Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Dream
Author: Zola, Émile, 1840-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "The Dream" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE DREAM

(LE REVE)

By Emile Zola


Translated by Eliza E. Chase



CHAPTER I

During the severe winter of 1860 the river Oise was frozen over and the
plains of Lower Picardy were covered with deep snow. On Christmas Day,
especially, a heavy squall from the north-east had almost buried the
little city of Beaumont. The snow, which began to fall early in the
morning, increased towards evening and accumulated during the night;
in the upper town, in the Rue des Orfevres, at the end of which, as if
enclosed therein, is the northern front of the cathedral transept,
this was blown with great force by the wind against the portal of Saint
Agnes, the old Romanesque portal, where traces of Early Gothic could be
seen, contrasting its florid ornamentation with the bare simplicity of
the transept gable.

The inhabitants still slept, wearied by the festive rejoicings of the
previous day. The town-clock struck six. In the darkness, which was
slightly lightened by the slow, persistent fall of flakes, a vague
living form alone was visible: that of a little girl, nine years of age,
who, having taken refuge under the archway of the portal, had passed the
night there, shivering, and sheltering herself as well as possible. She
wore a thin woollen dress, ragged from long use, her head was covered
with a torn silk handkerchief, and on her bare feet were heavy shoes
much too large for her. Without doubt she had only gone there after
having well wandered through the town, for she had fallen down from
sheer exhaustion. For her it was the end of the world; there was no
longer anything to interest her. It was the last surrender; the hunger
that gnaws, the cold which kills; and in her weakness, stifled by the
heavy weight at her heart, she ceased to struggle, and nothing was
left to her but the instinctive movement of preservation, the desire of
changing place, of sinking still deeper into these old stones, whenever
a sudden gust made the snow whirl about her.

Hour after hour passed. For a long time, between the divisions of this
double door, she leaned her back against the abutting pier, on whose
column was a statue of Saint Agnes, the martyr of but thirteen years of
age, a little girl like herself, who carried a branch of palm, and at
whose feet was a lamb. And in the tympanum, above the lintel, the whole
legend of the Virgin Child betrothed to Jesus could be seen in high
relief, set forth with a charming simplicity of faith. Her hair, which
grew long and covered her like a garment when the Governor, whose son
she had refused to marry, gave her up to the soldiers; the flames of
the funeral pile, destined to destroy her, turning aside and burning her
executioners as soon as they lighted the wood; the miracles performed
by her relics; Constance, daughter of the Emperor, cured of leprosy; and
the quaint story of one of her painted images, which, when the priest
Paulinus offered it a very valuable emerald ring, held out its finger,
then withdrew it, keeping the ring, which can be seen at this present
day. At the top of the tympanum, in a halo of glory, Agnes is at last
received into heaven, where her betrothed, Jesus, marries her, so young
and so little, giving her the kiss of eternal happiness.

But when the wind rushed through the street, the snow was blown in the
child's face, and the threshold was almost barred by the white masses;
then she moved away to the side, against the virgins placed above the
base of the arch. These are the companions of Agnes, the saints who
served as her escort: three at her right--Dorothea, who was fed in
prison by miraculous bread; Barbe, who lived in a tower; and Genevieve,
whose heroism saved Paris: and three at her left--Agatha, whose breast
was torn; Christina, who was put to torture by her father; and Cecilia,
beloved by the angels. Above these were statues and statues; three
close ranks mounting with the curves of the arches, decorating them with
chaste triumphant figures, who, after the suffering and martyrdom
of their earthly life, were welcomed by a host of winged cherubim,
transported with ecstasy into the Celestial Kingdom.

There had been no shelter for the little waif for a long time, when at
last the clock struck eight and daylight came. The snow, had she not
trampled it down, would have come up to her shoulders. The old door
behind her was covered with it, as if hung with ermine, and it looked
as white as an altar, beneath the grey front of the church, so bare and
smooth that not even a single flake had clung to it. The great saints,
those of the sloping surface especially, were clothed in it, and were
glistening in purity from their feet to their white beards. Still
higher, in the scenes of the tympanum, the outlines of the little saints
of the arches were designed most clearly on a dark background, and this
magic sect continued until the final rapture at the marriage of Agnes,
which the archangels appeared to be celebrating under a shower of white
roses. Standing upon her pillar, with her white branch of palm and her
white lamp, the Virgin Child had such purity in the lines of her body of
immaculate snow, that the motionless stiffness of cold seemed to congeal
around her the mystic transports of victorious youth. And at her feet
the other child, so miserable, white with snow--she also grew so stiff
and pale that it seemed as if she were turning to stone, and could
scarcely be distinguished from the great images above her.

At last, in one of the long line of houses in which all seemed to be
sleeping, the noise from the drawing up of a blind made her raise her
eyes. It was at her right hand, in the second story of a house at the
side of the Cathedral. A very handsome woman, a brunette about forty
years of age, with a placid expression of serenity, was just looking out
from there, and in spite of the terrible frost she kept her uncovered
arm in the air for a moment, having seen the child move. Her calm face
grew sad with pity and astonishment. Then, shivering, she hastily closed
the window. She carried with her the rapid vision of a fair little
creature with violet-coloured eyes under a head-covering of an old silk
handkerchief. The face was oval, the neck long and slender as a lily,
and the shoulders drooping; but she was blue from cold, her little hands
and feet were half dead, and the only thing about her that still showed
life was the slight vapour of her breath.

The child remained with her eyes upturned, looking at the house
mechanically. It was a narrow one, two stories in height, very old, and
evidently built towards the end of the fifteenth century. It was almost
sealed to the side of the Cathedral, between two buttresses, like a wart
which had pushed itself between the two toes of a Colossus. And thus
supported on each side, it was admirably preserved, with its stone
basement, its second story in wooden panels, ornamented with bricks,
its roof, of which the framework advanced at least three feet beyond the
gable, its turret for the projecting stairway at the left corner, where
could still be seen in the little window the leaden setting of long ago.
At times repairs had been made on account of its age. The tile-roofing
dated from the reign of Louis XIV, for one easily recognised the work
of that epoch; a dormer window pierced in the side of the turret, little
wooden frames replacing everywhere those of the primitive panes; the
three united openings of the second story had been reduced to two, that
of the middle being closed up with bricks, thus giving to the front the
symmetry of the other buildings on the street of a more recent date.

In the basement the changes were equally visible, an oaken door with
mouldings having taken the place of the old one with iron trimmings that
was under the stairway; and the great central arcade, of which the lower
part, the sides, and the point had been plastered over, so as to leave
only one rectangular opening, was now a species of large window, instead
of the triple-pointed one which formerly came out on to the street.

Without thinking, the child still looked at this venerable dwelling of a
master-builder, so well preserved, and as she read upon a little yellow
plate nailed at the left of the door these words, "Hubert, chasuble
maker," printed in black letters, she was again attracted by the sound
of the opening of a shutter. This time it was the blind of the square
window of the ground floor. A man in his turn looked out; his face was
full, his nose aquiline, his forehead projecting, and his thick short
hair already white, although he was scarcely yet five-and-forty. He,
too, forgot the air for a moment as he examined her with a sad wrinkle
on his great tender mouth. Then she saw him, as he remained standing
behind the little greenish-looking panes. He turned, beckoned to
someone, and his wife reappeared. How handsome she was! They both stood
side by side, looking at her earnestly and sadly.

For four hundred years, the line of Huberts, embroiderers from father
to son, had lived in this house. A noted maker of chasubles had built it
under Louis XI, another had repaired it under Louis XIV, and the Hubert
who now occupied it still embroidered church vestments, as his ancestors
had always done. At twenty years of age he had fallen in love with a
young girl of sixteen, Hubertine, and so deep was their affection for
each other, that when her mother, widow of a magistrate, refused to give
her consent to their union, they ran away together and were married. She
was remarkably beautiful, and that was their whole romance, their joy,
and their misfortune.

When, a year later, she went to the deathbed of her mother, the latter
disinherited her and gave her her curse. So affected was she by the
terrible scene, that her infant, born soon after, died, and since then
it seemed as if, even in her coffin in the cemetery, the willful
woman had never pardoned her daughter, for it was, alas! a childless
household. After twenty-four years they still mourned the little one
they had lost.

Disturbed by their looks, the stranger tried to hide herself behind the
pillar of Saint Agnes. She was also annoyed by the movement which now
commenced in the street, as the shops were being opened and people began
to go out. The Rue des Orfevres, which terminates at the side front of
the church, would be almost impassable, blocked in as it is on one side
by the house of the Huberts, if the Rue du Soleil, a narrow lane, did
not relieve it on the other side by running the whole length of the
Cathedral to the great front on the Place du Cloitre. At this hour there
were few passers, excepting one or two persons who were on their way to
early service, and they looked with surprise at the poor little girl,
whom they did not recognise as ever having seen at Beaumont. The slow,
persistent fall of snow continued. The cold seemed to increase with the
wan daylight, and in the dull thickness of the great white shroud which
covered the town one heard, as if from a distance, the sound of voices.
But timid, ashamed of her abandonment, as if it were a fault, the
child drew still farther back, when suddenly she recognised before her
Hubertine, who, having no servant, had gone out to buy bread.

"What are you doing there, little one? Who are you?"

She did not answer, but hid her face. Then she was no longer conscious
of suffering; her whole being seemed to have faded away, as if her
heart, turned to ice, had stopped beating. When the good lady turned
away with a pitying look, she sank down upon her knees completely
exhausted, and slipped listlessly into the snow, whose flakes quickly
covered her.

And the woman, as she returned with her fresh rolls, seeing that she had
fallen, again approached her.

"Look up, my child! You cannot remain here on this doorstep."

Then Hubert, who had also come out, and was standing near the threshold,
took the bread from his wife, and said:

"Take her up and bring her into the house."

Hubertine did not reply, but, stooping, lifted her in her strong arms.
And the child shrank back no longer, but was carried as if inanimate;
her teeth closely set, her eyes shut, chilled through and through, and
with the lightness of a little bird that had just fallen from its nest.

They went in. Hubert shut the door, while Hubertine, bearing her burden,
passed through the front room, which served as a parlour, and where
some embroidered bands were spread out for show before the great
square window. Then she went into the kitchen, the old servants' hall,
preserved almost intact, with its heavy beams, its flagstone floor
mended in a dozen places, and its great fireplace with its stone
mantelpiece. On shelves were the utensils, the pots, kettles, and
saucepans, that dated back one or two centuries; and the dishes were
of old stone, or earthenware, and of pewter. But on the middle of the
hearth was a modern cooking-stove, a large cast-iron one, whose copper
trimmings were wondrously bright. It was red from heat, and the
water was bubbling away in its boiler. A large porringer, filled with
coffee-and-milk, was on one corner of it.

"Oh! how much more comfortable it is here than outside," said Hubert, as
he put the bread down on a heavy table of the style of Louis XIII, which
was in the centre of the room. "Now, seat this poor little creature near
the stove that she may be thawed out!"

Hubertine had already placed the child close to the fire, and they both
looked at her as she slowly regained consciousness. As the snow that
covered her clothes melted it fell in heavy drops. Through the holes of
her great shoes they could see her little bruised feet, whilst the thin
woollen dress designed the rigidity of her limbs and her poor body, worn
by misery and pain. She had a long attack of nervous trembling, and then
opened her frightened eyes with the start of an animal which suddenly
awakes from sleep to find itself caught in a snare. Her face seemed to
sink away under the silken rag which was tied under her chin. Her
right arm appeared to be helpless, for she pressed it so closely to her
breast.

"Do not be alarmed, for we will not hurt you. Where did you come from?
Who are you?"

But the more she was spoken to the more frightened she became, turning
her head as if someone were behind her who would beat her. She examined
the kitchen furtively, the flaggings, the beams, and the shining
utensils; then her glance passed through the irregular windows which
were left in the ancient opening, and she saw the garden clear to the
trees by the Bishop's house, whose white shadows towered above the wall
at the end, while at the left, as if astonished at finding itself there,
stretched along the whole length of the alley the Cathedral, with its
Romanesque windows in the chapels of its apses. And again, from the
heat of the stove which began to penetrate her, she had a long attack
of shivering, after which she turned her eyes to the floor and remained
quiet.

