.  As soon as she was better, I thought
it was advisable that she should settle my book, and pay me my wages
before we left England, and I brought it to her, stating my wish, as the
sum was then very large.

"`And what do you want money for?' said she, rather angrily.

"`I want to place it in safety, my lady,' replied I.

"`That's as much as to say that it is not safe with me.'

"`No, my lady,' replied I.  `But suppose any accident were to happen to
you abroad, would your executors ever believe that you owed more than 25
pounds, besides a year's wages to a page like me; they would say that it
could not be, and would not pay me my money; neither would they believe
that you gave me such wages.'

"`Well,' she replied, `there is some truth in that, and it will,
perhaps, be better that I do pay you at once, but where will you put the
money, Lionel?'

"`I will keep the check, my lady, if you please.'

"`Then I will write it to order and not to bearer,' replied she, `and
then if you lose it, it will not be paid, for it will require your own
signature.'

"`Thank you, my lady,' replied I.

"Having examined my accounts and my wages due, she gave me a check for
the full amount.  The next morning, the packet was to sail at nine
o'clock.  We were in good time, and as soon as Lady R--was on board she
went down into the cabin.  Her maid asked me for the bottle of salts
which I had purposely left under the sofa pillow at the Ship Hotel.  I
told her that I had left it, and as there was plenty of time would run
and fetch it.  I did so, but contrived not to be back until the steamer
had moved away from the pier, and her paddles were in motion.  I called
out `Stop, stop,' knowing of course that they would not, although they
were not twenty yards away.  I saw Lady R--'s maid run to the captain
and speak to him, but it was of no use, and thus I was left behind,
without Lady R--having any suspicion that it was intentional on my part.

"I waited at the pier till the packet was about two miles off, and then
walked away from the crowd of people who were bothering me with advice
how to proceed, so that I might join my mistress at Calais.  I returned
to the hotel for a portion of my clothes which I had not sent on board
of the packet, but had left in charge of the boots, and then sat down in
the tap to reflect upon what I should do.  My first object was to get
rid of my sugar-loaf buttons, for I hated livery, Miss Valerie; perhaps
it was pride, but I could not help it.  I walked out till I came to a
slop-seller's, as they call them at seaports, and went in; there was
nothing hanging up but seamen's clothes, and on reflection, I thought I
could not do better than to dress as a sailor; so I told the man that I
wanted a suit of sailor's clothes.

"`You want to go to sea, I suppose,' said the man, not guessing exactly
right, considering that I just refused to embark.

"However, I bargained first for a complete suit, and then sold him my
liveries, exchanging my dress in the back parlour.  I then returned to
the tap, obtained my other clothes, and as soon as the coach started,
got outside and arrived in London.  I called upon you at this house, and
found that you were in the country, and then I resolved that I would go
down to Culverwood Hall."

"And now you must leave off, Lionel, for the present," said I, "for I
must go out with Lady M--.  Come to-morrow, early, and I shall have
leisure to hear the rest of your story."

The following morning Lionel returned and resumed his history.

"Miss Valerie, little things often give you more trouble than greater;
and I had more difficulty to find out where Culverwood Hall was than you
may imagine.  I asked many at the inn where I put up, but no one could
tell me, and at such places I was not likely to find any book which I
could refer to.  I went to the coach offices and asked what coaches
started for Essex, and the reply was, `Where did I want to go?' and,
when I said Culverwood Hall, no one could tell me by which coach I was
to go, or which town it was near.  At last, I did find out from the
porter of the Saracen's Head, who had taken in parcels with that
address, and who went to the coachman, who said that his coach passed
within a mile of Sir Alexander Moystyn's, who lived there.  I never knew
her ladyship's maiden name before.  I took my place by the coach, for I
had gone to the banker's in Fleet Street, and received the money for my
check, and started the next morning at three o'clock.

"I was put down at a village called Westgate, at an inn called the
Moystyn Arms.  I kept to the dress of a sailor, and when the people
spoke to me on the coach, kept up the character as well as I could,
which is very easy to do when you have to do with people who know
nothing about it.  I shivered my timbers, and all that sort of thing,
and hitched up my trousers, as they do at the theatres.  The coachman
told me that the inn was the nearest place I could stop at, if I wanted
to go to the hall, and taking my bundle, I got down and he drove off.  A
sailor-boy is a sort of curiosity in a country village, Miss Valerie,
and I had many questions put to me, but I answered them by putting
others.  I said that my friends were formerly living at the hall in the
old baronet's time, but that I knew little about them, as it was a long
while ago; and I asked if there were any of the old servants still
living at the place.  The woman who kept the inn told me that there was
one, Old Roberts, who still lived in the village, and been _bedridden_
for some years.  This of course was the person I wanted, and I inquired
what had become of his family.  The reply was, that his daughter, who
had married Green, was somewhere in London, and his son, who had married
Kitty Wilson of the village, had gone to reside as gamekeeper somewhere
near Portsmouth, and had a large family of children.

"`You're right enough,' replied I, laughing, `we are a large family.'

"`What, are you old Roberts' grandson?' exclaimed the woman.  `Well, we
did hear that one of them, Harry, I think, did go to sea.'

"`Well, now, perhaps you'll tell me where I am to find the old
gentleman?' replied I.

"`Come with me,' said she, `he lives hard-by, and glad enough he'll be,
poor man, to have any one to talk with him a bit, for it's a lonesome
life he leads in bed there.'

"I followed the woman, and when about a hundred yards from the inn, she
stopped at the door of a small house, and called to Mrs Meshin, to `go
up and tell old Roberts that one of his grandsons is here.'  A snuffy
old woman made her appearance, peered at me through her spectacles, and
then stumped up a pair of stairs which faced the door.  Shortly
afterwards I was desired to come up, and did so.  I found an old man
with silver hair lying in bed, and the said Mrs Meshin, with her
spectacles, smoothing down the bed-clothes, and making the place tidy.

"`What cheer, old boy?' said I, after T.P. Cooke's style.

"`What do you say?  I'm hard of hearing, rather,' replied the old man.

"`How do you find yourself, sir?' said I.

"`Oh, pretty well for an old man; and so you're my grandson, Harry; glad
to see you.--You may go, Mrs Meshin, and shut the door, and do you
hear, don't listen at the key-hole.'

"The stately lady, Mrs Meshin, growled, and then left the room,
slamming the door.

"`She is very cross, grandson,' said the old man, `and I see nobody but
her.  It's a sad thing to be bedridden this way, and not to get out in
the fresh air, and sadder still to be tended by a cross old woman, who
won't talk when I want her, and won't hold her tongue when I want her.
I'm glad to see you, boy.  I hope you won't go away directly, as your
brother Tom did.  I want somebody to talk to me, sadly; and how do you
like being at sea?'

"`I like the shore, better, sir.'

"`Ay, so all sailors say, I believe; and yet I would rather go to sea
than lie here all day long.  It's all owing to my being out as I used to
do, night after night, watching for poachers.  I had too little bed
then, and now I've too much of it.  But the sea must be grand.  As the
Bible says, "They who go upon the great waters, they see the wonders of
the deep."'

"I was glad to find that the old man was so perfect in all his mental
faculties, and after having listened to, rather than replied to,
observations about his son and my supposed brothers and sisters, by
which I obtained a pretty accurate knowledge of them, I wished him
good-bye, and promised to call and have a long talk in the morning.

"On my return to the inn, I was able to reply to all the interrogatories
which were put to me relative to my supposed relations, thanks to the
garrulity of old Roberts, and put many questions relative to the family
residing at the hall, which were freely answered.  As the evening
advanced, many people came in, and the noise and smoking were so
disagreeable to me, that I asked for a bed, and retired.  The next
morning I repaired to old Roberts, who appeared delighted to see me.

"`You are a good boy,' said he, `to come and see a poor bedridden old
man, who has not a soul that comes near him perhaps in a week.  And now
tell me what took place during your last voyage.'

"`The last vessel I was on board of,' replied I, `was a packet from
Dover to Calais.'

"`Well, that must be pleasant; so many passengers.'

"`Yes, sir; and who do you think I saw on board of the packet the other
day--somebody that you know.'

"`Ay, who?'

"`Why Lady R--,' replied I, `and that young gentleman who, I heard say,
once lived with her as her servant.'

"`Ay!' said the old man, `indeed! then she has done justice at last.
I'm glad on it, Harry, glad on it, for it's a relief to my mind.  I was
bound to the secret, and have kept it; but when a man is on the brink of
the grave, he does not like to have a secret like that upon his mind,
and I've more than once talked to my daughter about--'

"`What, aunt Green?'

"`Yes, your aunt Green; but she would never listen to me.  We both took
our oath, and she said it was binding; besides, we were paid for it.
Well, well, I thank God, for it's a great load off my mind.'

"`Yes, sir,' replied I, `you need not keep the secret any longer now.'

"`And how has he grown up?' said the old man; `is he good-looking?'

"`Very much so, sir,' replied I, `and looks very much like a
gentleman.'"

I could not help laughing at this part of Lionel's story, although I
could not but admit the truth.  Lionel observed it, and said, "You
cannot be surprised at my giving myself a good character, Miss Valerie,
for, as they say in the kitchen, it's all that a poor servant has to
depend upon."

"Go on," replied I.

"`He was a very fine child while he lived with us; but he was taken away
at six years old, and I have never seen him since.'

"`Some people say that he is very like Lady R--.'

"`Well, why should he not be? ay, she was once a very beautiful young
person.'

"`Well, grandfather, I have never heard the rights of that story,' said
I, `and now that you are at liberty to tell it, perhaps you will let me
have the whole history.'

"`Well,' said the old man, `as there is no longer a secret, I do not
know but that I may.  Your aunt Green, you know, was nurse to Lady R--,
and remained in the family for years afterwards; for old Sir Alexander
Moystyn was confined to his room for years with gout and other
complaints, and your aunt Green attended him.  It was just as Sir
Alexander had recovered from a very bad fit, that Miss Ellen, who was
Lady R--'s sister, and years younger than she was, made her runaway
match with Colonel Dempster, a very fashionable, gay young man, who had
come down here to shoot with the present baronet.  Everyone was much
surprised at this, for all the talk was that the match would be with the
eldest sister, Lady R--, and not the youngest.  They went off somewhere
abroad.  Old Sir Alexander was in a terrible huff about it, and was
taken ill again; and Lady R--, who was then Miss Barbara, appeared also
much distressed at her sister's conduct.  Well, a year or more passed
away, when, one day, Miss Barbara told your aunt Green that she wished
her to go with her on a journey, and she set off in the evening with
four post-horses, and travelled all night till she arrived at
Southampton.  There she stopped at a lodging, and got out, spoke to the
landlady, and calling my daughter out of the chaise, desired her to
remain below while she went upstairs.  My daughter was tired of staying
so long, for she remained there for five hours, and Miss Barbara did not
make her appearance, but they appeared to be very busy in the house,
running up and downstairs.  At last a grave person, who appeared to be a
doctor, came into the parlour, followed by the landlady--in the parlour
in which my daughter was sitting.'

"`It's all over, Mrs Wilson,' said he, `nothing could save her; but the
child will do well, I have no doubt.'

"`What's to be done, sir?'

"`Oh,' replied the doctor, `the lady above stairs told me that she was
her sister, so of course we must look to her for all future
arrangements.'

"After giving a few directions about the infant, the doctor left the
house, and soon after that Miss Barbara came downstairs.

"`I'm quite worn out, Martha,' said she, `let us go to the hotel as fast
as we can.  You sent away the carriage, of course.  I would it had
remained, for I shall hardly be able to walk so far.'

"She took her arm, and as the landlady opened the door, she said, `I
will call to-morrow, and give directions about the infant, and
everything which is necessary.'--`I never went through such a trying
scene,' said Miss Barbara; `she was an old school-fellow of mine, who
entreated me to come to her in her distress.  She died giving birth to
her infant, and it was, I presume, with that presentiment, that she sent
for me and entreated me, on her death-bed, to protect the unfortunate
child, for she has been cast away by her relations in consequence of her
misconduct.  You have never had the small-pox, Martha, have you?'

"`No, miss,' she replied, `you know I never have.'

"`Well, it was having the small-pox at the same time that she was
confined, that has caused her death, and that was the reason why I did
not send for you to come up and assist.'

"`My daughter made no answer, for Miss Barbara was of a haughty temper,
and she was afraid of her; but she did not forget that the doctor had
told the landlady that Miss Barbara had stated the lady to be her
sister.  My daughter had thought it very odd that Miss Barbara had not
told her, during their journey, where she was going, and who she was
going to see, for Miss Barbara had wrapped herself up in her cloak, and
pretended to be asleep during the whole time, only waking up to pay the
post-boys; but Miss Barbara was of a very violent temper, and had, since
her sister's marriage, been much worse than before; indeed, some said
that she was a little mad, and used to walk at moonlights.

"`When they arrived at the hotel, Miss Barbara went to bed, and insisted
upon my daughter sleeping in the same room, as she was afraid of being
alone in an hotel.  My daughter thought over the business as she lay in
bed, and at last resolved to ascertain the truth; so she got up early
the next morning, and walked to the lodging-house, and when the door was
opened by the landlady, pretended to come from her mistress to inquire
how the infant was.  The reply was that it was doing well; and then a
conversation took place, in which my daughter found out that the lady
did not die of the small-pox, as Miss Barbara had stated.  The landlady
asked my daughter if she would not like to come up and look at the
corpse.  My daughter consented, as it was what she was about to request,
and when she went up, sure enough it was poor Mrs Dempster, Miss Ellen
that was, who had run away with the colonel.

"`An't it a pity, ma'am,' said the landlady, `her husband died only two
months ago, and they say he was so handsome a man; indeed, he must have
been, for here's his picture, which the poor lady wore round her neck.'

"`When your aunt had satisfied herself, and cried a little over the
body, for she was very fond of Miss Ellen, she went back to the hotel as
fast as she could, and getting a jug of warm water from the kitchen, she
went into Miss Barbara's room, and had just time to throw off her bonnet
and shawl, when Miss Barbara woke up and asked who was there.

"`It's me, miss,' replied my daughter, `I've just gone down for some
warm water for you, for it's past nine o'clock, and I thought you would
like to be up early.'

"`Yes, I must get up, Martha, for I intend to return home to-day.  It's
no use waiting here.  I will have breakfast, and then walk to the
lodgings and give directions.  You may pack up in the meantime, for I
suppose you do not wish to go with me.'

"`Oh, no, miss,' replied your aunt, `I am frightened out of my wits at
having been in the house already, now that I know that the lady died of
the small-pox.'

"Well, Miss Barbara went away after breakfast and remained for two or
three hours, when she returned, a servant bringing the baby with her.
My daughter had packed up everything, and in half-an-hour they were on
the road back, the baby with them in my daughter's arms.  Now, you see,
if it had not been for the accidental remark of the doctor's in your
aunt's presence, she would have been completely deceived by Miss
Barbara, and never would have known whose child it was; but your aunt
kept her own counsel; indeed, she was afraid to do otherwise.

"`As they went home, Miss Barbara talked a great deal to your aunt,
telling her that this Mrs Bedingfield was a great friend of hers, with
whom she had corresponded for years after they had left school; that her
husband had been killed in a duel a short time before, that he was a
gambler, and a man of very bad character, nevertheless she had promised
Mrs Bedingfield before she died, that she would take care of the child,
and that she would do so.  She then said, "Martha, I should like your
mother to take charge of it, do you think that she would? but it must be
a secret, for my father would be very angry with me, and besides, there
might be unpleasant reports."  Your aunt replied, "that she thought that
her mother would," and then Miss Barbara proposed that your aunt should
get out of the chaise when they stopped to change horses at the last
stage, when it was dark, and no one could perceive it, and walk with the
infant until she could find some conveyance to my house.

"`This was done, the child was brought to your grandmother, who is now
in heaven, and then your aunt made known to us what she had discovered,
and whose child it was.  I was very angry, and if I had not been laid up
at the time with the rheumatism, would have gone right into Sir
Alexander's room, and told him who the infant was, but I was over-ruled
by your grandmother and your aunt, who then went away and walked to the
hall.  So we agreed that we would say exactly what Miss Barbara said to
us when she came over to us on the next day.'"

"Well, then, Lionel, I have to congratulate you on being the son of a
gentleman, and the nephew of Lady R--.  I wish you joy with all my
heart," said I, extending my hand.

"Thank you, Miss Valerie.  It is true that I am so, but proofs are still
to be given; but of that hereafter."

"Lionel, you have been standing all this while.  I think it would be
most uncourteous if I did not request you to take a chair."  Lionel did
so, and then proceeded with the old man's narrative.

"`About a month after this, Sir Richard R--came down, and after three
weeks was accepted by Miss Barbara.  It was a hasty match everyone
thought, especially as the news of Mrs Dempster's death had, as it was
reported, been received by letter, and all the family had gone into
mourning.  Poor old Sir Alexander never held up his head afterwards, and
in two months more he was carried to the family vault.  Your aunt then
came home to us, and as you have heard, married poor Green, who was
killed in a poaching business about three months after his marriage.
Then came your poor grandmother's death of a quinsy, and so I was left
alone with your aunt Green, who then took charge of the child, who had
been christened by the name of Lionel Bedingfield.  There was some talk
about the child, and some wonders whose it could be; but after the death
of Sir Alexander, and Miss Barbara had gone away with her husband,
nothing more was thought or said about it.  And now, boy, I've talked
enough for to-day, to-morrow I'll tell you the rest of the history.

"Perhaps, Miss Valerie, you think the same of me, and are tired with
listening," observed Lionel.

"Not at all; and I have leisure now which I may not have another time;
besides your visits, if so frequent, may cause inquiries, and I shall
not know what to say."

"Well, then, I'll finish my story this morning, Miss Valerie.  The next
day, old Roberts continued: `It was about three months after Sir
Alexander's death, when her brother, the new baronet, came down to
Culverwood Hall, that Miss Barbara made her appearance again as Lady
R--.  Your grandmother was just buried, and poor Green had not been dead
more than a month.  Your aunt, who was much afflicted at the loss of her
husband, and was of course very grave and serious, began to agree with
me that it would be very wicked of us, knowing whose child it was, to
keep the secret.  Moreover, you aunt had become very fond of the infant,
for it in a manner consoled her for the loss of her husband.  Lady R--
came to the cottage to see us, and we then both told her that we did not
like to keep secret the child's parentage, as it was doing a great
injustice, if injustice had not been done already.  Lady R--was very
much frightened at what we said, and begged very hard that we would not
expose her.  She would be ruined, she said, in the opinion of her
husband, and also of her own relations.  She begged and prayed so hard,
and made a solemn promise to us, that she would do justice to the child
as soon as she could with prudence, that she overcame our scruples, and
we agreed to say nothing at present.  She also put a bank-note for 50
pounds into my daughter's hands to defray expenses and pay for trouble,
and told her that the same amount would be paid every year until the
child was taken away.

"`I believe this did more to satisfy our scruples than anything else.
It ought not to have done so, but we were poor, and money is a great
temptation.  At all events, we were satisfied with Lady R--'s promise,
and with her liberality; and from that time till the child was seven
years old we received the money, and had charge of the boy.  He was then
taken away and sent to school, but where we did not know for some time.
Lady R--was still very liberal to us, always stating her intention of
acknowledging the child to be her nephew.  At last my daughter was
summoned to London, and sent to the school for the boy; Lady R--stating
it to be her intention of keeping him at her own house, now that her
husband was dead.  This rejoiced us very much; but we had no idea that
it was as a servant that he was to be employed, as your aunt afterwards
found out, when she went up to London and called unexpectedly upon Lady
R--.  However, Lady R--said that what she was doing was for the best,
and was more liberal than usual; and that stopped our tongues.

"`Three years back your aunt left this place to find employment in
London, and has resided there ever since as a clear-starcher and
getter-up of lace; but she often sends me down money, quite sufficient
to pay for all the few comforts and expenses required by a bedridden old
man.  There, Harry, now I've told you the whole story; and I am glad
that I am able to do so, and that at last she has done justice to the
lad, and there is no further a load upon my conscience, which often
caused me to lay down my Bible, when I was reading, and sigh.'

"`But,' said I, `are you sure that she has acknowledged him as her
nephew?'

"`Am I sure!  Why, did not you say so?'

"`No; I only said that he was with her, travelling in her company.'

"`Well, but--I understood you that it was all right.'

"`It may be all right,' replied I, `but how can I tell?  I only saw them
together.  Lady R--may still keep her secret, for all I can say to the
contrary.  I don't wonder at its being a load on your mind.  I shouldn't
be able to sleep at nights; and, as for my reading my Bible, I should
think it wicked to do so, with the recollection always before me, that I
had been a party in defrauding a poor boy of his name, and, perhaps
fortune.'

"`Dear me! dear me!  I've often thought as much, Harry.'

"`Yes, grandfather, and, as you say, on the brink of the grave.  Who
knows but you may be called away this very night?'

"`Yes, yes, who knows, boy,' replied the old man, looking rather
terrified; `but what shall I do?'

"`I know what I would do,' replied I.  `I'd make a clean breast of it at
once.  I'd send for the minister and a magistrate, and state the whole
story upon affidavit.  Then you will feel happy again, and ease your
mind, and not before.'

"`Well, boy, I believe you are right, I'll think about it.  Leave me
now.'

"`Think about your own soul, sir--think of your own danger, and do not
mind Lady R--.  There can be but a bad reason for doing such an act of
injustice.  I will come again in an hour, sir, and then you will let me
know your decision.  Think about what the Bible says about those who
defraud the widow and _orphan_.  Good-bye for the present.'

"`No, stop, boy, I've made up my mind.  You may go to Mr Sewell, the
clergyman, he often calls to see me, and I can speak to him.  I'll tell
him.'

"I did not wait for the old man to alter his mind, but hastened as fast
as I could to the parsonage-house, which was not four hundred yards
distant.  I went to the door and asked for Mr Sewell, who came out to
me.  I told him that old Roberts wanted to see him immediately, as he
had an important confession to make.

"`Is the old man going, then?  I did not hear that he was any way
dangerously ill?'

"`No, sir, he is in his usual health, but he has something very heavy on
his conscience, and he begs your presence immediately that he may reveal
an important secret.'

"`Well, my lad, go back to him and say that I will be there in two
hours.  You are his grandson, I believe?'

"`I will go and tell him, sir,' replied I, evading the last question.

"I returned to old Roberts, and informed him that the clergyman would be
with him in an hour or two, but I found the old man already hesitating
and doubting again:--

"`You didn't tell him what it was for, did you? for perhaps--'

"`Yes, I did.  I told him you had an important secret to communicate
that lay heavy on your conscience.'

"`I'm sadly puzzled,' said the old man, musing.

"`Well,' replied I, `I'm not puzzled; and if you don't confess, I must.
I won't have my conscience loaded, poor fellow that I am; and if you
choose to die with the sin upon you of depriving the orphan, I will
not.'

"`I'll tell--tell it all--it's the best way,' replied old Roberts, after
a pause.

"`There now,' said I, `the best thing to be done is for me to get paper
and pen, and write it all down for Mr Sewell to read when he comes;
then you need not have to repeat it all again.'

"`Yes, that will be best, for I couldn't face the clergyman.'

"`Then how can you expect to face the Almighty?' replied I.

"`True--very true: get the paper,' said he.

"I went to the inn and procured writing materials, and then returned and
took down his confession of what I have now told you, Miss Valerie.
When Mr Sewell came, I had just finished it, and I then told him that I
had written it down, and handed it to him to read.  Mr Sewell was much
surprised and shocked, and said to Roberts, `You have done right to make
this confession, Roberts, for it may be most important; but you must now
swear to it in the presence of a magistrate and me.  Of course, you have
no objection?'

"`No, sir; I'm ready to swear to the truth of every word.'

"`Well, then, let me see.  Why, there is no magistrate near us just now
but Sir Thomas Moystyn; and as it concerns his own nephew, there cannot
be a more proper person.  I will go up to the Hall immediately, and ask
him to come with me to-morrow morning.'

"Mr Sewell did so; and the next day, he and Sir Thomas Moystyn came
down in a phaeton, and went up to old Roberts.  I rather turned away,
that my uncle, as he now proves to be, might not, when I was regularly
introduced to him, as I hope to be, as his nephew, recognise me as the
sailor lad who passed off as the grandson of old Roberts."

"Then, you admit that you have been playing a very deceitful game?"

"Yes, Miss Valerie.  I have a conscience; and I admit that I have been
playing what may be called an unworthy game; but when it is considered
how much I have at stake, and how long I have been defrauded of my
rights by the duplicity of others, I think I may be excused if I have
beat them at their own weapons."

"I admit that there is great truth in your observations, Lionel; and
that is all the answer I shall give."

"I remained outside the door while old Roberts signed the paper, and the
oath was administered.  Sir Thomas put many questions afterwards.  He
inquired the residence of his daughter, Mrs Green, and then they both
went away.  As soon as they were gone, I went in to old Roberts, and
said, `Well now, sir, do you not feel happier that you have made the
confession?'

"`Yes,' replied he, `I do, boy; but still I am scared when I think of
Lady R--and your aunt Green; they'll be so angry.'

"`I've been thinking that I had better go up to Mrs Green,' I said,
`and prepare her for it.  I can pacify her, I'm sure, when I explain
matters.  I must have gone away the day after to-morrow, and I'll go up
to London to-morrow.'

"`Well, perhaps it will be as well,' replied old Roberts, `and yet I
wish you could stay and talk to me--I've no one to talk to me now.'

"Thinks I, I have made you talk to some purpose, and have no inclination
to sit by your bed-side any longer; however, I kept up the appearance to
the last, and the next morning set off for London.  I arrived three days
before I saw you first, which gave me time to change my sailor's dress
for the suit I now wear.  I have not yet been to Mrs Green, for I
thought I would just see you, and ask your advice.  And now, Miss
Valerie, you have my whole history."

"I once more congratulate you, with all my heart," replied I, offering
my hand to Lionel.  He kissed it respectfully, and as he was in the act,
one of the maids opened the door, and told me that Lady M--had been some
time waiting to see me.  I believe I coloured up, although I had no
cause for blushing; and wishing Lionel good-bye, I desired him to call
on Sunday afternoon, and I would remain at home to see him.

It was on Thursday that this interview took place with Lionel, and on
the Saturday I received a letter from Lady R--'s solicitor, by which I
was shocked by the information of her ladyship having died at Caudebec,
a small town on the river Seine; and begging to know whether I could
receive him that afternoon, as he was anxious to communicate with me.  I
answered by the person who brought the letter, that I would receive him
at three o'clock; and he made his appearance at the hour appointed.

He informed me that Lady R--had left Havre in a fishing boat, with the
resolution of going up to Paris by that strange conveyance; and having
no protection from the weather, she had been wet for a whole day,
without changing her clothes; and, on her arrival at Caudebec, had been
taken with a fever, which, from the ignorance of the faculty in that
sequestered place, had proved fatal.  Her maid had just written the
intelligence, enclosing the documents from the authorities
substantiating the fact.

"You are not, perhaps, aware, miss, that you are left her executrix."

"I her executrix!" exclaimed I, with astonishment.

"Yes," replied Mr Selwyn.  "Before she left town, she made an
alteration in her will; and stated to me that you would be able to find
the party most interested in it, and that you had a document in your
hands which would explain everything."

"I have a sealed paper which she enclosed to me, desiring I would not
open it, unless I heard of her death, or had her permission."

"It must be that to which she refers, I presume," replied he.  "I have
the will in my pocket: it will be as well to read it to you, as you are
her executrix."

Mr Selwyn then produced the will, by which Lionel Dempster, her nephew,
was left her sole heir; and by a codicil, she had, for the love she bore
me, as she stated in her own handwriting, left me 500 pounds as her
executrix, and all her jewels and wearing apparel.

"I congratulate you on your legacy, Miss de Chatenoeuf," said he; "and
now, perhaps, you can tell me where I can find this nephew; for I must
say it is the first that I ever heard of him."

"I believe that I can point him out, sir," replied I; "but the most
important proofs, I suspect, are to be found in the paper which I have
not yet read."

"I will then, if you please, no longer trespass on you," said Mr
Selwyn, "when you wish me to call again, you will oblige me by sending
word, or writing by post."

The departure of Mr Selwyn was quite a relief to me.  I longed to be
alone, that I might be left to my own reflections, and also that I might
peruse the document which had been confided to me by poor Lady R--.  I
could not help feeling much shocked at her death--more so, when I
considered her liberality towards me, and the confidence she reposed in
one with whom she had but a short acquaintance.  It was like her,
nevertheless; who but Lady R--would ever have thought of making a young
person so unprotected and so unacquainted as I was with business--a
foreigner to boot--the executrix of her will; and her death occasioned
by such a mad freak--and Lionel now restored to his position and his
fortune--altogether it was overwhelming, and after a time I relieved
myself with tears.  I was still with my handkerchief to my eyes when
Lady M--came into the room.

"Crying, Miss Chatenoeuf," said her ladyship, "it is at the departure of
a very dear friend."

There was a sort of sneer on her face as she said this; and I replied--

"Yes, my lady, it is for the departure of a dear friend, for Lady R--is
dead."

"Mercy, you don't say so; and what are these gentlemen who have been
calling upon you?"

"One is her solicitor, madam," replied I, "and the other is a relative
of hers."

"A relation; but what has the solicitor called upon you for? if it is
not an intrusive question."

"No, my lady; Lady R--has appointed me her executrix."

"Executrix! well, I now do believe that Lady R--was mad!" exclaimed Lady
M--.  "I wanted you to come up to my boudoir to consult you about the
pink satin dress, but I fear your important avocation will not allow you
at present, so I will leave you till you are a little recovered."

"I thank you, my lady," said I, "I will be more myself to-morrow, and
will then be at your disposal."

Her ladyship then left the room.  I was not pleased at her manner, which
was very different from her usual courtesy towards me, but I was not in
a state of mind to weigh well all that she said, or how she said it.  I
hastened to my room to look for the paper which Lady R--had enclosed to
me previous to her departure.  I will give the whole contents to my
readers.

"My dear Valerie,

"I will not attempt to account for the extreme predilection which I, an
old woman in comparison, immediately imbibed for you before we had been
an hour in company.  Some feelings are unaccountable and inexplicable,
but I felt a sympathy, a mesmeric attraction, if I may use the term,
which was uncontrollable at our first meeting, and which increased every
day during our residence together.  It was not the feeling of a mother
towards a child--at least I think not, for it was mingled with a certain
degree of awe and presentiment of evil if ever we parted again.  I felt
as if you were my _fate_, and never has this feeling departed from me.
On the contrary, now that we separate, it has become stronger than ever.
How little do we know of the mysteries of the mind as well as of the
body!  We know that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that is
all.  That there are influences and attractions uncontrollable and
unexplained I feel certain.  Often have I reflected and wondered on this
as I have lain in bed and meditated `even to madness,' but have been
unable to remove the veil.  (Alas, poor Lady R--, thought I, I doubt it
not, you were madder than I thought you were.)  Imagine, then, my grief
and horror when I found that you were determined to leave me, dear
Valerie.  It was to me as the sentence of death; but I felt that I could
not resist; it was my fate, and who can oppose its decrees?  It would
indeed have pained your young and generous heart if you knew how I
suffered, and still suffer from your desertion; but I considered it as a
judgment on me--a visitation upon me for the crimes of my early years,
and which I am now about to confide to you, as the only person in whom I
feel confidence, and that justice may be done to one whom I have greatly
injured.  I would not die without reparation, and that reparation I
entrust to you, as from my own pen I can explain that without which,
with all my good intentions towards the party, reparation might be
difficult.  But I must first make you acquainted with the cause of
crime, and to do this you must hear the events of my early life.