"Do you belong to Beaumont? Who is your father?"

She was so entirely silent that Hubert thought her throat must be too
dry to allow her to speak.

Instead of questioning her he said: "We would do much better to give her
a cup of coffee as hot as she can drink it."

That was so reasonable that Hubertine immediately handed her the cup
she herself held. Whilst she cut two large slices of bread and buttered
them, the child, still mistrustful, continued to shrink back; but her
hunger was too great, and soon she ate and drank ravenously. That there
need not be a restraint upon her, the husband and wife were silent, and
were touched to tears on seeing her little hand tremble to such a degree
that at times it was difficult for her to reach her mouth. She made use
only of her left hand, for her right arm seemed to be fastened to her
chest. When she had finished, she almost broke the cup, which she caught
again by an awkward movement of her elbow.

"Have you hurt your arm badly?" Hubertine asked. "Do not be afraid, my
dear, but show it to me."

But as she was about to touch it the child rose up hastily, trying
to prevent her, and as in the struggle she moved her arm, a little
pasteboard-covered book, which she had hidden under her dress, slipped
through a large tear in her waist. She tried to take it, and when she
saw her unknown hosts open and begin to read it, she clenched her fist
in anger.

It was an official certificate, given by the Administration des Enfants
Assistes in the Department of the Seine. On the first page, under a
medallion containing a likeness of Saint Vincent de Paul, were the
printed prescribed forms. For the family name, a simple black line
filled the allotted space. Then for the Christian names were those of
Angelique Marie; for the dates, born January 22, 1851, admitted the 23rd
of the same month under the registered number of 1,634. So there was
neither father nor mother; there were no papers; not even a statement of
where she was born; nothing but this little book of official coldness,
with its cover of pale red pasteboard. No relative in the world! and
even her abandonment numbered and classed!

"Oh! then she is a foundling!" exclaimed Hubertine.

In a paroxysm of rage the child replied: "I am much better than all
the others--yes--yes! I am better, better, better. I have never taken
anything that did not belong to me, and yet they stole all I had. Give
me back, now, that which you also have stolen from me!"

Such powerless passion, such pride to be above the others in goodness,
so shook the body of the little girl, that the Huberts were startled.
They no longer recognised the blonde creature, with violet eyes and
graceful figure. Now her eyes were black, her face dark, and her neck
seemed swollen by a rush of blood to it. Since she had become warm, she
raised her head and hissed like a serpent that had been picked up on the
snow.

"Are you then really so naughty?" asked Hubert gently. "If we wish to
know all about you, it is because we wish to help you."

And looking over the shoulders of his wife he read as the latter turned
the leaves of the little book. On the second page was the name of the
nurse. "The child, Angelique Marie, had been given, on January 25, 1851,
to the nurse, Francoise, sister of Mr. Hamelin, a farmer by profession,
living in the parish of Soulanges, an arrondissement of Nevers. The
aforesaid nurse had received on her departure the pay for the first
month of her care, in addition to her clothing." Then there was a
certificate of her baptism, signed by the chaplain of the Asylum for
Abandoned Children; also that of the physician on the arrival and on
the departure of the infant. The monthly accounts, paid in quarterly
installments, filled farther on the columns of four pages, and each time
there was the illegible signature of the receiver or collector.

"What! Nevers!" asked Hubertine. "You were brought up near Nevers?"

Angelique, red with anger that she could not prevent them from reading,
had fallen into a sullen silence. But at last she opened her mouth to
speak of her nurse.

"Ah! you may be sure that Maman Nini would have beaten you. She always
took my part against others, she did, although sometimes she struck me
herself. Ah! it is true I was not so unhappy over there, with the cattle
and all!"

Her voice choked her and she continued, in broken, incoherent sentences,
to speak of the meadow where she drove the great red cow, of the broad
road where she played, of the cakes they cooked, and of a pet house-dog
that had once bitten her.

Hubert interrupted her as he read aloud: "In case of illness, or of bad
treatment, the superintendent is authorised to change the nurses of the
children." Below it was written that the child Angelique Marie had been
given on June 20 to the care of Theresa, wife of Louis Franchomme, both
of them makers of artificial flowers in Paris.

"Ah! I understand," said Hubertine. "You were ill, and so they took you
back to Paris."

But no, that was not the case, and the Huberts did not know the whole
history until they had drawn it, little by little from Angelique. Louis
Franchomme, who was a cousin of Maman Nini, went to pass a month in his
native village when recovering from a fever. It was then that his wife,
Theresa, became very fond of the child, and obtained permission to take
her to Paris, where she could be taught the trade of making flowers.
Three months later her husband died, and she herself, being delicate in
health, was obliged to leave the city and to go to her brother's, the
tanner Rabier, who was settled at Beaumont. She, alas! died in the early
days of December, and confided to her sister-in-law the little girl,
who since that time had been injured, beaten, and, in short, suffered
martyrdom.

"The Rabiers?" said Hubert. "The Rabiers? Yes, yes! They are tanners on
the banks of the Ligneul, in the lower town. The husband is lame, and
the wife is a noted scold."

"They treated me as if I came from the gutter," continued Angelique,
revolted and enraged in her mortified pride. "They said the river was
the best place for me. After she had beaten me nearly to death, the
woman would put something on the floor for me to eat, as if I were a
cat, and many a time I went to bed suffering from hunger. Oh! I could
have killed myself, at last!" She made a gesture of furious despair.

"Yesterday, Christmas morning, they had been drinking, and, to amuse
themselves, they threatened to put out my eyes. Then, after a while,
they began to fight with each other, and dealt such heavy blows that I
thought they were dead, as they both fell on the floor of their room.
For a long time I had determined to run away. But I was anxious to have
my book. Maman Nini had often said, in showing it to me: 'Look, this is
all that you own, and if you do not keep this you will not even have a
name.' And I know that since the death of Maman Theresa they had hid
it in one of the bureau drawers. So stepping over them as quietly as
possible, while they were lying on the floor, I got the book, hid it
under my dress-waist, pressing it against me with my arm. It seemed so
large that I fancied everyone must see it, and that it would be taken
from me. Oh! I ran, and ran, and ran, and when night came it was so
dark! Oh! how cold I was under the poor shelter of that great door! Oh
dear! I was so cold, it seemed as if I were dead. But never mind now,
for I did not once let go of my book, and here it is." And with a sudden
movement, as the Huberts closed it to give it back to her, she snatched
it from them. Then, sitting down, she put her head on the table, sobbing
deeply as she laid her cheek on the light red cover. Her pride seemed
conquered by an intense humility. Her whole being appeared to
be softened by the sight of these few leaves with their rumpled
corners--her solitary possession, her one treasure, and the only tie
which connected her with the life of this world. She could not relieve
her heart of her great despair; her tears flowed continually, and under
this complete surrender of herself she regained her delicate looks and
became again a pretty child. Her slightly oval face was pure in its
outlines, her violet eyes were made a little paler from emotion, and the
curve of her neck and shoulders made her resemble a little virgin on a
church window. At length she seized the hand of Hubertine, pressed it to
her lips most caressingly, and kissed it passionately.

The Huberts were deeply touched, and could scarcely speak. They
stammered: "Dear, dear child!"

She was not, then, in reality bad! Perhaps with affectionate care she
could be corrected of this violence of temper which had so alarmed them.

In a tone of entreaty the poor child exclaimed: "Do not send me back to
those dreadful people! Oh, do not send me back again!"

The husband and wife looked at each other for a few moments. In fact,
since the autumn they had planned taking as an apprentice some young
girl who would live with them, and thus bring a little brightness into
their house, which seemed so dull without children. And their decision
was soon made.

"Would you like it, my dear?" Hubert asked.

Hubertine replied quietly, in her calm voice: "I would indeed."

Immediately they occupied themselves with the necessary formalities.
The husband went to the Justice of Peace of the northern district of
Beaumont, who was cousin to his wife, the only relative with whom she
had kept up an acquaintance, and told him all the facts of the case. He
took charge of it, wrote to the Hospice of Abandoned Children--where,
thanks to the registered number, Angelique was easily recognised--and
obtained permission for her to remain as apprentice with the Huberts,
who were well known for their honourable position.

The Sub-Inspector of the Hospice, on coming to verify the little book,
signed the new contract as witness for Hubert, by which the latter
promised to treat the child kindly, to keep her tidy, to send her to
school and to church, and to give her a good bed to herself. On the
other side, the Administration agreed to pay him all indemnities, and
to give the child certain stipulated articles of clothing, as was their
custom.

In ten days all was arranged. Angelique slept upstairs in a room under
the roof, by the side of the garret, and the windows of which overlooked
the garden. She had already taken her first lessons in embroidery. The
first Sunday morning after she was in her new home, before going to
mass, Hubertine opened before her the old chest in the working-room,
where she kept the fine gold thread. She held up the little book, then,
placing it in that back part of one of the drawers, said: "Look! I have
put it here. I will not hide it, but leave it where you can take it if
you ever wish to do so. It is best that you should see it, and remember
where it is."

On entering the church that day, Angelique found herself again under the
doorway of Saint Agnes. During the week there had been a partial thaw,
then the cold weather had returned to so intense a degree that the
snow which had half melted on the statues had congealed itself in large
bunches or in icicles. Now, the figures seemed dressed in transparent
robes of ice, with lace trimmings like spun glass. Dorothea was holding
a torch, the liquid droppings of which fell upon her hands. Cecilia
wore a silver crown, in which glistened the most brilliant of pearls.
Agatha's nude chest was protected by a crystal armour. And the scenes
in the tympanum, the little virgins in the arches, looked as if they had
been there for centuries, behind the glass and jewels of the shrine of
a saint. Agnes herself let trail behind her her court mantle, threaded
with light and embroidered with stars. Her lamb had a fleece of
diamonds, and her palm-branch had become the colour of heaven. The whole
door was resplendent in the purity of intense cold.

Angelique recollected the night she had passed there under the
protection of these saints. She raised her head and smiled upon them.



CHAPTER II

Beaumont is composed of two villages, completely separated and quite
distinct one from the other--Beaumont-l'Eglise, on the hill with its old
Cathedral of the twelfth century, its Bishop's Palace which dates only
from the seventeenth century, its inhabitants, scarcely one thousand in
number, who are crowded together in an almost stifling way in its narrow
streets; and Beaumont-la-Ville, at the foot of the hill, on the banks of
the Ligneul, an ancient suburb, which the success of its manufactories
of lace and fine cambric has enriched and enlarged to such an extent
that it has a population of nearly ten thousand persons, several public
squares, and an elegant sub-prefecture built in the modern style. These
two divisions, the northern district and the southern district, have
thus no longer anything in common except in an administrative way.
Although scarcely thirty leagues from Paris, where one can go by rail
in two hours, Beaumont-l'Eglise seems to be still immured in its old
ramparts, of which, however, only three gates remain. A stationary,
peculiar class of people lead there a life similar to that which their
ancestors had led from father to son during the past five hundred years.

The Cathedral explains everything, has given birth to and preserved
everything. It is the mother, the queen, as it rises in all its majesty
in the centre of, and above, the little collection of low houses, which,
like shivering birds, are sheltered under her wings of stone. One lives
there simply for it, and only by it. There is no movement of business
activity, and the little tradesmen only sell the necessities of life,
such as are absolutely required to feed, to clothe, and to maintain
the church and its clergy; and if occasionally one meets some private
individuals, they are merely the last representatives of a scattered
crowd of worshippers. The church dominates all; each street is one of
its veins; the town has no other breath than its own. On that account,
this spirit of another age, this religious torpor from the past, makes
the cloistered city which surrounds it redolent with a savoury perfume
of peace and of faith.