"My father, Sir Alexander Moystyn, had four children, two sons and two
daughters.  I was the first-born, then my two brothers, and afterwards,
at an interval, my sister, so that there was a difference of eight years
between me and my sister, Ellen.  Our mother died in giving birth to
Ellen; we grew up, my brothers went to Eton and college.  I remained the
sole mistress of my father's establishment.  Haughty by nature, and my
position, the power it gave me, the respect I received--and if you will
look at the miniature I enclose with this, I may, without vanity, add,
my beauty, made me imperious and tyrannical.  I had many advantageous
offers, which I rejected, before I was twenty years of age.  My power
with my father was unbounded, his infirmities kept him for a long time a
prisoner in his room, and my word was law to him, as well as to the
whole household.  My sister Ellen, still a child, I treated with
harshness--first, I believe, because she promised to rival me in good
looks; and secondly, because my father showed greater affection towards
her than I liked.  She was meek in temper, and never complained.  Time
past--I refused many offers of marriage.  I did not like to resign my
position for the authority of a husband, and I had reached my
twenty-fifth year, and my sister, Ellen, was a lovely girl of seventeen,
when it was fated that all should be changed.

"A Colonel Dempster came down with my eldest brother, who was a captain
in the same regiment of guards--a more prepossessing person I never
beheld, and for the first time I felt that I would with pleasure give up
being at the head of my father's establishment to follow the fortunes of
another man.  If my predilection was so strong, I had no reason to
complain of want of attention on his part.  He courted me in the most
obsequious manner, the style more suited to my haughty disposition, and
I at once gave way to the feelings with which he had inspired me.  I
became fervently in love with him, and valued one of his smiles more
than an earthly crown.  Two months passed, his original invitation had
been for one week, and he still remained.  The affair was considered as
arranged, not only by myself, but by everybody else.  My father,
satisfied that he was a gentleman by birth, and being able to support
himself by his own means in so expensive a regiment, made no inquiries,
leaving the matter to take its own course.  But, although two months had
passed away, and his attentions to me were unremitting, Colonel Dempster
had made no proposal, which I ascribed to his awe of me, and his
diffidence as to his success.  This rather pleased me than otherwise;
but my own feelings now made me wish for the affair to be decided, and I
gave him every opportunity that modesty and discretion would permit.  I
saw little of him during the mornings, as he went out with his gun with
the other gentlemen, but in the evenings he was my constant and devoted
attendant.  I received many congratulations from female acquaintances
(friends I had none) upon my having conquered one who was supposed to be
invulnerable to the charms of our sex, and made no disclaimer when
spoken to on the subject.  Every hour I expected the declaration to be
made, when, imagine my indignation and astonishment, at being informed
one morning when I arose, that Colonel Dempster and my sister Ellen had
disappeared, and it was reported that they had been seen in a carriage
driving at furious speed.

"It was but too true.  It appeared that Colonel Dempster, who had been
informed by my brother of my temper and disposition, and who was aware
that without paying court to me, his visit would not be extended, and
who had fallen in love with Ellen almost as soon as he saw her, had
practised this dissimulation towards me to enable him, without my
knowledge, to gain my sister's affections; that his mornings were not
spent in shooting with my brother, as was supposed, but in my sister
Ellen's company; my brother, to whom he had acknowledged his attachment,
conniving with him to deceive me.  A letter from the colonel to my
father, excusing himself for the step he had taken, and requesting him
to pardon his daughter, was brought in the same morning and read by me.
`Very foolish of him,' said my father; `what is the use of stealing what
you may have for asking.  He might have had Ellen if he had spoken to
me; but I always thought that he was courting you, Barbara.'

"This letter, proving the truth of the report, was too much for me; I
fell down at my father's feet in a violent fit, and was carried to my
bed.  The next day I was seized with a brain fever, and it was doubtful
if ever my reason would return.  But it did gradually, and, after a
confinement to my room of three months, I recovered both health and
reason; partially, I may say, for I doubt not but that the shock I then
received has had a lasting effect upon me, and that it has caused me to
be the unsettled, restless, wandering thing that I now am, only content
when in motion, and using my pen to create an artificial excitement.  I
believe most people are a little cracked before they begin to write.  I
will not assert that it is a proof of madness, but it is a proof that a
very little more would make them mad.  Shakespeare says `the lover, the
lunatic, and the poet, are of an imagination all compact.'  It matters
little whether it is prose or poetry; there is often more imagination
and more poetry in prose than in rhyme.  But to proceed--

"I arose with but one feeling--that of revenge; I say but one feeling,
alas!  I had forgotten to mention hatred, the parent of that revenge.  I
felt myself mortified and humiliated, cruelly deceived and mocked.  My
love for him was now turned to abhorrence, and my sister was an
aversion.  I felt that I never could forgive her.  My father had not
replied to the colonel's letter; indeed, the gout in his hand prevented
him, or he would probably have done so long before I left my room.  Now
that I was once more at his side, he said to me,

"`Barbara, I think it is high time to forgive and forget.  I would have
answered the colonel's letter before, but I could not.  Now we must
write and ask them to come and pay us a visit.'

"I sat down and wrote the letter, not according to his dictation, which
was all kindness, but stating that my father would never forgive him or
my sister, and requested all correspondence might cease, as it would be
useless.

"`Read what you have said, Barbara.'

"I read the letter as if it was written according to his wishes.

"`That will do, dearest--they'll come back fast enough.  I long to have
Ellen in my arms again--she was very precious to me that child, for she
cost the life of your dear mother.  I want to ask her why she ran away.
I really believe that it was more from fear of your anger than of mine,
Barbara.'

"I made no reply, but folded the letter and sealed it.  As I always
opened the post-bag, I prevented my father from ever receiving the many
letters written by my poor sister, imploring his forgiveness, and did
all I could to excite his anger against her.  At last I found out from
her letters, that they had gone to the continent.  Months passed.  My
poor father fretted sadly at the silence of Ellen, and the supposed
rejection of his kind overtures.  His unhappy state of mind had
evidently an effect upon his body; he grew weaker and more querulous
every day.  At last a letter arrived from Ellen, which I now blush to
say, gave me inexpressible joy.  It announced the death of her husband--
a trifling wound on the thumb having terminated in locked-jaw and death.

"`He is dead, then,' thought I; `if I lost him, she has no longer
possession of him.'

"Alas! what a demon had taken possession of me!  The letter further
said, that she was coming over directly, and that she expected to be
shortly confined.  This letter was addressed to me, and not to my
father.  The death of her husband did not diminish my hatred against my
sister; on the contrary, I felt as if I had her now in my power, and
that my revenge upon her was about to be accomplished.  After meditating
upon what course I should pursue, I determined to write to her.  I did
so, stating that my father's anger was not to be appeased; that I had
tried all I could to soften his wrath, but in vain; that he was growing
weaker every day, and I thought her rash conduct had been the cause of
it; that I did not think that he could last much longer, and I would
make another appeal to him in her favour, which the death of her husband
would probably occasion to be more successful.

"In a fortnight I had a reply, in which my poor sister invoked blessings
on my head for my supposed kindness, and told me that she was in
England, and expected every hour to be confined; that she was ill in
body and in spirits, and did not think that she could get over it.  She
begged me, by the remembrance of our mother, who died giving her birth,
that I would come to her.  Surely I might have forgiven my enmity after
all that the poor girl had suffered; but my heart was steeled.

"On consideration, I now thought proper to tell my father that Colonel
Dempster was dead, and my sister returned to England,--adding her
request that I would attend her in her confinement, and my willingness
so to do.  My poor father was much shocked, and begged me in a tremulous
voice to set off immediately.  I promised so to do, but requested that
he would not say a word to anyone as to the cause of my absence until he
heard from me, as it would occasion much talk among the servants, and
perhaps ill-natured remarks might be made.  He promised, and I departed,
with a maid who had been my nurse, and upon whose secrecy I thought I
could rely.  What my intentions were, I can hardly say; all I knew was,
that my revenge was not satiated, and I would leave no opportunity of
wreaking it that offered.

"I found my sister in the very pangs of labour, heartbroken at the
supposed resentment of my father, and his refusal of his forgiveness.  I
did not alleviate her misery by telling her the truth, which I might
have done.  I was indeed a demon, or possessed by one.

"She died giving birth to a boy.  I then felt sorrow, until I looked at
the child, and saw that it was the image of the colonel--the man who had
caused me such misery.  Again my passions were roused, and I vowed that
the child should never know his father.  I made my maid believe that the
lady I visited was an old school-fellow, and never mentioned my sister's
name, at least I thought so at the time, but I afterwards found that I
had not deceived her.  I persuaded her to take the child to her
father's, saying that I had promised my friend on her death-bed that I
would take care of it, but that it must be a secret, or invidious
remarks would be made.  I then returned to Culverwood Hall, dropping my
nurse and the child on my way, and reported to my father my sister's
death, of course concealing that the child was living.  Sir Alexander
was much affected, and wept bitterly; indeed, from that day he rapidly
declined.

"I had now satiated my revenge, and was sorry when I had done so.  Until
then I had been kept up by excitement, now all excitement was over, and
I had time for reflection; I was miserable, and in a state of constant
warfare with my conscience; but, in vain, the more I reflected, the more
I was dissatisfied with myself, and would have given worlds that I could
recall what I had done.

"At this time, Sir Richard R--came down on a visit.  He admired me,
proposed, and was accepted, chiefly that I might remove from the hall,
than for any other cause.  I thought that new scenes and change of place
would make me forget, but I was sadly mistaken.  I went away with my
husband, and as soon as I was away, I was in a constant fright lest my
nurse should betray me to my father, and begged Sir Richard to shorten
his intended tour and allow me to return to the hall, as the accounts of
my father's health were alarming.  My husband consented, and I had not
been at the hall more than a fortnight, when my father's death relieved
me from further anxiety on that score.

"Another fear now possessed me; I saw by my father's will that he had
left 5,000 pounds to me, and also to my sister, in case of one dying,
the survivor to have both sums, but the same cause of alarm was in my
great aunt's will.  My great aunt had left 10,000 pounds to me, and
10,000 pounds to my sister Ellen, to be settled upon us at our marriage,
and in case of either dying without issue, the survivor to be legatee.
Thus in two instances, by concealing the birth of the child, I was
depriving it of its property, and obtaining it for myself.  That I was
ignorant of these points is certain, and unfortunate it was that it was
so, for had I known it, I would not have dared to conceal the birth of
the child, lest I should have been accused of having done so for
pecuniary considerations, and I well knew, that if betrayed by my nurse,
such would be the accusation made against me.  I would willingly even
now, have acknowledged the child as my nephew, but knew not how to do
so, as my husband had possession of the money, and I dared not confess
the crime that I had been guilty of.  If ever retribution fell upon any
one, it fell upon me.  My life was one of perfect misery, and when I
found that my nurse and her father objected to keeping the secret any
longer, I thought I should have gone distracted.  I pointed out to them
the ruin they would entail upon me, and gave my solemn promise that I
would see justice done to the child.  This satisfied them.  For several
years I lived an unhappy life with my husband, until I was at last
relieved by his death.  You may ask how it was that I did not
acknowledge the child at his death; the fact was, that I was afraid.  I
had put him to school, and he was then twelve or thirteen years old.  I
removed him to my own house, with the intention of so doing, and because
my nurse and her father reminded me of my promise; but when he was in my
house, I could not see my way, or how I could tell the story without
acknowledging my guilt, and this pride prevented.

"I remained thus irresolute, every day putting off the confession, till
the boy, from first being allowed to remain in the drawing-room, sank
down into the kitchen.  Yes, Valerie, Lionel, the page, the lacquey, is
Lionel Dempster, my nephew.  I said that I could not bear to make the
avowal, and such is the case.  At last I satisfied myself that what I
did was for the boy's good.  Alas! how easy we satisfy ourselves when it
suits our views.  I had left him my property, I had educated him, and I
said, by being brought up in a humble position, he will be cured of
pride, and will make a better man.  Bad reasoning, I acknowledge.

"Valerie, I have left you my executrix, for even after my death I would
as much as possible avoid exposure.  I would not be the tale of the
town, even for a fortnight, and it certainly will not help Lionel, when
it is known to all the world that he has served as a footman.  My
solicitor knows not who my nephew is, but is referred to you to produce
him.  In a small tin box in the closet of my bedroom, you will find all
the papers necessary for his identification, and also the names and
residence of the parties who have been my accomplices in this deed; also
all the intercepted letters of my poor sister's.  You must be aware that
Lionel is not only entitled to the property I have left him, but also to
his father's property, which, in default of heirs, passed away to
others.  Consult with my solicitor to take such steps as are requisite,
without inculpating me more than is necessary; but if required, let all
be known to my shame, rather than the lad should not be put in
possession of his rights.

"You will, I am afraid, hate my memory after this sad disclosure; but in
my extenuation recall to mind how madly I loved, how cruelly I was
deceived.  Remember, also, that if not insane, I was little better at
the time I was so criminal; and may it prove to you a lesson how
difficult it is, when once you have stepped aside into the path of error
ever to recover the right track.

"You now know all my sufferings, all my crimes.  You now know why I have
been, not without truth, considered as a person eccentric to folly, and
occasionally on the verge of madness.  Forgive me and pity me, for I
have indeed been sufficiently punished by an ever torturing conscience!

"Barbara R--."



CHAPTER NINE.

I put the papers down on the table as soon as I had finished them, and
for a long while was absorbed in meditation.

"Is it possible," thought I, "that love disappointed can turn to such
fury--can so harden the heart to all better feelings--induce a woman to
shorten the days of her parent--to allow a sister to remain in painful
error on her death-bed, and wreak vengeance upon an innocent being,
regardless of all justice?  Grant, then, that I may never yield to such
a passion!  Who would have ever imagined, that the careless, eccentric
Lady R--had such a load of crime weighing her down, and daily and hourly
reminded of it by the presence of the injured party?  How callous she
must have become by habit, to still delay doing an act of justice--how
strange that the fear of the world and its opinion should be greater
than the fear of God!"

This last remark proved how little I yet knew of the world, and then my
thoughts went in a different direction.  As I have already said, I had
been brought up as a Catholic; but, after my grandmother's death, I had
little encouragement or example shown me in religious duties.  Now,
having been more than two years in England, and continually with
Protestants, I had gone to the established Protestant church with those
I resided with at first; because I considered it better to go to that
church, although I knew it to be somewhat at variance with my own,
rather than go to no church at all, and by habit I was gradually
inclining to Protestantism; but now the idea came across my mind, if
Lady R--had confessed as we Catholics do, this secret could not have
been kept so long; and, if she withheld herself from the confessional,
had her agents been Catholics, the secret would have been divulged to
the priest by them, and justice would have been done to Lionel; and,
having made this reflection, I felt as it were, that I was again a
sincere Catholic.

After a little more reflection, I put away the papers, wrote a letter to
Mr Selwyn, the solicitor, requesting that he would call upon me the
following morning, and then went down to Lady M--.

"I suppose that we shall not have much of the pleasure of your company,
Miss de Chatenoeuf," said her ladyship, "now that you have such a novel
occupation?"

"It is a very distressing one," replied I, "and I wish Lady R--had not
paid me such a compliment.  Might I trespass upon your ladyship's
kindness to request the loan of the carriage for half-an-hour to obtain
some papers from Lady R--'s house in Baker Street?"

"Oh, certainly," replied her ladyship.  "Pray have you seen Lady R--'s
will?"

"Yes, madame."

"And how has she disposed of her property?"

"She has left it all to her nephew, Lady M--."

"Nephew!  I never heard her speak of a nephew before.  Sir Richard had
no nephews or nieces, for he was an only son, and the title has now gone
into the Vivian branch, and I never heard of her having a nephew.  And
what has she left you, mademoiselle, if it is not asking too much?"

"Lady R--has left me 500 pounds, my lady."

"Indeed! well then, she pays you for your trouble.  But really, Miss de
Chatenoeuf, I do wish you could put off this business until after the
marriages.  I am so hurried and worried that I really do not know which
way to turn, and really I have felt your loss these last two days more
than you can imagine.  You are so clever, and have so much taste, that
we cannot get on without you.  It's all your own fault," continued her
ladyship, playfully, "you are so good-natured, and have made us so
dependent upon you, that we cannot let you off now.  Nothing in the
_trousseaux_ is approved of, unless stamped by the taste of Mademoiselle
Valerie de Chatenoeuf.  Now, a week cannot make a great difference, and
lawyers love delay: will you oblige me, therefore, by leaving Lady R--'s
affairs for the present?"

"Certainly, Lady M--," replied I.  "I will stop a letter I was about to
send to her solicitor, and write another to the effect you wish, and I
will not repeat my request for the carriage until after the marriages
have taken place."

"Many thanks," replied her ladyship, and I went out, took my letter from
the hall table, and wrote another to Mr Selwyn, stating that I could
not enter into any business until the following week, when I should be
prepared to receive him.

I wrote another to the same effect to Lionel, requesting him not to call
again, but that I would write and let him know where to meet me as soon
as I was more at leisure.

Indeed I was glad that Lady M--had made the request, as the trouble and
chattering and happy faces which were surrounding the trousseaux, and
the constant employment and appeals made to me, drove away the
melancholy which Lady R--'s affairs had occasioned me.  I succeeded to a
great degree in recovering my spirits, and exerted myself to my utmost,
so that everything was complete and satisfactory to all parties two days
before the wedding was to take place.

At last, the morning came.  The brides were dressed and went down into
the drawing-room, frightened and perplexed, but their tears had been
shed above.  The procession of carriages moved on to Hanover Square;
there was a bishop of course, and the church was filled with gay and
tastefully-dressed women.  The ceremony was performed, and the brides
were led into the vestry-room to recover, and receive kisses and
congratulations.  Then came the banquet, which nobody hardly tasted
except the bishop, who had joined too many couples in his lifetime to
have his appetite at all affected by the ceremony, and some two or three
others who were old stagers on the road of life, and who cared little
whether it was a wedding-breakfast, or refreshments after a funeral.

At last, after a most silent entertainment, the brides retired to change
their dresses, and, when they re-appeared, they were handed into the
carriages of their respective bridegrooms as soon as they could be torn
away from the kisses and tears of Lady M--, who played the part of a
bereaved mother to perfection.  No one to have seen her then, raving
like another Niobe, would have imagined that all her thoughts and
endeavours and manoeuvres, for the last three years, had been devoted to
the sole view of getting them off; but Lady M--was a perfect actress,
and this last scene was well got up.

As her daughters were led down to the carriages, I thought that she was
going to faint; but it appeared, on second thoughts, that she wished
first to see the girls depart in their gay equipages; she therefore
tottered to the window, saw them get in, looked at Newman's greys and
gay postillions--at the white and silver favours--the dandy valet and
smart lady's-maid in each rumble.  She saw them start at a rattling
pace, watched them till they turned the corner of the square, and then--
and not till then--fell senseless in my arms, and was carried by the
attendants into her own room.

After all, the poor woman must have been very much worn out, for she had
been for the last six weeks in a continual worry lest any _contre-temps_
should happen, which might have stopped or delayed the happy
consummation.

The next morning her ladyship did not leave her room, but sent word down
that the carriage was at my service; but I was fatigued and worn out,
and declined it for that day.  I wrote to Lionel and to Mr Selwyn,
desiring them to meet me in Baker Street, at two o'clock the next day;
and then passed the day quietly, in company with Amy, the third daughter
of Lady M--, whom I have before mentioned.  She was a very sweet,
unaffected girl; and I was more partial to her than to her sisters, who
had been just married.  I had paid great attention to her, for she had a
fine voice, and did credit to my teaching, and there was a great
intimacy between us, arising on my part from my admiration of her
ingenuous and amiable disposition, which even her mother's example to
the contrary could not spoil.

After some conversation relative to her sisters and their husbands, she
said, "I hardly know what to do, Valerie.  I love you too well to be a
party to your being ill-treated, and yet I fear that you will be pained
if I tell you what I have heard about you.  I know also that you will
not stay, if I do tell you, and that will give me great pain; but _that_
is a selfish feeling which I could overcome.  What I do not like is
hurting your feelings.  Now, tell me candidly, ought I to tell you, or
not?"

"I will give you my opinion candidly," replied I.  "You have said too
little or too much.  You speak of my being ill-treated; certainly, I
should wish to guard against that, although I cannot imagine who is my
enemy."

"Had I not heard it, I could not have believed it either," replied she.
"I thought that you had come here on a visit as a friend; but what makes
me think that I ought to tell you is, that there will be something said
against your character, which I am sure, must be false."

"Now, indeed, I must request that you will tell me everything, and
soften nothing down, but tell me the whole truth.  Who is it that
intends to attack my character?"

"I am sorry--very sorry to say, it is mamma," replied she, wiping away a
tear.

"Lady M--!" exclaimed I.

"Yes," replied she; "but now you must listen to all I have to say.  I am
sure that I am doing right in telling you, and therefore nothing shall
prevent me.  I love my mother--what a sad thing it is that I cannot
respect her!  I was in the dressing-room, when my mother was lying on
the sofa in her bedroom this morning, when her great friend, Mrs
Germane, came up.  She sat talking with my mother for some time, and
they appeared either to forget or not to care if I heard them; for at
last your name was mentioned.

"`Well, she does dress you and your girls beautifully, I must say,' said
Mrs Germane.  `Who is she?  They say that she is of a good family; and
how came she to live with you as a milliner?'

"`My dear Mrs Germane, that she does live with me as a milliner is
true, and it was for that reason only I invited her to the house; but
she is not aware that I retain her in that capacity.  She is, I
understand from Mrs Bathurst, of a noble family in France, thrown upon
the world by circumstances, very talented, and very proud.  Her extreme
taste in dress I discovered when she was living with Mrs Bathurst; and,
when I found that she was about, through my management, to leave Lady
R--, I invited her here as a sort of friend, and to stay with my
daughters--not a word did I mention about millinery; I had too much tact
for that.  Even when her services were required, I made it appear as her
own offer, and expressed my thanks for her condescension, and since
that, by flattery and management, she has continued to dress my
daughters for me; and, I must say, that I do believe it has been owing
to her exquisite taste that my daughters have gone off so well.'

"`Well, you have managed admirably,' replied Mrs Germane; `but, my dear
Lady M--, what will you do with her now?'

"`Oh,' replied Lady M--, `as Amy will now come out, I shall retain her
in my employ until she is disposed of; and then--'

"`Yes, then will be the difficulty,' replied Mrs Germane; `after having
allowed her to live so long with you as a visitor, I may say, how will
you get rid of her?'

"`Why, I was puzzling myself about that, and partly decided that it
should be done by mortifying her, and wounding her feelings, for she is
very proud; but, fortunately, I have found out something which I shall
keep to myself, until the time comes, and then I can dismiss her at a
moment's warning.'

"`Indeed!' said Mrs Germane, `what could you have found out?'

"`Well, I will tell you; but you must not mention it again.  My maid
entered the room the other day, when mademoiselle was receiving a young
man who called upon her, and she found them kissing.'

"`You don't say so!'

"`Yes, a kiss was given, and my maid saw it.  Now, I can easily make it
appear that my maid never mentioned it to me till the time that it may
be convenient to make use of it, and then I can send her away; and if
any questions are asked, hint at a little impropriety of conduct.'

"`And very properly too,' replied Mrs Germane.  `Had I not better hint
a little beforehand to prepare people?'

"`Why, it may be as well, perhaps; but be cautious, very cautious, my
dear Mrs Germane.'

"Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf, I am sorry that I am obliged, in doing my
duty to you, to expose mamma," said Amy, rising up from her chair; "but
I am sure that you could not be guilty of any impropriety, and I will
not allow you to be accused of it, if it is to be prevented."

"Many thanks," replied I.  "My dear Amy, you have behaved like a kind
friend.  I have only, in duty to myself, to clear up the charge against
me, of impropriety.  You must not imagine me guilty of that.  It is true
that your mother's maid did come in when a young lad of seventeen, who
was grateful to me for the interest I took in his welfare, and who was
taking leave of me at the time, did raise my hand to his lips and kiss
it, and, had he done so before your mother, I should not have prevented
it.  This was the kiss which, as your mother asserts, passed between us,
and this is the only impropriety that took place.  Oh, what a sad,
treacherous, selfish, wicked world this is!" cried I, throwing myself on
the sofa, and bursting into tears.

Amy was making every attempt to console me, and blaming herself for
having made the communication, when Lady M--came downstairs into the
room.

"What is all this--what a scene!" exclaimed she.  "Mademoiselle de
Chatenoeuf, have you had any bad news?"

"Yes, my lady," replied I, "so bad that I am under the necessity of
leaving you directly."

"Indeed! may I inquire what has happened?"

"No, my lady, it is not in my power to tell you.  I have only to repeat,
that I must, with your permission, leave this house to-morrow morning."

"Well, mademoiselle," replied her ladyship, "I do not want to pry into
your secrets, but this I must say, that where there is concealment,
there must be wrong; but I have lately discovered so much, that I do not
wonder at concealment--nor am I, indeed, surprised at your wish to leave
me."

"Lady M--," replied I, haughtily, "I have never done anything during the
time that I have been under your roof which I have to blush for--nor
indeed anything that requires concealment.  This I can proudly say.  If
I conceal now, it is to spare others, and, I may add, to spare you.  Do
not oblige me to say more in presence of your daughter.  It will be
sufficient for me to hint to you, that I am now aware why I was invited
to your house, and what are your plans for dismissing me when it suits
you."

"Eaves-dropping, then, is a portion of your character, mademoiselle,"
cried Lady M--, colouring up to the temples.

"No, madam, such is not the case, and that is all the answer I shall
give; it is sufficient for you that you are exposed, and I do not envy
your present feelings.  I have only to repeat, that I shall leave this
house to-morrow morning, and I will not further trouble your ladyship
with my company."

I then walked out of the room, and as I passed Lady M--, and observed
her confusion and vexation, I felt that it was she who was humiliated,
and not me.  I went up to my room and commenced my preparations for
immediate departure, and had been more than an hour busy in packing up,
when Amy came into my room.

"Oh, Valerie, how sorry I am--but you have behaved just as I think that
you ought to have done; and how very kind of you not to say that I told
you.  My mother was so angry after you left; said that the maids must
have been listening, and declares she will give them all warning; but I
know that she will not do that.  She spoke about your meeting a young
man, and kissing going on; but you have already explained all that."

"Amy," replied I, "after I am gone, take an opportunity of saying to
Lady M--, that you mentioned this to me, and tell her that my reply was,
if Lady M--knew who that young man was, how he is connected, and how
large a fortune he will inherit, she would be very glad to see him kiss
one of her daughter's hands with a different feeling from that which
induced him to kiss mine."

"I will, depend upon it," said Amy, "and then mamma will think that she
has lost a good husband for me."

"She will meet him some of these days," replied I; "and what is more, he
will defend me from any attack made on that score."

"I will tell her that, also," said Amy, "it will make her careful of
what she says."

One of the servants then knocked at the door, and said, that Lady M--
wished to see Miss Amy.

"Wish me good-bye now," said I, "for you may not be permitted to see me
again."

The dear girl embraced me cordially, and, with tears in her eyes, left
the room.  I remained till I had finished packing, and then sat down.
Shortly afterwards her ladyship's maid came in, and delivered me an
envelope from her ladyship, enclosing the salary due to me, with Lady
M--'s compliments written outside.

I saw no more of Lady M--or her daughter that evening.  I went to bed,
and, as in my former changes, I reflected what steps I should take.  As
for the treatment I had received, I was now to a certain degree hardened
to it, and my feelings certainly were not so acute as when, the first
time, I had received a lesson of what I might expect through life from
the heartlessness and selfishness of the world; but in the present case
there was a difficulty which did not exist in the former--I was going
away without knowing where I was to go.  After a little thought, I
determined that I would seek Madame Gironac, and ascertain whether she
could not receive me until I had decided upon my future plans.

My thoughts then recurred to other points.  I recollected that I had to
meet Mr Selwyn and Lionel in Baker Street, and I resolved that I would
go there with my effects early the next morning and leave them in charge
of the cook, who was taking care of the house.  I calculated also the
money that I had in possession and in prospect.  I had such a good stock
of clothes when I came to England with Madame Bathurst, that I had no
occasion, during the two years and more that I had now been in England,
to make any purchases of consequence--indeed, I had not expended more
than the twenty pounds I had brought with me.  I had received some few
presents from Lady M--and Madame Bathurst, and a great many from Lady
R--.  Altogether, I calculated that I had about two hundred and sixty
pounds in my desk, for Lady R--had given me one hundred pounds for only
a portion of the year; then there was the five hundred pounds which she
had left me, besides her wearing apparel and trinkets, which last I knew
to be of value.  It was a little fortune to one in my position, and I
resolved to consult Mr Selwyn as to the best way of disposing of it.
Having wound up my meditations with the most agreeable portion of them,
I fell asleep, and in the morning woke up refreshed.

Lady M--'s maid, who had always been partial to me, for I had taught her
many things valuable to a lady's-maid, came in early, and said that she
knew that I was going away, which she regretted very much.  I replied
that I should leave as soon as possible, but I wanted some breakfast.
This she brought up to my room.

I had not finished when Amy came in the room and said, "I have
permission to come and wish you good-bye, Valerie.  I told mamma what
you said about the person who was seen to kiss your hand.  She
acknowledges now that it was your hand that was kissed, and she was so
astonished, for she knows that you never tell stories; and, what do you
think, she desired me to find out what was the young gentleman's name
that had so large a fortune.  I said I would if I could, and so I will,
by asking you outright, not by any other means.  I don't want to know
his name," continued she, laughing, "but I'm sure mamma has in her mind
fixed upon him for a husband for me, and would now give the world that
you were not going away, that through you he might be introduced to
her."

"I cannot tell you, my dear," replied I.  "I am not at liberty to
mention it at present, otherwise I would with pleasure.  I am going now.
May God bless you, my dearest, and may you always continue to be the
same frank and amiable creature that you are now!  I leave you with
regret, and I pray earnestly for your happiness.  You have made me very
happy by telling me that your mamma acknowledges that it was my hand
that was kissed, after that, she will hardly attempt to injure me, as
she proposed."

"Oh no, Valerie, I think she is afraid to do so now.  This young man of
fortune has made her think differently.  He would, of course, protect
you from slander, and expose her, if she attempted it.  Then, good-bye."

We embraced, and then I ordered a hackney-coach to be called, and drove
with my luggage to Baker Street.  The cook welcomed me, saying that she
expected my coming, as Mr Selwyn had called to tell her of Lady R--'s
death, and that when she asked to whom she was to look for her wages, he
had told her that I was the person who was to settle all her ladyship's
affairs, as everything was left on my hands.  She showed me a letter
from Martha, Lady R--'s maid, by which I found that they would probably
arrive in Baker Street that very day, with all her ladyship's effects.

"I suppose you will sleep here, miss?" said the cook, "I have aired your
bed, and your room is all ready."

I replied that I wished to do so for a night or two, at all events, as I
had a good deal to attend to, but that Mr Selwyn would call at one
o'clock, and that I would speak to him on the subject.

I had requested Lionel to call at twelve, an hour previous to Mr
Selwyn, that I might make him acquainted with the contents of Lady R--'s
papers addressed to me.  He was punctual to the time, and I shook hands
with him, saying, "Lionel, I congratulate you, at now having proofs of
your being the nephew of Lady R--, and also at her having left you
considerable property.  You will be surprised to hear that she has
appointed me her executrix."

"I am not at all surprised," replied Lionel; "I am sure she has done a
wise thing at last."

"That is more than I am," replied I, "but I appreciate the compliment.
But, Lionel, there is no time to be lost, as Mr Selwyn, the lawyer, is
coming here at one o'clock, and before he comes I wish you to read over
Lady R--'s confession, if I may so call it, which will explain the
motives of her conduct towards you.  I am afraid that it will not
extenuate her conduct, but recollect that she has now made all the
reparation in her power, and that we must forgive as we hope to be
forgiven.  Sit down and read these papers, while I unpack one or two of
my boxes upstairs."

"The last time that we were here, I corded them up for you, Miss
Valerie; I hope that you will allow me to assist you again."

"Thank you, but you will have no time to read what Lady R--has said, and
the cook and I can manage without you."

I then left the room and went upstairs.  I was still busy in my room
when a knock at the street door announced the arrival of Mr Selwyn, and
I went down into the drawing-room to meet him.  I asked Lionel, who was
walking up and down the room, whether he had finished the papers, and he
replied by a nod of the head.  The poor lad appeared very miserable, but
Mr Selwyn entered, and I could not say more to him.

"I hope I have not kept you waiting, Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf," said
he.

"No, indeed.  I came here at ten o'clock, for I have left Lady M--, and
I may as well ask at once whether there is any objection to my taking a
bed in this house for a few nights?"

"Objection!  Why, mademoiselle, you are sole executrix, and everything
is at present yours in fact, for the time.  You have, therefore, a right
to take possession until he appears, and the will is proved."

"The hero is before you, Mr Selwyn.  Allow me to introduce you to Mr
Lionel Dempster, the nephew of Lady R--"

Mr Selwyn bowed to Lionel, and congratulated him upon his accession to
the property.

Lionel returned the salute, and then said, "Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf I
am convinced that in this case Mr Selwyn must have been made a party to
all that has occurred.  The reading of these papers has rather disturbed
me, and it would be painful to me to hear everything repeated in my
presence.  With your permission, I will walk out for an hour, and leave
you to explain everything to Mr Selwyn, for I am sure that I shall need
his advice.  Here is the confession of old Roberts which I shall leave
for his perusal.  Good-morning, then, for the present."

So saying, Lionel took up his hat and quitted the room.

"He is a very prepossessing young man," observed Mr Selwyn.  "What a
fine eye he has!"

"Yes," replied I, "and now that he has so large a property, others will
find out that he is a prepossessing young man with fine eyes; but sit
down, Mr Selwyn, for you have to listen to a very strange narrative."

When he had finished it, he laid it down on the table, saying, "This is
perhaps the strangest history that has ever come to my knowledge during
thirty years of practice.  And so she brought him up as a footman.  I
now recognise him again as the lad who has so often opened the door for
me, but I confess I never should have done so if I had not heard what
you have now communicated."

"He was always much above his position," replied I.  "He is very clever
and very amusing; at least I found him so when he served me in his
menial capacity, and certainly was much more intimate with him than I
ever thought I could be with a servant.  At all events, his education
has not been neglected."

"Strange! very strange!" observed Mr Selwyn, "this is a curious world;
but I fear that his history cannot be kept altogether a secret, for you
must recollect, mademoiselle, that his father's property must be
claimed, and no doubt it will be disputed.  I must go to Doctor's
Commons and search out the will at once of Colonel Dempster; he intends,
as I presume he does by what he said just now, to employ me.  After all,
it will, if known, be but a nine days' wonder, and do him no harm, for
he proves his birth by his appearance, and his breeding is so innate as
to have conquered all his disadvantages."

"When I knew him as a servant, I thought him an intelligent and witty
lad, but I never could have believed that he would have become so
improved in such a short time: not only his manners, but his language is
so different."

"It was _in_ him," replied Mr Selwyn; "as a domestic the manners and
language of a gentleman would have been out of place, and he did not
attempt them; now that he knows his position, he has called them forth.
We must find out this Mrs Green, and have her testimony as soon as
possible.  Of course, after the deposition of old Roberts, Sir Thomas
Moystyn will not be surprised when I communicate to him the confession
of Lady R--, and the disposition of her property.  In fact, the only
difficulty will be in the recovery of the property of his father,
Colonel Dempster, and--"

A knock at the street door announced the return of Lionel.  When he
entered the room, Mr Selwyn said, "Mr Dempster, that you are the
nephew of Lady R--, to whom she has bequeathed her property, and what
was your own, is sufficiently established in my opinion.  I will,
therefore, with your permission, read her ladyship's will."

Lionel took a seat, and the will was read.  When it was finished, Mr
Selwyn said, "Having been Lady R--'s legal adviser for many years I am
able to tell you, within a trifle, what property you will receive.
There are 57000 three per cents; this house and furniture, which I
purchased the lease of for her, and which is only saddled with a
ground-rent for the next forty years; and I find, a balance of 1200
pounds at the banker's.  Your father's property, Mr Dempster, of
course, I know nothing about, but will ascertain this to-morrow by going
to Doctors' Commons.  I think I may venture to assure the executrix,
that she will run no risk in allowing you to take any sum of money you
may require from the balance in the bank, as soon as the will is proved,
which had better be done to-morrow, if it suits Mademoiselle de
Chatenoeuf."

"Certainly," replied I; "I am anxious to get rid of my trust as soon as
possible, and give Mr Dempster possession.  There is a tin box of
papers, Mr Selwyn, which I cannot get at till the return of Lady R--'s
maid, as the keys are with Lady R--'s effects which she is bringing home
with her."

"Yes, they will no doubt be important," replied Mr Selwyn: "and now,
Mr Dempster, if you are in want of any ready cash, I shall be your
banker with pleasure till you can have possession of your own."

"I thank you, sir, I am not in want of any," replied Lionel, "for the
present; but, as soon as I may be permitted to have money from the bank
I shall be glad, as it is not my intention to remain in England."

"Indeed!" exclaimed I.

"No, Mademoiselle Valerie," said Lionel.  "I am but too well aware of
many deficiencies which must arise from the position I have been so long
in, not to wish to remedy them as soon as possible, and, before I appear
as the heir of Lady R--, it is my intention, as soon as I can, to go to
Paris, and remain there for two years, or, perhaps, until I am of age;
and I think in that time to improve myself, and make myself more what
the son of Colonel Dempster should be.  I am young yet, and capable of
instruction."

"You propose a very proper step, Mr Dempster," said Mr Selwyn; "and
during your absence all legal proceedings will be over, and, if the
whole affair is made public, it will be forgotten again by the time that
you propose to return.  I am sure that the executrix will be most happy
to forward such very judicious arrangements.  I will now take my leave,
and beg Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf to meet me at Doctors' Commons at
three o'clock to-morrow; that will give me time to look for Colonel
Dempster's will.  Good-morning, mademoiselle; good-morning, Mr
Dempster."

Mr Selwyn went out, and left us alone.

"May I ask, Miss Valerie, whether you have left Lady M--?"

"Yes," replied I; and I told him what had passed, adding, "I stay here
for a night or two, and shall go then to Madame Gironac's."

"Why not stay here altogether?  I hope you will.  I shall go abroad as
soon as possible."

"Yes, and you are right in so doing; but, Lionel, you forget that my
duty as executrix will be to make the best of the estate for you until
you are of age, and this house must be let furnished; Mr Selwyn told me
so, while you were away; besides, I am not a young lady of fortune, but
one most unfortunately dependent upon the caprices of others, and I must
submit to my fate."

Lionel made no reply for some little while, and then he said, "I am very
glad that Lady R--has showed the high opinion she had of you, but I
cannot forgive her treatment of my mother.  It was too cruel; but I had
better not talk any more about it; and I am sure, Miss Valerie, you must
be anxious to be alone.  Good afternoon, Miss Valerie."

"Good-bye, Lionel, for the present," replied I.  "By-the-bye, did the
cook recognise you?"

"Yes; and I told her that I had given up going out to service."

"I think that you had better not come here, Lionel, till I have
dismissed Lady R--'s maid, which I shall do the day after her arrival.
I will meet you at Mr Selywn's office--it will be better."

To this Lionel agreed, and we parted.

The next day the will was proved, and Mr Selwyn then informed us that
he had found the will of the late Colonel Dempster, which had left his
property to his child unborn, as might be supposed, with a jointure on
the estate, which was entailed.  The will, in consequence of the
supposed non-existence of Lionel, had been proved by the next of kin, a
gentleman of large property, and of whom report spoke highly.  It was
the intention of Mr Selwyn to communicate with him directly.  The
probate-duty, etcetera, had required a large portion of the 1200 pounds
left in the bank, but there was still enough to meet all Lionel's wants
for a year, if he wished to go abroad immediately, and another dividend
would be due in a month, so that there could be no difficulty.  Mr
Selwyn explained all this as we drove to his chambers, where I signed
some papers at his request, and Lionel received a check on the bank, and
I sent, by Mr Selwyn, instructions to meet his drafts for the future.

This affair being arranged, Lionel stated his intention of quitting
immediately for Paris.  He said that he would go for his passport that
afternoon, as there was time enough left for him to give in his name at
the office; and that he would call to-morrow afternoon to bid me
farewell.  He then took his leave, and left me with Mr Selwyn, with
whom I had a long conversation, during which I stated to him that I had
some money of my own, as well as what had been left me by Lady R--,
which I wished to put in safety.  He recommended that I should lodge
what I then had at a banker's, and, as soon as I had received the rest,
he would look out for a good mortgage for me.  He then handed me into a
coach, and bade me farewell, stating that he would call on the day after
the morrow, at three o'clock, as by that time Lady R--'s maid must have
arrived, and I should have obtained possession of the key of the tin
box, the papers in which he was anxious to examine.

On my return to Baker Street, I found that Lady R--'s maid had arrived,
and I, of course, immediately took possession of everything.  I then
paid her her wages, and dismissed her, giving her permission to remain
and sleep in the house, and promising her a character.  It appeared very
summary to dismiss her so soon, but I was anxious she should not see
Lionel, and I told her that, as executrix, I was not warranted in
keeping her a day longer than was necessary, as I was answerable for all
expenses.  Having now the keys, I was able to examine everything.  I
first found the tin box, with various papers in it; among others a
packet, on which was written, "Papers relative to my sister Ellen and
her child."  I thought I would not open them till Mr Selwyn was
present, as it might appear as if I was curious, so I laid them aside.
I then despatched the cook with a note to Madame Gironac, requesting
that she would come and spend the evening with me, as I had much to
communicate to her.  Indeed, I felt dull alone in such a large house,
and I also felt the want of a sincere friend to talk with.

Having nothing better to do, I opened the various drawers and cupboards
which contained the apparel, etcetera, of Lady R--, and found such a
mass of things that I was astonished.  In her whimsical way, she had at
times purchased silks and various jewels, which she had never made use
of, but thrown on one side.  There were more stuffs for making up
dresses than dresses made up,--I should say nearly double.  I found one
large bundle of point-lace, some of it of great beauty, which I presume
had belonged to her mother; and of other laces there was a great
quantity.  The jewels which she had taken abroad with her were very few,
and such as she wore in common; her diamonds, and all that was of value,
I knew she had sent to her banker's a day or two previous to her
departure, and I thought I would wait till I had seen Mr Selwyn again
before I claimed them.

Madame Gironac came as requested, and I then communicated to her all
that had taken place.  She was delighted at my good fortune, and said
she hoped that I would now come and live with them, as I had the means
of living, without being subject to the caprices of others, but I could
give no answer till I knew what my property might amount to.  All I
could promise was, to go to her as soon as I had finished my business in
Baker Street, and then I would afterwards decide what steps it would be
advisable for me to take.

After a long conversation, during which Madame Gironac was as lively as
ever, we separated, Madame Gironac promising to come and pass the next
day with me, and assist me in looking over Lady R--'s wardrobe.  During
the afternoon, I had selected a good many of Lady R--'s dresses, and
some which did not please my taste, or had been much worn, I gave to her
maid, on the following morning, before her departure.  This pleased her
very much, as she knew that her mistress's wardrobe had been bequeathed
to me, and did not expect to obtain any portion of it; but the drawers
and closets were so loaded, that I could well afford to be generous.
Madame Gironac came to breakfast the next morning, accompanied by her
husband, who was delighted to see me, and having as usual quarrelled,
after their fashion, he bounced out of the room, declaring that he never
would see that odious little woman any more.

"Oh, Monsieur Gironac, you forget you promised to come and dine here."

"Well, well, so I did; but, Mademoiselle Valerie, that promise has
prevented a separation."

"It is very unlucky that you asked him, Mademoiselle Valerie," replied
his wife, "all my hopes are destroyed.  Good-bye, Monsieur Gironac, and
be grateful that you have been prevented from committing a folly; now
go, we are to be very busy, and don't want you."

"I will go, madame; and hear me," said Monsieur Gironac, with mock
solemnity; "as I live, I will not return--till dinner-time."

He then bounced out of the room.  We then proceeded to sort and arrange.
Madame Gironac, who was a good judge, stated the laces to be worth at
least 200 pounds, and the other articles, such as silks, etcetera, with
the dresses and lace, at about 100 pounds more.  The laces and silks not
made up she proposed selling for me, which she said that she could to
various customers, and the dresses and lace she said could be disposed
of to a person she knew, who gained her livelihood by re-making up such
things.

We were thus employed, when Lionel called.  He had obtained his
passport, and had come to wish me good-bye.  When he rose to say
farewell, he said, "Miss Valerie, I can hardly say what my feelings are
towards you.  Your kindness to me when I was a supposed footman, and the
interest you always took in anything concerning me, have deeply
impressed me with gratitude, but I feel more.  You are much too young
for my mother, but I feel the reverence of a son, and if I did dare to
use the expression, I feel towards you, what I think are the feelings
that a brother should have towards a sister."

"I am flattered by your saying so, Lionel," replied I.  "You are now in
a much higher position, or rather soon will be, than I shall ever obtain
in this world, and that you have such feelings towards me for any little
kindness I have shown to you, is highly creditable to your heart.  Have
you any letters of introduction to anyone in Paris? but now I think of
it, you cannot well have."

"No," replied he; "I may have by and bye, but how could I possibly
obtain one at present?"

A thought struck me.

"Well, Lionel, you do not know my history; but I was once very intimate
with a lady at Paris, and, although we parted bad friends, she has since
written kindly to me, and I believe her to have been sincere in so
doing.  I will give you a letter of introduction to her, but do not
blame me if I have been deceived in her a second time."

I went to the table and wrote the following short note--

"My dear Madame D'Albret,--

"This letter will be presented to you by a Mr Lionel Dempster, a young
Englishman of fortune, and a great friend of mine.  He is going to
reside at Paris to improve himself, until he comes of age; and I give
him this introduction to you for two reasons; the first, because I want
to prove to you that, although my feelings would not permit me to accept
your last kind offer, I have long forgotten and forgiven any little
injustice you did me: and the second, because I feel convinced that in
your society, and that which you keep, he will gain more advantage than
perhaps in any other in Paris.--Yours with esteem,--

"Valerie de Chatenoeuf."

"There, Lionel, this may be of use to you; if not, write and let me
know.  You will of course let me hear from you occasionally?"

"May Heaven preserve you, Miss Valerie!" replied Lionel.  "I only hope
the time may arrive when I may be able to prove my gratitude."

Lionel kissed my hand, and the tears rolled down his cheeks as he
quitted the room.

"He is a charming young man," said Madame Gironac, as soon as the door
was shut.

"He is a very superior young man in my opinion," replied I; "and I am
most anxious that he should do well.  I did not think it possible that I
ever could have written again to Madame d'Albret, but my good-will
towards him induced me.  There is Monsieur Gironac's knock, so now for a
quarrel, or a reconciliation, which is it to be?"

"Oh, we must reconcile first, and then have a quarrel afterwards: that
is the established rule."

Monsieur Gironac soon joined us.  We passed a very lively evening, and
it was arranged that I should in three days take up my quarters at their
house.

The next day Mr Selwyn called at the time appointed, and I made over to
him the box and papers.  He told me that he had seen Mrs Green, and had
had her full confession of what took place, in corroboration of all that
was stated by Lady R--and old Roberts, and that he had written to Mr
Armiger Dempster, who had succeeded to the property of Lionel's father.

I then told him that I wished to go with him to the bank, to lodge the
money I then had, and to obtain Lady R--'s jewel-case which was
deposited there.

"Nothing like the time present," said Mr Selwyn; "my carriage is at the
door.  I will have the pleasure of taking you there and then returning
with you.  But I have another appointment, and must be so impolite as to
request that you will hurry your toilet as much as possible."

This was done, and in an hour I had lodged my money and obtained the
jewel-case.

Mr Selwyn took me back again, and, having put the tin box into the
carriage, wished me farewell.

I told him that I was about to take up my residence with the Gironacs,
gave him their address, and then we parted.

That evening I opened the jewel-case and found it well stocked.  The
value of its contents I could not possibly be acquainted with, but that
so many diamonds and other stones were of value I knew well.  I placed
the other caskets of Lady R--in the case, and then proceeded to make up
my packages ready for transportation to Madame Gironac's, for there were
a great many trunks full.  I occupied myself with this for the remainder
of the time that I was in Baker Street, and when Monsieur Gironac and
his wife called, according to promise, to take me to their home, it
required two coaches, and well loaded, to take all the luggage; a third
conveyed Monsieur and Madame Gironac, myself, and the jewel-case.  I
found a very cheerful room prepared for me, and I had the pleasant
feeling, as we sat down to our small dinner, that I had a home.

Madame Gironac was indefatigable in her exertions, and soon disposed of
all the laces and wardrobe that I had decided upon parting with, and I
paid the sum that they realised, viz., 310 pounds, into the banker's.
The disposal of the jewels was a more difficult affair, but they were
valued by a friend of Monsieur Gironac's, who had once been in the
trade, at 630 pounds.  After many attempts to dispose of them more
favourably, I succeeded in obtaining for them the sum of 570 pounds.

Mr Selwyn had called upon me once or twice, and I had received my
legacy with interest; deducting the legacy duty of 50 pounds, it came to
458 pounds.  I had, therefore, the following sums in all: 230 pounds of
my savings; 310 pounds for the wardrobe and laces, 570 pounds for the
jewels, and 458 pounds for the legacy, amounting in all to 1568 pounds.
Who would have imagined three months before, that I should ever have
possessed such a sum?  I did not, certainly.

Mr Selwyn, as soon as he knew what sum I had to dispose of, viz., 1500
pounds, for I had retained the 68 pounds for my expenses, procured me a
mortgage at five per cent, on excellent landed security; and thus did
the poor forlorn Valerie possess an income of 75 pounds per annum.

As soon as this was all arranged, I felt a tranquillity I had not known
before.  I was now independent.  I could work, it is true, if I felt
inclined, and had an opportunity.  I could, however, do without work.
The Gironacs, finding that I insisted upon paying for my board, and
knowing that I could now afford it, agreed to receive forty pounds per
annum--more they would not listen to.  Oh! what a balm to the feelings
is the consciousness of independence, especially to one who had been
treated as I had been.  There were two situations to which I had taken a
violent abhorrence--that of a governess, and now that of a milliner; and
I thanked Heaven that I was no longer under any fear of being driven
into either of those unfortunate employments.  For the first month that
I remained with the Gironacs, I absolutely did nothing but enjoy my
emancipation; after that, I began to talk over matters with Monsieur
Gironac, who pointed out to me, that now that I could live upon my own
means, I should endeavour to increase them, so as to be still more at my
ease.

"What do you propose that I should do, then, monsieur," replied I.

"I should propose that you establish yourself as a music-mistress, and
give lessons on the pianoforte and singing.  By degrees, you will get a
connection, and you will still be your own mistress."

"And when you have nothing else to do, mademoiselle, you must make
flowers in wax," said Madame Gironac.  "You make them so well, that I
can always sell yours when I cannot my own."

"I must not interfere with you, Elise," said I; "that would be very
ungrateful on my part."

"Pooh--nonsense--there are customers enough for us both."

I thought this advice to be very good, and made up my mind to follow it.
I had not money sufficient to purchase a piano just then, as it would
be five months before the half-year's interest of the mortgage would be
due; so I hired one from a dealer with whom Monsieur Gironac was
intimate, and practised several hours every day.  Fortune appeared
inclined to favour me, for I obtained employment from four different
channels.

The first and most important was this: I went every Sunday to the
Catholic Chapel with Madame Gironac, and of course I joined in the
singing.  On the third Sunday as I was going out, I was touched on the
arm by one of the priests, who requested to speak with me in the vestry.
Madame Gironac and I followed him, and he requested us to sit down.

"Who have I the pleasure of addressing?" said he to me.

"Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf, sir," replied I.

"I am not aware of your circumstances, mademoiselle," said he, "but the
name is one well known in France.  Still those who hold our best names
are very often not in affluent circumstances in this country.  I trust,
let it be as it may, that you will not be offended, but the fact is,
your singing has been much admired, and we would wish for your service,
gratuitous, if you are in good circumstances, but well paid for, if you
are not, in the choir."

"Mademoiselle Chatenoeuf is not, I am sorry to say, in good
circumstances, monsieur," replied Madame Gironac.

"Then I will promise that she shall be well rewarded for her exertions,
if she will consent to sing in the chapel--but do you consent?"

"I have no objection, sir," replied I.

"Allow me, then, to call the gentleman who presides over the choir,"
said the priest, going out.

"Accept by all means, Mademoiselle Valerie.  It will be an introduction
for you as a music-mistress, and very advantageous."

"I agree with you," replied I, "and I like singing sacred music."

The priest returned with a gentleman, who told me that he had listened
with great pleasure to my singing, and begged, as a favour, that I would
sing him a solo, which he had brought with him.

As I could sing at sight, I did so.  He was satisfied, and it was agreed
that I should come on Saturday, at twelve, to practice with the rest of
the choir.  The following Sunday I sang with them, and also sang the
solos.  After the service was over, I received three guineas for my
performance, and was informed that a similar sum would be given to me
every Sunday on which I sang.  My voice was much admired; and, when it
was known that I gave lessons, I very soon had engagements from many
Catholic families.  My charges to them were moderate, five shillings a
lesson of one hour.

The next channel was through Monsieur and Madame Gironac.  He
recommended me to a gentleman whom he taught, as a music-mistress for
his sisters and daughters, and she to all her various customers and
employers.  I soon obtained several pupils by her exertions.  The third
was from an intimacy I had formed with an acquaintance of Madame
Gironac, with a Mademoiselle Adele Chabot, who was of a good French
family, but earning her livelihood as a French teacher in one of the
most fashionable schools in Kensington.

Through her recommendation, I obtained the teaching of the young ladies
at the school, but of her more hereafter.  The fourth channel was
through the kindness of Mr Selwyn, the lawyer, to whom I shall now
again revert.  I had several visits from Mr Selwyn after I had left
Baker Street, and on one of these he informed me, that upon the proofs
of Lionel Dempster's identity being examined by the legal advisers of
Mr Dempster, of Yorkshire, they were considered so positive that the
aforenamed gentleman immediately came to terms, agreeing to give up the
property to Lionel, provided, in consequence of the great improvements
he had made, he was not come upon for arrears of income arising from it.
That Mr Selwyn advised this offer to be accepted, as it would prevent
any exposure of Lady R--, and the circumstances under which Lionel had
been brought up, from being made public.  Lionel had written to say that
he was anxious that any sacrifice should be made rather than the affair
should be exposed; and the terms were consented to, and Lionel came into
possession of further property, to the amount of 900 pounds per annum.
As we became more intimate, Mr Selwyn asked me many particulars
relative to myself, and, by his habit of cross-examining, soon gained
the best portion of my history; only one point I did not mention to
him,--that my family supposed that I was dead.



CHAPTER TEN.

One day he came, accompanied by Mrs Selwyn, who joined him very
earnestly in requesting me to pass a day or two with them at their
country house at Kew.  I accepted the invitation, and they called for me
in their carriage on their way down.  It was summer time, and I was very
glad to be out of London for a day or two.  I found a charming family of
two sons and three daughters, grown up, and who appeared very
accomplished.  Mr Selwyn then, for the first time, asked me whether I
was settled or not.

I told him no,--that I was giving lessons in music--that I sang at the
chapel, and that I was laying by money.

He said I was right, and that he hoped to be able to procure me pupils;
"But now," said he, "as I did not know that you had a voice, I must be
permitted to hear it, as otherwise I shall not be able to make my
report."

I sat down immediately and sang, and he and Mrs Selwyn, as well as the
daughters, were highly pleased with my performance.  During my stay, Mr
Selwyn treated me in, I may say, almost a parental manner, and extracted
something more from me relative to my previous life, and he told me that
he thought I had done wisely in remaining independent, and not again
trusting to Lady M--or Madame d'Albret.  I went afterwards several times
to their town house, being invited to evening parties, and people who
were there and heard my singing, sent for me to teach their daughters.

In six months after I had taken up my residence with the Gironacs, I was
in flourishing circumstances.  I had twenty-eight pupils, ten at five
shillings per lesson, and eight at seven shillings, and they took
lessons twice a week.  I had also a school for which I received about
five guineas per week, and the singing at the chapel, for which I
received three.  In fact, I was receiving about eighteen pounds a week
during the winter season; but it must be confessed that I worked hard
for it, and expended two or three pounds a week in coach hire.
Nevertheless, although I now spent more money on my appearance, and had
purchased a piano, before the year was over I had paid 250 pounds into
Mr Selwyn's hands to take care of for me.  When I thought of what might
have still been my position had it not been for the kindness of poor
Lady R--; when I reflected how I had been cast upon the world, young and
friendless, by Madame d'Albret, and that I was now making money rapidly
by my own exertions, and that at such an early age (for I was but little
past twenty years old), had I not reason to be grateful?  I was so, and
most truly so, and moreover, I was happy, truly happy.  All my former
mirth and vivacity, which had been checked during my sojourn in England,
returned.  I improved every day in good looks, at least so everybody
told me but Mr Selwyn; and I gained that, which to a certain degree my
figure required, more roundness and expansion.  And this was the poor
Valerie, supposed to have been drowned in the river Seine!

I forgot to say, that about three weeks after Lionel went to Paris, I
received a letter from Madame d'Albret, in which she thanked me warmly
for my having introduced the young Englishman to her, as she took it as
a proof of my really having forgiven her what she never should forgive
herself.  She still indulged the hope that she might one day embrace me.
With respect to Lionel, she said that he appeared a modest, unassuming
young lad, and that it should not be her fault if he did not turn out an
accomplished gentleman; that he had already the best fencing and
music-masters, and was working very hard at the language.  As soon as he
could speak French tolerably, he was to commence German and Italian.
She had procured him a _pension_ in an excellent French family, and he
appeared to be very happy.

I could not help reflecting, as I read the contents of this letter, upon
the change which had taken place in Lionel Dempster, as soon as he found
himself established in his rights.  From an impudent, talkative page, he
at once became a modest, respectful, and silent young man.  What could
have caused this change?  Was it because, when a page, he felt himself
above his condition; and now, that he had gained a name and fortune,
that he felt himself beneath it?  I decided, when I remembered how
anxious he was to improve himself, that such was the case; and I further
inferred that it showed a noble, generous, and sensitive mind.  And I
now felt very glad that I had written to Madame d'Albret, and all my
objections to seeing her again were removed; why so? because I was
independent.  It was my dependence that made me so proud and
unforgiving.  In fact, I was on better terms with the world, now that I
had somewhat raised myself in it.  I was one day talking over my life
with Mr Selwyn, and after pointing out how I had been taken in by my
ignorance and confidence, how much wiser I had become already from
experience, and my hopes that I should one day cease to be a dupe, he
replied, "My dear Miss Valerie, do not say so.  To have been a dupe is
to have lived; we are dupes when we are full of the hope and warmth of
youth.  I am an old man; my profession has given me great knowledge of
the world; knowledge of the world has made me cautious and indifferent,
but this has not added to my happiness, although it may have saved my
pocket.  No, no; when we arrive at that point, when we warm before no
affection, doubting its truth; when we have gained this age-bought
experience, which has left our hearts as dry as the remainder biscuits
after a long voyage--there is no happiness in this, Valerie.  Better to
be deceived, and trust again.  I almost wish that I could now be the
dupe of a woman or a false friend, for I should then feel as if I were
young again."

"But, sir," replied I, "your conduct is at variance with your language;
why else such kindness shown to me, a perfect stranger, and one without
claims upon you?"

"You over-rate my little attention, my dear Valerie; but that proves
that you have a grateful heart.  I speak of myself as when in contact
with the world.  You forget that I have domestic ties to which the heart
is ever fresh.  Were it not for home and the natural affections, we men
would be brutes indeed.  The heart, when in conflict with the world, may
be compared to a plant scorched by the heat of the sun; but, in the
shade of domestic repose, it again recovers its freshness for the time."

I have stated, that through the recommendation and influence of a
Mademoiselle Adele Chabot, I taught music at an establishment for young
ladies at Kensington.  It was what is called a finishing-school.  The
terms were very high, and the young ladies did not always sit down to
boiled mutton; but, from what I learnt from Adele, in other points it
was not better than schools in general; but it had a reputation, and
that was sufficient.

One day, I was informed by Mrs Bradshaw, the proprietress of the
establishment, that I was to have a new pupil the next quarter, which
was very near; and when it did arrive, and the young lady was brought
in, who should it be but Caroline, my former companion and pupil at
Madame Bathurst's?

"Valerie!" exclaimed she, rushing into my arms.

"My dear Caroline, this is an unexpected pleasure," said I; "but how
came you here?"

"I will tell you some day," replied Caroline, not wishing to talk about
her family while the teacher, who came in with her, was present.

"I hope Madame Bathurst is well?" inquired I.

"Quite well, when I saw her last," said Caroline.

"Well, my dear, we must work, and not talk, for my time is valuable,"
said I; "so sit down, and let me hear whether you have improved since I
last gave you a lesson."

The teacher then left the room, and Caroline, having run over a few
bars, stopped, and said, "I never can play till I have talked to you,
Valerie.  You asked me how I came here.  At my own request; or, if a
girl may use such language, because I insisted upon it.  I was so
uncomfortable at home, that I could bear it no longer.  I must speak
against my father and mother--I cannot help it; for it is impossible to
be blind; they are so strange, so conceited, so spoiled by prosperity,
so haughty and imperious, and so rude and uncouth to any whom they
consider beneath them, that it is painful to be in their company.
Servants will not remain a month in the house--there is nothing but
exchange, and everything is uncomfortable.  After having lived with my
aunt Bathurst, who you will acknowledge to be a lady in every respect, I
really thought that I was in a _Hopital de Fous_.  Such assumption, such
pretension, such absurdities, to all which they wished to make me a
party.  I have had a wilderness of governesses, but not one would or
could submit to the humiliations which they were loaded with.  At last,
by rebelling in every way, I gained my point, and have escaped to
school.  I feel that I ought not to speak disparagingly of my parents,
but still I must speak the truth to you, although I would say nothing to
others; so do not be angry with me, Valerie."

"I am more sorry that it is so, than that you should tell me of it,
Caroline; but from what I saw during my short visit, I can fully give
credit to all you have said."

"But is it not a hard case, Valerie, when you cannot respect your
parents?" replied Caroline, putting her handkerchief to her eyes.

"It is, my dear; but still on the whole, it is perhaps for the best.
You were taken from your parents, and were well brought up; you return
to them, and find them many degrees below you in the scale of
refinement, and therefore you cannot respect them.  Now, if you had
never left them, you would, of course, have remained down at their
level, and would have respected them, having imbibed the same opinions,
and perceiving nothing wrong in their conduct.  Now which of the two
would you prefer, if you had the power to choose?"

"Most certainly to be as I am," replied Caroline, "but I cannot but
grieve that my parents should not have been like my aunt Bathurst."

"I agree with you in that feeling, but what is--is, and we must make the
best of it.  You must excuse your parents' faults as much as you can,
since your education will not permit you to be blind to them, and you
must treat them with respect from a sense of duty."

"That I have always done," replied Caroline; "but it too often happens
that I have to decide between the respect I would show to my parents,
and a sense of justice or a love of truth opposed to it--that is the
greatest difficulty."

"Very true," replied I, "and in such cases you must act according to the
dictates of your own conscience."

"Well," replied Caroline, "I think I have done wisely in getting away
altogether.  I have seen little of my aunt Bathurst, since you took me
to my father's house; for, although some advances were made towards a
reconciliation, as soon as my aunt was told that my father and mother
had stated that I had been most improperly brought up by her, she was so
angry at the false accusation, that all intercourse is broken off, I
fear, for ever.  Oh, how I have longed to be with my aunt again!  But
Valerie, I never heard why you left her.  Some one did say that you had
gone, but why was not known."