And in all this mystic place, the house of the Huberts, where Angelique
was to live in the future, was the one nearest to the Cathedral,
and which clung to it as if in reality it were a part thereof. The
permission to build there, between two of the great buttresses, must
have been given by some vicar long ago, who was desirous of attaching
to himself the ancestors of this line of embroiderers, as master
chasuble-makers and furnishers for the Cathedral clergy. On the southern
side, the narrow garden was barred by the colossal building; first,
the circumference of the side chapels, whose windows overlooked the
flower-beds, and then the slender, long nave, that the flying buttresses
supported, and afterwards the high roof covered with the sheet lead.

The sun never penetrated to the lower part of this garden, where ivy and
box alone grew luxuriantly; yet the eternal shadow there was very soft
and pleasant as it fell from the gigantic brow of the apse--a religious
shadow, sepulchral and pure, which had a good odour about it. In the
greenish half-light of its calm freshness, the two towers let fall
only the sound of their chimes. But the entire house kept the quivering
therefrom, sealed as it was to these old stones, melted into them and
supported by them. It trembled at the least of the ceremonies; at the
High Mass, the rumbling of the organ, the voices of the choristers, even
the oppressed sighs of the worshippers, murmured through each one of
its rooms, lulled it as if with a holy breath from the Invisible, and
at times through the half-cool walls seemed to come the vapours from the
burning incense.

For five years Angelique lived and grew there, as if in a cloister, far
away from the world. She only went out to attend the seven-o'clock Mass
on Sunday mornings, as Hubertine had obtained permission for her to
study at home, fearing that, if sent to school, she might not always
have the best of associates. This old dwelling, so shut in, with its
garden of a dead quiet, was her world. She occupied as her chamber a
little whitewashed room under the roof; she went down in the morning to
her breakfast in the kitchen, she went up again to the working-room in
the second story to her embroidery. And these places, with the turning
stone stairway of the turret, were the only corners in which she passed
her time; for she never went into the Huberts' apartments, and only
crossed the parlour on the first floor, and they were the two rooms
which had been rejuvenated and modernised. In the parlour, the beams
were plastered over, and the ceiling had been decorated with a palm-leaf
cornice, accompanied by a rose centre; the wall-paper dated from the
First Empire, as well as the white marble chimney-piece and the mahogany
furniture, which consisted of a sofa and four armchairs covered with
Utrecht velvet, a centre table, and a cabinet.

On the rare occasions when she went there, to add to the articles
exposed for sale some new bands of embroidery, if she cast her eyes
without, she saw through the window the same unchanging vista, the
narrow street ending at the portal of Saint Agnes; a parishioner pushing
open the little lower door, which shut itself without any noise, and the
shops of the plate-worker and wax-candle-maker opposite, which appeared
to be always empty, but where was a display of holy sacramental vessels,
and long lines of great church tapers. And the cloistral calm of all
Beaumont-l'Eglise--of the Rue Magloire, back of the Bishop's Palace,
of the Grande Rue, where the Rue de Orfevres began, and of the Place du
Cloitre, where rose up the two towers, was felt in the drowsy air, and
seemed to fall gently with the pale daylight on the deserted pavement.

Hubertine had taken upon herself the charge of the education of
Angelique. Moreover, she was very old-fashioned in her ideas, and
maintained that a woman knew enough if she could read well, write
correctly, and had studied thoroughly the first four rules of
arithmetic. But even for this limited instruction she had constantly to
contend with an unwillingness on the part of her pupil, who, instead of
giving her attention to her books, preferred looking out of the windows,
although the recreation was very limited, as she could see nothing but
the garden from them. In reality, Angelique cared only for reading;
notwithstanding in her dictations, chosen from some classic writer, she
never succeeded in spelling a page correctly, yet her handwriting was
exceedingly pretty, graceful, and bold, one of those irregular styles
which were quite the fashion long ago. As for other studies, of
geography and history and cyphering, she was almost completely ignorant
of them. What good would knowledge ever do her? It was really useless,
she thought. Later on, when it was time for her to be Confirmed, she
learned her Catechism word for word, and with so fervent an ardour that
she astonished everyone by the exactitude of her memory.

Notwithstanding their gentleness, during the first year the Huberts
were often discouraged. Angelique, who promised to be skilful in
embroidering, disconcerted them by sudden changes to inexplicable
idleness after days of praiseworthy application. She was capricious,
seemed to lose her strength, became greedy, would steal sugar to eat
when alone, and her cheeks were flushed and her eyes looked wearied
under their reddened lids. If reproved, she would reply with a flood of
injurious words. Some days, when they wished to try to subdue her, her
foolish pride at being interfered with would throw her into such serious
attacks that she would strike her feet and her hands together, and
seemed ready to tear her clothing, or to bite anyone who approached
her. At such moments they drew away from her, for she was like a little
monster ruled by the evil sprit within her.

Who could she be? Where did she come from? Almost always these abandoned
children are the offspring of vice. Twice they had resolved to give
her up and send her back to the Asylum, so discouraged were they and so
deeply did they regret having taken her. But each time these frightful
scenes, which almost made the house tremble, ended in the same deluge of
tears, and the same excited expressions and acts of penitence, when the
child would throw herself on the floor, begging them so earnestly to
punish her that they were obliged to forgive her.

Little by little, Hubertine gained great authority over her. She was
peculiarly adapted for such a task, with her kind heart, her gentle
firmness, her common-sense and her uniform temper. She taught her the
duty of obedience and the sin of pride and of passion. To obey was to
live. We must obey God, our parents, and our superiors. There was a
whole hierarchy of respect, outside of which existence was unrestrained
and disorderly. So, after each fit of passion, that she might learn
humility, some menial labour was imposed upon her as a penance, such as
washing the cooking-utensils, or wiping up the kitchen floor; and, until
it was finished, she would remain stooping over her work, enraged at
first, but conquered at last.

With the little girl excess seemed to be a marked characteristic in
everything, even in her caresses. Many times Hubertine had seen her
kissing her hands with vehemence. She would often be in a fever of
ecstasy before the little pictures of saints and of the Child
Jesus, which she had collected; and one evening she was found in a
half-fainting state, with her head upon the table, and her lips pressed
to those of the images. When Hubertine confiscated them there was
a terrible scene of tears and cries, as if she herself were being
tortured. After that she was held very strictly, was made to obey, and
her freaks were at once checked by keeping her busy at her work; as
soon as her cheeks grew very red, her eyes dark, and she had nervous
tremblings, everything was immediately made quiet about her.

Moreover, Hubertine had found an unexpected aid in the book given by the
Society for the Protection of Abandoned Children. Every three months,
when the collector signed it, Angelique was very low-spirited for the
rest of the day. If by chance she saw it when she went to the drawer for
a ball of gold thread, her heart seemed pierced with agony. And one day,
when in a fit of uncontrollable fury, which nothing had been able
to conquer, she turned over the contents of the drawer, she suddenly
appeared as if thunderstruck before the red-covered book. Her sobs
stifled her. She threw herself at the feet of the Huberts in great
humility, stammering that they had made a mistake in giving her shelter,
and that she was not worthy of all their kindness. From that time her
anger was frequently restrained by the sight or the mention of the book.

In this way Angelique lived until she was twelve years of age and
ready to be Confirmed. The calm life of the household, the little
old-fashioned building sleeping under the shadow of the Cathedral,
perfumed with incense, and penetrated with religious music, favoured the
slow amelioration of this untutored nature, this wild flower, taken from
no one knew where, and transplanted in the mystic soil of the narrow
garden. Added to this was the regularity of her daily work and the utter
ignorance of what was going on in the world, without even an echo from a
sleepy quarter penetrating therein.

But, above all, the gentlest influence came from the great love of the
Huberts for each other, which seemed to be enlarged by some unknown,
incurable remorse. He passed the days in endeavouring to make his
wife forget the injury he had done her in marrying her in spite of the
opposition of her mother. He had realised at the death of their child
that she half accused him of this punishment, and he wished to be
forgiven. She had done so years ago, and now she idolised him. Sometimes
he was not sure of it, and this doubt saddened his life. He wished they
might have had another infant, and so feel assured that the obstinate
mother had been softened after death, and had withdrawn her malediction.
That, in fact, was their united desire--a child of pardon; and he
worshipped his wife with a tender love, ardent and pure as that of a
betrothed. If before the apprentice he did not even kiss her hand,
he never entered their chamber, even after twenty years of marriage,
without an emotion of gratitude for all the happiness that had
been given him. This was their true home, this room with its tinted
paintings, its blue wall-paper, its pretty hangings, and its walnut
furniture. Never was an angry word uttered therein, and, as if from a
sanctuary, a sentiment of tenderness went out from its occupants, and
filled the house. It was thus for Angelique an atmosphere of affection
and love, in which she grew and thrived.

An unexpected event finished the work of forming her character. As she
was rummaging one morning in a corner of the working-room, she found
on a shelf, among implements of embroidery which were no longer used,
a very old copy of the "Golden Legend," by Jacques de Voragine. This
French translation, dating from 1549, must have been bought in the
long ago by some master-workman in church vestments, on account of the
pictures, full of useful information upon the Saints. It was a great
while since Angelique had given any attention to the little old carved
images, showing such childlike faith, which had once delighted her. But
now, as soon as she was allowed to go out and play in the garden, she
took the book with her. It had been rebound in yellow calf, and was in
a good condition. She slowly turned over some of the leaves, then looked
at the title-page, in red and black, with the address of the bookseller:
"a Paris, en la rue Neufre Nostre-Dame, a l'enseigne Saint Jehan
Baptiste;" and decorated with medallions of the four Evangelists, framed
at the bottom by the Adoration of the Three Magi, and at the top by the
Triumph of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection. And then picture after
picture followed; there were ornamented letters, large and small,
engravings in the text and at the heading of the chapters; "The
Annunciation," an immense angel inundating with rays of light a slight,
delicate-looking Mary; "The Massacre of the Innocents," where a cruel
Herod was seen surrounded by dead bodies of dear little children; "The
Nativity," where Saint Joseph is holding a candle, the light of which
falls upon the face of the Infant Jesus, Who sleeps in His mother's
arms; Saint John the Almoner, giving to the poor; Saint Matthias,
breaking an idol; Saint Nicholas as a bishop, having at his right hand
a little bucket filled with babies. And then, a little farther on, came
the female saints: Agnes, with her neck pierced by a sword; Christina,
torn by pincers; Genevieve, followed by her lambs; Juliana, being
whipped; Anastasia, burnt; Maria the Egyptian, repenting in the desert,
Mary of Magdalene, carrying the vase of precious ointment; and others
and still others followed. There was an increasing terror and a piety
in each one of them, making it a history which weighs upon the heart and
fills the eyes with tears.

But, little by little, Angelique was curious to know exactly what these
engravings represented. The two columns of closely-printed text, the
impression of which remained very black upon the papers yellowed by
time, frightened her by the strange, almost barbaric look of the
Gothic letters. Still, she accustomed herself to it, deciphered these
characters, learned the abbreviations and the contractions, and soon
knew how to explain the turning of the phrases and the old-fashioned
words. At last she could read it easily, and was as enchanted as if she
were penetrating a mystery, and she triumphed over each new difficulty
that she conquered.

Under these laborious shades a whole world of light revealed itself. She
entered, as it were, into a celestial splendour. For now the few classic
books they owned, so cold and dry, existed no longer. The Legend alone
interested her. She bent over it, with her forehead resting on her
hands, studying it so intently, that she no longer lived in the real
life, but, unconscious of time, she seemed to see, mounting from the
depths of the unknown, the broad expansion of a dream.