"I went away, Caroline, because I was no longer of any use in the house
after you had been removed, and I did not choose to be an incumbrance to
your aunt.  I preferred gaining my livelihood by my own exertions, as I
am now doing, and to which resolution on my part, I am indebted for the
pleasure of our again meeting."

"Ah, Valerie, I never loved you so much as I did after I had lost you,"
said Caroline.

"That is generally the case, my dear," replied I; "but now if you
please, we will try this sonata.  We shall have plenty of time for
talking, as we shall meet twice a week."

Caroline played the sonata, and then dropping her fingers on the keys,
said, "Now, Valerie, do you know what was one of my wild dreams which
assisted in inducing me to come here?  I'll tell you.  I know that I
shall never find a husband at my father's house.  All well-bred people,
if they once go there, do not go a second time, and, whatever may be the
merits of the daughter, they have no time to find them out, and leave
the house, with the supposition that she, having been educated in so bad
a school, must be unworthy of notice.  Now I mean, if I can, to elope
from school, that is if I can find a gentleman to my fancy--not to
Gretna Green but as soon as I am married, to go to my aunt Bathurst
direct, and you know that once under a husband's protection, my father
and mother have no control over me.  Will you assist my views, Valerie?
It's the only chance I have of happiness."

"A very pretty confession for a young lady, not yet eighteen," replied
I; "and a very pretty question to put to me, who have been your
governess, Caroline.  I am afraid that you must not look to me for
assistance, but consider it, as you termed it at first, a wild dream."

"Nevertheless, dreams come true sometimes," replied Caroline, laughing;
"and all I require is birth and character: you know that I must have
plenty of money."

"But, my dear Caroline, it is not people of birth and character who
prowl round boarding-schools in search of heiresses."

"I know that; and that was why I asked you to help me.  At all events,
I'll not leave this place till I am married, or going to be married,
that's certain, if I stay here till I'm twenty-five."

"Well, do not make rash resolutions; but surely, Caroline, you have not
reason to complain of your parents' treatment; they are kind and
affectionate towards you."

"Indeed they are not, nor were they from the time that I returned to
them with you.  They try by force to make me espouse their own incorrect
notions of right and wrong, and it is one scene of daily altercation.
They abuse and laugh at aunt Bathurst, I believe on purpose to vex me;
and, having never lived with them from my infancy, of course, when I met
them I had to learn to love them.  I was willing so to do,
notwithstanding their unkindness to my aunt, whom I love so dearly, but
they would not let me; and now I really believe that they care little
about me, and would care nothing, if I were not their only daughter, for
you know, perhaps, that both my brothers are now dead?"

"I knew that one was," replied I.

"The other, William, died last year," replied Caroline; "his death was a
release, poor fellow, as he had a complaint in the spine for many years.
Do you know what I mean to do?  I shall write to aunt Bathurst, to come
and see me."

"Well, I think you will be right in so doing; but will not your father
and mother come to you?"

"No, for they are very angry, and say, that until I come to my senses,
and learn the difference between people, who are somebodies, and people
who are nobodies, they will take no notice of me; and that I may remain
here till I am tired; which they think I shall soon be, and write to
come back again.  The last words of my father, when he brought me here
and left me, were,--`I leave you here to come to your senses.'  He was
white with anger: but I do not wish to talk any more about them."

"And your time is up, Caroline; so you must go and make room for another
pupil.  Miss Greaves is the next."

Shortly after my meeting with Caroline, I received a letter from Lionel,
stating that it was his intention to come over to England for a
fortnight, and asking whether he could execute any commissions for me in
Paris, previous to his departure.  He also informed me that he had
received a very kind letter, from his uncle the baronet, who had had
several interviews with Mr Selwyn, and who was fully satisfied with his
identity, and acknowledged him as his nephew.  This gave me great
pleasure.  I replied to his letter, stating that I should be most happy
to see him, but that as for commissions I was too poor to give him any.
Madame d'Albret had sent her kind souvenirs to me in Lionel's letter,
and I returned them in my reply.  Indeed, now that I was earning a
livelihood, and by my own exertions, I felt that I was every day adding
to my means and future independence, a great change, I may safely say
for the better, took place in me.  My pride was lessened, that is, my
worst pride was superseded by a more honest one.  I had a strange
revulsion in feeling towards Madame d'Albret, Madame Bathurst and Lady
M--, and I felt that I could forgive them all.  I was no longer brooding
over my dependent position, fancying, perhaps, insults never intended,
or irritated by real slights.  Everything was _couleur de rose_ with me,
and that _couleur_ was reflected upon everything.

"Ah, Mademoiselle Valerie," said Madame Gironac to me one day, "I had no
idea when I first made your acquaintance that you were so witty.  My
husband and all the gentlemen say that you have _plus d'esprit_ than any
woman they ever conversed with."

"When I first knew you, Annette, I was not happy, now I am happy, almost
too happy, and that is the reason I am so gay."

"And I don't think you hate the men so much as you did," continued she.

"I am in a humour to hate nobody," replied I.

"That is true; and, Mademoiselle Valerie, you will marry one of these
days; mind," continued she, putting up her finger, "I tell you so."

"And I tell you, no," replied I.  "I think there is only one excuse for
a woman marrying, which is, when she requires some one to support her;
that is not my case, for I thank Heaven I can support myself."

"_Nous verrons_" replied Madame Gironac.

Caroline did, however, find the restraint of a school rather irksome,
and wished very much to go out with me.  When the holidays arrived, and
the other young ladies had gone home, I spoke to Mrs Bradshaw, and as
she was very partial to me, and knew my former relations with Caroline,
she gave her consent.  Shortly afterwards, Mrs Bradshaw accepted an
invitation to pass three weeks with some friends, and I then proposed
that Caroline should pass the remainder of the holidays with me, to
which Mrs Bradshaw also consented, much to Caroline's delight.  Madame
Gironac had made up a bed for her in my room, and we were a very merry
party.

A few days after Caroline came to the house, Lionel made his appearance.
I should hardly have believed it possible that he could have so
improved in appearance in so short a time.  He brought me a very kind
letter from Madame d'Albret, in which she begged, as a proof of my
having forgiven her, that I would not refuse a few presents she had sent
by Lionel.  They were very beautiful and expensive, and, when I had had
some conversation with Lionel, I made up my mind that I would not return
them, which certainly I at first felt more inclined to do than to keep
them.  When Lionel took leave, promising to come to dinner, Caroline
asked me who that gentlemanly young man was.  I replied, "that it was a
Mr Lionel Dempster, the nephew of Lady R--," but further conversation
was interrupted by the arrival of young Mr Selwyn, who came with a
message from his father inviting me to Kew.  I declined the invitation,
on the plea of Caroline being with me.  Mr Selwyn remained some time
conversing with me, and at last inquired if I should like to go to the
next meeting at the Horticultural Gardens, at the same time offering me
two tickets.  As I was anxious to see the gardens, I accepted them.  He
told me that his father would call for us, and his mother and sisters
were to be there, and then he took leave.

"Who is Mr Selwyn?" inquired Caroline.

I told her.

"Well," said she, "I have seen two nice young men this morning; I don't
know which I like best, but I think Mr Selwyn is the more manly of the
two."

"I should think so, too, Caroline," replied I; "Mr Selwyn is
twenty-four years old, I believe, and Mr Dempster is younger, I think,
than you are."

"I did not think he was so young; but, Valerie, are we not to go to the
National Gallery?"

"Yes, when Monsieur Gironac comes home to escort us; we may as well put
on our bonnets, for he will be here in a few minutes."

"Oh, Valerie, how fortunate it was that I came to Mrs Bradshaw's," said
Caroline, "and that I met you!  I should have been moped, that is
certain, if I had not, but now I'm so happy--that's Monsieur Gironac's
knock, I'm sure."

But Caroline was wrong, for it was Mademoiselle Chabot, of whom I have
before spoken, who made her appearance.  Mademoiselle Chabot was an
acquaintance of Madame Gironac, and it was through my having become
intimate with her, that I obtained the teaching of Mrs Bradshaw's.
Adele Chabot was a very pretty person, thoroughly French, and dressed
with great taste.  She was the resident French teacher in Mrs
Bradshaw's establishment; and, although twenty-five years old, did not
look more than eighteen; she was very amusing and rather wild, although
she looked very demure.  I never thought that there was anything wrong
in Adele, but, at the same time, I did not consider that Caroline would
derive any good from her company, as Caroline required to be held in
check as it was.  But, as is usually the case, the more I attempted to
check any intimacy between them, the more intimate they became.  Adele
was of a good family; her father had fallen at Montmartre, when the
allies entered Paris after the Battle of Waterloo: but the property left
was very small to be divided among a large family, and consequently
Adele had first gone out as a governess at Paris, and ultimately
accepted the situation she now held.  She spoke English remarkably well,
indeed, better than I ever heard it spoken by a Frenchwoman, and
everybody said so as well as me.

"Well, Adele, I thought you were at Brighton," said Caroline.

"I was yesterday, and I am here to-day; I am come to dine with you,"
replied Adele, taking off her bonnet and shawl, and smoothing her hair
before the glass.  "Where's Madame Gironac?"

"Gone out to give a lesson in flower-making," replied I.  "Yes, she is
like the little busy bees, always on the wing, and, as the hymn says,
`How neat she spread her wax!' and Monsieur, where is he?"

"Gone out to give a lesson, also," replied I.  "Yes, he's like the wind,
always blowing, one hour the flute, another the French horn, then the
bassoon or the bugle, always blowing and always shifting from one point
to the other; never a calm with him, for when he comes home there's a
breeze with his wife, _a l'aimable_, to be sure."

"Yes," replied Caroline, "always blowing, but never coming to blows."

"You are witty, Mademoiselle Caroline," said Adele, "with your paradox.
Do you know that I had an adventure at Brighton, and I am taken for you,
by a very fashionable young man?"

"How can you have been taken for me?" said Caroline.  "The gentleman
wished to find out who I was, and I would not tell him.  He inquired of
the chambermaid of the lodging-house, and bribed her, I presume, for the
next day she came up to my room and asked me for my card, that her
mistress might write my name down correctly in the book.  I knew that
the mistress had not sent her, as I had, by her request, entered my own
name in the book three days before, and I was therefore certain that it
was to find out who I was for the gentleman who followed me everywhere.
I recollected that I had a card of yours in my case, and I gave it to
her very quietly, and she walked off with it.  The next day, when I was
at the library, the gentleman addressed me by your name; I told him that
it was not my name, and requested that he would not address me again.
When I left Brighton yesterday, I discovered the chambermaid copying the
addresses I had put on my trunks, which was your name, at Mrs
Bradshaw's; so now I think we shall have some fun."

"But, my dear Adele, you have not been prudent; you may compromise
Caroline very much," said I; "recollect that men talk, and something
unpleasant may occur from this want of discretion on your part."

"Be not afraid, Valerie; I conducted myself with such prudery that an
angel's character could not suffer."

"I do not mean to hint otherwise, Adele, but still you must acknowledge
that you have done an imprudent thing."

"Well, I do confess it, but, Valerie, every one has not your discretion
and good sense.  At all events, if I see or hear any more of the
gentleman I can undo it again,--but that is not very likely."

"We have had two gentlemen here to-day, Adele," said Caroline, "and one
dines with us."

"Indeed; well, I'm in _demi-toilette_, and must remain so, for I cannot
go all the way back to Mrs Bradshaw's to dress."

"He is a very handsome young man, is he not, Valerie?"

"Yes," replied I, "and of large fortune, too."

"Well, I shall not have a fair chance, then," said Adele, "for go back I
cannot."

"Now, Adele, you know how much more becoming the _demi-toilette_ is to
you than the evening dress," replied Caroline, "so don't pretend to deny
it."

"I deny nothing and I admit nothing," replied Adele, laughing, "except
that I am a woman, and now draw your own inferences and conclusions--_ce
m'est egal_."

We had a very pleasant dinner-party.  Adele tried to flirt with Lionel,
but it was in vain.  He had no attentions to throw away, except upon me;
once he whispered, "I should not feel strange at being seated with
others, but to be by _your_ side does make me awkward.  Old habits are
strong, and every now and then I find myself jumping up to change your
plate."

"It's a great pleasure to me, Lionel, to find you in the position you
are entitled to from your birth.  You will soon sit down with people of
more consequence than Valerie de Chatenoeuf."

"But never with anyone that I shall esteem or respect so much, be they
who they may," replied Lionel.

During dinner, I mentioned that Mr Selwyn had called and engaged
Caroline and me to go to the Horticultural fete.

"I wish Madame Gironac was going," continued I, "she is so fond of
flowers."

"Never mind, my dear Valerie, I will stay at home and earn some money."

"Madame," cried Monsieur Gironac, pretending to be very angry, and
striking with his fist on the table so as to make all the wine glasses
ring, "you shall do no such thing.  You shall not always oppose my
wishes.  You shall not stay at home and earn some money.  You shall go
out and spend money.  Yes, madame, I will be obeyed; you shall go to the
Horticultural fete, and I invite Monsieur Lionel, and Mademoiselle Adele
to come with us that they may witness that I am the master.  Yes,
madame, resistance is useless.  You shall go in a _remise de ver_, or
glass-coach, as round as a pumpkin, but you shall not go in glass
slippers, like Cinderella, because they are not pleasant to walk in.
How Cinderella danced in them has always been a puzzle to me, ever since
I was a child, and of what kind of glass they were made of."

"Perhaps isinglass," said Lionel.

"No, sir, not isinglass; it must have been fairy glass; but never mind.
I ask you, Madame Gironac, whether you intend to be an obedient wife, or
intend to resist my commands?"

"_Barbare_," replied Madame Gironac, "am I then to be forced to go to a
fete! ah, cruel man, you'll break my heart; but I submit to my unhappy
destiny.  Yes, I will go in the _remise de ver_: pity me, my good
friends, but you don't know that man."

"I am satisfied with your obedience, madame, and now I permit you to
embrace me."

Madame Gironac, who was delighted at the idea of going to the fete, ran
to her husband, and kissed him over and over again.  Adele and Lionel
accepted Monsieur Gironac's invitation, and thus was the affair settled
in Monsieur Gironac's queer way.

The day of the Horticultural fete arrived.  It was a lovely morning.  We
were all dressed and the glass-coach was at the door, when Mr Selwyn
arrived in his carriage, and Caroline and I stepped in.  I introduced
Caroline, who was remarkably well-dressed, and very pretty.  Mr Selwyn
had before told me that he was acquainted with Madame Bathurst, having
met her two or three times, and sat by her at a dinner-party.  He
appeared much pleased with Caroline, but could not make out how she was
in my company.  Of course, he asked no questions before her.

On our arrival at the gardens, we found young Mr Selwyn waiting at the
entrance to take us to Mrs Selwyn and his sisters, who had come from
their house at Kew.  About half-an-hour afterwards, we fell in with
Monsieur Gironac, madame, Adele, and Lionel.  Mr Selwyn greeted Lionel
warmly, introducing him to his family; and, on my presenting the
Gironacs and Adele, was very polite and friendly, for he knew from me
how kind they had been.  Adele Chabot never looked so well; her costume
was most becoming; she had put on her _air mutine_, and was admired by
all that passed us.  We were all grouped together close to the band,
when who should appear right in front of us but Madame Bathurst.  At
that time, Caroline was on the one arm of Mr Selwyn, and I on the
other.

"Caroline!" exclaimed Madame Bathurst, "and you here!" turning to me.

While she remained in astonishment, Caroline ran up and kissed her.

"You recollect, Mr Selwyn, aunt, do you not?"

"Yes," said Madame Bathurst, returning the salute of Mr Selwyn, "but
still I am surprised."

"Come with me, aunt, and I will tell you all about it."

Caroline then walked to a seat at a little distance, sat down, and
entered into conversation with Madame Bathurst.  In a few minutes,
Madame Bathurst rose, and came up to our party, with Caroline on her
arm.

She first thanked Mr Selwyn for his kindness in bringing her niece to
the fete, and then turning to me, said with some emotion, as she offered
her hand, "Valerie, I hope we are friends.  We have mistaken each
other."

I felt all my resentment gone, and took her offered hand.

She then led me aside and said, "I must beg your pardon, Valerie, I did
not--"

"Nay," replied I, interrupting her, "I was too hasty and too proud."

"You are a good kind-hearted girl, Valerie--but let us say no more about
it.  Now introduce me to your friends."

I did so.  Madame Bathurst was most gracious, and appeared very much
struck with Adele Chabot, and entered into conversation with her, and
certainly Adele would not have been taken for a French teacher by her
appearance.  There was something very aristocratic about her.  While
they were in converse, a very gentlemanlike man raised his hat to Madame
Bathurst, as I thought, and passed on.  Adele coloured up, I observed,
as if she knew him, but did not return the salute, which Madame Bathurst
did.

"Do you know that gentleman, Mademoiselle Chabot?" inquired Caroline.
"I thought he bowed to you, and not to aunt."

"I have seen him before," replied Adele, carelessly, "but I forget his
name."

"Then I can tell you," added Madame Bathurst, "It is Colonel Jervis, a
very fashionable man, but not a very great favourite of mine, not that I
have any thing to accuse him of, particularly, except that he is said to
be a very worldly man."

"Is he of good family?" inquired Adele.

"Oh, yes, unexceptionable on that point; but it is time for me to go.
There it my party coming down the walk.  Caroline, dear, I will call
upon you to-morrow at three o'clock, and then we will make our
arrangements."

Madame Bathurst then bade adieu to Mr Selwyn, and the rest, saying to
me, "_Au revoir_, Valerie."

Shortly afterwards, we agreed to leave.  As Mr Selwyn was returning to
Kew, I would not accept the offer of his carriage to take Caroline and
me to London, the glass-coach, round as a pumpkin, would hold six, and
we all went away together.

I was very much pleased at thus meeting with Madame Bathurst, and our
reconciliation, and quite as much so for Caroline's sake; for, although
she had at first said that she would write to her aunt, she had put it
off continually for reasons which she had never expressed to me.  I
rather think that she feared her aunt might prove a check on her, and I
was, therefore, very glad that they had met, as now Madame Bathurst
would look after her.

During the evening, I observed that Adele and Caroline had a long
conversation _sotto voce_.  I suspected that the gentleman, at whose
appearance she had coloured up, was the subject of it.  The next day
Madame Bathurst called, and heard a detailed account of all that had
passed from Caroline and from me since we had parted.  She said that as
Caroline was put to the school by her father, of course she could not
remove her, but that she would call and see her as often as she could.
She congratulated me upon my little independence, and trusted that we
should ever be on friendly terms, and that I would come and visit her
whenever my avocations would permit me.  As there were still three weeks
of the holidays remaining, she proposed that we should come and pass a
portion of the time with her at a villa which she had upon the banks of
the Thames.

She said that Caroline's father and mother were down at Brighton, giving
very gay parties.  Having arranged the time that the carriage should
come for us on the following day, she kissed us both affectionately, and
went away.

The next day we were at Richmond in a delightful cottage _ornee_; and
there we remained for more than a fortnight.  To me it was a time of
much happiness, for it was like the renewal of old times, and I was
sorry when the visit was over.

On my return, I found a pressing invitation for Caroline and me to go to
Kew, and remain two or three days; and, as we had still time to pay the
visit, it was accepted; but, before we went Adele came to see us, and,
after a little general conversation, requested that she might speak to
me in my own room.

"Valerie," said Adele, as soon as we were seated, "I know that you think
me a wild girl, and perhaps I am so; but I am not quite so wild as I
thought myself, for now that I am in a critical position, I come to you
for advice, and for advice against my own feelings, for I tell you
frankly, that I am very much in love--and moreover--which you may _well_
suppose, most anxious to be relieved from the detestable position of a
French teacher in a boarding-school.  I now have the opportunity, and
yet I dread to avail myself of it, and I therefore come to you, who are
so prudent and so sage, to request, after you have heard what I have to
impart, you will give me your real opinion as to what I ought to do.
You recollect I told you a gentleman had followed me at Brighton, and
how for mere frolic, I had led him to suppose that I was Caroline
Stanhope, I certainly did not expect to see him again, but I did three
days after I came up from Brighton.  The girl had evidently copied the
address on my trunk for him, and he followed me up, and he accosted me
as I was walking home.  He told me that he had never slept since he had
first seen me, and that he was honourably in love with me.  I replied
that he was mistaken in supposing that I was Caroline Stanhope; that my
name was Adele Chabot, and that now that I had stated the truth to him
he would alter his sentiments.  He declared that he should not, pressed
me to allow him to call, which I refused, and such was our first
interview."

"I did not see him again until at the horticultural fete, when I was
talking to Madame Bathurst.  He had told me that he was an officer in
the army, but he did not mention his name.  You recollect what Madame
Bathurst said about him, and who he was.  Since you have been at
Richmond, he has contrived to see me every day, and I will confess that
latterly I have not been unwilling to meet him, for every day I have
been more pleased with him.  On our first meeting after the fete, I told
him that he still supposed me to be Caroline Stanhope, and that seeing
me walking with Caroline's aunt had confirmed him in his idea, but I
assured him that I was Adele Chabot, a girl without fortune, and not, as
he supposed a great heiress.  His answer was that any acquaintance of
Madame Bathurst's must be a lady, and that he had never inquired or
thought about my fortune.  That my having none would prove the
disinterestedness of his affection for me, and that he required me and
nothing more.  I have seen him every day almost since then; he has given
me his name and made proposals to me, notwithstanding my reiterated
assertions that I am Adele Chabot, and not Caroline Stanhope.  One thing
is certain, that I am very much attached to him, and if I do not marry
him I shall be very miserable for a long time," and here Adele burst
into tears.

"But why do you grieve, Adele?" said I, "You like him, and he offers to
marry you.  My advice is very simple,--marry him."

"Yes," replied Adele, "if all was as it seems.  I agree with you that my
course is clear; but, notwithstanding his repeated assertions that he
loves me as Adele Chabot, I am convinced in my own mind that he still
believes me to be Caroline Stanhope.  Perhaps he thinks that I am a
romantic young lady who is determined to be married _pour ses beaux
yeux_ alone, and conceals her being an heiress on that account, and he
therefore humours me by pretending to believe that I am a poor girl
without a shilling.  Now, Valerie, here is my difficulty.  If I were to
marry him, as he proposes, when he comes to find out that he has been
deceiving himself, and that I am not the heiress, will he not be angry,
and perhaps disgusted with me--will he not blame me instead of himself,
as people always do, and will he not ill-treat me?  If he did, it would
break my heart, for I love him--_love_ him dearly.  Then, on the other
hand, I may be wrong, and he may be, as he says, in love with Adele
Chabot, so that I shall have thrown away my chance of happiness from an
erroneous idea.  What shall I do, Valerie?  Do advise me."

"Much will depend on the character of the man, Adele.  You have some
insight into people's characters, what idea have you formed of his?"

"I hardly can say, for when men profess to be in love they are such
deceivers.  Their faults are concealed, and they assume virtues which
they do not possess.  On my first meeting with him, I thought that he
was a proud man--perhaps I might say a vain man--but, since I have seen
more of him, I think I was wrong."

"No, Adele, depend upon it you were right; at that time you were not
blinded as you are now.  Do you think him a good-tempered man?"

"Yes, I firmly believe that he is.  I made a remark at Brighton: a child
that had its fingers very dirty ran out to him, and as it stumbled
printed the marks of its fingers upon his white trousers, so that he was
obliged to return home and change them.  Instead of pushing the child
away, he saved it from falling, saying, `Well, my little man, it's
better that I should change my dress than that you should have broken
your head on the pavement.'"

"Well, Adele, I agree with you that it is a proof of great good temper."

"Well, then, Valerie, what do you think?"

"I think that it is a lottery; but all marriages are lotteries, with
more blanks than prizes.  You have done all you can to undeceive him, if
he still deceives himself.  You can do no more.  I will assume that he
does deceive himself, and that disappointment and irritation will be the
consequence of his discovery that you have been telling the truth.  If
he is a vain man, he will not like to acknowledge to the world that he
has been his own dupe.  If he is a good-hearted man, he will not long
continue angry; but, Adele, much depends upon yourself.  You must
forbear all recrimination--you must exert all your talents of pleasing
to reconcile him to his disappointment; and, if you act wisely, you will
probably succeed: indeed, unless the man is a bad-hearted man, you must
eventually succeed.  You best know your own powers, and must decide for
yourself."

"It is that feeling--that almost certain feeling that I shall be able to
console him for his disappointment, that impels me on.  Valerie, I will
make him love me, I am determined."

"And when a woman is determined on that point, she invariably succeeds
in the end, Adele.  This is supposing that he is deceiving himself,
which may not be the case, Adele, for I do think you have sufficient
attractions to make a man love you for yourself alone; and recollect
that such may be the case in the present instance.  It may be that at
first he followed you as an heiress, and has since found out that if not
an heiress, you are a very charming woman, and has in consequence been
unable to resist your influence.  However, there is only one to whom the
secrets of the heart are known.  I consider that you have acted
honourably, and if you choose to risk the hazard of the die, no one can
attach blame to you."

"Thank you, Valerie, you have taken a great load off my heart.  If you
think I am not doing wrong, I will risk every thing."

"Well, Adele, let you decide how you may, I hope you will prosper.  For
my part, I would not cross the street for the best man that ever was
created.  As friends, they are all very well; as advisers in some cases
they are useful; but, when you talk of marrying one, and becoming his
slave, that is quite another affair.  What were you and Caroline talking
about so earnestly in the corner?"

"I will confess the truth, it was of love and marriage, with an episode
about Mr Charles Selwyn, of whom Caroline appears to have a very good
opinion."

"Well, Adele, I must go down again now.  If you wish any advice at any
future time, such as it is, it is at your service.  You are making `A
Bold Stroke for a Husband' that's certain.  However, the title of
another play is `All's Well that Ends Well.'"

"Well, I will follow out your playing upon plays, Valerie, by saying
that with you `Love's Labour's Lost.'"

"Exactly," replied I, "because I consider it `Much Ado About Nothing.'"

The next day, Lionel came to bid me farewell, as he was returning to
Paris.  During our sojourn at Madame Bathurst's, he had been down to see
his uncle, and had been very kindly received.  I wrote to Madame
d'Albret, thanking her for her presents, which, valuable as they were, I
would not return after what she had said, and confided to Lionel a box
of the flowers in wax that I was so successful in imitating, and which I
requested her to put on her side table in remembrance of me.  Mr Selwyn
sent the carriage at the time appointed, and we went down to Kew, where
I was as kindly received as before.

What Adele told me of the conversation between Caroline and her made me
watchful, and before our visit was out I had made up my mind that there
was a mutual feeling between her and young Mr Selwyn.  When we were
going away, this was confirmed, but I took no notice.  But, although I
made no remark, this commencement of an attachment between Caroline and
him occupied my mind during the whole of our journey to town.

In Caroline's position, I was not decided if I would encourage it and
assist it.  Charles Selwyn was a gentleman by birth and profession, a
very good-looking and very talented young man.  All his family were
amiable, and he himself remarkably kind-hearted and well-disposed.  That
Caroline was not likely to return to her father's house, where I felt
assured that she was miserable, was very evident, and that she would
soon weary of the monotony of a school at her age was also to be
expected.  There was, therefore, every probability that she would, if
she found an opportunity, run away, as she stated to me she would, and
it was ten chances to one that in so doing she would make an unfortunate
match, either becoming the prey of some fortune-hunter, or connecting
herself with some thoughtless young man.

Could she do better than marry Mr Selwyn?  Certainly not.  That her
father and mother, who thought only of dukes and earls, would give their
consent, was not very likely.  Should I acquaint Madame Bathurst?  That
would be of little use, as she would not interfere.  Should I tell Mr
Selwyn's father?  No.  If a match at all, it must be a runaway match,
and Mr Selwyn, senior, would never sanction any thing of the kind.  I
resolved, therefore, to let the affair ripen as it might.  It would
occupy Caroline, and prevent her doing a more foolish thing, even if it
were to be ultimately broken off by unforeseen circumstances.  Caroline
was as much absorbed by her own thoughts as I was during the ride, and
not a syllable was exchanged between us till we were roused by the
rattling over the stones.

"My dear Caroline, what a reverie you have been in," said I.

"And you, Valerie."

"Why I have been thinking; certainly, when I cannot have a more
agreeable companion, I amuse myself with my own thoughts."

"Will you tell me what you have been thinking about?"

"Yes, Caroline, provided you will be equally confiding."

"I will, I assure you."

"Well, then, I was thinking of a gentleman."

"And so was I," replied Caroline.

"Mine was a very handsome, clever young man."

"And so was mine," replied she.

"But I am not smitten with him," continued I.

"I cannot answer that question," replied Caroline, "because I do not
know who you were thinking about."

"You must answer the question as to the gentleman you were thinking of,
Caroline.  I repeat that I am not smitten with him, and that his name is
Mr Charles Selwyn."

"I was also thinking of Mr Charles Selwyn," replied Caroline.

"And you are not smitten with him any more than I am, or he is with
you?" continued I, smiling, and looking her full in the face.

Caroline coloured, and said, "I like him very much from what I have seen
of him, Valerie; but recollect our acquaintance has been very short."

"A very proper answer, my dear Caroline, and given with due maidenly
decorum--but here we are; and there is Madame Gironac nodding to us from
the window."

The next day, Caroline went back to Mrs Bradshaw's, and I did not see
her till the music-lesson of Wednesday afterwards.  Caroline, who had
been watching for me, met me at the door.

"Oh!  Valerie, I have a great deal to tell.  In the first place, the
establishment is in an uproar at the disappearance of Adele Chabot, who
has removed her clothes, and gone off without beat of drum.  One of the
maids states that she has several times seen her walking and talking
with a tall gentleman, and Mrs Bradshaw thinks that the reputation of
her school is ruined by Adele's flight.  She has drunk at least two
bottles of eau-de-Cologne and water to keep off the hysterics, and is
now lying on the sofa, talking in a very incoherent way.  Miss Phipps
says she thinks her head is affected."

"I should think it was," replied I.  "Well, is that all?"

"All! why, Valerie, you appear to think nothing of an elopement.  All!
why is it not horrible?"

"I do not think it very horrible, Caroline; but I am glad to find that
you have such correct ideas on that point, as it satisfies me that
nothing would induce you to take such a step."

"Well," replied Caroline, quickly, "what I had also to communicate is,
that I have seen my father, who informed me that on their return from
Brighton in October, they expect that I will come home.  He said that it
was high time that I was settled in life, and that I could not expect to
be married if I remained at a boarding-school."

"Well, and what did you say?"

"I said that I did not expect to be married, and I did not wish it; that
I thought my education was far from complete, and that I wished to
improve myself."

"Well?"

"Then he said that he should submit to my caprices no longer, and that I
should go back in October, as he had decided."

"Well?"

"Well, I said no more, and he went away."

Having received all this intelligence, I went up stairs.  I found Mrs
Bradshaw crying bitterly, and she threw herself into my arms.

"Oh, Mademoiselle Chatenoeuf!--the disgrace!--the ruin!--I shall never
get over it," exclaimed she.

"I see no disgrace or ruin, Mrs Bradshaw.  Adele has told me that a
gentleman had proposed marriage to her, and asked my advice."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Mrs Bradshaw.

"Yes."

"Well, that alters the case; but still, why did she leave in this
strange way?"

"I presume the gentleman did not think it right that she should marry
out of a young ladies' establishment, madam."

"Very true: I did not think of that."

"After all, what is it?  Your French teacher is married--surely that
will not injure your establishment?"

"No, certainly--why should it?--but the news came upon me so abruptly,
that it quite upset me.  I will lie down a little, and my head will soon
be better."