How wonderful it all was! These saints and virgins! They are born
predestined; solemn voices announce their coming, and their mothers have
marvellous dreams about them. All are beautiful, strong, and victorious.
Great lights surround them, and their countenances are resplendent.
Dominic has a star on his forehead. They read the minds of men and
repeat their thoughts aloud. They have the gift of prophecy, and their
predictions are always realised. Their number is infinite. Among them
are bishops and monks, virgins and fallen women, beggars and nobles of a
royal race, unclothed hermits who live on roots, and old men who inhabit
caverns with goats. Their history is always the same. They grow up for
Christ, believe fervently in Him, refuse to sacrifice to false gods,
are tortured, and die filled with glory. Emperors were at last weary of
persecuting them. Andrew, after being attached to the cross, preached
during two days to twenty thousand persons. Conversions were made
in masses, forty thousand men being baptised at one time. When the
multitudes were not converted by the miracles, they fled terrified. The
saints were accused of sorcery; enigmas were proposed to them, which
they solved at once; they were obliged to dispute questions with learned
men, who remained speechless before them. As soon as they entered the
temples of sacrifice the idols were overthrown with a breath, and were
broken to pieces. A virgin tied her sash around the neck of a statue of
Venus, which at once fell in powder. The earth trembled. The Temple of
Diana was struck by lightning and destroyed; and the people revolting,
civil wars ensued. Then often the executioners asked to be baptised;
kings knelt at the feet of saints in rags who had devoted themselves to
poverty. Sabina flees from the paternal roof. Paula abandons her five
children. Mortifications of the flesh and fasts purify, not oil or
water. Germanus covers his food with ashes. Bernard cares not to eat,
but delights only in the taste of fresh water. Agatha keeps for three
years a pebble in her mouth. Augustinus is in despair for the sin he has
committed in turning to look after a dog who was running. Prosperity and
health are despised, and joy begins with privations which kill the body.
And it is thus that, subduing all things, they live at last in gardens
where the flowers are stars, and where the leaves of the trees sing.
They exterminate dragons, they raise and appease tempests, they seem
in their ecstatic visions to be borne above the earth. Their wants are
provided for while living, and after their death friends are advised
by dreams to go and bury them. Extraordinary things happen to them, and
adventures far more marvellous than those in a work of fiction. And
when their tombs are opened after hundreds of years, sweet odours escape
therefrom.

Then, opposite the saints, behold the evil spirits!

"They often fly about us like insects, and fill the air without number.
The air is also full of demons, as the rays of the sun are full of
atoms. It is even like powder." And the eternal contest begins. The
saints are always victorious, and yet they are constantly obliged to
renew the battle. The more the demons are driven away, the more they
return. There were counted six thousand six hundred and sixty-six in the
body of a woman whom Fortunatus delivered. They moved, they talked and
cried, by the voice of the person possessed, whose body they shook as if
by a tempest. At each corner of the highways an afflicted one is seen,
and the first saint who passes contends with the evil spirits. They
enter by the eyes, the ears, and by the mouth, and, after days of
fearful struggling, they go out with loud groanings. Basilus, to save a
young man, contends personally with the Evil One. Macarius was attacked
when in a cemetery, and passed a whole night in defending himself. The
angels, even at deathbeds, in order to secure the soul of the dying were
obliged to beat the demons. At other times the contests are only of the
intellect and the mind, but are equally remarkable. Satan, who prowls
about, assumes many forms, sometimes disguising himself as a woman,
and again, even as a saint. But, once overthrown, he appears in all his
ugliness: "a black cat, larger than a dog, his huge eyes emitting flame,
his tongue long, large, and bloody, his tail twisted and raised in the
air, and his whole body disgusting to the last degree." He is the one
thing that is hated, and the only preoccupation. People fear him,
yet ridicule him. One is not even honest with him. In reality,
notwithstanding the ferocious appearance of his furnaces, he is the
eternal dupe. All the treaties he makes are forced from him by violence
or cunning. Feeble women throw him down: Margaret crushes his head with
her feet, and Juliana beats him with her chain. From all this a serenity
disengages itself, a disdain of evil, since it is powerless, and a
certainty of good, since virtue triumphs. It is only necessary to cross
one's self, and the Devil can do no harm, but yells and disappears,
while the infernal regions tremble.

Then, in this combat of legions of saints against Satan are developed
the fearful sufferings from persecutions. The executioners expose to the
flies the martyrs whose bodies are covered with honey; they make them
walk with bare feet over broken glass or red-hot coals, put them in
ditches with reptiles; chastise them with whips, whose thongs are
weighted with leaden balls; nail them when alive in coffins, which they
throw into the sea; hang them by their hair, and then set fire to them;
moisten their wounds with quicklime, boiling pitch, or molten lead; make
them sit on red-hot iron stools; burn their sides with torches; break
their bones on wheels, and torture them in every conceivable way. And,
with all this, physical pain counts for nothing; indeed, it seems to be
desired. Moreover, a continual miracle protects them. John drinks
poison but is unharmed. Sebastian smiles although pierced with arrows;
sometimes they remain in the air at the right or left of the martyr, or,
launched by the archer, they return upon himself and put out his eyes.
Molten lead is swallowed as if it were ice-water. Lions prostrate
themselves, and lick their hands as gently as lambs. The gridiron of
Saint Lawrence is of an agreeable freshness to him. He cries, "Unhappy
man, you have roasted one side, turn the other and then eat, for it is
sufficiently cooked." Cecilia, placed in a boiling bath, is refreshed
by it. Christina exhorts those who would torture her. Her father had
her whipped by twelve men, who at last drop from fatigue; she is then
attached to a wheel, under which a fire is kindled, and the flame,
turning to one side, devours fifteen hundred persons. She is then thrown
into the sea, but the angels support her; Jesus comes to baptise her
in person, then gives her to the charge of Saint Michael, that he may
conduct her back to the earth; after that she is placed for five days in
a heated oven, where she suffers not, but sings constantly. Vincent,
who was exposed to still greater tortures, feels them not. His limbs are
broken, he is covered with red-hot irons, he is pricked with needles,
he is placed on a brazier of live coals, and then taken back to prison,
where his feet are nailed to a post. Yet he still lives, and his
pains are changed into a sweetness of flowers, a great light fills his
dungeon, and angels sing with him, giving him rest as if he were on a
bed of roses. The sweet sound of singing, and the fresh odour of flowers
spread without in the room, and when the guards saw the miracle they
were converted to the faith, and when Dacian heard of it, he was greatly
enraged, and said, "Do nothing more to him, for we are conquered." Such
was the excitement among the persecutors, it could only end either by
their conversion or by their death. Their hands are paralysed; they
perish violently; they are choked by fish-bones; they are struck by
lightning, and their chariots are broken. In the meanwhile, the cells of
the martyrs are resplendent. Mary and the Apostles enter them at will,
although the doors are bolted. Constant aid is given, apparitions
descend from the skies, where angels are waiting, holding crowns of
precious stones. Since death seems joyous, it is not feared, and their
friends are glad when they succumb to it. On Mount Ararat ten thousand
are crucified, and at Cologne eleven thousand virgins are massacred by
the Huns. In the circuses they are devoured by wild beasts. Quirique,
who, by the influence of the Holy Spirit, taught like a man, suffered
martyrdom when but three years of age. Nursing-children reproved the
executioners. The hope for celestial happiness deadened the physical
senses and softened pain. Were they torn to pieces, or burnt, they
minded it not. They never yielded, and they called for the sword, which
alone could kill them. Eulalia, when at the stake, breathes the flame
that she may die the more quickly. Her prayer is granted, and a white
dove flies from her mouth and bears her soul to heaven.

Angelique marvelled greatly at all these accounts. So many abominations
and such triumphant joy delighted her and carried her out of herself.

But other points in the Legend, of quite a different nature, also
interested her; the animals, for instance, of which there were enough
to fill an Ark of Noah. She liked the ravens and the eagles who fed the
hermits.

Then what lovely stories there were about the lions. The serviceable one
who found a resting-place in a field for Mary the Egyptian; the flaming
lion who protected virgins or maidens in danger; and then the lion of
Saint Jerome, to whose care an ass had been confided, and, when the
animal was stolen, went in search of him and brought him back. There was
also the penitent wolf, who had restored a little pig he had intended
eating. Then there was Bernard, who excommunicates the flies, and they
drop dead. Remi and Blaise feed birds at their table, bless them,
and make them strong. Francis, "filled with a dove-like simplicity,"
preaches to them, and exhorts them to love God. A bird was on a branch
of a fig-tree, and Francis, holding out his hand, beckoned to it, and
soon it obeyed, and lighted on his hand. And he said to it, "Sing my
sister, and praise the Lord." And immediately the bird began to sing,
and did not go away until it was told to do so.

All this was a continual source of recreation to Angelique, and gave her
the idea of calling to the swallows, and hoping they might come to her.

The good giant Christopher, who carried the Infant Christ on his
shoulders, delighted her so much as to bring tears to her eyes.

She was very merry over the misadventures of a certain Governor with
the three chambermaids of Anastasia, whom he hoped to have found in
the kitchen, where he kissed the stove and the kettles, thinking he
was embracing them. "He went out therefrom very black and ugly, and his
clothes quite smutched. And when his servants, who were waiting, saw him
in such a state, they thought he was the Devil. Then they beat him with
birch-rods, and, running away, left him alone."

But that which convulsed her most with laughter, was the account of the
blows given to the Evil One himself, especially when Juliana,
having been tempted by him in her prison cell, administered such an
extraordinary chastisement with her chain. "Then the Provost commanded
that Juliana should be brought before him; and when she came into his
presence, she was drawing the Devil after her, and he cried out, saying,
'My good lady Juliana, do not hurt me any more!' She led him in this way
around the public square, and afterwards threw him into a deep ditch."

Often Angelique would repeat to the Huberts, as they were all at work
together, legends far more interesting than any fairy-tale. She had
read them over so often that she knew them by heart, and she told in
a charming way the story of the Seven Sleepers, who, to escape
persecution, walled themselves up in a cavern, and whose awakening
greatly astonished the Emperor Theodosius. Then the Legend of Saint
Clement with its endless adventures, so unexpected and touching, where
the whole family, father, mother, and three sons, separated by terrible
misfortunes, are finally re-united in the midst of the most beautiful
miracles.

Her tears would flow at these recitals. She dreamed of them at night,
she lived, as it were, only in this tragic and triumphant world of
prodigy, in a supernatural country where all virtues are recompensed by
all imaginable joys.

When Angelique partook of her first Communion, it seemed as if she were
walking, like the saints, a little above the earth. She was a young
Christian of the primitive Church; she gave herself into the hands of
God, having learned from her book that she could not be saved without
grace.

The Huberts were simple in their profession of faith. They went every
Sunday to Mass, and to Communion on all great fete-days, and this
was done with the tranquil humility of true belief, aided a little by
tradition, as the chasubliers had from father to son always observed the
Church ceremonies, particularly those at Easter.

Hubert himself had a tendency to imaginative fancies. He would at times
stop his work and let fall his frame to listen to the child as she
read or repeated the legends, and, carried away for the moment by her
enthusiasm, it seemed as if his hair were blown about by the light
breath of some invisible power. He was so in sympathy with Angelique,
and associated her to such a degree with the youthful saints of the
past, that he wept when he saw her in her white dress and veil. This
day at church was like a dream, and they returned home quite exhausted.
Hubertine was obliged to scold them both, for, with her excellent
common-sense, she disliked exaggeration even in good things.

From that time she had to restrain the zeal of Angelique, especially in
her tendency to what she thought was charity, and to which she wished
to devote herself. Saint Francis had wedded poverty; Julien the Chaplain
had called the poor his superiors; Gervasius and Protais had washed the
feet of the most indigent, and Martin had divided his cloak with them.
So she, following the example of Lucy, wished to sell everything
that she might give. At first she disposed of all her little private
possessions, then she began to pillage the house. But at last she
gave without judgment and foolishly. One evening, two days after her
Confirmation, being reprimanded for having thrown from the window
several articles of underwear to a drunken woman, she had a terrible
attack of anger like those when she was young; then, overcome by shame,
she was really ill and forced to keep her bed for a couple of days.