Time went on; so did the school.  Miss Adele, that was, sent no
wedding-cake, much to the astonishment of the young ladies; and it was
not till nearly three weeks afterwards that I had a letter from Adele
Chabot, now Mrs Jervis.  But, before I give the letter to my readers, I
must state, that Mr Selwyn, junior, had called upon me the day before
Caroline went to school, and had had a long conversation with her, while
I went out to speak with Madame Gironac on business: further, that Mr
Selwyn, junior, called upon me a few days afterwards, and after a little
common-place conversation, _a l'anglaise_, about the weather, he asked
after Miss Caroline Stanhope, and then asked many questions.  As I knew
what he wished, I made to him a full statement of her position, and the
unpleasant predicament in which she was placed.  I also stated my
conviction that she was not likely to make a happy match, if her husband
were selected by her father and mother; and how much I regretted it, as
she was a very amiable, kind-hearted girl, who would make an excellent
wife to anyone deserving of her.  He thought so, too, and professed
great admiration of her; and having, as he thought, pumped me
sufficiently, he took his leave.

A few days afterwards, he came upon some pretended message from his
father, and then I told him that she was to be removed in October.  This
appeared to distress him; but he did not forget to pull out of his
pocket a piece of music, sealed up, telling me that, by mistake,
Caroline had left two pieces of music at Kew, and had taken away one
belonging to his sister Mary; that he returned one, but the other was
mislaid, and would be returned as soon as it was found; and would I
oblige him so far as to request Miss Stanhope to send him the piece of
music belonging to his sister, if she could lay her hand upon it?

"Well, I will do your bidding, Mr Selwyn," replied I; "it is a very
proper message for a music-mistress to take; and I will also bring back
your sister's music, when Caroline gives it me, and you can call here
for it.  If I am out, you can ask Madame Gironac to give it to you."
Upon which, with many thanks and much gratitude for my kindness, Mr
Selwyn withdrew.

Having made all this known to the reader, he shall now have the contents
of Adele's letter.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

We must now read Adele's letter.

"My dear Valerie,--The die is cast, and I have now a most difficult game
to play.  I have risked all upon it, and the happiness of my future life
is at stake.  But let me narrate what has passed since I made you my
confidante.  Of course, you must know the day on which I was missing.
On that day I walked out with him, and we were in a few minutes joined
by a friend of his, whom he introduced as Major Argat.  After proceeding
about one hundred yards farther we arrived at a chapel, the doors of
which were open, and the verger looking out, evidently expecting
somebody.

"`My dear angel,' said the Colonel, `I have the licence in my pocket; I
have requested the clergyman to attend, he is now in the chapel, and all
is ready.  My friend will be a witness, and there are others in
attendance.  You have said that you love me, trust yourself to me.
Prove now that you are sincere, and consent at once that our hands as
well as our hearts be united.'

"Oh! how I trembled.  I could not speak.  The words died away upon my
lips.  I looked at him imploringly.  He led me gently, for my resistance
was more in manner than in effect, and I found myself within the chapel,
the verger bowing as he preceded us, and the clergyman waiting at the
altar.  To retreat appeared impossible; indeed I hardly felt as if I
wished it, but my feelings were so excited that I burst into tears.
What the clergyman may have thought of my conduct, and my being dressed
so little like a bride, I know not, but the Colonel handed the licence
to his friend, who took it to the clergyman while I was recovering
myself.  At last we went up to the altar, my head swam, and I hardly
knew what was said, but I repeated the responses, and I was--a wife.
When the ceremony was over, and I was attempting to rise from my knees,
I fell, and was carried by the Colonel into the vestry, where I remained
on a chair trembling with fear.  After a time, the colonel asked me if I
was well enough to sign my name to the marriage register, and he put the
pen in my hand.  I could not see where to sign, my eyes were swimming
with tears.  The clergyman guided my hand to the place, and I wrote
Adele Chabot.  The knowledge what the effect of this signature might
possibly have upon my husband quite overcame me, and I sank my head down
upon my hands upon the table.

"`I will send for a glass of water, sir,' said the clergyman leaving the
vestry to call the verger, or clerk, `the lady is fainting.'

"After he went out, I heard the Colonel and his friend speaking in low
tones apart.  Probably they thought that I was not in a condition to pay
attention to them,--but I had too much at stake.

"`Yes,' replied the Colonel, `she has signed, as you say, but she hardly
knows what she is about.  Depend upon it, it is as I told you.'

"I did not hear the Major's reply, but I did what the Colonel said.

"`It's all the better; the marriage will not be legal, and I can bring
the parents to my own terms.'

"All doubt was now at an end.  He had married me convinced, and still
convinced that I was Caroline Stanhope, and not Adele Chabot, and he had
married me supposing that I was an heiress.  My blood ran cold, and in a
few seconds I was senseless, and should have fallen under the table had
they not perceived that I was sinking, and ran to my support.  The
arrival of the clergyman with the water recovered me.  My husband
whispered to me that it was time to go, and that a carriage was at the
door.  I do not recollect how I left the church; the motion of the
carriage first roused me up, and a flood of tears came to my relief.
How strange is it, Valerie, that we should be _so_ courageous and such
cowards at the same time.  Would you believe when I had collected
myself, with a certain knowledge that my husband had deceived himself--a
full conviction of the danger of my position when he found out his
mistake, and that my future happiness was at stake--I felt glad that the
deed was done, and would not have been unmarried again for the universe.
As I became more composed, I felt that it was time to act.  I wiped
away my tears and said, as I smiled upon my husband, who held my hand in
his, `I know that I have behaved very ill, and very foolishly, but I was
so taken by surprise.'

"`Do you think that I love you the less for showing so much feeling, my
dearest?' he replied, `no, no, it only makes you still more dear to me,
as it convinces me what a sacrifice you have made for my sake.'

"Now, Valerie, could there be a prettier speech, or one so apparently
sincere, from a newly-married man to his bride, and yet recollect what
he said to his friend not a quarter of an hour before, about having my
parents in his power by the marriage not being legal?  I really am
inclined to believe that we have two souls, a good and an evil one,
continually striving for the mastery; one for this world, and the other
for the next, and that the evil one will permit the good one to have its
influence, provided that at the same time it has its own or an equal
share in the direction of us.  For instance, I believe the colonel was
sincere in what he said, and really does love me, supposing me to be
Caroline Stanhope, with the mundane advantages to be gained by the
marriage, and that these better feelings of humanity are allowed to be
exercised, and not interfered with by the adverse party, who is
satisfied with its own Mammon share.  But the struggle is to come when
the evil spirit finds itself defrauded of its portion, and then attempts
to destroy the influence of the good.  He does love me now, and would
have continued to love me, if disappointment will not tear up his still
slightly-rooted affections.  Now comes my task to cherish and protect
it, till it has taken firm root, and all that woman can do shall be
done.  I felt that all that I required was time.

"`Where are we going?' said I.

"`About twenty miles from London,' replied my husband, `after which,
that is to-morrow, you shall decide upon our future plans.'

"`I care not where,' replied I, `with you place is indifferent, only do
not refuse me the first favour that I request of you.'

"`Depend upon it I will not,' replied he.

"`It is this, dearest, take me where you will, but let it be three
months before we return or come near London.  You must feel my reason
for making this request.'

"`I grant it with pleasure,' replied he, `for three months I am yours,
and yours only.  We will live for one another.'

"`Yes, and never let us mention any thing about future prospects, but
devote the three months to each other.'

"`I understand you,' replied the colonel, `and I promise you it shall be
so.  I will have no correspondence even--there shall be nothing to annoy
you or vex you in any way.'

"`For three months,' said I, extending my hand.

"`Agreed,' said he, `and to tell you the truth, it would have been my
own feeling, had it not been yours.  When you strike iron, you should do
it when it is hot, but when you have to handle it, you had better wait
till it is cool; you understand me, and now the subject is dropped.'

"My husband has adhered most religiously to his word up to the present
time, as you will see by the date of this letter.  We are now visiting
the lakes of Cumberland.  Never could a spot be better situated for the
furtherance of my wishes.  The calm repose and silent beauty of these
waters must be reflected upon the mind of any one of feeling, which the
colonel certainly does not want, and when you consider that I am
exerting all the art which poor woman has to please, I do hope and pray
to heaven that I may succeed in entwining myself round his heart before
his worldly views are destroyed by disappointment.  Pray for me, dear
Valerie--pray for one who loves you dearly, and who feels that the whole
happiness of her life is at stake.--Yours,--

"Adele."

"So far all goes well, my dear Adele," thought I, "but we have yet to
see the end.  I will pray for you with all my heart, for you deserve to
be happy, and none can be more fascinating than you, when you exert
yourself.  What is it in women that I do not feel which makes them so
mad after the other sex?  Instinct, certainly, for reason is against it.
Well, I have no objection to help others to commit the folly, provided
that I am not led into it myself."  Such were my reflections, as I
closed the letter from Adele.

A few days afterwards I received a note from Mr Selwyn, junior,
informing me that his father had been made a puisne judge.  What that
was I did not know, except that he was a judge on the bench, of some
kind.  He also stated his intention of calling upon me on the next day.

"Yes," thought I, "to receive the music from Caroline.  Of course, she
will return it to me when I give her a lesson to-day."

I was right in my supposition.  Caroline brought me a piece of music
with a note, saying, "Here is the music belonging to Miss Selwyn,
Valerie; will you take an opportunity of returning it to her?  Any time
will do; I presume she is in no hurry," and Caroline coloured up, when
her eyes met mine.

"To punish her," I replied, "Oh, no, there can be no hurry; I shall be
down at Kew in a fortnight or three weeks, I will take it with me then."

"But my note, thanking Mr Selwyn, will be of very long date," replied
Caroline, "and I want the other piece of music belonging to me which I
left at Kew."

"Well, Caroline, you cannot expect me to be carrying your messages and
going to the chambers of a handsome young Chancery-barrister.
By-the-bye, I had a note from him this morning, telling me that his
father is advanced to the bench.  What does that mean?"

"That his father is made a judge.  Is that all he said?" replied
Caroline, carelessly.

"Why, now I think of it, he said that he would call upon me to-morrow,
so I can give him this music when he calls."

At this intelligence Caroline's face brightened up, and she went away.
Mr Selwyn called the next day, and I delivered the music and the note.
He informed me that he had now all his father's private as well as
Chancery business, and wished to know whether he was to consider himself
my legal adviser.  I replied, "Certainly; but that he could not expect
the business of a teacher of music to be very profitable."

"No, nor do I intend that it shall be, but it will be a great pleasure,"
replied he, very gallantly.  "I hope you have some money to put by."

"Yes," replied I, "I have some, but not quite enough; by the end of the
year I hope to have 500 pounds."

"I am glad that you have told me, as a profitable investment may occur
before that time, and I will secure it for you."

He asked permission to read Caroline's note, and then said that he would
find the other piece of music, and leave it at Monsieur Gironac's in the
course of a day or two--after which he took his leave.  I received that
evening a letter from Lionel, which had a great effect upon me.  In it,
he stated that at the fencing-school he had made acquaintance with a
young officer, a Monsieur Auguste de Chatenoeuf,--that he had mentioned
to him that he knew a lady of his name in England; that the officer had
asked him what the age of the lady might be, and he had replied.

"Strange," said the officer; "I had a very dear sister, who was supposed
to be drowned, although the body was never found.  Can you tell me the
baptismal name of the lady you mention?"

"It then occurred to me," continued Lionel, "that I might be imprudent
if I answered, and I therefore said that I did not know, but I thought
you had been called by your friends, Annette."

"`Then it cannot be she,' replied he, `for my sister's name was Valerie.
But she may have changed her name--describe to me her face and figure.'

"As I at once felt certain that you were the party, and was aware, that
the early portion of your life was never referred to by you, I thought
it advisable to put him off the scent, until I had made this
communication.  I therefore replied, `That' (excuse me) `you were very
plain, with a pug nose, and very short and fat.'

"`Then it must be somebody else,' replied the officer.  `You made my
heart beat when you first spoke about her, for I loved my sister dearly,
and have never ceased to lament her loss.'

"He then talked a great deal of you, and gave me some history of your
former life.  I took the opportunity to ask whether your unnatural
mother was alive, and he said, `Yes, and that your father was also alive
and well.'

"I did not dare to ask more.  Have I done right or wrong, my dear
Mademoiselle Chatenoeuf?  If wrong, I can easily repair the error.  Your
brother, for such I presume he is, I admire very much.  He is very
different from the officers of the French army in general, quite
subdued, and very courteous, and there is a kind spirit in all he says,
which makes me like him more.  You have no idea of the feeling he
showed, when he talked about you--that is, if it is you--which I cannot
but feel almost certain that it is.  One observation of his, I think it
right to make known to you, which is, that he told me that since your
supposed death, your father had never held up his head; indeed, he said
that he had never seen him smile since."

The above extract from Lionel's letter created such a revulsion, that I
was obliged to retire to my chamber to conceal my agitated feelings from
Madame Gironac.  I wept bitterly for some time.  I thought of what my
poor father must have suffered, and the regrets of poor Auguste at my
supposed death; and I doubted whether I was justified in the act I had
committed, by the treatment I had received from my mother.  If she had
caused me so much pain, was I right in having given so much to others
who loved me?  My poor father, he had never smiled since!  Should I
permit him to wear out his days in sorrowing for my loss--oh, no!  I no
longer felt any animosity against others who had ill-treated me.
Surely, I could forgive even my mother, if not for love of her, at all
events for love of my father and my brother.  Yes, I would do so, I was
now independent of my mother and all the family.  I had nothing to fear
from her; I could assist my family, if they required it.

Such were my first feelings--but then came doubts and fears.  Could not
my mother claim me? insist upon my living with her? prevent my earning
my livelihood? or if I did employ myself, could she not take from me all
my earnings?  Yes, by the law of France, I thought she could.  Then
again, would she forgive me the three years of remorse? the three years
during which she had been under the stigma of having, by her barbarity,
caused her child to commit self-destruction? the three years of reproach
which she must have experienced from my father's clouded brow?  Would
she ever forgive me for having obtained my independence by the very
talents which she would not allow me to cultivate?  No, never, unless
her heart was changed.

After many hours of reflection, I resolved that I would make known my
existence to Auguste, and permit him to acquaint my father, under a
promise of secrecy, but that I would not trust myself in France, or
allow my mother to be aware of my existence, until I could ascertain
what her power might be over me.  But before I decided upon any thing, I
made up my mind that I would make a confidant, and obtain the opinion of
Judge Selwyn.  By the evening's post I wrote a note to him, requesting
that he would let me know when I might have an interview.

An answer arrived the next day, stating, that Judge Selwyn would call
and take me down with him to Kew, where I should sleep, and return to
town with him on the following morning.  This suited me very well, and,
as soon as the carriage was off the stones, I said that I was now about
to confide to him that portion of my life with which he was
unacquainted, and ask his advice how I ought to proceed, in consequence
of some intelligence lately communicated by Lionel.  I then went into
the whole detail, until I arrived at my being taken away from the
barracks by Madame d'Albret; the remainder of my life he knew sufficient
of, and I then gave him Lionel's letter to read, and when he had done
so, I stated to him what my wishes and what my fears were, and begged
him to decide for me what was best to be done.

"This is an eventful history, Valerie," said the old gentleman.  "I
agree with you on the propriety of making your existence known to your
brother, and also to your father, who has been sufficiently punished for
his cowardice.  Whether your father will be able to contain his secret,
I doubt very much; and from what you have told me of your mother, I
should certainly not trust myself in France.  I am not very well
informed of the laws of the country, but it is my impression that
children are there under the control of their parents until they are
married.  Go to France I therefore would not, unless it were as a
married woman: then you will be safe.  When does Lionel come over?"

"He will come at any time if I say I wish it."

"Then let him come over, and invite your brother to come with him, then
you can arrange with him.  I really wish you were married, Valerie, and
I wish also that my son was married; I should like to be a grandfather
before I die."

"With respect to my marrying, sir, I see little chance of that; I
dislike the idea, and, in fact, it would be better to be with my mother
at once, for I prefer an old tyranny to a new one."

"It does not follow, my dear Valerie; depend upon it there are many
happy marriages.  Am I a tyrant in my own house?  Does my wife appear to
be a slave?"

"There are many happy exceptions, my dear sir," replied I.  "With
respect to your son's marrying, I think you need not despair of that;
for it is my opinion that he very soon will be--but this is a secret,
and I must say no more."

"Indeed," replied the judge, "I know of no one, and he would hardly
marry without consulting me."

"Yes, sir, I think that he will, and I shall advise him so to do--as it
is necessary that nothing should be known till it is over.  Trust to me,
sir, that if it does take place, you will be quite satisfied with the
choice which he makes; but I must have your pledge not to say one word
about it.  You might spoil all."

The old judge fell back in his carriage in a reverie, which lasted some
little while, and then said, "Valerie, I believe that I understand you
now.  If it is as I guess, I certainly agree with you that I will ask no
more questions, as I should for many reasons not wish it to appear that
I know any thing about it."

Soon afterwards we arrived at Kew, and, after a pleasant visit, on the
following morning early, I returned to town with the judge.  I then
wrote to Lionel, making known to him as much as was necessary, under
pledge of secrecy, and stating my wish that he should follow up my
brother's acquaintance, and the next time that he came over, persuade
him to accompany him, but that he was not to say any thing to him
relative to my being his sister, on any account whatever.

Young Selwyn called the same day that I came from Kew, with the piece of
music which was missing.  I made no remarks upon the fact, that the
music might have been delivered to me by his sister, because I felt
assured that it contained a note more musical than any in the score; I
gave it to Caroline, and a few days afterwards, observing that she was
pale and restless, I obtained permission for her to go out with me for
the day.  Mr Selwyn happened to call a few minutes after our arrival at
Madame Gironac's, and that frequently occurred for nearly two months,
when the time arrived that she was to be removed from the school.

The reader will, of course, perceive that I was assisting this affair as
much as I could.  I admit it; and I did so out of gratitude to Mr
Selwyn's father, for his kindness to me.  I knew Caroline to be a good
girl, and well suited to Mr Selwyn; I knew that she must eventually
have a very large fortune; and, provided that her father and mother
would not be reconciled to their daughter after the marriage, that Mr
Selwyn had the means, by his practice, of supporting her comfortably
without their assistance.  I considered that I did a kindness to
Caroline and to Mr Selwyn, and therefore did not hesitate; besides, I
had other ideas on the subject, which eventually turned out as I
expected, and proved that I was right.

On the last day of September, Caroline slipped out, and followed me to
Madame Gironac's; Mr Selwyn was ready with the licence.  We walked to
church, the ceremony was performed, and Mr Selwyn took his bride down
to his father's house at Kew.  The old judge was somewhat prepared for
the event, and received her very graciously.  Mrs Selwyn and his
sisters were partial to Caroline, and followed the example of the judge.
Nothing could pass off more quietly or more pleasantly.  For reasons
which I did not explain, I requested Mr Selwyn, for the present, not to
make known his marriage to Caroline's parents, as I considered it would
be attended with great and certain advantage; and he promised me that he
would not only be silent upon the subject, but that all his family
should be equally so.

If Mrs Bradshaw required two bottles of eau-de-Cologne and water to
support her when she heard of the elopement of Adele Chabot, I leave the
reader to imagine how many she required, when an heiress entrusted to
her charge had been guilty of a similar act.

As Caroline had not left with me, I was not implicated, and the affair
was most inscrutable.  She had never been seen walking, or known to
correspond with any young man.  I suggested to Mrs Bradshaw that it was
the fear of her father removing her from her protection which had
induced her to run away, and that most probably she had gone to her aunt
Bathurst's.  Upon this hint, she wrote to Mr Stanhope, acquainting him
with his daughter's disappearance, and giving it as her opinion that she
had gone to her aunt's, being very unwilling to return home.  Mr
Stanhope was furious; he immediately drove to Madame Bathurst's, whom he
had not seen for a long time, and demanded his daughter.  Madame
Bathurst declared that she knew nothing about her.  Mr Stanhope
expressed his disbelief, and they parted in high words.

A few days afterwards, the Colonel and Adele came to town, the three
months acceded to her wishes having expired; and now I must relate what
I did not know till some days afterwards, when I saw Adele, and who had
the narrative from her husband.

It appeared, that as soon as the Colonel arrived in London, still
persuaded that he had married Caroline Stanhope, and not Adele Chabot,
without stating his intention to her, he went to Grosvenor Square, and
requested to see Mr Stanhope.  This was about a fortnight after
Caroline's elopement with Mr Selwyn.  He was admitted, and found Mr
and Mrs Stanhope in the drawing-room.  He had sent up his card, and Mr
Stanhope received him with great hauteur.

"What may your pleasure be with me, sir?"  (looking at the card).
"Colonel Jervis, I think you call yourself?"

Now, Colonel Jervis was a man well known about town, and, in his own
opinion, not to know him argued yourself unknown; he was, therefore, not
a little angry at this reception, and being a really well-bred man, was
also much startled with the vulgarity of both parties.

"My name, Mr Stanhope, as you are pleased to observe," said the
Colonel, with hauteur, "is Jervis, and my business with you is relative
to your daughter."

"My daughter, sir?"

"Our daughter!  Why, you don't mean to tell us that _you_ have run away
with our daughter?" screamed Mrs Stanhope.

"Yes, madam, such is the fact; she is now my wife, and I trust that she
is not married beneath herself."

"A Colonel!--a paltry Colonel!--a match for my daughter!  Why, with her
fortune she might have married a Duke," screamed Mrs Stanhope.  "I'll
never speak to the wretch again.  A Colonel, indeed!  I suppose a
Militia-Colonel.  I daresay you are only a Captain, after all.  Well,
take her to barracks, and to barracks yourself.  You may leave the
house.  Not a penny--no, not a penny do you get.  Does he, Stanhope?"

"Not one half a farthing," replied Mr Stanhope, pompously.  "Go, sir;
Mrs Stanhope's sentiments are mine."

The Colonel, who was in a towering passion at the treatment he received,
now started up, and said, "Sir and Madam, you appear to me not to
understand the usages of good society, and I positively declare, that
had I been aware of the insufferable vulgarity of her parents, nothing
would have induced me to marry the daughter.  I tell you this, because I
care nothing for you.  You are on the stilts at present, but I shall
soon bring you to your senses; for know, Sir and Madam, although I did
elope with and married your daughter, the marriage is not legal, as she
was married under a false name, and that was her own act--not mine.  You
may, therefore, prepare to receive your daughter back, when I think fit
to send her--disgraced and dishonoured; and then try if you can match
her with a Duke.  I leave you to digest this piece of information, and
now wish you good-morning.  You have my address, when you feel inclined
to apologise, and do me the justice which I shall expect before a legal
marriage takes place."

So saying, the Colonel left the house; and it would be difficult to say
which of the three parties was in the greatest rage.

The Colonel, who had become sincerely attached to Adele, who had well
profited by the time which she had gained, returned home in no very
pleasant humour.  Throwing himself down on the sofa, he said to her in a
moody way, "I'll be candid with you, my dear; if I had seen your father
and mother before I married you, nothing would have persuaded me to have
made you my wife.  When a man marries, I consider connexion and fortune
to be the two greatest points to be obtained, but such animals as your
father and mother I never beheld.  Good Heaven! that I should be allied
to such people!"

"May I ask you, dearest, to whom you refer, and what is the meaning of
all this?  My father and mother!  Why, Colonel, my father was killed at
the attack of Montmartre, and my mother died before him."

"Then who and what are you," cried the Colonel, jumping up; "are you not
Caroline Stanhope?"

"I thank Heaven I am not.  I have always told you that I was Adele
Chabot, and no other person.  You must admit that.  My father and mother
were no vulgar people, dearest husband, and my family is as good as most
in France.  Come over with me to Paris, and you will then see who my
relatives and connexions are.  I am poor, I grant, but recollect that
the revolution exiled many wealthy families, and mine among the rest,
although we were permitted eventually to return to France.  What can
have induced you to fall into this error, and still persist
(notwithstanding my assertions to the contrary), that I am the daughter
of those vulgar upstarts, who are proverbial for their want of manners,
and who are not admitted into hardly any society, rich as they are
supposed to be?"

The Colonel looked all amazement.

"I'm sorry you are disappointed, dearest," continued Adele, "if you are
so.  I am sorry that I'm not Caroline Stanhope with a large fortune, but
if I do not bring you a fortune, by economy I will save you one.  Let me
only see that you are not deprived of your usual pleasures and luxuries,
and I care not what I do or how I live.  You will find no exacting wife
in me, dearest, troubling you for expenses you cannot afford.  I will
live but to please you, and if I do not succeed, I will die--if you wish
to be rid of me."

Adele resumed her caresses with the tears running down her cheeks, for
she loved her husband dearly, and felt what she said.

The Colonel could not resist her: he put his arms round her and said,
"Do not cry, Adele, I believe you, and, moreover, I feel that I love
you.  I am thankful that I have not married Caroline Stanhope, for I
presume she cannot be very different from her parents.  I admit that I
have been deceiving myself, and that I have deceived myself into a
better little wife than I deserve, perhaps.  I really am glad of my
escape.  I would not have been connected with those people for the
universe.  We will do as you say: we will go to France for a short time,
and you shall introduce me to your relations."

Before the next morning, Adele had gained the victory.  The Colonel felt
that he had deceived himself, that he might be laughed at, and that the
best that could be done was to go to Paris and announce from thence his
marriage in the papers.  He had a sufficiency to live upon, to command
luxury as well as comforts, and on the whole he was now satisfied, that
a handsome and strongly-attached wife, who brought him no fortune, was
preferable to a marriage of mere interest.  I may as well here observe,
that Adele played her cards so well, that the Colonel was a happy and
contented man.  She kept her promise, and he found with her management
that he had more money than a married man required, and he blessed the
day in which he had married by mistake.  And now to return to the
Stanhopes.

Although they were too angry at the time to pay much heed to the
Colonel's parting threats, yet when they had cooled, and had time for
reflection, Mr and Mrs Stanhope were much distressed at the
intelligence that their daughter was not legally married.  For some
days, they remained quiet, at last they thought it advisable to come to
terms to save their daughter's honour.  But during this delay on their
part, Adele had called upon me, and introduced her husband and made me
acquainted with all that had passed.  They stated their intention of
proceeding to Paris immediately, and although I knew that Adele's
relations were of good family, yet I thought an introduction to Madame
d'Albret would be of service to her.  I therefore gave her one, and it
proved most serviceable, for the Colonel found himself in the first
society in Paris, and his wife was well received and much admired.
When, therefore, Mr Stanhope made up his mind to call upon the Colonel
at the address of the hotel where they had put up, he found they had
left, and nobody knew where they had gone.  This was a severe blow, and
Mr and Mrs Stanhope were in a state of the utmost uncertainty and
suspense.  Now was the time for Mr Selwyn to come forward, and I
despatched a note to him, requesting him to come to town.  I put him in
possession of Adele's history, her marriage with the Colonel, and all
the particulars with which the reader is acquainted, and I pointed out
to him how he should act when he called upon Mr Stanhope, which I
advised him to do immediately.  He followed my advice, and thus
described what passed on his return.

"I sent up my card to Mr and Mrs Stanhope, and was received almost as
politely as the Colonel.  I made no remark, but taking a chair, which
was not offered to me, I said, `You have my card, Mr Stanhope, I must,
in addition to my name, inform you that I am a barrister, and that my
father is Judge Selwyn, who now sits on the King's Bench.  You probably
have met him in the circles in which you visit, although you are not
acquainted with him.  Your sister, Madame Bathurst, we have the pleasure
of knowing.'

"This introduction made them look more civil, for a Judge was with them
somebody.

"`My object in coming here is to speak to you relative to your
daughter.'

"`Do you come from the Colonel, then?' said Mrs Stanhope, sharply.

"`No, madam.  I have no acquaintance with the Colonel.'

"`Then how do you know my daughter, sir?'

"`I had the pleasure of meeting her at my father's.  She stayed a short
time with my family at our country seat at Kew.'

"`Indeed!' exclaimed Mrs Stanhope, `well I had no idea of that.  I'm
sure the Judge was very kind; but, sir, you know that my daughter has
married very unfortunately.'

"`That she has married, madam, I am aware, but I trust not
unfortunately.'

"`Why, sir, she has married a colonel,--a fellow who came here and told
us it was no marriage at all!'

"`It is to rectify that mistake, madam, which has induced me to call.
The Colonel, madam, did hear that your daughter was at Mrs Bradshaw's
establishment, and wished to carry her off, supposing that she was a
very rich prize, but, madam, he made a slight mistake--instead of your
daughter, he has run away and married the French teacher, who has not a
sixpence.  He has now found out his mistake, and is off to Paris to hide
himself from the laughter of the town.'

"This intelligence was the cause of much mirth and glee to Mr and Mrs
Stanhope; the latter actually cried with delight, and I took care to
join heartily in the merriment.  As soon as it had subsided, Mrs
Stanhope said--

"`But Mr Selwyn, you said that my daughter was married.  How is that?'

"`Why, madam, the fact is, that your daughter's affections were engaged
at the time of this elopement of the Colonel's, and it was her intention
to make known to you that such was the case, presuming that you would
not refuse to sanction her marriage; but, when the elopement took place,
and it was even reported that she had run away, her position became very
awkward, and the more so, as some people declared (as the Colonel
asserted), that she was not legally married.  On consulting with the
gentleman of her choice, it was argued thus: If Miss Stanhope goes back
to her father's house after this report that she is not legally married,
it will be supposed that the Colonel, finding that he was disappointed
in his views, had returned her dishonoured upon her parents' hands, and
no subsequent marriage would remove the impression.  It was therefore
considered advisable, both on her parents' account and on her own, that
she also should elope, and then it would be easily explained that it was
somebody else who had eloped with the Colonel, and that Miss Stanhope
had married in a secret way.  Miss Stanhope, therefore, was properly
married in church before respectable witnesses, and conducted
immediately afterwards by her husband to his father's house, who
approved of what was done, as now no reflection can be made, either upon
Miss Stanhope or her respectable parents.'

"`Well, let us all know the person to whom she is married.'

"`To myself, madam, and your daughter is now at Judge Selwyn's, where
she has been ever since her marriage, with my mother and sisters.  My
father would have accompanied me, to explain all this, but the fact is,
that his lordship is now so much occupied that he could not.  He will,
however, be happy to see Mr Stanhope, who is an idle man, either at his
town house, or at his country seat.  I trust, madam, as I have the
honour to be your son-in-law, you will permit me to kiss your hand?'

"`Caroline may have done worse, my dear,' said the lady to her husband,
who was still wavering.  `Mr Selwyn may be a judge himself, or he may
be a Lord Chancellor, recollect that.  Mr Selwyn you are welcome, and I
shall be most happy to see his lordship, and my husband shall call upon
him when we know when he will be at leisure.  Oh! that Colonel, but he's
rightly served, a French teacher.  Ha, ha, ha!' and Mrs Stanhope's
mirth was communicated to her husband, who now held out his hand to me
in a most patronising manner.

"`Well, sir, I give you joy.  I believe you have saved my daughter's
character, and my dear,' added he, very pompously, `we must do something
for the young people.'

"`I trust, sir, I bear your forgiveness to Caroline.'

"`Yes, you do, Mr Selwyn,' said the lady.  `Bring her here as soon as
you please.  Oh that Colonel! ha, ha, ha! and it is capital.  A French
teacher.  Ha, ha, ha.'"

Such was the winding up of this second marriage.  Had not Mr and Mrs
Stanhope been much subdued by the intelligence received from the Colonel
of the marriage being illegal, and had they not also been much gratified
at the mistake of the Colonel, things might not have gone off so
pleasantly.  I have only to add, that Mr Stanhope, who appeared to obey
his wife in every thing, called upon the Judge, and their interview was
very amicable.  Mr Stanhope, upon the Judge stating that his son had
sufficient income, immediately became profuse, and settled 2000 pounds
per annum upon his daughter, during his life, with a promise of much
more eventually.  Caroline was graciously received by her mother, and
presented with some splendid diamonds.  The Judge told me that he knew
the part I had taken in the affair, and shook his finger at me.