CHAPTER III

In the meanwhile, weeks and months went by. Two years had passed.
Angelique was now fourteen years of age and quite womanly. When she read
the "Golden Legend," she would have a humming in her ears, the blood
circulated quickly through the blue veins near her temples, and she felt
a deep tenderness towards all these virgin saints.

Maidenhood is the sister of the angels, the union of all good,
the overthrow of evil, the domain of faith. It gives grace, it is
perfection, which has only need to show itself to conquer. The action of
the Holy Spirit rendered Lucy so heavy that a thousand men and five pair
of oxen could not drag her away from her home. An officer who tried
to kiss Anastasia was struck blind. Under torture, the purity of the
virgins is always powerful; from their exquisite white limbs, torn by
instruments, milk flows instead of blood. Ten different times the story
is told of the young convert who, to escape from her family, who wish
her to marry against her will, assumes the garb of a monk, is accused of
some misdeed, suffers punishment without indicating herself, and at last
triumphs by announcing her name. Eugenia is in this way brought before
a judge, whom she recognises as her father and reveals herself to
him. Externally the combat of chastity recommences; always the thorns
reappear. Thus the wisest saints shrink from being tempted. As the world
is filled with snares, hermits flee to the desert, where they scourge
themselves, throw themselves on the snow, or in beds of prickly herbs.
A solitary monk covers his fingers with his mantle, that he may aid his
mother in crossing a creek. A martyr bound to a stake, being tempted by
a young girl, bites off his tongue with his teeth and spits it at her.
All glorify the state of single blessedness. Alexis, very wealthy and
in a high position, marries, but leaves his wife at the church-door.
One weds only to die. Justina, in love with Cyprianus, converts him, and
they walk together to their punishment. Cecilia, beloved by an angel,
reveals the secret to Valerian on their wedding-day, and he, that he may
see the spirit, consents to be baptised. He found in his room Cecilia
talking with the angel, who held in his hand two wreaths of roses, and,
giving one to Cecilia, and one to Valerian, he said, "Keep these crowns,
like your hearts, pure and unspotted." In many cases it was proved
that death was stronger than love, and couples were united only as a
challenge to existence. It was said that even the Virgin Mary at times
prevented betrothals from ending in a marriage. A nobleman, a relative
of the King of Hungary, renounced his claims to a young girl of
marvellous beauty on this account. "Suddenly our Blessed Lady appeared,
and said to him: 'If I am indeed so beautiful as you have called me, why
do you leave me for another?' And he became a most devout man for the
rest of his life."

Among all this saintly company, Angelique had her preferences, and there
were those whose experiences touched her to the heart, and helped her
to correct her failings. Thus the learned Catherine, of high birth,
enchanted her by her great scientific knowledge, when, only eighteen
years of age, she was called by the Emperor Maximus to discuss certain
questions with fifty rhetoricians and grammarians. She astonished and
convinced them. "They were amazed and knew not what to say, but they
remained quiet. And the Emperor blamed them for their weakness in
allowing themselves to be so easily conquered by a young girl." The
fifty professors then declared that they were converted. "And as soon
as the tyrant heard that, he had so terrible a fit of anger, that he
commanded they should all be burned to death in the public square."
In her eyes Catherine was the invincible learned woman, as proud and
dazzling in intellect as in beauty, just as she would have liked to
be, that she might convert men, and be fed in prison by a dove, before
having her head cut off. But Saint Elizabeth, the daughter of the King
of Hungary, was for her a constant teacher and guide. Whenever she was
inclined to yield to her violent temper, she thought of this model of
gentleness and simplicity, who was at five years of age very devout,
refusing to join her playmates in their sports, and sleeping on the
ground, that, in abasing herself, she might all the better render homage
to God. Later, she was the faithful, obedient wife of the Landgrave of
Thuringia, always showing to her husband a smiling face, although she
passed her nights in tears. When she became a widow she was driven from
her estates, but was happy to lead the life of poverty. Her dress was so
thin from use, that she wore a grey mantle, lengthened out by cloth of
a different shade. The sleeves of her jacket had been torn, and were
mended with a material of another colour. The king, her father, wishing
her to come to him, sent for her by a Count. And when the Count saw her
clothed in such a way and spinning, overcome with surprise and grief, he
exclaimed: "Never before did one see the daughter of a Royal House in
so miserable a garb, and never was one known to spin wool until now."
So Christian and sincere was her humility, that she ate black bread with
the poorest peasants, nursed them when ill, dressed their sores without
repugnance, put on coarse garments like theirs, and followed them in the
church processions with bare feet. She was once washing the porringers
and the utensils of the kitchen, when the maids, seeing her so out of
place, urged her to desist, but she replied, "Could I find another task
more menial even than this, I would do it." Influenced by her example,
Angelique, who was formerly angry when obliged to do any cleaning in the
kitchen, now tried to invent some extremely disagreeable task when she
felt nervous and in need of control.

But more than Catherine, more than Elizabeth, far nearer and dearer
to her than all the other saints, was Agnes, the child-martyr; and her
heart leaped with joy on refinding in the "Golden Legend" this virgin,
clothed with her own hair, who had protected her under the Cathedral
portal. What ardour of pure love, as she repelled the son of the
Governor when he accosted her on her way from school! "Go--leave me,
minister of death, commencement of sin, and child of treason!" How
exquisitely she described her beloved! "I love the One whose Mother was
a Virgin, and whose father was faithful to her, at whose beauty the sun
and moon marvelled, and at whose touch the dead were made alive." And
when Aspasien commanded that "her throat should be cut by the sword,"
she ascended into Paradise to be united to her "betrothed, whiter and
purer than silver-gilt."

Always, when weary or disturbed, Angelique called upon and implored her,
and it seemed as if peace came to her at once. She saw her constantly
near her, and often she regretted having done or thought of things which
would have displeased her.

One evening as she was kissing her hands, a habit which she still at
times indulged in, she suddenly blushed and turned away, although she
was quite alone, for it seemed as if the little saint must have seen
her. Agnes was her guardian angel.

Thus, at fifteen Angelique was an adorable child. Certainly, neither the
quiet, laborious life, nor the soothing shadows of the Cathedral, nor
the legends of the beautiful saints, had made her an angel, a creature
of absolute perfection. She was often angry, and certain weaknesses of
character showed themselves, which had never been sufficiently guarded
against; but she was always ashamed and penitent if she had done wrong,
for she wished so much to be perfect. And she was so human, so full of
life, so ignorant, and withal so pure in reality.

One day, on returning from a long excursion which the Huberts allowed
her to take twice a year, on Pentecost Monday and on Assumption Day,
she took home with her a sweetbriar bush, and then amused herself by
replanting it in the narrow garden. She trimmed it and watered it well:
it grew and sent out long branches, filled with odour. With her usual
intensity, she watched it daily, but was unwilling to have it grafted,
as she wished to see if, by some miracle, it could not be made to bear
roses. She danced around it, she repeated constantly: "This bush is like
me; it is like me!" And if one joked her upon her great wild-rose bush,
she joined them in their laughter, although a little pale, and with
tears almost ready to fall. Her violet-coloured eyes were softer than
ever, her half-opened lips revealed little white teeth, and her oval
face had a golden aureole from her light wavy hair. She had grown
tall without being too slight; her neck and shoulders were exquisitely
graceful; her chest was full, her waist flexible; and gay, healthy, of
a rare beauty, she had an infinite charm, arising from the innocence and
purity of her soul.

Every day the affection of the Huberts for her increased. They often
talked together of their mutual wish to adopt her. Yet they took no
active measures in that way, lest they might have cause to regret it.
One morning, when the husband announced his final decision, his wife
suddenly began to weep bitterly. To adopt a child? Was not that the same
as giving up all hope of having one of their own? Yet it was useless for
them to expect one now, after so many years of waiting, and she gave her
consent, in reality delighted that she could call her her daughter. When
Angelique was spoken to on the subject, she threw her arms around their
necks, kissed them both, and was almost choked with tears of joy.

So it was agreed upon that she was always to remain with them in this
house, which now seemed to be filled with her presence, rejuvenated by
her youth, and penetrated by her laughter. But an unexpected obstacle
was met with at the first step. The Justice of the Peace, Monsieur
Grandsire, on being consulted, explained to them the radical
impossibility of adoption, since by law the adopted must be "of age."
Then, seeing their disappointment, he suggested the expedient of a legal
guardianship: any individual over fifty years of age can attach himself
to a minor of fifteen years or less by a legal claim, on becoming their
official protector. The ages were all right, so they were delighted, and
accepted. It was even arranged that they should afterwards confer the
title of adoption upon their ward by way of their united last will and
testament, as such a thing would be permitted by the Code. Monsieur
Grandsire, furnished with the demand of the husband and the
authorisation of the wife, then put himself in communication with the
Director of Public Aid, the general guardian for all abandoned children,
whose consent it was necessary to have. Great inquiries were made,
and at last the necessary papers were placed in Paris, with a certain
Justice of the Peace chosen for the purpose. And all was ready except
the official report which constitutes the legality of guardianship, when
the Huberts suddenly were taken with certain scruples.

Before receiving Angelique into their family, ought not they to
ascertain if she had any relatives on her side? Was her mother still
alive? Had they the right to dispose of the daughter without being
absolutely sure that she had willingly been given up and deserted? Then,
in reality, the unknown origin of the child, which had troubled them
long ago, came back to them now and made them hesitate. They were so
tormented by this anxiety that they could not sleep.

Without any more talk, Hubert unexpectedly announced that he was
going to Paris. Such a journey seemed like a catastrophe in his calm
existence. He explained the necessity of it to Angelique, by speaking of
the guardianship. He hoped to arrange everything in twenty-four hours.
But once in the city, days passed; obstacles arose on every side. He
spent a week there, sent from one to another, really doing nothing, and
quite discouraged. In the first place, he was received very coldly at
the Office of Public Assistance. The rule of the Administration is that
children shall not be told of their parents until they are of age. So
for two mornings in succession he was sent away from the office. He
persisted, however, explained the matter to three secretaries, made
himself hoarse in talking to an under-officer, who wished to counsel him
that he had not official papers. The Administration were quite ignorant.
A nurse had left the child there, "Angelique Marie," without naming the
mother. In despair he was about to return to Beaumont, when a new idea
impelled him to return for the fourth time to the office, to see the
book in which the arrival of the infant had been noted down, and in that
way to have the address of the nurse. That proved quite an undertaking.
But at last he succeeded, and found it was a Madame Foucart, and that in
1850 she lived on the Rue des Deux-Ecus.

Then he recommenced his hunting up and down. The end of the Rue des
Deux-Ecus had been demolished, and no shopkeeper in the neighbourhood
recollected ever having heard of Madame Foucart. He consulted the
directory, but there was no such name. Looking at every sign as he
walked along, he called on one after another, and at last, in this way,
he had the good fortune to find an old woman, who exclaimed, in answer
to his questions, "What! Do I know Madame Foucart? A most honourable
person, but one who has had many misfortunes. She lives on the Rue de
Censier, quite at the other end of Paris." He hastened there at once.

Warned by experience, he determined now to be diplomatic. But Madame
Foucart, an enormous woman, would not allow him to ask questions in
the good order he had arranged them before going there. As soon as he
mentioned the two names of the child, she seemed to be eager to talk,
and she related its whole history in a most spiteful way. "Ah! the
child was alive! Very well; she might flatter herself that she had for a
mother a most famous hussy. Yes, Madame Sidonie, as she was called since
she became a widow, was a woman of a good family, having, it is said, a
brother who was a minister, but that did not prevent her from being
very bad." And she explained that she had made her acquaintance when she
kept, on the Rue Saint-Honore, a little shop where they dealt in
fruit and oil from Provence, she and her husband, when they came from
Plassans, hoping to make their fortune in the city. The husband died and
was buried, and soon after Madame Sidonie had a little daughter, which
she sent at once to the hospital, and never after even inquired for
her, as she was "a heartless woman, cold as a protest and brutal as a
sheriff's aid." A fault can be pardoned, but not ingratitude! Was not it
true that, obliged to leave her shop as she was so heavily in debt, she
had been received and cared for by Madame Foucart? And when in her turn
she herself had fallen into difficulties, she had never been able to
obtain from Madame Sidonie, even the month's board she owed her, nor the
fifteen francs she had once lent her. To-day the "hateful thing" lived
on the Rue de Faubourg-Poissonniere, where she had a little apartment of
three rooms. She pretended to be a cleaner and mender of lace, but she
sold a good many other things. Ah! yes! such a mother as that it was
best to know nothing about!

An hour later, Hubert was walking round the house where Madame Sidonie
lived. He saw through the window a woman, thin, pale, coarse-looking,
wearing an old black gown, stained and greased. Never could the heart of
such a person be touched by the recollection of a daughter whom she had
only seen on the day of its birth. He concluded it would be best not to
repeat, even to his wife, many things that he had just learned. Still he
hesitated. Once more he passed by the place, and looked again. Ought
not he to go in, to introduce himself, and to ask the consent of the
unnatural parent? As an honest man, it was for him to judge if he had
the right of cutting the tie there and for ever. Brusquely he turned his
back, hurried away, and returned that evening to Beaumont.

Hubertine had just learned that the _proces-verbal_ at Monsieur
Grandsire's, for the guardianship of the child, had been signed. And
when Angelique threw herself into Hubert's arms, he saw clearly by
the look of supplication in her eyes, that she had understood the true
reason of his journey.

Then he said quietly: "My child, your mother is not living." Angelique
wept, as she kissed him most affectionately. After this the subject was
not referred to. She was their daughter.

At Whitsuntide, this year, the Huberts had taken Angelique with them
to lunch at the ruins of the Chateau d'Hautecoeur, which overlooks the
Ligneul, two leagues below Beaumont; and, after the day spent in running
and laughing in the open air, the young girl still slept when, the next
morning, the old house-clock struck eight.

Hubertine was obliged to go up and rap at her door.

"Ah, well! Little lazy child! We have already had our breakfast, and it
is late."

Angelique dressed herself quickly and went down to the kitchen,
where she took her rolls and coffee alone. Then, when she entered the
workroom, where Hubert and his wife had just seated themselves, after
having arranged their frames for embroidery, she said:

"Oh! how soundly I did sleep! I had quite forgotten that we had promised
to finish this chasuble for next Sunday."

This workroom, the windows of which opened upon the garden, was a large
apartment, preserved almost entirely in its original state. The two
principal beams of the ceiling, and the three visible cross-beams of
support, had not even been whitewashed, and they were blackened by smoke
and worm-eaten, while, through the openings of the broken plaster, here
and there, the laths of the inner joists could be seen. On one of the
stone corbels, which supported the beams, was the date 1463, without
doubt the date of the construction of the building. The chimney-piece,
also in stone, broken and disjointed, had traces of its original
elegance, with its slender uprights, its brackets, its frieze with a
cornice, and its basket-shaped funnel terminating in a crown. On the
frieze could be seen even now, as if softened by age, an ingenious
attempt at sculpture, in the way of a likeness of Saint Clair, the
patron of embroiderers. But this chimney was no longer used, and
the fireplace had been turned into an open closet by putting shelves
therein, on which were piles of designs and patterns. The room was now
heated by a great bell-shaped cast-iron stove, the pipe of which, after
going the whole length of the ceiling, entered an opening made expressly
for it in the wall. The doors, already shaky, were of the time of Louis
XIV. The original tiles of the floor were nearly all gone, and had been
replaced, one by one, by those of a later style. It was nearly a hundred
years since the yellow walls had been coloured, and at the top of
the room they were almost of a greyish white, and, lower down, were
scratched and spotted with saltpetre. Each year there was talk of
repainting them, but nothing had yet been done, from a dislike of making
any change.

Hubertine, busy at her work, raised her head as Angelique spoke and
said:

"You know that if our work is done on Sunday, I have promised to give
you a basket of pansies for your garden."

The young girl exclaimed gaily: "Oh, yes! that is true. Ah, well! I will
do my best then! But where is my thimble? It seems as if all working
implements take to themselves wings and fly away, if not in constant
use."

She flipped the old _doigtier_ of ivory on the second joint of her
little finger, and took her place on the other side of the frame,
opposite to the window.

Since the middle of the last century there had not been the slightest
modification in the fittings and arrangements of the workroom. Fashions
changed, the art of the embroiderer was transformed, but there was still
seen fastened to the wall the chantlate, the great piece of wood
where was placed one end of the frame or work, while the other end was
supported by a moving trestle. In the corners were many ancient tools--a
little machine called a "diligent," with its wheels and its long
pins, to wind the gold thread on the reels without touching it; a hand
spinning-wheel; a species of pulley to twist the threads which were
attached to the wall; rollers of various sizes covered with silks and
threads used in the crochet embroidery. Upon a shelf was spread out an
old collection of punches for the spangles, and there was also to
be seen a valuable relic, in the shape of the classic chandelier in
hammered brass which belonged to some ancient master-workman. On the
rings of a rack made of a nailed leather strap were hung awls, mallets,
hammers, irons to cut the vellum, and roughing chisels of bogwood, which
were used to smooth the threads as fast as they were employed. And yet
again, at the foot of the heavy oaken table on which the cutting-out
was done, was a great winder, whose two movable reels of wicker held the
skeins. Long chains of spools of bright-coloured silks strung on cords
were hung near that case of drawers. On the floor was a large basket
filled with empty bobbins. A pair of great shears rested on the straw
seat of one of the chairs, and a ball of cord had just fallen on the
floor, half unwound.

"Oh! what lovely weather! What perfect weather!" continued Angelique.
"It is a pleasure simply to live and to breathe."

And before stooping to apply herself to her work, she delayed another
moment before the open window, through which entered all the beauty of a
radiant May morning.



CHAPTER IV

The sun shone brightly on the roof of the Cathedral, a fresh odour of
lilacs came up from the bushes in the garden of the Bishop. Angelique
smiled, as she stood there, dazzled, and as if bathed in the springtide.
Then, starting as if suddenly awakened from sleep, she said:

"Father, I have no more gold thread for my work."

Hubert, who had just finished pricking the tracing of the pattern of a
cope, went to get a skein from the case of drawers, cut it, tapered
off the two ends by scratching the gold which covered the silk, and he
brought it to her rolled up in parchment.

"Is that all you need?"

"Yes, thanks."

With a quick glance she had assured herself that nothing more was
wanting; the needles were supplied with the different golds, the red,
the green, and the blue; there were spools of every shade of silk; the
spangles were ready; and the twisted wires for the gold lace were in the
crown of a hat which served as a box, with the long fine needles, the
steel pincers, the thimbles, the scissors, and the ball of wax. All
these were on the frame even, or on the material stretched therein,
which was protected by a thick brown paper.

She had threaded a needle with the gold thread. But at the first stitch
it broke, and she was obliged to thread it again, breaking off tiny
bits of the gold, which she threw immediately into the pasteboard
waste-basket which was near her.

"Now at last I am ready," she said, as she finished her first stitch.

Perfect silence followed. Hubert was preparing to stretch some material
on another frame. He had placed the two heavy ends on the chantlate and
the trestle directly opposite in such a way as to take lengthwise the
red silk of the cope, the breadths of which Hubertine had just stitched
together, and fitting the laths into the mortice of the beams, he
fastened them with four little nails. Then, after smoothing the material
many times from right to left, he finished stretching it and tacked on
the nails. To assure himself that it was thoroughly tight and firm, he
tapped on the cloth with his fingers and it sounded like a drum.

Angelique had become a most skilful worker, and the Huberts were
astonished at her cleverness and taste. In addition to what they had
taught her, she carried into all she did her personal enthusiasm, which
gave life to flowers and faith to symbols. Under her hands, silk and
gold seemed animated; the smaller ornaments were full of mystic meaning;
she gave herself up to it entirely, with her imagination constantly
active and her firm belief in the infinitude of the invisible world.

The Diocese of Beaumont had been so charmed with certain pieces of her
embroidery, that a clergyman who was an archaeologist, and another who
was an admirer of pictures, had come to see her, and were in raptures
before her Virgins, which they compared to the simple gracious figures
of the earliest masters. There was the same sincerity, the same
sentiment of the beyond, as if encircled in the minutest perfection of
detail. She had the real gift of design, a miraculous one indeed, which,
without a teacher, with nothing but her evening studies by lamplight,
enabled her often to correct her models, to deviate entirely from them,
and to follow her own fancies, creating beautiful things with the point
of her needle. So the Huberts, who had always insisted that a thorough
knowledge of the science of drawing was necessary to make a good
embroiderer, were obliged to yield before her, notwithstanding their
long experience. And, little by little, they modestly withdrew into the
background, becoming simply her aids, surrendering to her all the most
elaborate work, the under part of which they prepared for her.

From one end of the year to the other, what brilliant and sacred marvels
passed through her hands! She was always occupied with silks, satins,
velvets, or cloths of gold or silver. She embroidered chasubles, stoles,
maniples, copes, dalmatics, mitres, banners, and veils for the chalice
and the pyx. But, above all, their orders for chasubles never failed,
and they worked constantly at those vestments, with their five colours:
the white, for Confessors and Virgins; the red, for Apostles and
Martyrs; the black, for the days of fasting and for the dead; the
violet, for the Innocents; and the green for fete-days. Gold was also
often used in place of white or of green. The same symbols were always
in the centre of the Cross: the monograms of Jesus and of the Virgin
Mary, the triangle surrounded with rays, the lamb, the pelican, the
dove, a chalice, a monstrance, and a bleeding heart pierced with thorns;
while higher up and on the arms were designs, or flowers, all the
ornamentation being in the ancient style, and all the flora in large
blossoms, like anemones, tulips, peonies, pomegranates, or hortensias.
No season passed in which she did not remake the grapes and thorns
symbolic, putting silver on black, and gold on red. For the most costly
vestments, she varied the pictures of the heads of saints, having, as a
central design, the Annunciation, the Last Supper, or the Crucifixion.
Sometimes the orfreys were worked on the original material itself; at
others, she applied bands of silk or satin on brocades of gold cloth, or
of velvet. And all this efflorescence of sacred splendour was created,
little by little, by her deft fingers. At this moment the vestment on
which Angelique was at work was a chasuble of white satin, the cross
of which was made by a sheaf of golden lilies intertwined with bright
roses, in various shades of silk. In the centre, in a wreath of little
roses of dead gold, was the monogram of the Blessed Virgin, in red and
green gold, with a great variety of ornaments.

For an hour, during which she skilfully finished the little roses, the
silence had not been broken even by a single word. But her thread broke
again, and she re-threaded her needle by feeling carefully under the
frame, as only an adroit person can do. Then, as she raised her head,
she again inhaled with satisfaction the pure, fresh air that came in
from the garden.

"Ah!" she said softly, "how beautiful it was yesterday! The sunshine is
always perfect."

Hubertine shook her head as she stopped to wax her thread.

"As for me, I am so wearied, it seems as if I had no arms, and it tires
me to work. But that is not strange, for I so seldom go out, and am no
longer young and strong, as you are at sixteen."

Angelique had reseated herself and resumed her work. She prepared the
lilies by sewing bits of vellum on certain places that had been marked,
so as to give them relief, but the flowers themselves were not to be
made until later, for fear the gold be tarnished were the hands moved
much over it.

Hubert, who, having finished arranging the material in its frame,
was about drawing with pumice the pattern of the cope, joined in the
conversation and said: "These first warm days of spring are sure to give
me a terrible headache."

Angelique's eyes seemed to be vaguely lost in the rays which now fell
upon one of the flying buttresses of the church, as she dreamily added:
"Oh no, father, I do not think so. One day in the lively air, like
yesterday, does me a world of good."