Thus ended this affair, and Madame Gironac, when she heard how busy I
had been in the two elopements, said, "Ah, Valerie, you begin by
marrying other people.  You will end in finding a husband for yourself."

"That is quite another thing, madam," I replied.  "I have no objection
in assisting other people to their wishes, but it does not follow that
therefore I am to seek for myself what I do not wish."

"Valerie, I am a prophetess.  You will be married some time next year.
Mark my words."

"I will not forget them, and at the end of the year we shall see who is
right, and who is wrong."

After all this bustle and turmoil, there was a calm, which lasted the
whole winter.  I followed up my usual avocations.  I had as many pupils
as I could attend to, and saved money fast.  The winter passed away, and
in the spring I expected Lionel with my brother Auguste.  I looked
forward to seeing my brother with great impatience; not a day that he
was out of my thoughts.  I was most anxious to hear of my father, my
brothers, and sisters, and every particular connected with the family;
even my mother was an object of interest, although not of regard, but I
had forgiven all others who had ill-treated me, and I felt that I
forgave and forgot, if she would behave as a mother towards me.  I had
received kind letters from Madame d'Albret and Adele; the letters of the
latter were most amusing.  Madame Bathurst had called upon me several
times.  I was at peace with all the world and with myself.  At last, I
received a letter from Lionel, stating that he was coming over in a few
days; that he had great difficulty in persuading my brother to come with
him, as he could not afford the expense out of his own means, and did
not like to lie under such an obligation.  At last, he had been
over-ruled, and was coming with him.

"Then I shall see you again, dear Auguste!" thought I; "you who always
loved me, always protected me and took my part, and who so lamented my
supposed death;" and my thoughts turned to the time when he and I were
with my grandmother in the palace, and our early days were passed over
in review.  "My poor grandmother, how I loved you! and how you deserved
to be loved!"  And then I calculated what I might have been, had I been
left with my grandmother, and had inherited her small property; and, on
reflection, I decided that I was better off now than I probably should
have been, and that all was for the best.  I thought of the future, and
whether it was likely I ever should marry, and I decided that I never
would, but that if I ever returned to my family, I would assist my
sisters, and try to make them happy.

"Yes," thought I, "marry I never will--that is _decided_--nothing shall
ever induce me."

My reverie was interrupted by the entrance of a stranger, who,
apologising to me, stated that he had come to seek Monsieur Gironac.

I replied that he was not at home, and probably it would be half an hour
before he returned to dinner.

"With your leave, mademoiselle," said he, gracefully bowing, "I will
wait till he returns.  I will not, however, trespass upon your time, if
it is disagreeable; perhaps the servant will accommodate me with a chair
elsewhere?"

I requested that he would be seated, as there was no fire in any other
room, and he took a chair.  He was a Frenchman, speaking good English,
but he soon discovered that I was his countrywoman, and the conversation
was carried on in French.  He informed me that he was the Comte de
Chavannes.  But I must describe him.  He was rather small in stature,
but elegantly made; his features were, if anything, effeminate, but very
handsome; they would have been handsome in a woman.  The effeminacy,
was, however, relieved by a pair of moustaches, soft, silky, and
curling.  His manners were peculiarly fascinating, and his conversation
lively and full of point.  I was much pleased with him during the half
hour that we were together, during which we had kept up the conversation
with much spirit.  The arrival of Monsieur Gironac put an end to our
_tete-a-tete_, and having arranged his business with him, which was
relative to some flute-music which the Comte wished to be published,
after a few minutes more conversation, he took his leave.

"Now there's a man that I would select for your husband, Valerie," said
Monsieur Gironac, after the Comte had left.  "Is he not a very agreeable
fellow?"

"Yes he is," I replied, "he is very entertaining and very well-bred.
Who is he?"

"His history is told in few words," replied Monsieur Gironac.  "His
father emigrated with the Bourbons; but, unlike most of those who
emigrated, he neither turned music-teacher, dancing-master,
hair-dresser, nor teacher of the French language.  He had a little
money, and he embarked in commerce.  He went as super-cargo, and then as
travelling partner in a house to America, the Havannah, and the West
Indies; and, after having crossed the Atlantic about twenty times in the
course of the late war, he amassed a fortune of about 40,000 pounds.  At
the restoration, he went to Paris, resumed his title, which he had laid
aside during his commercial course, was well received by Louis XVIII,
and made a Colonel of the Legion of Honour.  He returned to this country
to settle his affairs, previous to going down to Brittany, and died
suddenly, leaving the young man you have just seen, who is his only son
and heir, alone on the wide world, and with a good fortune as soon as he
came of age.  At the time of his father's death, he was still at school.
Now he is twenty-four years old, and has been for three years in
possession of the property, which is still in the English funds.  He
appears to like England better than France, for most of his time is
passed in London.  He is very talented, very musical, composes well, and
is altogether a most agreeable young man, and fit for the husband of
Mademoiselle Valerie de Chatenoeuf.  Now you have the whole history, the
marriage is yet to take place."

"Your last observation is correct; or rather it is not, for the marriage
will never take place."

"Mais, que voulez-vous Mademoiselle?" cried Monsieur Gironac, "must we
send for the angel Gabriel for you?"

"No," replied I, "he is not a marrying man any more than I am a marrying
woman.  Is it not sufficient that I admit your Count to be very
agreeable?--that won't content you.  You want me to marry a man whom I
have seen for one half hour.  Are you reasonable, Monsieur Gironac?"

"He has rank, wealth, good looks, talent, and polished manners; and you
admit that you do not dislike him; what would you have more?"

"He is not in love with me, and I am not in love with him."

"Mademoiselle Valerie de Chatenoeuf, you are _une enfant_.  I will no
longer trouble myself with looking out for a husband for you.  You shall
die a sour old maid," and Monsieur Gironac left the room, pretending to
be in a passion.

A few days after the meeting with Count de Chavannes, Lionel made his
appearance.  My heart beat quick as I welcomed him.

"He is here," said he, anticipating my question, "but I called just to
know when we should come, and whether I was to say any thing to him
before he came."

"No, no, tell him nothing--bring him here directly--how long will it be
before you return?"

"Not half an hour; I am at my old lodgings in Suffolk Street, so
good-bye for the present," and Lionel walked away again.

Monsieur and Madame Gironac were both out, and would not return for an
hour or two.  I thought the half hour would never pass, but it did at
last, and they knocked at the door.  Lionel entered, followed by my
brother Auguste.  I was surprised at his having grown so tall and
handsome.

"Madame Gironac is not at home, mademoiselle," said Lionel.

"No, Monsieur Lionel."

"Allow me to present to you Monsieur Auguste de Chatenoeuf, a lieutenant
in the service of his Majesty the King of the French."

Auguste bowed, and, as I returned the salute, looked earnestly at me and
started.

"Excuse me, mademoiselle," said he, coming up to me, and speaking in a
tremulous voice, "but--yes, you must be Valerie."

"Yes, dear Auguste," cried I, opening my arms.

He rushed to me and covered me with kisses, and then staggering to a
chair, sat down and wept.  So did I, and so did Lionel, for sympathy and
company.

"Why did you conceal this from me, Lionel?" said he after a time; "see
how you have unmanned me."

"I only obeyed orders, Auguste," replied Lionel; "but, now that I have
executed my commission, I will leave you together, for you must have
much to say to each other.  I will join you at dinner-time."

Lionel went out and left us together; we renewed our embraces, and after
we were more composed, entered into explanations.  I told him my history
in as few words as possible, promising to enter into details afterwards,
and then I inquired about the family.  Auguste replied, "I will begin
from the time of your disappearance.  No one certainly had any suspicion
of Madame d'Albret having spirited you away; indeed, she was, as you
know, constantly at the barracks till my father left, and expressed her
conviction that you had destroyed yourself.  The outcry against your
mother was universal; she dared not show herself, and your father was in
a state to excite compassion.  Four or five times a day did he take his
melancholy walk down to the Morgue to ascertain if your body was found.
He became so melancholy, morose, and irritable, that people were afraid
lest he would destroy himself.  He never went home to your mother but
there was a scene of reproaches on his part, and defence on hers, that
was a scandal to the barracks.  All her power over him ceased from that
time, and has ceased for ever since, and perhaps you know that he has
retired."

"How should I know, Auguste?"

"Yes; he could not bear to look the other officers in the face; he told
me that he considered himself, from his weakness and folly, to have been
the murderer of his child, that he felt himself despicable, and could
not longer remain with the regiment.  As soon as the regiment arrived at
Lyons, he sent in his retirement, and has ever since been living at Pau,
in the south of France, upon his half-pay and the other property which
he possesses."

"My poor father!" exclaimed I, bursting into tears.

"As for me, you know that I obtained leave to quit the regiment, and
have ever since been in the 51st of the line.  I have obtained my grade
of lieutenant.  I have seen my father but once since I parted with him
at Paris.  He is much altered, and his hair is grey."

"Is he comfortable where he is, Auguste?"

"Yes, Valerie; I think that he did wisely, for it was ruinous travelling
about with so many children.  He is comfortable, and, I believe, as
happy as he can be.  Oh, if he did but know that you were alive, it
would add ten years to his life."

"He shall know it, my dear Auguste," exclaimed I, as the tears coursed
down my cheeks.  "I feel now that I was very selfish in consenting to
Madame d'Albret's proposal, but I was hardly in my senses at the time."

"I cannot wonder at your taking the step, nor can I blame you.  Your
life was one of torture, and it was torture to others to see what you
underwent."

"I pity my father, for weak as he was, the punishment has been too
severe."

"But you will make him happy now, and he will rejoice in his old days."

"And now, Auguste, tell me about Nicolas--he never liked me, but I
forgive him--how is he?"

"He is, I believe, well; but he has left his home."

"Left home!"

"You know how kind your mother was to him--I may say, how she doted upon
him.  Well, one day he announced his intention of going to Italy, with a
friend he had picked up, who belonged to Naples.  His mother was frantic
at the idea, but he actually laughed at her, and behaved in a very
unfeeling manner.  Your mother was cut to the heart, and has never got
over it; but, Valerie, the children who are spoiled by indulgence,
always turn out the most ungrateful."

"Have you heard of him since?"

"Yes; he wrote to me, telling me that he was leading an orchestra in
some small town, and advancing rapidly--you know his talent for music--
but not one line has he ever written to his mother."

"Ah, me!" sighed I, "and that is all the return she has for her
indulgence to him.  Now tell me about Clara."

"She is well married, and lives at Tours: her husband is an _employe_,
but I don't exactly know what."

"And Sophie and Elisee?"

"Are both well, and promise to grow up fine girls, but not so handsome
as you are, Valerie.  It was the wonderful improvement in your person
that made me doubt for a moment when I first saw you."

"And dear little Pierre, that I used to pinch that I might get out of
the house, poor fellow?"

"Is a fine boy, and makes his father very melancholy, and his mother
very angry, by talking about you."

"And now, Auguste, one more question.  On what terms are my father and
mother, and how does she conduct herself?"

"My father treats her with ceremony and politeness, but not with
affection.  She has tried every means to resume her empire over him, but
finds it impossible, and she has now turned _devote_.  They sleep in
separate rooms, and he is very harsh and severe to her at times, when
the fit comes on him.  Indeed, Valerie, if you sought revenge, which I
know you do not do, you have had sufficient, for her brow is wrinkled
with care and mortification."

"But do you think she is sorry for what she has done?"

"I regret to say I do not.  I think she is sorry for the consequences,
but that her animosity against you would be greater than ever if she
knew that you were alive, and if you were again in her power she would
wreak double vengeance.  Many things have occurred to confirm me in this
belief.  You have overthrown her power, which she never will forgive;
and, as for her religion, I have no faith in that."

"It is then as I feared, Auguste; and if I make known my existence to my
father, it must be concealed from my mother."

"I agree with you that it will be best; for there is no saying to what
point the vengeance of an unnatural mother may be carried.  But let us
quit this subject, for the present at least, and now tell me more about
yourself."

"I will--but there is Lionel's knock: so I must defer it till another
opportunity.  Dear Auguste, give me one more kiss, while we are alone."



CHAPTER TWELVE.

In a few minutes after Lionel's return, which he had considerably
postponed, until Monsieur Gironac's dinner hour had all but arrived, my
good host first, and then kind, merry little madame, made their
appearance, and a little while was consumed in introductions,
exclamations, admirations, and congratulations, all tinctured not a
little by that national vivacity, which other folks are in the habit of
calling extravagance, and which, as my readers well know already, the
good Gironacs had by no means got rid of, even in the course of a long
_sejour_ in the matter-of-fact metropolis of England.

Fortunately, my friends were for the most part, _au fait_ to the leading
circumstances of my life, so that little explanation was needed.

And more fortunately yet, like tide and time, dinner waits for no man;
nor have I ever observed, in all my adventurous life, that the sympathy
of the most sentimental, the grief of the most woe-begone, or the joy of
the happiest, ever induces them to neglect the summons of the
dinner-bell, and the calls of the responsive appetite.

In the midst of the delight of madame, at having at last to receive the
brother of _cette chere Valerie_, and that brother, too, _si bel homme
et brave officier, et d'une ressemblance si parfaite a la charmante
soeur_, dinner was luckily announced; and the torrent-tide of madame's
hospitality was cut short, by her husband's declaration that we were
all, like himself, dying of hunger; and that not a word more must be
spoken, touching sympathies or sentiments, until we had partaken of
something nutritious _de quoi soutenir l'epuisement des emotions si
dechirantes_.

Madame laughed, declared that he was _un barbare, un malheureux sans
grandeur de l'ame_, and taking possession of Auguste, led him away into
the dining-room: where, though she told me afterwards that she was _au
comble de desespoir_ at having to sit us down to so everyday a meal, we
found an excellent dinner, and spent a very pleasant hour, until coffee
was served; when, with it, not a little to my surprise, nor very much to
my delight, Monsieur de Chavannes made his appearance.

There was a quizzical look on Monsieur Gironac's face, and a roguish
twinkle in his eye, which led me to believe that what was really a
matter of surprise to me, was none to my worthy host; for the Count de
Chavannes had never visited the house before, in the evening; nor, from
what I had understood, was he on terms of particular intimacy with the
Gironacs.

I was foolish enough to be, at first, a little put out at this; and,
having manifested some slight embarrassment on his first entrance, which
I learned afterwards, did not escape his eye, though he was far too
well-bred to show it, I made the matter worse by calling my pride to my
aid, incited thereto by Madame Gironac's glance and smile at my blushing
confusion, and certainly in no respect contributed to the gaiety of the
evening.  Nothing, however, I must admit, could have been more
gentlemanly or in better taste, than the whole demeanour of Monsieur de
Chavannes, and I could not help feeling this, and comparing it mentally
with the inferior bearing of others I had seen, even in the midst of my
fit of _hauteur_ and frigidity.

He neither immediately withdrew himself on learning that my brother,
whom I had not seen for many years, had but just arrived as any
half-bred person would have done under the like circumstances, with an
awkward apology for his presence, tending only to make every one else
more awkward yet; nor made set speeches, nor foolish compliments, on a
subject too important for such trifling.

He did not trouble me with any attentions, which he perceived would be
at that moment distasteful, but exhibited the most marked desire to
cultivate the acquaintance of Auguste, to whom he showed a degree of
deference, though himself somewhat the senior, as to a military man,
that flattered his _esprit de corps_, mingled with a sort of frank
cordiality, which except from countryman to countryman in a foreign
land, would perhaps have been a little overdone: but, under the actual
circumstances, it could not have been improved.

For the short time he remained, he conversed well, and wittily; yet with
a strain of fancy and feeling, blended with his wit, which rendered it
singularly original and attractive; and perfectly succeeded, though I
know not whether he intended it or not, in directing the attention of
the company from my altered and somewhat unamiable mood.

Among other things I remember, that in the course of conversation, while
tendering some civilities to Auguste, the use of his riding horses, his
cabriolet, or his services in showing him some of the lions of London,
he observed that Monsieur de Chatenoeuf must not consider such an offer
impertinent on his part, since he believed, if our genealogy were
properly traced, some sort of cousinship could be established; as more
than one of the De Chavannes had intermarried in old times with the
Chatenoeufs of Gascony, when both the families, like their native
provinces, had been acting in alliance with the English Plantagenets,
against the French kings of the house of Valois.

A few words were said, in connexion with this, touching the singularity
of the fact, that it would seem as if England had something to do with
the associations of the two families; but I do not think the remark was
made by De Chavannes, and whatever it was, it was not sufficiently
pointed to be in any way offensive or annoying.

On the whole, hurt as I was in some sort by the idea which had taken
hold of me, that the Gironacs, through a false and indelicate idea of
advancing my welfare, were endeavouring to promote a liking between
myself and the Count, I cannot deny, that the evening on the whole, was
a pleasant one, and that, if at first it had been my impression that De
Chavannes was agreeable, entertaining, and well-bred, I was now prepared
to admit he had excellent taste, and delicate feelings into the bargain.

Still I felt that I did not like him, or perhaps I should rather say his
attentions--though in fact he had paid me none--and was rather relieved
when he made his bow and retired.

Shortly afterwards, Auguste observed that I seemed dull and tired, and
Madame Gironac followed suit by saying that it was no wonder if the
excitement and interest created by the unexpected arrival of so dear a
brother had proved too much for my nerves.

Thereupon, after promising to return early in the morning, so that we
might have a long talk about the past, and a long consultation about the
future, Lionel and Auguste bade us good-night also; but not before
Lionel had said to me as he was taking leave, "I think, Mademoiselle,
that it will be no more than proper, that I should drive down to Kew,
to-morrow morning, and wait upon Judge Selwyn, who has always been so
kind to me--have you any message for him?"

"Oh! yes.  I beg you will tell him that Auguste has come, and that I
request he will let me know when we may wait on him?--"

"And the answer will be, Mademoiselle, his waiting upon you.  Is that
what you desire?--"

"I only desire what I state--to know when and how we may see him, for I
know very little of Auguste's heart, if he does not wish to return
thanks to one who, except our dear friends here, has been poor Valerie's
surest confidant and protector.  But you will find the Judge's family
increased since you saw him.  His son has persuaded my pretty little
friend, Caroline Stanhope, to become his wife, and she is living with
the Judge's family at present."

Lionel expressed his surprise and pleasure at the news, but I thought at
the moment that the pleasure was not real, though I have since had
reason to believe that the gravity which came over his face as he spoke,
was the gravity of thought, rather than that, as I fancied at the time,
of disappointment.

Nothing more passed worthy of record, and, after shaking hands with
Lionel, and kissing my long-lost brother, I was left alone with the
Gironacs, half expectant of a playful scolding.

"Well, Mademoiselle Valerie de Chatenoeuf," began Monsieur, as soon as
the gentlemen had left us, "is it because you have found out that you
have got a handsome brother, that you are determined to drive all other
handsome young men _au desespoir_?--or is it that you wish to break the
heart especially of this _pauvre Monsieur de Chavannes_, that you have
treated us all with an air _si hautaine, si hautaine_, that if you had
been the Queen of France, it could not have been colder?"

"I told you once before, Monsieur Gironac," I replied, "that your Count
de Chavannes does not care a straw how I treat him, or with what air.
And if he did, I do not.--He is simply a civil, agreeable gentleman, who
looks upon me as he would upon any other young lady, whom he is glad to
talk to when she is in the humour to talk; and whom, when she is not, he
leaves to herself, as all well-bred men do.  But, I repeat, I do not
care enough about him, to think for one moment, whether he is _hautaine_
or not.  And he feels just the same about me, I am certain."

"What brings him here then, eh?--where he never came before to-night?
not for the _beaux yeux_ of Madame, I believe," with a quizzical bow to
his wife, "or for the _grand esprit_ of myself.  I have an eye, I tell
you, as well as other people, and I can see one _petit peu_."

"I have no doubt you can, Monsieur," I answered, rather pettishly; "for
I suppose you asked him yourself; and, if you did so on my account, I
must beg you will omit that proof of kindness in future, for I do not
wish to see him."

"Oh!  Monsieur Gironac, for shame, you have made her very angry with
your ridiculous badinage--you have made her angry, really, and I do not
wonder.  Who ever heard of teasing a young lady about a gentleman she
has never seen, only three times, and who has never declared any
preference?"

"Madame," replied her husband, in great wrath, either real or simulated,
"_vous etes une ingrate,--une,--une_--words fail me, to express what I
think of your enormous and unkind ingratitude.  I am _homme incompris_,
and Mademoiselle here--Mademoiselle is either _une enfant_, or she does
not know her own mind.  Shall I give the Comte Chavannes his conge, or
shall I not?  I shall not,--for if she be _une enfant_, it is fit her
friends look after her; if she does not know her own mind, it is good
she have some one who do!--_voila tout_.  Here is why I shall not go
_congedier monsieur le Comte_.  Why rather I shall request him to dine
with me to-morrow, the next day, the day after.  If he do not, I swear
by my honour, _foi de Gironac_, I will dine at home again never more."

I could not help laughing at this tirade of the kind-hearted little man,
on the strength of which he patted me on the head, and said I was _bonne
enfant_, if I were not _si diablement entetee_, and bade me go to bed,
and sleep myself into a better humour; a piece of advice which appeared
to me _so_ judicious, that I proceeded at once to obey it, and bidding
them both a kind good-night, betook myself to my own room to ponder
rather than to sleep.  And, in truth, I felt that I had need of
reflection, for with the return of Auguste, a tide of feelings, which
had long lain dormant rather than dead within me had almost overwhelmed
me; and the hardness which had its origin in the bitterness of conscious
dependence, and which had gained strength from the pride of
self-acquired independence, began to thaw in my heart, and to give way
to milder and gentler feelings.

The thoughts of home, the desire for my country, the love for my father
who, though weak and almost imbecile, had ever been kind to me in
person, the craving affection for my brothers and my sisters, nay!
something approaching to pity or regret for the mother who had proved
herself but a step-mother towards me, all revived in increased and
re-invigorated force.

By-and-bye, too, I began to feel that I should be very wretched after
the parting with my beloved brother at the end of so brief a renewal of
love and intimacy; to be aware of what I had scarcely felt before in the
self-confidence of the position I had won--that it is a sad and lonely
thing to be a sojourner in a foreign land, with no natural friends, no
kind kindred on whom to rely in case of sickness or misfortune;--and, to
consider, how dark and grave a thing must be solitary old age, and
perhaps a solitary death-bed, far from the home of one's youth, the
friends of one's childhood.

Then there arose another thought connected with the preceding, by that
extraordinary and inexplicable chain, which seems to run through the
whole mind of man, linking together things apparently as far asunder as
the poles, which have, however, in reality, a kindred origin.  That
thought was, wherefore should my life be solitary?  Why should I stand
apart and alone from my race, relying on myself only, and depriving
myself, for the sake of a perhaps imaginary independence, of all the
endearments of social life, all the sweet ties of family?

Perhaps, the very presence of my brother had opened my eyes to the
truth, that there is no such thing in the world as real independence.
To realise that possession, most coveted, and most unattainable, one
must be a Robinson Crusoe, alone on his desert island,--a sort of
independence which no one, I should think, would practically desire to
enjoy.

Before sleep came, I believe that I began to muse about Monsieur de
Chavannes; but it was only to think that I did not care in the least
about him, nor he about me; and that, so far as he was concerned, I had
seen no cause to change my _decided_ resolution that I would never
marry.  All this was, perhaps, in reality, the best of proofs that I did
already care something about him, and was very likely before long to
care something more; for some one has said, and he, by the way, no
ordinary judge of human nature, that if he desired to win a woman's
fancy or affection, his first step would be to make her _think_ about
him--even if it were to hate him! anything before the absence of all
thought, the blank void of real absolute indifference.

Indeed, I believe it is nearly true, that a woman rarely begins to think
_often_ of a man, even if it be as she fancies in dislike, but when,
however she may deceive herself, she is on the verge of loving him.

Was such the case with me?

At least, if it were so, I was then so far from knowing it, that I did
not even ask myself the question.  But I remember that when I fell
asleep, I dreamed that I was standing at the altar with the Count de
Chavannes, when a band of all those who had ever wronged me, my mother,
Madame d'Albret, Madame Bathurst, the Stanhopes, Lady M--, rushed
between us, and tore us forcibly asunder,--and I wept so loud that my
sorrow awoke me, and it was some time before I was sure it was a dream.

Early the next morning, Auguste came again to see me; and as Monsieur
Gironac was abroad, giving lessons on the flute and guitar, while madame
either was, or pretended to be, excessively busy with her wax-flowers,
we had the whole day to ourselves until luncheon time, and we profited
by it so well, that before we were interrupted, we had little to learn
on either side concerning the passages of our lives, and the adventures,
which both we and all our families had gone through.  And if I had been
a little inclined to be proud of myself before, and to give their full
value to my energy and decision of character, I certainly now stood in
no small danger of being spoiled by Auguste's praises.

For now half crying at my trials and troubles,--now laughing at Lady
R--'s absurdities,--now bursting into vehement invective against my
enemies,--he insisted that I was a perfect heroine--the bravest and most
accomplished of women, as well as the dearest of sisters.

But when I had finished my own story, which I did not begin until I had
extracted from him every particle of information about my family--

"Well, my little Valerie," he said caressingly, as he put his arm about
my waist, "you have told me everything--all your little sorrows, and
trials, and troubles--all your little pleasures and successes--all your
little schemings and manoeuvrings in the love-affairs of other people--
and all about the great little fortune which you have accumulated--quite
a millionaire, upon my word, with your twenty-five hundred _livres de
rente_--but not one word have you told me about your own little
_affaires de coeur_.  I am afraid, little sister mine, you are either a
very great hypocrite, or very cold-hearted, which is it, dearest
Valerie?"

"Very cold-hearted, I believe, brother.  At least I certainly have no
_affaires de coeur_ to relate.  I cannot pretend to say whether it is my
fault or that of other people, but certainly no one ever fell in love
with me, if it were not that odious Monsieur G--; and most certainly I
have never fallen in love with any one at all."

Auguste gazed earnestly in my face for a moment, as if he would have
read my heart, but I met his eyes with mine quite steadily and calmly,
till at length I burst into a merry laugh, which I could not restrain.

"Quite true, little sister?" he said, at last, after my manner had in
some sort convinced him.

"Quite true, Auguste, upon my honour," I replied.

"Well, Valerie, I suppose I must believe that earnest face, and that
honest little laugh of yours."

"You may just as well do so, indeed," I replied; "for no one was ever in
love with me, I assure you.  And I do not think," I added, with a touch
of the old pride, "that a de Chatenoeuf is likely to give away a heart
that is not desired."

"It is all very strange," he added.  "And this Monsieur Lionel
Dempster?"

"Is a little older than poor Pierre, whom I used to pinch when I wanted
to get out of my mother's reach, and regards me very much as he would a
much elder sister--almost, indeed, as a mother."

"A mother, indeed, Valerie!"

"He once told me something of the kind!  He is a very fine young man,
certainly, full of talent and spirit, and will make you a very good and
agreeable friend--but he is no husband for me, I assure you!  He would
do much better for Sophie, or Elisee, if he ever should see and like
either of them."

"Always busy for others, Valerie!  And for yourself--when will you think
for yourself?"

"I think I _have_ thought, and done, too, for myself, pretty well.  You
forget my twenty-five hundred _livres de rente_."

"But twenty-five hundred _livres de rente_ are not a husband, Valerie."

"I am not so sure about that.  I daresay they would buy one at a pinch,"
I replied, laughing; "at least, in our _poor_ country, where everyone
you meet in society is not a millionaire, like those cold islanders."

"I think you have grown almost as cold yourself, little sister, and as
calculating."

"To be sure I have," I made answer; "and to punish me, Monsieur Gironac
swears that I shall die a sour old maid."

"And what do you say?"

"An old maid very likely; but not a sour one, at all events.  But, hark!
there is a carriage at the door--let me see who it is."

And I jumped up, and running to the window, saw the Selwyn liveries, and
Lionel, _en cavalier_, beside the carriage-window.

In a moment, the steps were let down; and Caroline speedily made her
appearance, commissioned, as she said, by her mother-in-law, to take
immediate possession both of myself and Auguste, and to bring us down
straightway to Kew.  Her husband, she said, would certainly have called
on Monsieur de Chatenoeuf, and the Judge also, but that the courts being
all in session, they were both so completely occupied, that, except
after dinner, they had not an hour of the twenty-four disengaged.

She was commanded, moreover, she added, to invite Monsieur and Madame
Gironac to dine at Kew on the following day.  Me, moreover, and Auguste
she was to carry down forthwith in the carriage.

"So now," she said, "get you gone, Valerie, and pack up as quickly as
possible all that you require to make yourself beautiful for a week, at
least."

"And what do you say to all this, messieurs?" said I, laughingly, to my
brother and Lionel; "for there is much more necessity to consult you
lords of the creation, as you call yourselves, who are in reality vainer
by half, and care five times as much about your toilettes as we much
calumniated women--what do you say about this summary packing up and
taking flight--can it be accomplished?"

"It _is_ accomplished," replied Lionel; "in so far at least that I have
promised on my own part, and for Monsieur Auguste de Chatenoeuf in the
bargain, to overlook the preparation of his kit as well as my own, and
to bring them down in a cabriolet, while you and your brother are
rolling smoothly along in the Judge's venerable coach."

"All that is arranged, then," said I, "and I will not detain you above
ten minutes, during which time, I will send Madame Gironac to amuse you,
and you can deliver your own message to her."

And then, without waiting for any answer, I hurried upstairs to make my
travelling toilette, and to put up things for a week's visit to my good
friends.

In the meantime, Madame Gironac, who had always been a great favourite
of Caroline's, had taken my place; and by the merriment which I could
hear going on, I could not doubt that, on the whole, the party had been
a gainer by the exchange.

Before I was quite ready to make my reappearance, there came a smart
double knock at the door; and then, after a minute or two, I could
distinguish a gentleman's footstep ascending the staircase to the
dining-room.

My own room looked towards the back of the house, so that I had no means
of seeing for myself who the new comer was; and I did not choose to ask
any questions of the servant girl, who was bustling in and out of the
door with trunks and travelling-cases innumerable.

So I finished my toilette with a heart that beat, I must confess, a
little faster than usual, though I should certainly have been puzzled to
explain why; put on my hat and shawl, perhaps a little coquettishly, and
went down stairs, half impatient, half embarrassed, yet fully persuaded
in my own mind that I had not the least expectation of seeing anybody in
particular.

I found all the company assembled round the luncheon-table when I
entered, and busily engaged with the _cotelettes a la Maintenon_ and
green peas.  Among those present was Monsieur le Comte de Chavannes,
whom I certainly did not expect to see.

He rose immediately from the table as I entered, and advanced a step or
two to meet me, with a graceful inclination, and a few well-chosen
words, to the intent that he had called in order to invite Monsieur de
Chatenoeuf to go out and take a _promenade a cheval_ with him, in order
to see the parks and the beauty of London.

All this was said with the utmost frankness, and in the most unaffected
manner in the world; and assuredly there was nothing either in the
words, or in the manner in which they were uttered, which should have
thrown me into a confusion of blushes, and rendered me for a moment
almost incapable of answering him.

It must be remembered, however, that I had been rallied very much
concerning him of late by Monsieur Gironac, and I could scarcely avoid
perceiving that this exceeding assiduity in doing the honours to Auguste
could not but be attributed to some more potent cause than mere civility
to a fellow-countryman.

My confusion produced, for a second or two, a slight similar
embarrassment in the Count, and the blood mounted highly to his
forehead.  Our eyes met, too, at the same instant; and though the
encounter was but momentary, from that time a sort of secret
consciousness was established between us.