Having finished the little golden leaves, she began one of the large
roses, near the lilies. Already she had threaded several needles with
the silks required, and she embroidered in stitches varying in length,
according to the natural position and movement of the petals, and
notwithstanding the extreme delicacy and absorbing nature of this work,
the recollections of the previous day, which she lived over again in
thought and in silence, now came to her lips, and crowded so closely
upon each other that she no longer tried to keep them back. So she
talked of their setting out upon their expedition, of the beautiful
fields they crossed, of their lunch over there in the ruins of
Hautecoeur, upon the flagstones of a little room whose tumble-down walls
towered far above the Ligneul, which rolled gently among the willows
fifty yards below them.

She was enthusiastic over these crumbling ruins, and the scattered
blocks of stone among the brambles, which showed how enormous the
colossal structure must have been as, when first built, it commanded
the two valleys. The donjon remained, nearly two hundred feet in height,
discoloured, cracked, but nevertheless firm, upon its foundation pillars
fifteen feet thick. Two of its towers had also resisted the attacks
of Time--that of Charlemagne and that of David--united by a heavy wall
almost intact. In the interior, the chapel, the court-room, and certain
chambers were still easily recognised; and all this appeared to have
been built by giants, for the steps of the stairways, the sills of the
windows, and the branches on the terraces, were all on a scale far out
of proportion for the generation of to-day. It was, in fact, quite a
little fortified city. Five hundred men could have sustained there a
siege of thirty months without suffering from want of ammunition or of
provisions. For two centuries the bricks of the lowest story had been
disjointed by the wild roses; lilacs and laburnums covered with blossoms
the rubbish of the fallen ceilings; a plane-tree had even grown up in
the fireplace of the guardroom. But when, at sunset, the outline of the
donjon cast its long shadow over three leagues of cultivated ground,
and the colossal Chateau seemed to be rebuilt in the evening mists, one
still felt the great strength, and the old sovereignty, which had made
of it so impregnable a fortress that even the kings of France trembled
before it.

"And I am sure," continued Angelique, "that it is inhabited by the souls
of the dead, who return at night. All kinds of noises are heard there;
in every direction are monsters who look at you, and when I turned round
as we were coming away, I saw great white figures fluttering above the
wall. But, mother, you know all the history of the castle, do you not?"

Hubertine replied, as she smiled in an amused way: "Oh! as for ghosts, I
have never seen any of them myself."

But in reality, she remembered perfectly the history, which she had read
long ago, and to satisfy the eager questionings of the young girl, she
was obliged to relate it over again.

The land belonged to the Bishopric of Rheims, since the days of Saint
Remi, who had received it from Clovis.

An archbishop, Severin, in the early years of the tenth century, had
erected at Hautecoeur a fortress to defend the country against the
Normans, who were coming up the river Oise, into which the Ligneul
flows.

In the following century a successor of Severin gave it in fief to
Norbert, a younger son of the house of Normandy, in consideration of an
annual quit-rent of sixty sous, and on the condition that the city of
Beaumont and its church should remain free and unincumbered. It was in
this way that Norbert I became the head of the Marquesses of Hautecoeur,
whose famous line from that date became so well known in history. Herve
IV, excommunicated twice for his robbery of ecclesiastical property,
became a noted highwayman, who killed, on a certain occasion, with his
own hands, thirty citizens, and his tower was razed to the ground by
Louis le Gros, against whom he had dared to declare war. Raoul I, who
went to the Crusades with Philip Augustus, perished before Saint Jean
d'Acre, having been pierced through the heart by a lance. But the most
illustrious of the race was John V, the Great, who, in 1225, rebuilt the
fortress, finishing in less than five years this formidable Chateau of
Hautecoeur, under whose shelter he, for a moment, dreamed of aspiring
to the throne of France, and after having escaped from being killed in
twenty battles, he at last died quietly in his bed, brother-in-law to
the King of Scotland. Then came Felician III, who made a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem barefooted; Herve VII, who asserted his claims to the throne
of Scotland; and still many others, noble and powerful in their day
and generation, down to Jean IX, who, under Mazarin, had the grief of
assisting at the dismantling of the castle. After a desperate siege, the
vaults of the towers and of the donjon were blown up with powder, and
the different constructions were set on fire; where Charles VI had been
sent to rest, and to turn his attention from his vagaries, and where,
nearly two hundred years later, Henri IV had passed a week as Gabrielle
D'Estress. Thenceforth, all these royal souvenirs had passed into
oblivion.

Angelique, without stopping the movement of her needle, listened
eagerly, as if the vision of these past grandeurs rose up from her
frame, in proportion as the rose grew there in its delicate life
of colour. Her ignorance of general history enlarged facts, and she
received them as if they were the basis of a marvellous legend. She
trembled with delight, and, transported by her faith, it seemed as if
the reconstructed Chateau mounted to the very gates of heaven, and the
Hautecoeurs were cousins to the Virgin Mary.

When there was a pause in the recital she asked, "Is not our new Bishop
Monseigneur d'Hautecoeur, a descendant of this noted family?"

Hubertine replied that Monseigneur must belong to the younger branch of
the family, as the elder branch had been extinct for a very long time.
It was, indeed, a most singular return, as for centuries the Marquesses
of Hautecoeur and the clergy of Beaumont had been hostile to each
other. Towards 1150 an abbot undertook to build a church, with no other
resources than those of his Order; so his funds soon gave out, when the
edifice was no higher than the arches of the side chapels, and they were
obliged to cover the nave with a wooden roof. Eighty years passed, and
Jean V came to rebuild the Chateau, when he gave three hundred thousand
pounds, which, added to other sums, enabled the work on the church to be
continued. The nave was finished, but the two towers and the great front
were terminated much later, towards 1430, in the full fifteenth century.
To recompense Jean V for his liberality, the clergy accorded to him,
for himself and his descendants, the right of burial in a chapel of the
apse, consecrated to St. George, and which, since that time, had been
called the Chapel Hautecoeur. But these good terms were not of long
duration. The freedom of Beaumont was put in constant peril by the
Chateau, and there were continual hostilities on the questions of
tribute and of precedence. One especially, the right of paying toll,
which the nobles demanded for the navigation of the Ligneul, perpetuated
the quarrels. Then it was that the great prosperity of the lower town
began, with its manufacturing of fine linen and lace, and from this
epoch the fortune of Beaumont increased daily, while that of Hautecoeur
diminished, until the time when the castle was dismantled and the church
triumphed. Louis XIV made of it a cathedral, a bishop's palace was
built in the old enclosure of the monks, and, by a singular chain of
circumstances, to-day a member of the family of Hautecoeur had returned
as a bishop to command the clergy, who, always powerful, had conquered
his ancestors, after a contest of four hundred years.

"But," said Angelique, "Monseigneur has been married, and has not he a
son at least twenty years of age?"

Hubertine had taken up the shears to remodel one of the pieces of
vellum.

"Yes," she replied, "the Abbot Cornille told me the whole story, and it
is a very sad history. When but twenty years of age, Monseigneur was a
captain under Charles X. In 1830, when only four-and-twenty, he resigned
his position in the army, and it is said that from that time until he
was forty years of age he led an adventurous life, travelling everywhere
and having many strange experiences. At last, one evening, he met,
at the house of a friend in the country, the daughter of the Count de
Valencay, Mademoiselle Pauline, very wealthy, marvellously beautiful,
and scarcely nineteen years of age, twenty-two years younger than
himself. He fell violently in love with her, and, as she returned his
affection, there was no reason why the marriage should not take place
at once. He then bought the ruins of Hautecoeur for a mere song--ten
thousand francs, I believe--with the intention of repairing the Chateau
and installing his wife therein when all would be in order and in
readiness to receive her. In the meanwhile they went to live on one of
his family estates in Anjou, scarcely seeing any of their friends, and
finding in their united happiness the days all too short. But, alas! at
the end of a year Pauline had a son and died."

Hubert, who was still occupied with marking out his pattern, raised
his head, showing a very pale face as he said in a low voice: "Oh! the
unhappy man!"

"It was said that he himself almost died from his great grief,"
continued Hubertine. "At all events, a fortnight later he entered into
Holy Orders, and soon became a priest. That was twenty years ago, and
now he is a bishop. But I have also been told that during all this time
he has refused to see his son, the child whose birth cost the life of
its mother. He had placed him with an uncle of his wife's, an old abbot,
not wishing even to hear of him, and trying to forget his existence. One
day a picture of the boy was sent him, but in looking at it he found
so strong a resemblance to his beloved dead that he fell on the floor
unconscious and stiff, as if he had received a blow from a hammer. . . .
Now age and prayer have helped to soften his deep grief, for yesterday
the good Father Cornille told me that Monseigneur had just decided to
send for his son to come to him."

Angelique, having finished her rose, so fresh and natural that perfume
seemed to be exhaled from it, looked again through the window into the
sunny garden, and, as if in a reverie, she said in a low voice: "The son
of Monseigneur!"

Hubertine continued her story.

"It seems that the young man is handsome as a god, and his father wished
him to be educated for the priesthood. But the old abbot would not
consent to that, saying that the youth had not the slightest inclination
in that direction. And then, to crown all, his wealth, it is said, is
enormous. Two million pounds sterling! Yes, indeed! His mother left
him a tenth of that sum, which was invested in land in Paris, where the
increase in the price of real estate has been so great, that to-day it
represents fifty millions of francs. In short, rich as a king!"

"Rich as a king, beautiful as a god!" repeated Angelique unconsciously,
in her dreamy voice.

And with one hand she mechanically took from the frame a bobbin wound
with gold thread, in order to make the open-work centre of one of the
large lilies. After having loosened the end from the point of the reel,
she fastened it with a double stitch of silk to the edge of the vellum
which was to give a thickness to the embroidery. Then, continuing her
work, she said again, without finishing her thought, which seemed lost
in the vagueness of its desire, "Oh! as for me, what I would like, that
which I would like above all else----"

The silence fell again, deep and profound, broken only by the dull sound
of chanting which came from the church. Hubert arranged his design by
repassing with a little brush all the perforated lines of the drawing,
and thus the ornamentation of the cope appeared in white on the red
silk. It was he who first resumed speaking.

"Ah! those ancient days were magnificent! Noblemen then wore costumes
weighted with embroidery. At Lyons, material was sometimes sold for as
much as six hundred francs an ell. One ought to read the by-laws and
regulations of the Guild of Master Workmen, where it is laid down that
'The embroiderers of the King have always the right to summon, by armed
force if necessary, the workmen of other masters.' . . . And then we
had coats of arms, too! Azure, a fesso engrailed or, between three
fleurs-de-lys of the same, two of them being near the top and the third
in the point. Ah! it was indeed beautiful in the days of long ago!"

He stopped a moment, tapping the frame with his fingers to shake off the
dust. Then he continued:

"At Beaumont they still have a legend about the Hautecoeurs, which my
mother often related to me when I was a child. . . . A frightful plague
ravaged the town, and half of the inhabitants had already fallen victims
to it, when Jean V, he who had rebuilt the fortress, perceived that God
had given him the power to contend against the scourge. Then he went on
foot to the houses of the sick, fell on his knees, kissed them, and as
soon as his lips had touched them, while he said, 'If God is willing,
I wish it,' the sufferers were healed. And lo! that is why these words
have remained the device of the Hautecoeurs, who all have since that
day been able to cure the plague. . . . Ah! what a proud race of men!
A noble dynasty! Monseigneur himself is called Jean XII, and the first
name of his son must also be followed by a number, like that of a
prince."

He stopped. Each one of his words lulled and prolonged the reverie of
Angelique. She continued, in a half-singing tone: "Oh! what I wish for
myself! That which I would like above all else----"

Holding the bobbin, without touching the thread, she twisted the gold by
moving it from left to right alternately on the vellum, fastening it at
each turn with a stitch in silk. Little by little the great golden lily
blossomed out.

Soon she continued: "Yes, what I would like above all would be to marry
a prince--a prince whom I had never seen; who would come towards sunset,
just before the waning daylight, and would take me by the hand and lead
me to his palace. And I should wish him to be very handsome, as well as
very rich! Yes, the most beautiful and the wealthiest man that had ever
been seen on the earth! He should have superb horses that I could hear
neighing under my windows, and jewels which he would pour in streams
into my lap, and gold that would fall from my hands in a deluge when I
opened them. And what I wish still further is, that this prince of
mine should love me to distraction, so that I might also love him
desperately. We would then remain very young, very good, and very noble,
for ever!"