This scene passed in less time than it takes to describe it; and,
becoming aware that every one's eyes were upon us, I rallied
instinctively, replied by a few civil words of thanks, and took a place
at the table, which had been left vacant for me, between my brother and
Lionel Dempster.  This little interruption at an end, the conversation
returned to the course it had taken before I came in, and there was a
good deal of very agreeable talk; as is sure to be the case whenever
four or five pleasant and clever people are thrown together under
circumstances which create a sudden and unexpected familiarity, each
person desirous of amusing and rendering himself pleasant to his
companions of an hour; but not so anxious to make an impression, as to
become stiff, stilted, or affected.

Lionel, as I have said long ago, was remarkably witty and clever by
nature, and had profited greatly by his opportunities in France; so much
so, that I have rarely seen a young man of his age at all comparable to
him.  The Count was likewise a person of superior abilities and
breeding, with a touch of English seriousness and soundness engrafted on
the stock of French vivacity; and my brother Auguste was a young, ardent
soldier, full of gay youth, high hopes, and brilliant aspirations, all
kindled up by the excitement of thus visiting a foreign country, and
finding himself in the company of a long-lost and much-beloved sister.

Caroline Selwyn was quick, bright, and lively; Madame Gironac was a
perfect mine of life and vivacity; and I, desirous of atoning for my
folly of the past evening, did my best to be agreeable.

I suppose I was not wholly unsuccessful, and every time I raised my
eyes, I was sure to find those of Monsieur de Chavannes riveted on my
face with a deep, earnest gaze, which, though it was instantly averted
even before our glances met, showed that he was in some sort interested
either in myself, or in my words.

Before luncheon was finished, Monsieur Gironac made his _entree_, and it
was finally arranged that he and Madame should join us at Kew on the
following evening; and, before we set off, Caroline expressed a hope to
the Count de Chavannes that he would call upon his friend, Monsieur de
Chatenoeuf, while he was staying at the Judge's, explaining that it was
impossible for Mr Selwyn or the Judge to wait on him for some days,
until the courts had done sitting, when she assured him that they would
do so without fail.

He promised immediately, without a moment's hesitation, that he would do
so; and I believe a riding party was made up on the spot between
himself, Lionel, and Auguste, for the second or third day.

As soon as everything was settled, Caroline hurried us away, saying that
her mother-in-law would think she had run off; and a short, agreeable
drive carried us down to the Judge's pleasant villa, where I was
received almost as one of the family; and Auguste, rather as an old
friend, than as a stranger and a foreigner.

The time passed away pleasantly, for it was the height of the loveliest
spring weather; the situation of the villa on the banks of the Thames
was in itself charming; and for once the English month of May was what
its poets have described it--that is to say, what it is once in every
hundred years.

Every one wished to please and to be pleased, and the Selwyns were of
that very rare class of people, whom you like the more, the more you see
of them--the very reverse of the world, in general--nothing could be
more delightful than the week which we passed there.

From the Judge I had no concealments; and regarding him almost in the
light of a second father, while Auguste was prepared to love him for his
love to me, we had many long conversations and consultations concerning
my affairs, and the propriety of disclosing my existence to my father.

This I was resolved upon, and both the Judge and Auguste approving, it
was decided that it should be done.

The only question then, which remained to be disposed of, was how far my
disclosures should be carried, and whether it would be practicable, and
if practicable, safe, that I should return to France at present, or
indeed at all, while in my present condition.

Auguste gave me his opinion, as he had done repeatedly, that my mother
never had laid aside, and never would lay aside, her rancour towards me;
and that she would grasp at the first opportunity of taking any
vengeance upon me, which my presence should afford her.

He did not believe, he said, that my father would be able long to
preserve from her the secret of my being alive, and of my having raised
myself to a condition of comparative affluence; nor did he feel by any
means assured that, while labouring under the revulsion of feelings
which the happy tidings would work upon his mind, my mother would not
recover her ascendancy over him.

Beyond this, he could say nothing; for as a young Frenchman, and more
especially a young French soldier, he knew even less about the laws of
France, and the rights of parents over children, than did Judge Selwyn;
only, like the Judge, he was inclined to the opinion that I had better
not trust myself within the limits of any jurisdiction which might be
called upon to hand me over to the parental authority, until such time
as I should be completely my own mistress as regarded them, which
probably could only be effected by ceasing to be my own mistress as
regarded some one else.

"For be assured, Valerie," he added, "that the possession of your person
for the purpose of annoying you, and avenging herself on you for all the
sufferings she has undergone in consequence of your supposed suicide,
will become the darling object of her life, so sure as she learns that
you are in the land of the living; and the fact of your having secured
to yourself a little fortune will not act as a check upon her
inclinations."

I sighed deeply; for, although I felt and knew the truth of all he said,
and expected that he would say it, his words seemed to extinguish the
last spark of hope in my heart; and it is a bitter and painful thing in
any case for a daughter to feel that she shall in all probability never
again be permitted to see the authors of her life, or the companions and
scenes of her childhood; but it is doubly so when she feels it to be the
fault of the wickedness or weakness of those whom she would fain love
and esteem, but cannot.

The good Judge marked my emotion, and, laying his hand kindly on my
shoulder, said, "You must not give way, my dear girl; you have done all
that is right and true and honest; and the course which you have taken
has been forced upon you.  To yield now, and return home to be tortured
and despoiled of the little all, which your own good sense and your own
good conduct have procured you--for, apart from good sense and good
conduct, there is no such thing in the world as good fortune--would not
only be positive insanity, but positive ingratitude to the Giver of all
good.  My advice to you, therefore, is to remain altogether passive, to
pursue the career which you have chosen, and, without yourself taking
any steps to disclose your present situation, to authorise your brother
fully to reveal to your father so much of it, as shall appear necessary
and desirable to him when on the spot.  I should not recommend that your
place of residence, or exact circumstances should be communicated even
to him, at least for the present; and should he desire to write to you,
the letters should pass through your brother's hands, and be forwarded
under cover to me, which will prevent the gaining of intelligence
through the post-office.  The rest we must leave to the effects of time,
and of that Providence, which has been displayed so singularly in your
behalf already, and which never deserts those who believe humbly, and
endeavour sincerely to deserve Divine favour.  So this," he added with a
smile, "is the end and sum total of an old lawyer's counsel, and an old
man's sermon.  And now, think over what I have said between you; for I
believe you will find it the best course, although it may now hardly
suit your excited feelings, and, in the meantime, let us go on the lawn
and join the ladies, who seem to have got some new metal of attraction."

"Indeed, Judge," I replied, "I am quite convinced of the wisdom of what
you propose, and I thank you sincerely for your advice as for all your
other goodness towards me.  No father could be kinder to an only
daughter, than you have been to me; and God will bless you for it; but,
to say the truth, I do feel very sad and downcast just at this moment,
and am not equal to the joining that gay party.  I will go up to my own
room," I added, "for a little while, and come down again so soon as I
can conquer this foolish weakness."

"Do not call it foolish, Valerie," returned the old man with a benignant
smile.  "Nothing that is natural can be foolish--least of all, anything
of natural and kindly feeling.  But do not yield to it--do not yield to
it.  The feelings are good slaves, but wretchedly poor masters.  Do as
you will, my dear child, but come to us again as soon as you can.  In
the meantime, Monsieur de Chatenoeuf, let us go and see who are these
new comers."

And with these words, he turned away, leaning familiarly upon my
brother's arm, and left me to collect myself, and recover from the
perturbation of my feelings as well and as soon as I could; which was
not perhaps the more quickly that I had easily recognised in the new
arrival, the person of the Count de Chavannes.

I have entered perhaps more fully into the detail of my sentiments at
this period of my life, for two reasons--one, because of an eventful
life, this was upon the whole the most eventful moment--the other, that
having hitherto recorded facts and actions rather than feelings or
principles, I am conscious that I have represented myself as a somewhat
harder and more worldly person, than I feel myself in truth to be.

But the hardness and the worldliness were produced, if they existed at
all, by the hardness of the circumstances into which I was thrown, and
the worldliness of the persons with whom I was brought into contact.

Adversity had hardened my character, and perhaps in some sort my heart
also.  At least, it had aroused my pride to the utmost, had set me as it
were upon the defensive, and led me to regard every stranger with
suspicion, and to look in him for a future enemy.

Good fortune had, however, altered all this.  All who had been my
enemies, who had injured, or misrepresented me, were disarmed, or
subdued, or repentant; I had forgiven all the world--was at peace with
all the world.  I had achieved what to me was a little competence; I was
loved and esteemed by those whom I could in return love and esteem, and
of whose regard I could be honestly proud.  I had recovered my brother--
I still hoped to be reconciled to my parents--and--and--why should I
conceal it--I was beginning to think it by far less improbable that I
should one day marry--in a word, I was beginning to like, if not yet to
love.

All these things had been by degrees effecting a change in my thoughts
and feelings.  I had been gradually thawing, and was now completely
melted, so that I felt the necessity of being alone--of giving way--of
weeping.

I went to my own chamber, threw myself on my bed, and wept long, and
freely.

But these were not tears of agony such as I shed when I first learned
Madame d'Albret's cruel conduct towards me--nor tears of injured pride
such as Madame Bathurst had forced from me, by her effort to humiliate
me in my own eyes--nor yet tears of wrathful indignation, such as burst
from me when I detected Lady M--, in her base endeavour to destroy my
character.

These were tears of affection, of softness, almost of joy.  They flowed
noiselessly and gently, and they relieved me, for my heart was very
full; and, when I was relieved, I bathed my face, and arranged my hair,
and descended the staircase almost merrily to join the merry company in
the garden.

I found on my joining them, that the Count de Chavannes had already
completely gained the good graces, not only of Caroline and her young
sisters-in-law, but of Mr Selwyn and the Judge also.

He had come down to Kew with the particular purpose of engaging my
brother and Lionel to accompany him, on the next day but one, to
Wormwood Scrubs, where there was to be a grand review, in honour of some
foreign prince or other, of two or three regiments of light cavalry,
with horse-artillery and rockets.  It was to conclude with a sham fight,
and which he thought would interest Auguste as a military man, and
especially one who had commenced his service in the hussars, though he
had been subsequently transferred into the line.

This plan had been discussed and talked over, until the ladies, having
expressed a laughing desire to see the _spectacle_, it was decided that
Caroline, the two Miss Selwyns and myself, escorted by Lionel, in the
rumble, should go down to the review in the Judge's carriage, Auguste
and the Count accompanying us _en cavalier_, and that after the order of
the day should be concluded, the whole party, including the Count,
should return to dinner at Kew.

On the day following, as I did not think it either wise or correct to
neglect my pupils, my chapel, or Mrs Bradshaw's school, although I had
sent satisfactory reasons for taking one week's leave of absence, we
were all to return to town; I to good Monsieur Gironac's, Auguste and
Lionel to the lodgings of the latter in Suffolk Street.

Monsieur de Chavannes did not stay long after I made my appearance, not
wishing either to be, or to appear, _de trop_ on a first visit; nor had
he any opportunity of addressing more than a few common-place
observations to me, had he desired to do so.  Still I observed the same
peculiarity in his manner towards me, as distinct as possible from the
sort of proud humility, half badinage, half earnest, which he put on in
talking with other ladies.

To me he observed a tone of serious softness, with something of earnest
deference to everything that fell from my lips, however light or casual,
for which he seemed to watch with the utmost eagerness.

He never joked with _me_, though he was doing so continually with the
others; not that he was in the least degree grave or formal, much less
stiff or affected; but rather that he seemed desirous of proving to me
that he was not a mere butterfly of society, but had deeper ideas, and
higher aspirations, than the every day world around us.

When he was going away, he for the first time put out his hand to me _a
l'anglaise_, and as I shook hands with him, our eyes met once more, and
I believe I again blushed a little; for though he dropped his gaze
instantly, and bowed low, taking off his hat, he pressed my fingers very
gently, ere he let them fall, and then turning to take his leave of the
Judge and Mr Selwyn, who had just joined us, mounted his horse--a very
fine hunter, by the way, which he sat admirably--again bowed low, and
cantered off, followed by his groom, as well mounted as himself.

He was not well out of sight, before, as usual, he became the topic of
general discussion.

"What a charming person," said Caroline.  "So full of spirit and
vivacity, and yet so evidently a man of mind and good feeling.  Where
did you pick him up, Valerie?"

"He is an old friend, I told you, of Monsieur Gironac's, and was calling
there by accident when he met Auguste, and since that he has been
exceedingly kind and civil to him.  That is the whole I know about him."

"Well, he is very handsome," said Caroline; "don't you think so,
Valerie?"

"Yes," I answered, quite composedly, "very handsome, a little
effeminate-looking, perhaps."

"Oh! no, not in the least," said Caroline; "or if he is, so quick and
clever and spirited-looking that it quite takes all that away."

"Caroline," said Selwyn, laughing, "you have no right to have eyes to
see, or ears to hear, or mind to comprehend beauty, or wit, or any other
good quality, in any one save me, your lord and master."

"You, you monster!" she replied, laughing gaily, "I never thought you
one bit handsome, or witty, or dreamed that you had one good quality.  I
only married you, you know as well as I do, to get away from school, and
from the atrocious tyranny of my music-mistress there.  You need not
look fie! at me, Valerie, for I'm too big to be put in the corner, now,
and he won't let you whip me."

"I think he ought to whip you, himself, baby," replied the Judge, who
had grown very fond of her; and, in truth, she was a very loveable
little person in her way, and made her husband a very happy man.

"Now, Judge Selwyn," interposed I, "do you remember a conversation we
once had together, in which you endeavoured to force me to believe that
men in general, and you in particular, were not tyrants to your wives
and families, and now do I hear you giving your son such advice as that?
Alas! what can make women so insane?"

"Don't you know?  Can't you guess?  Mademoiselle Valerie?" asked the old
Judge, smiling slily, and with the least possible wink of his eye, when
some of the others were looking at us, and then he added in a lower
voice, "perhaps it will be your turn soon.  I think you will soon be
able to go to France without much fear of your mother's persecution.
Come," he continued, offering me his arm, as the others had now moved a
little way apart, "come and take a turn with me in the cedar-walk till
dinner's ready; I want to talk to you, for who knows when one will get
another opportunity."

I took his arm without reply, though my heart beat very fast, and I felt
uncomfortable, knowing as I did perfectly well beforehand what he was
going to say to me.

We turned into the cedar-walk, which was a long shadowy aisle, or bower,
overhung with magnificent cedars of Lebanon, running parallel with the
banks of the noble river, and so still and secluded that no more proper
place could be found for a private consultation.

"Well," said the old man, speaking gently, but not looking at me,
perhaps for fear of embarrassing me by his eye, "you know I am in some
sort, not only your legal adviser, but your self-constituted guardian,
and father confessor--so now, without farther preamble, who is he,
Valerie?"

"I will not affect to misunderstand you, Judge, though, upon my word,
you are entirely mistaken in your conjecture."

"Upon your word! entirely mistaken!  I think, not--I am sure, not."

"You are, indeed.  I have not seen him above four times, nor spoken
fifty words to him."

"Never mind, never mind--who is he?"

"An acquaintance of Monsieur Gironac's, Monsieur le Comte de Chavannes.
His father emigrated hither during the revolution, engaged in commerce,
and made a fortune of some 40,000 pounds.  At the restoration, the old
Count returned to France, and was made by Louis XVIII a Colonel of the
Legion of Honour, and died shortly afterwards.  There is an estate, I
believe, in Brittany, but Monsieur de Chavannes, who was at school here,
and has passed all his younger days in this country, is more an
Englishman than a Frenchman, and only visits France at rare intervals.
That is all I know about him, and that only by accident, Monsieur
Gironac having told me, in his lively way, what I should not have
dreamed of inquiring."

"Very proper, indeed--and very good so far, but one would like to know
something definite about a man before taking him for one's husband."

"I should think so, indeed, Judge; but as I am not going to take him for
my husband, I am quite contented with knowing what I do know of him."

"And what do you know?--of yourself,--I speak of your own knowledge?  No
hearsay evidence in the case."

"Nothing more than that he is lively and agreeable, that he has very
good manners, and seems very good-natured--I might say, he has been very
good-natured to Auguste, poor fellow."

"Poor fellow!  Yes," answered the Judge.  "But men are very apt to be
good-natured to poor fellows, who have got nice sisters, with whom they
are in love."

"I dare say, Judge.  But to reply in your own phraseology--that is no
case in point; for granting that Auguste's sister is _nice_, which I
will not be so modest as to gainsay, Monsieur de Chavannes is not the
least in love with her."

"Perhaps, not."

"Certainly, not."

"Well, be it so?  What else do you know about him?"

"Nothing, Judge Selwyn."

"Nothing of his character, his principles, his morals, or his habits?"

"Really, Judge, one would think, to hear you, that I was going to hire a
footman--which I am much too poor to do--and that Monsieur de Chavannes
had applied for the place.  What on earth have I to do with the young
gentleman's character or principles?  I know that he is very
gentlemanlike, and is neither a coxcomb nor a pedant, which is
refreshing in these days."

"And, as Caroline says, very handsome, eh?"

"Yes, I think he is handsome," I replied.  "But that has nothing to do
with it."

"Not much, truly," said the Judge drily.  "And this is all you know?"

"Or desire to know.  It seems to me quite enough to know of an
acquaintance of a few days' standing."

"Well--well," he answered, shaking his head a little.

"Well.  He _is_ all that you say.  A very fine young man, he seems.  I
like him.  Well, I will make inquiries."

"Not on my account, I intreat, Judge Selwyn,"--said I, interrupting him
eagerly.

"Mademoiselle Valerie de Chatenoeuf," he said drily, though half in
jest, "my head is an old one, yours a very young one.  I know young
folks are apt to think old heads good for nothing."

"I do not, I am sure," interrupted I, again.  "I do not, indeed."

"Nor I, Valerie,"--he answered, interrupting me in his turn, with a
good-natured smile.  "So you shall let me have my way in this matter.
But, to relieve you, my dear, permit me to observe that I have two
daughters of my own, and one young son, besides Charles, who is old
enough to take care of himself; and, though I am very glad to ask a
young man to dine in my house who has, as you observe, very good
manners, and is neither a fool nor a coxcomb, I am not at all willing
that he should become what you call an _habitue_, until I know something
of his character and principles.  And now, as the dressing-bell has rung
these ten minutes, and it will take you at least half-an-hour to
beautify your little person, I advise you to make the most of your time.
And by all means, Valerie, stick to your resolution--never marry, my
dear, never marry; for all men are tyrants."

One might be very sure that I profited by this dismissal, and ran across
the lawn as fast as I could, glad to escape the far-sighted experience
of the shrewd old lawyer.

"He has seen it, then," I thought to myself.  "He has observed it even
in this little space; even in this one interview, and he has read it,
even as I read it.  I wonder if he has read my heart, too.  No, no," I
continued, communing with myself, "that he cannot have done, for I know
not yet myself how to interpret it."

Little thought I then, that whenever our feelings are deeply interested,
or when strong passions are at work, even in embryo, we are for the most
part the last persons who discover the secrets which are transparent
enough, Heaven knows, to all persons but ourselves.

I do not know, nor did I inquire whether the Judge pursued his inquiries
concerning the Count as he had promised to do; much less did I learn
what was their result.  But I do know that the following morning the
young gentleman called again at the gate with a led horse for my
brother; but did not ask if we were at home, merely sending his
compliments to the ladies, and requesting Monsieur de Chatenoeuf to
accompany him for a ride.

Lionel was absent in the city on business; so that Auguste and the Count
rode out alone, and did not return until it was growing dark, when there
was scarcely time to dress for dinner, the latter again sending in an
apology for detaining my brother so long, and retiring without getting
off his horse.

This gave me, I confess, more pleasure than it would have done to see
him, though that would have given me pleasure, too; for I saw in it a
proof of something more than mere tact, of mental delicacy, I mean; and
an anxiety not to obtrude either upon the hospitality of the Selwyns, or
upon my feelings.

Auguste, on his return, was in amazing spirits, and did nothing all
dinner-time, but expatiate upon the companionable and amiable qualities
of de Chavannes, whom he already liked, he said, more than any person he
had ever seen for so short a time--so clever, so high-spirited, so
gallant.  Everything, in a word, that a man could desire for a friend,
or a lady for a lover.

"Heyday!" said the Judge, laughing at this tirade.  "This fine Count
with his black moustaches seems to have made one conquest mighty
quickly.  I hope it will not run in the company, or we shall have more
elopements,"--with a sly glance at Caroline.  "Mademoiselle Valerie
here," he continued, "is a terrible person for promoting elopements,
too.  But we must have none from my house."

We continued to be very gay all dinner-time.  After dinner we had some
music, and the Judge was just pressing me to sing, when Lionel's servant
came into the room, having hurried down from London, in pursuit of his
master, in consequence of the sudden arrival of a large package of
letters from Paris, endorsed "immediate, and to be delivered with all
speed."

This incident broke up the party for the moment; and indeed threw a
chill over us all for the whole evening, when it appeared that the
principal letter was one to my brother from the Commandant of Paris, of
which city his regiment formed a part of the garrison, reluctantly
revoking his leave of absence, in consequence of some expected _emeute_,
and intimating that his presence would be expected at head-quarters on
or before the third day of June; an order which it was, of course,
impossible to think of neglecting or disobeying, while it would leave
him at the furthest but a single week to give to us in London.

It was a bitter disappointment to be separated after so brief a
communion, but we consoled ourselves by the recollection that the
Straits of Dover are not the Pacific Ocean, and that Paris and London
are not a thousand leagues asunder.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

There never was a finer morning in the world than that appointed for the
review.  It was just the end of May, and all the scenery, even in the
very suburbs of the great city, was brilliant with all the
characteristic beauty of an English landscape.

The fine horse-chestnut trees and the thick hawthorn hedges were all in
full bloom, and the air was perfectly scented with perfumes from the
innumerable nursery grounds which hedge in that side of London with a
belt of flowers.

The parks, and the suburban roads were crowded with neatly-dressed,
modest-looking nurses and nursery-maids, leading whole troops of
rosy-cheeked, brown-curled, merry boys and girls to enjoy the fresh
morning air; and Auguste was never tired, as we drove along, of admiring
everything that met his eyes in quick succession.

The trees, the flowery hedges, the gay parterres, the glimpses of the
noble Thames white with the sails of innumerable craft, the beautiful
villas with their small highly cultivated pleasure-grounds, the pretty
nursery-maids, and happy English children, all came in for a share of
his rapturous admiration; and so vivacious and original were his
comments on all that he saw, that he in some sort communicated the
infection of his merry humour to us also, and we were all as gay and
joyous as the season and the scene.

When we came to the ground destined for the review, my brother was
silent, and I saw his cheek turn pale for a moment; but his eye
brightened and flashed as it ran over the splendid lines of the cavalry,
which, at the moment we came upon the ground, were parading past the
royal personage in honour of whom the review was given, and who was on
horseback, by the side of a somewhat slender elderly gentleman, dressed
in the uniform of a _field-marshal_, whose eagle eye and aquiline nose
announced him, at a glance, the _vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre_.

"_Magnifique, mais c'est vraiment magnifique_," muttered my brother to
himself, as the superb life-guards swept along with their polished steel
helmets and breast-plates glittering like silver in the sunshine, and
their plumes and guidons flashing and twinkling in the breeze.  "_Dieu
de dieu! qu'ils sont geants les cavaliers, qu'ils sont colossaux les
chevaux.  Et les allures si lestes, si gracieuses, comme s'ils n'etaient
que des juments.  Mais c'est un spectacle magnifique_!"

A moment afterwards, a regiment of lancers passed at a trot, with their
pennons fluttering in the breeze, and their lance-heads glimmering like
stars above the clouds of dust which rose from under their horses'
hoofs; and these were followed by several squadrons of hussars, with
their crimson trousers and their gaily furred pelisses, and then troop
after troop of horse-artillery clattering along, the high-bred horses
whirling the heavy guns and caissons behind them as if they had been
mere playthings.

It certainly was a beautiful and brilliant pageant, and the splendid
military music of the cavalry-bands, the clash and clang of the silver
cymbals, the ringing roll of the kettle-drums, and the symphonious
cadences of the cornets, horns, and trumpets at the same time, delighted
and excited me to the utmost.

But, I confess, that to me the calm old veteran, sitting unmoved amidst
all that pomp and clangour, and evidently marking only every smallest
minutiae of the men, the accoutrements, the movements, was a more
interesting, a more moving sight, than all the pageantry of uniform,
than all the thrill of music.

I thought how he had sat as cool and impassive under the iron hail of
battle, with thousands and thousands of the best and bravest falling
around him, the fate of nations hanging on a balanced scale in those
fights of giants--I thought how he, alone of men, had faced undaunted
and self-confident, that greater than Hannibal, or Alexander, that
world-conqueror Napoleon--I thought how he had quelled the might of my
own gallant land, and my blood seemed to thrill coldly in my veins, as
it will at the recital of great deeds and noble daring--and I knew not
altogether whether it was the shudder of dislike, or the thrill of
admiration that so shook me.

Had he looked proud, or self-elate, or triumphant, I felt that I could
have hated him; but so impassive, and withal now so frail and feeble,
yet with an eye so calmly firm, an expression of rectitude so conscious,
I could not but perceive that if an enemy of my _belle France_ was
before me, it was an enemy who had been made such by duty, not by
choice--an enemy who had done nought in hatred, all in honour.

I acknowledged to myself that I was in the presence of the greatest
living man; and though I could neither love nor worship, I felt subdued
and awed into a sort of breathless horror, as one might fancy humanity
to be in the presence of some superior intelligence, some being of
another world.

The girls observed my riveted and almost fascinated eye, as it dwelt on
that mighty soldier, and began to whisper to one another with a sort of
very natural pride at the evident interest which we took in their
favourite hero.

Their tittering attracted my brother's attention, and following their
eyes he was not long in discovering what it was that had excited their
mirth, and he looked at me for a moment with something like a frown on
his forehead.  But it cleared away in a moment, and he smiled at his own
vehemence, perhaps injustice.

At that moment, the different regiments began wheeling to and fro in
long lines, and open columns of troops, and performing an infinity of
manoeuvres, which, though I of course did not in the least degree
comprehend them, were very fine and beautiful to look at, from the
rapidity of the movements, the high spirit of the horses, and the gleam
and glitter of the arms, half seen among the dust-clouds.  My brother,
however, began, as I could see, to be vehemently excited, and his
constant comments and exclamations of surprise and admiration, bore
testimony to the correctness with which every movement was executed.

Then came the roar of the artillery, as the guns retreated before the
charging horse, and even I could comprehend and appreciate the
marvellous celerity with which flash followed flash, and roar echoed
roar, from the same piece, so speedily that it was scarcely possible to
comprehend how the gun should have been loaded and re-loaded while the
horses were at full gallop.

By this time all the gentlemen had become so much interested and excited
by the scene, that, Lionel having got upon his horse which had been led
down to the ground by his servant, they asked our permission to leave us
for a short time, and ride nearer to the spot where the artillery were
manoeuvring.

As we had several servants about us in the first place, and as in the
second there is not the slightest danger of ladies being treated with
incivility by an English crowd, unless through their own fault or
indiscretion, of course no objection was made, and our cavaliers
galloped away, promising to return within a quarter of an hour.

Scarcely were they out of sight, before I observed a tall, handsome,
soldierly man, though in plain clothes, ride past the carriage on a very
fine horse, followed by a groom in a plain dark frock, with a cockade in
his hat.

It seemed to me on the instant that I had seen his face somewhere
before, and that I ought to know him; for the features all seemed
familiar, although had it been to save my life, I could not have said
where I had met him.

I was torturing my memory on this head in vain--for he was evidently an
Englishman, and I had no acquaintance with any English officer--when he
rode past a second time, and seemed to be engaged in endeavouring to
decipher the arms on our carriage, and his object appeared to be the
discovery of who _I_ was; at least, I could not but observe that he
looked at me from time to time with a furtive glance from under the brim
of his hat, as if he, too, fancied that he knew or remembered me.  The
same thing happened yet a third time; and then he called his servant to
his side, and I saw the man ride up a second afterwards to Judge
Selwyn's footman, who was standing at a few yards' distance from the
carriage, and ask him some question, which he answered by a word or two,
when the groom rode away.

The gentleman, on receiving the reply, nodded his head quietly, as if he
would have said, "I thought so," and then he looked at me steadily till
he caught my eye, when he raised his hat, made a half military bow, and
trotted slowly away.

Caroline's quick eye caught this action in an instant, and, turning to
me suddenly, she cried quickly--

"Ah!  Valerie, who is that? that handsome man who bowed to you?--Where
have I seen him before?"

"The very question which I was asking myself, Caroline.  I am quite sure
that I have seen his face, and yet I cannot remember where.  It is very
strange."

"Very!" replied a strange, sneering voice, close to my ear, with a
slightly foreign accent.  "Can you say where you have seen mine,
_Ingrate_?"

I turned my head as quick as lightning; for in answering Caroline, who
sat on the side of the carriage next to the military spectacle, I had
leaned a little inward; and there, with his effeminate features actually
livid with rage, and writhing with impotent malignity, stood Monsieur
G--, the infamous divorced husband of Madame d'Albret, and the first
cause of almost all my misfortunes.

I looked at him steadily, and replied with bitter but calm contempt--

"Perfectly well, Monsieur G--.  And very little did I suppose that I
should ever see it again.  I imagined, sir, that you were in your proper
place,--the galleys!"

It was wrong, doubtless, in me so to answer him--unfeminine, perhaps,
and too provocative of insult; but the blood of my race is hot, and
vehement to repel insult; and when I thought of the sufferings I had
endured, the trials I had encountered, and the contumely which I had
borne on account of that man, my every vein seemed to overflow with
passion.

"Ha!" he replied, grinding his teeth with rage, and becoming crimson
from the rush of blood to his head, while he grasped my wrist hard
with his hand, and shook it furiously.  "Ha! to the galleys
yourself--_Chienne!  Ingrate!  Perfide!  Traitresse! c'est aux galeres
que j'ai cru te rencontrer--ou plutot a la_--"

What further atrocity the ruffian was about to utter, I know not, for
while his odious voice was yet hissing in my ear these atrocious
epithets, before the footman who was standing, as I have said, a few
yards off at the other side of the carriage, had time to interfere, I
heard the sound of a horse at full gallop, and, the next instant, he was
dragged forcibly away, and I saw him quivering in the furious grasp of
the Count de Chavannes, who had, it seems, been returning to join us,
when the assault was committed.

To gallop to my side, to spring to the ground, to collar the ruffian,
drag him from the carriage, and lash him with his whole strength with a
rough jockey whip till he fairly screamed for mercy, were but the work
of a moment.

And I could not but marvel afterwards to think how much power and
nervous energy his indignant spirit had lent to his slight frame and
slender limbs; for in size, he was by no means superior to G--, whom he
nevertheless handled almost as if he had been a child of five years old.

Want of breath at last, rather than want of will, compelled him to pause
in his exercise; and then turning towards us with an air as composed and
smiling as if he had been merely dancing a quadrille, he took off his
hat, saying:--

"I must implore your pardon, ladies, yours more especially, Mademoiselle
Valerie, for enacting such a scene in your presence.  _Mais c'etait plus
fort que moi_!" he added, laughing.  "I could not contain myself at
seeing a lady so infamously insulted."

Caroline and the Misses Selwyn were so much frightened by the whole
fracas, that they were really unable to answer, and I was for the moment
so much taken by surprise, that I could not find words to reply.  At
this moment, covered with dust and blood, for the whip had cut his face
in several places, without his hat, and with all his gay attire
besmeared and rent, G--again came up towards the carriage.

He was very pale, nay white, even to the lips--but it was evidently not
with terror but with rage, as his first words testified--

"_Monsieur le Comte de Chavannes_," he said, slowly, "_car je vous
connais, et vous me connaitrez aussi, je vous le jure; vous m'avez
frappe, vous me rendrez satisfaction, n'est-ce pas_?"

"Oh! no, no," I exclaimed, before he could answer, clasping my hands
eagerly together, "oh, no, no! not on my account, I implore you,
Monsieur le Comte--no life on my account--above all, not yours!"

He thanked me by one expressive glance, which spoke volumes to my heart,
and perhaps read volumes in return, in my pale face and trembling lips,
then turned with a calm smile to his late antagonist, and answered him
in English.  "I do not know in the least, sir, who you are, and I do not
suppose that I ever shall know.  I chastised you, five minutes since,
for insulting this lady most grossly--"

"Lady!" interrupted the ruffian, with a sneer.  "Lady.  Lady of plea--"

But the Count went on without pausing or seeming to hear him--"which I
should have done at all events, whether I had known you or not, and
which I shall most assuredly do again, should you think fit to proceed
further with your infamies.  As for satisfaction, if I should be called
upon in a proper way, I shall not refuse it to any person worthy to meet
me."

"Which this person is not, sir," interposed yet a third voice; and,
looking up, I recognised the officer who had bowed to me: "which this
person is not, I assure you, and my word is wont to be sufficient in
such cases--Lieutenant-Colonel Jervis,"--he added, with a half bow to
me,--"late of His Majesty's--Light Dragoons.  This person is the
notorious Monsieur G--, who was detected cheating at ecarte at the
`Travellers,' was a defaulter on the St Leger in the St Patrick's year,
has been warned off every race-course in England, by the Jockey Club,
besides being horsewhipped by half the Legs in England.  He can get no
gentleman to bring you a message, sir; and if he could, you must not
meet him."

Gnashing his teeth with impotent rage, the detected impostor slunk away,
while the Count, bowing to Colonel Jervis, replied quietly--

"I thank you very much, Colonel.  I am Monsieur de Chavannes; and I have
no doubt what you say is perfectly correct.  No one but a low ruffian
could have behaved as this fellow did.  It was, I assure you, no small
offence which caused me to strike a blow in the presence of ladies."

"I saw it, Monsieur le Comte," answered Jervis, "I saw it from a
distance, and was coming up as fast as I could make my horse gallop,
when you anticipated me.  Then, seeing that I was not wanted, I stood
looking on with intense satisfaction; for, upon my word!  I never saw a
thing better done in my life.  No offence, Count, but by the way you use
your hands, I think you ought to have been an Englishman rather than a
Frenchman, which I suppose from your name--for you have no French
accent--you are."

"I was at school in England, Colonel," answered the Count, laughing,
"and so learned the use of my hands."

"That accounts for it--that accounts for it--for on my life, I never saw
a fellow more handsomely horsewhipped--and I have seen a good many, too.
Did you, Mademoiselle Valerie de Chatenoeuf; for I believe it is you
whom I have the honour of addressing?"

"I have been less fortunate than you, Colonel Jervis, for I never saw
any one horsewhipped before, and sincerely hope I shall never see
another."

"Don't say that, my dear lady, don't say that.  I am sure it is a very
pretty sight, when it is well and soundly done.  Besides it seems
ungrateful to the Count."

"I would not be ungrateful for the world," I replied; "and I am sure the
Count needs no assurance of that fact.  I am for ever obliged by his
prompt defence of me--but it is nothing more than I should have expected
from him."

"What, that he would fight for you, Valerie?" whispered Caroline,
maliciously, in a tone which, perhaps, she did not intend to be
overheard; but, if such was her meaning, she missed it, for all present
heard her distinctly.

I replied, however, very coolly--

"Yes, Caroline, that he would fight for me, or you, or any lady who was
aggrieved or insulted in his presence."

"_Mille graces_ for your good opinions!" said de Chavannes, with a bow,
and a glance that was far more eloquent than words.

"A truce to compliments, if you will not think me impertinent, Count,"
said the Colonel; "but I wish to ask this fair lady, if she will pardon
me one question; had you ever a friend called--"

"Adele Chabot!"  I interrupted him; "and I shall be most enchanted to
hear of her, or better still to see her, as Mrs Jervis."

"You have anticipated me; that is what I was about to say.  We arrived
in town last night; and she commissioned me at once to make out your
whereabouts for her.  The Gironacs told me that you were staying at
Kew--"

"Yes, at Judge Selwyn's.  By the way," I added, a little mischievously,
I confess, "allow me to make known to one another, Mrs Charles Selwyn,
_once_ Caroline Stanhope, and Colonel Jervis."

Jervis bowed low, but his cheek and brow burned a little, and he looked
sharply at me out of the corner of his eye; but I preserved such a
demure face, that he did not quite know whether I was _au fait_ or not.

Caroline, to do her justice, behaved exceedingly well.  Her character,
indeed, which had been quite unformed before her marriage, had gained
solidity, and her mind, judgment as well as tone, since her introduction
to a family so superior as that of the Selwyns.  And she now neither
blushed nor tittered, nor, indeed, showed any signs of consciousness,
although she gave me a sly pinch, while she was inquiring in her
sweetest voice and serenest manner after Adele, whom she said she had
always loved very much, and longed to see her sincerely in her new
station, which she was so admirably qualified to fill.  "I hear she was
vastly admired in Paris, Colonel; and no wonder, for I really think she
was the very prettiest creature I ever saw in my life.  You are a
fortunate man, Colonel Jervis."

"I am, indeed," said he, laughing.  "Adele is a very good little
creature, and the people were so good-natured as to be very civil to her
in Paris, especially your friend Madame d'Albret, Mademoiselle de
Chatenoeuf.  Nothing could exceed her attentions to us.  We are very
much indebted to you for her acquaintance.  By the way, Adele has no end
of letters, and presents of all sorts for you from her.  When can you
come and see Adele?"

"Where are you staying, Colonel Jervis?"

"At Thomas's Hotel, in Berkeley Square, at present, until we can find a
furnished house for the season.  In August we are going down to a little
cottage of mine, in the Highlands.  And I believe Adele has some plan
for inducing you to come down and bear her company, while I am
slaughtering grouse and black cock."

"Thanks, Colonel, both to you and Adele.  But I do not know how that
will be.  August is two whole months distant yet, and one never knows
what may happen in the course of two months.  Do you know I was half
thinking of paying a visit to France myself, when my brother who is on a
visit to me now, returns to join his regiment."

"Were you, indeed?" asked de Chavannes, more earnestly than the subject
seemed to warrant.  "I had not heard of that scheme before.  Is it
likely to be carried into effect, Mademoiselle?"

"I hardly know.  As yet it is little more than a distant dream."

"But you have not yet answered my question, Mademoiselle de Chatenoeuf,"
said the Colonel.  "You have not yet told me when you will come and see
Adele."

"Oh! pardon me, Colonel.  I return to town to-morrow, and I will not
lose a moment.  Suppose I say at one o'clock to-morrow, or two will be
better.  Caroline, the Judge was so good as to say that he would let his
carriage take me home; I dare say it can drop me at Thomas's, can it
not?"

"Certainly, _not_, Valerie!  There, don't stare now, or look indignant
or surprised.  It served you perfectly right; what did you expect me to
say?  Or why do you ask such silly questions?  Of course, it can take
you wherever you please, precisely as if it were your own."

"Then at two o'clock, I will be at Thomas's to-morrow, Colonel; in the
meantime, pray give Adele my best love."

"I will, indeed.  And now I will intrude upon you no longer, ladies," he
added, raising his hat.  "In fact, I owe you many apologies for the
liberty I have taken in introducing myself.  I hope you will believe I
would not have done so under any other circumstances."

We bowed, and, without any further remarks, he put spurs to his horse
and cantered away.

"A very gentlemanly person," said Caroline, "I think Adele has done very
well for herself."

"You had better not let Mr Charles Selwyn hear you say so, under all
circumstances, or I think that very likely the whipping we were talking
about in fun yesterday, will become real _cara mia_!"

"Nonsense! for shame, you mischievous thing!" said Caroline, blushing a
little, but not painfully.

"Who is this Colonel Jervis?" asked the Count de Chavannes.  "I was a
little puzzled, or rather _not_ a little: for at first none of you
seemed to know him; and, after a little while, you all appeared to know
him quite well.  Pray explain the mystery."

"He is a very gentlemanly person, Count, as Mrs Selwyn justly observes,
and, as you can perceive, a very handsome man.  Further than that, he
was Colonel of one of his Majesty's _crack_ regiments, as they call
them, and is now on half-pay.  He is, moreover, a man of high fashion,
and of the first standing in society.  And, last of all, which is the
secret of the whole, he is the husband of a very charming little
Frenchwoman, a particular friend of Caroline's and mine, one of the
prettiest and nicest persons on earth, with whom he ran away some six
months since, fancying her to be--"

"Valerie!" exclaimed Caroline, blushing fiery red.

"Caroline!" replied I, quietly.

"What _were_ you going to say?"

"Fancying her to be a very great heiress," I continued; "but finding her
to be a far better thing, a delightful, beautiful, and excellent wife."

"Happy man!" said de Chavannes, with a half sigh.

"Why do you say so, Count?"

"To have married one for whom you vouch so strongly.  Is that any common
fortune?"

"It is rather common, Count, just of late I mean," said Caroline,
laughing.  "You do not know that among Valerie's other accomplishments
she is the greatest little match-maker in existence.  She marries off
all her friends as fast--oh! you cannot think how fast."

"I _hope_, I mean to say I _think_," he corrected himself, not without
some little confusion, "that she is not quite so bad as you make her
out.  She has not yet made any match for herself, I believe.  No, no.  I
don't believe she is quite so bad."

"I would not be too sure, Count, were I you," she answered, desirous of
paying me off a little for some of the badinage with which I had treated
her.  "These ladies, with so many strings to their bow--"

It was now my time to exclaim "Caroline!" and I did so not without
giving some little emphasis of severity to my tone, for I really thought
she was going beyond the limits of propriety, if not of _persiflage_;
and I will do her the justice to say that she felt it herself, for she
blushed very much as I spoke, and was at once silent.

The awkwardness of this pause was fortunately broken by the return of
Auguste and Lionel at a sharp canter; for the review was now entirely at
an end, and they had now for the first moment remembered that, having
promised to return in a quarter of an hour, they had suffered two hours
or more to elapse, and that we were probably all alone.

Caroline immediately began to rally Lionel and Auguste; the former, with
whom she was very intimate, pretty severely, for their want of gallantry
in leaving us all alone and unprotected in such a crowd.

"Not the least danger--not the least!" replied Lionel hastily.  "Had we
not known that, we should have returned long ago."

"In proof of which _no_ danger, we have been all frightened nearly to
death; Mademoiselle Valerie de Chatenoeuf has been grievously affronted,
and I am not sure but she would have been beaten by a French _Chevalier
d'Industrie_, had it not been for the gallantry of the Count de
Chavannes."

And thereupon out came the whole history of Monsieur G--, his
horse-whipping, the opportune appearance of Colonel Jervis, and all the
curious circumstances of the scene.

I never in my life saw anyone so fearfully excited as Auguste.  He
turned white as ashes, even to his very lips, while his eyes literally
flashed fire, and his frame shivered as if he had been in an ague fit.
"_Il me le paiera_!" he muttered between his hard-set teeth.  "_Il me le
paiera, le scelerat!  Ma pauvre soeur--ma pauvre petite Valerie_!"

And then he shook the hand of Chavannes with the heartiest and warmest
emotion.  "I shall never forget this," he said, in a thick, low voice;
"never, never!  From this time forth, de Chavannes, we are friends for
ever.  But I shall never, never, be able to repay you."

"Nonsense, _mon cher_, nonsense," replied Chavannes.  "I did nothing--
positively nothing at all.  I should not have been a man, had I done
otherwise."

This had, however, no effect at all in stopping Auguste's exclamations
and professions of eternal gratitude; nor did he cease until Monsieur de
Chavannes said quietly, "Well, well, if you will have it so, say no more
about it; and one day or other I will ask a favour of you, which, if
granted, will leave me your debtor."

"_If_ granted!--it _is_ granted," exclaimed Auguste, impetuously.  "What
is it?--name it--I say it _is_ granted."

"Don't be rash, _mon cher_," replied the Count, laughing; "it is no
slight boon which I shall ask."

"Do not be foolish, Auguste," I interposed; "you are letting your
feelings get the better of you, strangely; and, Caroline, if you do not
tell the people to drive home, you will keep the Judge waiting dinner--a
proceeding to which you know he is by no means partial."

"You are right, as usual, Valerie; always thoughtful for other people.
So we will go home."

But, just as we were on the point of starting, the groom with the
cockade, whom we had seen following Colonel Jervis, trotted up, and,
touching his hat, asked, "I beg your pardon, gentlemen, but is any one
of you the Count de Chavannes?"

"I am," replied the Count; "what do you want with me, sir?"

"From Colonel Jervis, sir," replied the man, handing him a visiting
card.  "The Colonel's compliments, Count, and he begs you will do him
the favour, in case you hear anything more from that fellow, as you
horsewhipped, Count, to let him know at Thomas's at once, for you must
not treat him as a gentleman, no how, the Colonel says; and if so be he
gives you any trouble, the Colonel can get his flint fixed--the Colonel
can!"

"Thank you, my man," replied the Count; "give my compliments to your
master, and I am much obliged for his interest.  I shall do myself the
honour of waiting on the Colonel to-morrow.  Be so good as to tell him
so."

"I will, sir," said the man; and rode away without another word.

"You see, Monsieur de Chatenoeuf, you must not dream of noticing the
fellow as a gentleman," said the Count.

"Impossible!"  Lionel chimed in, almost in the same breath; and all the
ladies followed suit with their absolute "Impossible!"

A rapid drive brought us to the Judge's house at Kew, where we found
dinner nearly ready, though not waiting: and the events of the day were
the topic, and the Count the hero of the evening.

The next morning, we returned to town--Auguste and myself, I mean;
Monsieur de Chavannes having driven up from Kew in his own cabriolet
after dinner.

I called, according to my promise, and found Adele alone, and delighted
to see me, and in the highest possible spirits.  She was the happiest of
women, she said; and Colonel Jervis was everything that she could wish--
the kindest, most affectionate of husbands; and all that she now
desired, as she declared, was to see me established suitably.

"You had better let matters take their course, Adele," I answered.
"Though not much of a fatalist, I believe that when a person's time is
to come, it comes.  It avails nothing to hurry--nothing to endeavour to
retard it.  I shall fare, I doubt not, as my friends before me, dear
Adele; and, if I can consult as well for myself as I seem to have done
for my friends, I shall do very well.  Caroline, by the way, is quite as
happy as you declare yourself to be, and I doubt not are; for I like
your Colonel amazingly."

"I am delighted to hear it.  He also is charmed with you.  But who is
the Count de Chavannes, of whom he is so full just now?  He says he is
the only Frenchman he ever saw worthy to be an Englishman--which, though
_we_ may not exactly regard it as a compliment, he considers the
greatest thing he can say in any one's favour.  Who is this Count de
Chavannes, Valerie?"

I told her, in reply, all that I knew, and that you know, gentle reader,
about the Count de Chavannes.

"_Et puis?--Et puis_?" asked Adele, laughing.

"_Et puis_, nothing at all," I answered.

"No secrets among friends, Valerie," said Adele, looking me earnestly in
the face; "I had none with you, and you helped me with your advice.  Be
as frank, at least, with me, if you love me."

"I do love you dearly, Adele; and I have no secrets.  There is nothing
concerning which to have a secret."

"Nothing?--not this gay and gallant Count?"

"Not even he."

"And you are not about to become Madame la Comtesse?"

"I am not, indeed."

"Indeed--in very deed?"

"In very--very deed."

"Well, I do not understand it.  By what Jervis told me, I presumed it
was a settled thing."

"The Colonel was mistaken.  There is nothing settled or unsettled."

"And do you, really, not like him?"

"I really _do_ like him, Adele, as a very pleasant companion for an hour
or two, and as a very perfect gentleman."

"Yes, he told me all that.  But, if you like him so well, why not like
him better?  Why not love him?"

"I will be plain and true with you, Adele.  I do not choose to consider
at all, whether I could or could _not_, love him.  He has never asked
me, has never spoken of love to me; and putting it out of the question
that it is unmaidenly to love unasked, I am sure it is unwise."

"I understand, I understand.  But he _will_ ask you, that is certain;
and, when he does ask, what shall you say?"

"It will be time enough to consider when that time shall come."

"Another way of saying, `I shall say _yes_!'  But come, Valerie, you
must promise me that if you need my assistance, you will call upon me
for it.  You _know_ that anything I can do for you will be done without
a thought but how I best may serve you; and Jervis will do likewise,
since he, as I do, considers that under Heaven, we owe our happiness to
you."

"I promise it."

"Enough; I will ask no more.  Now come up to my room, and I will give
you Madame d'Albret's letters, and some pretty presents she has sent
you.  Do you know, Valerie, nothing could exceed her kindness to us.  I
believe she repents bitterly her unkindness to you.  I cannot repeat the
terms of praise and admiration which she applied to you."

"And do you know, Adele, that it was her infamous and miserable husband,
Monsieur G--, whom the Count horsewhipped this very day, for insulting
me?"

"Indeed? was it indeed?  That man's enmity to you will never cease, so
long as he has life.  No, Jervis did not tell me who it was, thinking, I
fancy, that neither you nor I would have so much as known his name.  But
never care about the wretch.  Here is Madame's letter."

It was as kind a letter as could be written, full of thanks for the
favour I had shown her in introducing my friends to her, and of hopes
that we should one day meet again, when all the past should be
forgotten, and I should resume my own place and station in the society
of my own land.  She begged my acceptance of the pretty dresses she
sent, which she said she had selected, not for their value, but because
they were pretty; and, in her postscript, she added, what of course
outweighed all the rest of her letter, both in interest and importance,
that she had recently been informed through a strange channel, and, as
it were, by accident, that my mother's health was failing, seriously,
and that, although not attacked by any regular disorder, nor in any
immediate danger, it was not thought probable that she could live much
longer.  "In that case, Valerie," she continued, "for, although no one
could be so unnatural as to _wish_ for a mother's death, how cruel and
unmotherly she might be soever, it cannot be expected that you should
regard her decease with more than decent observation, and a proper
seriousness, and I shall look to see you dwelling again among us, and
spending the little fortune which I understand you have so bravely
earned, in the midst of your friends, and in your own country."

"That I shall never do," I said, speaking aloud, though in answer partly
to her letter, partly to my own words; "that I shall never do.  Visit
France I may, once and again; but in England I shall dwell.  France
banished and repudiated me like a step-mother--England received me,
kinder than my own, like a mother.  In England I shall dwell."

"Wait till you see the lord of your destinies; and learn where he shall
dwell.  You will have to say, like the rest of us, `Your country shall
be my country, and your God my God,'"--observed Adele interrupting my
musings.

"The first perhaps--the last never! never!  Catholic I was born,
Catholic I will die.  I do _not_ say that I will never marry any but a
Catholic, but I _do_ say that I will never marry but one who will
approve my adoring my own God, according to my own conscience."

"Is the Count de Chavannes a Catholic?"

"Indeed, I know not.  But he is a Breton, and the Bretons are a loyal
race, both to their king and their God."

I now turned to finish my reading, which had been for the moment
interrupted.

"Indeed, my dear Valerie," she concluded her letter, "I have long felt
that although we were certainly justified by the circumstances of your
situation, in taking the steps we did at that time, we have been hardly
pardonable in persisting so long in the maintenance of a falsehood,
which has certainly been the cause of great pain and suffering to both
your parents, the innocent no less than the guilty.  I know that your
mother can never forgive me for aiding you in your escape from her
authority; but for my part, I am willing to bear her enmity, rather than
persist in further concealment, so that you need not in any degree
consider me in any steps which you may think it wise or right to take
towards revelation and reconciliation.  Indeed I think, Valerie, that if
it can be done with due regard to your own safety and happiness, you
ought to discover yourself to both your parents, and, if possible, even
to visit the most unhappy, because the guiltier of the two, before her
dissolution, which I really believe to be now very near at hand.
Everyone knows so well what you have undergone, that no blame will
attach to you in the least degree.  Allow me to add, that should you
return to France, as I hope you will do, I shall never forgive you if
you do not make my house your home."

This postscript, as will readily be believed, gave me more cause for
thought than all the letter beside, and rendered me exceedingly uneasy.
If I had felt ill-satisfied before with my condition and my concealment,
much more was I now discontented with myself, and unhappy.  I was almost
resolved to return at all hazards with Auguste; and, indeed, when I
consulted with Adele, she leaned very much towards the same opinion.  I
would not, however, do anything rashly, but determined to consult not
only with my brother, but with the Judge, in whose wisdom I had no less
confidence than I had in his friendship and integrity.

Things, however, were destined to occur, which in some degree altered
and hastened all my proceedings, for that very evening when the Gironacs
had retired, on my beginning to consult Auguste, "Listen to me a moment,
before you tell me about your letters from France, or anything about
returning, and I entreat you answer me truly, and let no false modesty,
or little missish delicacy, prevent your doing so.  Many a life has been
rendered miserable by such foolishness, I have heard say; and being, as
it were, almost alone in the world, as if an only brother with an only
sister, to whom, if not to one another, should we speak freely?"

"You need not have made so long a preamble, dear Auguste," I replied
with a smile; "of course, I will answer you; and, when I say that, of
course I will answer truly."

"Well, then, Valerie, do you like this Count de Chavannes?"

"It is an odd question, but--Yes.  I do like him."

"Do you love him, Valerie?"

"Oh!  Auguste--that is not fair.  Besides, he has never spoken to me of
love.  He has never--I do not know whether he loves me--I have no reason
to believe that he does."

"No reason!"--he exclaimed, half surprised, half indignant--"no reason!
I should think--but never mind--answer me this; if he did love you, do
you love him or like him enough to take him for your husband?"

"He has spoken to you, Auguste--he has spoken to you!"  I exclaimed,
blushing very deeply, but unable to conceal my gratification.

"I am answered, Valerie, by the sparkle of those bright eyes.  Yes, he
has spoken to me, dearest sister; and asked my influence with you, and
my permission to address you."

"And you replied--?"

"And I replied, that my permission was a matter of no consequence, for
that you were entirely your own mistress, and that my influence would be
exerted only to induce you to follow your own judgment and inclinations,
and to consult for your own happiness."

"Answered like a good and wise brother.  And then he--?"

"Asked, whether I could form any opinion of the state of your feelings.
To which I replied, that I could only say that I had reason to suppose
that your hand and heart were neither of them engaged, and that the
field was open to him if he chose to make a trial.  But that I had no
opportunity of judging how you felt toward him.  I also said, that I
thought you knew very little of each other, and that his attachment must
have grown up too rapidly to have taken a very strong root.  But there I
found I was mistaken.  For he assured me that it was from esteem of your
character, and admiration of your energy, courage, and constancy under
adversity, not from the mere prettiness of your face, or niceness of
your manners, that he first began to love you.  And I since ascertained
that there is scarce an incident of your life with which he has not made
himself acquainted, and that in the most delicate and guarded manner.  I
confess, Valerie, that it has raised him greatly in my estimation to
find that he looks upon marriage as a thing so serious and solemn, and
does not rush into it from mere fancy for a pretty face and lady-like
accomplishments."

"I think so too, Auguste," I replied.  "But I wish we knew a little more
about him.  His character and principles, I mean."

Auguste looked at me for a moment, in great surprise.  "What an
exceedingly matter-of-fact girl you are, Valerie; I never knew any one
in the least like you.  Do you know I am afraid you are a little--" and
he paused a moment, as if he hardly knew how to proceed.

"A little hard and cold, is it not, dear Auguste?" said I, throwing my
arms about him.  "No, no, indeed I am not; but I have been cast so long
on my own sole resources, and obliged to rely only on my own energy and
clear-sightedness, that I always try to look at both sides of the
question, and not to let my feelings overpower me, until I have proved
that it is good and wise to do so.  Consider, too, Auguste, that on this
step depends the whole happiness or misery of a girl's existence."

"You are right, Valerie, and I am wrong.  But tell me, do you love him?"

"I do, Auguste.  I like him better than any man I have ever seen.  He is
the only man of whom I could think as a husband--and I have for some
time past been fearful of liking him--loving him, too much, not knowing,
though I did believe and hope, that he reciprocated my feelings.  And
now, if I knew but a little more of his principles and character, I
would not hesitate."

"Then you need not hesitate, dearest Valerie; for, as if to obviate this
objection, he showed me, in the most delicate manner, private letters
from his oldest and most intimate friends, and especially from Mr --, a
most respectable clergyman, who lives at Hendon, by whom he was
educated, and with whom he has maintained constant intercourse and
correspondence ever since.  This alone speaks very highly in his favour,
and the terms in which he writes to his pupil, are such as prove them
both to be men of the highest character for worth, integrity, and
virtue.  He has proposed, moreover, that I should ride down with him
to-morrow to Hendon, to visit Mr --, and to hear from his own lips yet
more of his character and conduct, that is to say, if I can give him any
hopes of ultimate success."

"Well, Auguste," I replied, "I think with you, that all this speaks very
highly in favour of your friend; and I think that the best thing you can
do, is to take this ride which he proposes, and see his tutor.  In the
meantime, I will drive down to Kew, and speak with our good friend,
Judge Selwyn, on the subject.  To-morrow evening I will see the Count,
and hear whatever he desires to say to me."

This was a very matter-of-fact way of dealing with the affair,
certainly; but what Auguste had said, was in some sort true.  I was in
truth rather a matter-of-fact girl, and I never found that I suffered by
it in the least; for I certainly was not either worldly or selfish, and
the feelings do, as certainly, require to be guided and controlled by
sober reason.

After coming to this conclusion, I showed Madame d'Albret's letter to
Auguste, and we came to the decision, also, that, under the
circumstances, Auguste should immediately, on his return, communicate
the fact of my being alive and in good circumstances, to my father;
leaving it at his discretion to inform my mother of the facts or not, as
he might judge expedient.

At a very early hour next morning, I took a glass-coach and drove down
to Kew, where I arrived, greatly to the astonishment of the whole
family, just as they were sitting down to breakfast; and, when I stated
that I had come to speak on very urgent business with the Judge, he
desired my carriage to return to town, and proposed to carry me back
himself, so that we might kill two birds, as he expressed it, with one
stone, holding a consultation in his carriage, while on his way to
court.

As soon as we got into the coach, while I was hesitating how to open the
subject, which was certainly a little awkward for a young girl, the
Judge took up the discourse--

"Well, Valerie," he said, "I suppose you want to know the result of the
inquiries which you were so unwilling that I should make about the Count
de Chavannes.  Is not that true?"

"It is perfectly true, Judge--though I do not know how you ever have
divined it."

"It is lucky, at least, that I consulted my own judgment, rather than
your fancy; for otherwise I should have had no information to give you."

"But as it is, Judge?"

"Why as it is, Mademoiselle Valerie, you may marry him as soon as ever
he asks you, and think yourself a very lucky young lady into the
bargain.  He has a character such as not one man in fifty can produce.
He is rich, liberal without being extravagant, never plays, is by no
means dissipated, and in all respects is a man of honour, ability, and
character; such is what I have learned from a quarter where there can be
no mistake."

I was a good deal affected for a moment or two, and was very near
bursting into tears.  The good Judge took my hand in his, and spoke
soothingly and almost caressingly, bidding me confide in him altogether,
and he would advise me, as if he were my own father.

I did so accordingly; and, while he approved highly of all that I had
done, and of the delicate and gentlemanly manner in which the Count had
acted, he fully advised me to deal frankly and directly with him.  "You
like him, I am sure, Valerie; indeed, I believe I knew that before you
did yourself, and I have no doubt he will make you an admirable husband.
Tell him all, show him this letter of your friend Madame d'Albret's,
about your mother, and if he desires it, as I dare say he will, marry
him at once, and set out together with Auguste, for France, when his
leave of absence is expired, and go directly to Paris with your husband.
As a married woman, your parents will have no authority of any kind
over you, and I think it is your duty to do so."

I agreed with him at once; and, when in the evening Auguste returned
with the Count from a visit to his former tutor, which had been in all
respects satisfactory, and left me alone with Monsieur de Chavannes,
everything was determined without difficulty.

Love-scenes and courtships, though vastly interesting to the actors, are
always the dullest things in the world to bystanders; I shall therefore
proceed at once to the end, merely stating that the Count _was_ all, and
_did_ all, that the most _exigeante_ of women could have required--that
from the first to the last he was full of delicacy, of tenderness, and
honour, and that after twelve years of a happy life with him, I have
never had cause to repent for a moment that I consented to give him the
hand, which he so ardently desired.

The joy of Madame Gironac can be imagined better than described, as well
as the manner in which she bustled about my _trousseau_ and my outfit
for France, as it was determined that the Judge's plan should be adopted
to the letter, and that we should start directly from St George's to
Dover and Calais.

Never, perhaps, was a marriage more rapidly organised and completed.
The law-business was expedited with all speed by Charles Selwyn; Madame
Bathurst, the Jervises, the Gironacs, and the Selwyns were alone present
at the wedding, and, though we were all dear friends, there was no
affectation of tears or lamentable partings; for we knew that in
heaven's pleasure, we should all meet again within a few months, as,
after our wedding tour was ended, Monsieur de Chavannes proposed to take
up his abode in England, the land of his choice, as of his education.

There was no bishop to perform the ceremony, nor any _duke_ to give away
the bride.  No long array of liveried servants with favours in their
buttons and in their hats--no pompous paragraph in the morning papers to
describe the beauties of the high-bred bride and the dresses of her
aristocratic bridesmaids--but two hearts were united as well as two
hands, and Heaven smiled upon the union.

A quick and pleasant passage carried us to Paris, where I was received
with raptures by my good old friend, Madame Paon, and with sincere
satisfaction by Madame d'Albret, who was proud to recognise her old
protegee in the new character of the Comtesse de Chavannes, a character
which she imagined reflected no small credit on her tuition and
patronage.

The threatened _emeute_ having passed over, Auguste easily obtained a
renewal of his leave of absence in order to visit his family at Pau,
and, as he preceded us by three days, and travelled with the utmost
diligence, he outstripped us by nearly a week, and we found both my
parents prepared to receive us, and both _really_ happy at the
prosperous tidings.

My poor mother was indeed dying; had we come two days later we should
have been too late, for she died in my arms on the day following our
arrival, enraptured to find herself relieved from the heinous crime of
which she had so long believed herself guilty, and blessing me with her
dying lips.

My father who had always loved me, and who had erred through weakness of
head only, seemed never to weary of sitting beside me, of holding my
hand in his, and of gazing in my face.  With Monsieur de Chavannes'
consent, the whole of my little earnings, amounting now to nearly 3500
pounds, was settled on him for his life, and then on my sisters, and the
income arising from it, though a mere trifle in England, in that cheap
region sufficed with what he possessed of his own, to render his old age
affluent and happy.

Thus all my trials ended; and, if the beginning of my career was painful
and disastrous, the cares and sorrows of Valerie de Chatenoeuf had been
more than compensated by the happiness of Valerie de Chavannes.

I may as well mention here that a few years afterwards, Lionel Dempster
married my second sister, Elisee, a very nice and very handsome girl,
and has settled very close to the villa which the Count purchased on his
return from France, near Windsor, on the lovely Thames, ministering not
a little by their company to the bliss of our happy, peaceful life.

My eldest brother, Auguste, is now a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Line,
having greatly distinguished himself in Algeria; Nicholas, who never
returned to France, has acquired both renown and riches by his musical
abilities, and all the younger branches of the family are happily
provided for.

I have three sweet children, one boy, and two little girls, and the
difficulties and sorrows I experienced, owing to an evil and injudicious
course of education, have been so far of use, that they have taught me
how to bring up my own children, even more to love and honour than to
obey.

Perfect happiness is not allotted to any here below; but few and short
have been the latter sorrows, and infinite the blessings vouchsafed by a
kind Providence, to the once poor and houseless, but now rich, and
honoured, and, better than all, _loved_ Valerie.

THE END.





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