Hubert, leaving his work, had approached her smilingly; whilst
Hubertine, in a friendly way, shook her finger at the young girl.

"Oh, what a vain little creature! Ah! ambitious child, you are quite
incorrigible. Now, you are quite beside yourself with your need of being
a queen. At all events such a dream is much better than to steal sugar
and to be impertinent. But really, you must not indulge in such fancies.
It is the Evil One who prompts them, and it is pride that speaks, as
well as passion."

Gay and candid, Angelique looked her in the face as she said: "But
mother, mother mine, what are you saying? Is it, then, a sin to love
that which is rich and beautiful? I love it because it is rich and
beautiful, and so cheers my heart and soul. A beautiful object brightens
everything that is near it, and helps one to live, as the sun does. You
know very well that I am not selfish. Money? Oh! you would see what a
good use I would make of it, if only I had it in abundance! I would rain
it over the town; it should be scattered among the miserable. Think what
a blessing it would be to have no more poverty! In the first place,
as for you and my father, I would give you everything. You should be
dressed in robes and garments of brocades, like the lords and ladies of
the olden time."

Hubertine shrugged her shoulders and smiled. "It is ridiculous," she
said. "But, my dear child, you must remember that you are poor, and that
you have not a penny for your marriage-portion. How can you, then, for a
moment dream of a prince? Are you, then, so desirous to marry a prince?"

"Why should not I wish to marry such a man?" And she looked quite
amazed, as she continued: "Marry him? Of course I would do so. Since he
would have plenty of money, what difference would it make if I had none?
I should owe everything to him, and on that very account I should love
him all the more deeply."

This victorious reasoning enchanted Hubert, who seemed carried above the
earth by Angelique's enthusiasm. He would willingly have accompanied her
on the wings of a cloud to the regions of fancy.

"She is right," he exclaimed.

But his wife glanced at him reprovingly. She became quite stern.

"My child, you will think differently later on, when you know life
better."

"Life?--but I know it already."

"How is it possible for you to know it? You are too young; you are
ignorant of evil. Yet evil exists and is very powerful."

"Evil--evil?"

Angelique repeated the word very slowly, as if to penetrate its meaning.
And in her pure eyes was a look of innocent surprise. Evil? She knew all
about it, for she had read of it in the "Golden Legend." Was not
evil Satan himself? And had not she seen how, although he constantly
reappeared, he was always overthrown? After every battle he remained
crushed to earth, thoroughly conquered, and in a most pitiable state.

"Evil? Ah, mother mine, if you knew how little I fear it! It is only
necessary once to conquer it and afterwards life is all happiness."

Hubertine appeared troubled and looked anxious.

"You will make me almost regret having brought you up in this house,
alone with us two, and away from the world as it were. I am really
afraid that some day we shall regret having kept you in such complete
ignorance of the realities of life. What Paradise are you looking for?
What is your idea of the world?"

A look of hope brightened the face of the young girl, while, bending
forward, she still moved the bobbin back and forth with a continuous,
even motion.

"You then really think, mother, that I am very foolish, do you not? This
world is full of brave people. When one is honest and industrious, one
is always rewarded. I know also that there are some bad people, but they
do not count. We do not associate with them, and they are soon punished
for their misdeeds. And then, you see, as for the world, it produces on
me, from a distance, the effect of a great garden; yes, of an immense
park, all filled with flowers and with sunshine. It is such a blessing
to live, and life is so sweet that it cannot be bad."

She grew excited, as if intoxicated by the brightness of the silks and
the gold threads she manipulated so well with her skilful fingers.

"Happiness is a very simple thing. We are happy, are we not? All three
of us? And why? Simply because we love each other. Then, after all, it
is no more difficult than that; it is only necessary to love and to
be loved. So, you see, when the one I expect really comes, we shall
recognise each other immediately. It is true I have not yet seen him,
but I know exactly what he ought to be. He will enter here and will say:
'I have come in search of you.' And I shall reply: 'I expected you, and
will go with you.' He will take me with him, and our future will be at
once decided upon. He will go into a palace, where all the furniture
will be of gold, encrusted in diamonds. Oh, it is all very simple!"

"You are crazy; so do not talk any more," interrupted Hubertine, coldly.

And seeing that the young girl was still excited, and ready to continue
to indulge her fancies, she continued to reprove her.

"I beg you to say no more, for you absolutely make me tremble. Unhappy
child! When we really marry you to some poor mortal you will be crushed,
as you fall to earth from these heights of the imagination. Happiness,
for the greater part of the world, consists in humility and obedience."

Angelique continued to smile with an almost obstinate tranquillity.

"I expect him, and he will come."

"But she is right," exclaimed Hubert, again carried away by her
enthusiasm. "Why need you scold her? She is certainly pretty, and dainty
enough for a king. Stranger things than that have happened, and who
knows what may come?"

Sadly Hubertine looked at him with her calm eyes.

"Do not encourage her to do wrong, my dear. You know, better than
anyone, what it costs to follow too much the impulses of one's heart."

He turned deadly pale, and great tears came to the edge of his eyelids.
She immediately repented of having reproved him, and rose to offer him
her hands. But gently disengaging himself, he said, stammeringly:

"No, no, my dear; I was wrong. Angelique, do you understand me? You must
always listen to your mother. She alone is wise, and we are both of us
very foolish. I am wrong; yes, I acknowledge it."

Too disturbed to sit down, leaving the cope upon which he had been
working, he occupied himself in pasting a banner that was finished,
although still in its frame. After having taken the pot of Flemish glue
from the chest of drawers, he moistened with a brush the underside of
the material, to make the embroidery firmer. His lips still trembled,
and he remained quiet.

But if Angelique, in her obedience, was also still, she allowed her
thoughts to follow their course, and her fancies mounted higher and
still higher. She showed it in every feature--in her mouth, that ecstasy
had half opened, as well as in her eyes, where the infinite depth of her
visions seemed reflected. Now, this dream of a poor girl, she wove it
into the golden embroidery. It was for this unknown hero that, little
by little, there seemed to grow on the white satin the beautiful great
lilies, and the roses, and the monogram of the Blessed Virgin. The stems
of the lilies had all the gracious pointings of a jet of light, whilst
the long slender leaves, made of spangles, each one being sewed on with
gold twist, fell in a shower of stars. In the centre, the initials of
Mary were like the dazzling of a relief in massive gold, a marvellous
blending of lacework and of embossing, or goffering, which burnt like
the glory of a tabernacle in the mystic fire of its rays. And the roses
of delicately-coloured silks seemed real, and the whole chasuble was
resplendent in its whiteness of satin, which appeared covered almost
miraculously with its golden blossoms.

After a long silence, Angelique, whose cheeks were flushed by the blood
which mounted into them from her excitement, raised her head, and,
looking at Hubertine, said again, a little maliciously:

"I expect him, and he will come."

It was absurd for her thus to give loose reins to her imagination. But
she was willful. She was convinced in her own mind that everything would
come to pass, eventually, as she wished it might. Nothing could weaken
her happy conviction.

"Mother," she added, "why do you not believe me, since I assure you it
must be as I say?"

Hubertine shrugged her shoulders, and concluded the best thing for her
to do was to tease her.

"But I thought, my child, that you never intended being married. Your
saints, who seem to have turned your head, they led single lives. Rather
than do otherwise they converted their lovers, ran away from their
homes, and were put to death."

The young girl listened and was confused. But soon she laughed merrily.
Her perfect health, and all her love of life, rang out in this sonorous
gaiety. "The histories of the saints! But that was ages ago! Times have
entirely changed since then. God having so completely triumphed, no
longer demands that anyone should die for Him."

When reading the Legend, it was the marvels which fascinated her, not
the contempt of the world and the desire for death. She added: "Most
certainly I expect to be married; to love and to be loved, and thus be
very happy."

"Be careful, my dear," said Hubertine, continuing to tease her. "You
will make your guardian angel, Saint Agnes, weep. Do not you know that
she refused the son of the Governor, and preferred to die, that she
might be wedded to Jesus?"

The great clock of the belfry began to strike; numbers of sparrows flew
down from an enormous ivy-plant which framed one of the windows of
the apse. In the workroom, Hubert, still silent, had just hung up the
banner, moist from the glue, that it might dry, on one of the great iron
hooks fastened to the wall.

The sun in the course of the morning had lightened up different parts
of the room, and now it shone brightly upon the old tools--the diligent,
the wicker winder, and the brass chandelier--and as its rays fell upon
the two workers, the frame at which they were seated seemed almost
on fire, with its bands polished by use, and with the various objects
placed upon it, the reels of gold cord, the spangles, and the bobbins of
silk.

Then, in this soft, charming air of spring, Angelique looked at
the beautiful symbolic lily she had just finished. Opening wide her
ingenuous eyes, she replied, with an air of confiding happiness, to
Hubertine's last remark in regard to the child-martyr, Saint Agnes:

"Ah, yes! But it was Jesus who wished it to be so."



CHAPTER V

Notwithstanding her thoroughly cheerful nature, Angelique liked
solitude; and it was to her the greatest of recreations to be alone
in her room, morning and evening. There she gave herself up to her
thoughts; there she indulged to the full scope in her most joyous
fancies. Sometimes even during the day, when she could go there for a
moment, she was as happy as if, in full freedom, she had committed some
childish prank.

The chamber was very large, taking in at least half of the upper story,
the other half being the garret. It was whitewashed everywhere; not only
the walls and the beams, but the joists, even to the visible copings of
the mansard part of the roof; and in this bare whiteness, the old oaken
furniture seemed almost as black as ebony. At the time of the decoration
of the sleeping-room below, and the improvements made in the parlour,
the ancient furniture, which had been bought at various epochs, had
been carried upstairs. There was a great carved chest of the Renaissance
period, a table and chairs which dated from the reign of Louis XIII, an
enormous bedstead, style Louis XIV, and a very handsome wardrobe, Louis
XV. In the middle of these venerable old things a white porcelain stove,
and the little toilet-table, covered with a pretty oilcloth, seemed out
of place and to mar the dull harmony. Curtained with an old-fashioned
rose-coloured chintz, on which were bouquets of heather, so faded that
the colour had become a scarcely perceptible pink, the enormous bedstead
preserved above all the majesty of its great age.

But what pleased Angelique more than anything else was the little
balcony on which the window opened. Of the two original windows, one
of them, that at the left, had been closed by simply fastening it with
nails, and the balcony, which formerly extended across the front of
the building, was now only before the window at the right. As the lower
beams were still strong, a new floor had been made, and above it an
iron railing was firmly attached in place of the old worm-eaten wooden
balustrade. This made a charming little corner, a quiet nook under the
gable point, the leaden laths of which had been renewed at the beginning
of the century. By bending over a little, the whole garden-front of the
house could be seen in a very dilapidated state, with its sub-basement
of little cut stones, its panels ornamented with imitation bricks, and
its large bay window, which to-day had been made somewhat smaller. The
roof of the great porch of the kitchen-door was covered with zinc. And
above, the interduces of the top, which projected three feet or more,
were strengthened by large, upright pieces of wood, the ends of which
rested on the string-course of the first floor. All this gave to the
balcony an appearance of being in a perfect vegetation of timber, as if
in the midst of a forest of old wood, which was green with wallflowers
and moss.

Since she occupied the chamber, Angelique had spent many hours there,
leaning over the balustrade and simply looking. At first, directly
under her was the garden, darkened by the eternal shade of the evergreen
box-trees; in the corner nearest the church, a cluster of small
lilac-bushes surrounded an old granite bench; while in the opposite
corner, half hidden by a beautiful ivy which covered the whole wall
at the end as if with a mantle, was a little door opening upon the
Clos-Marie, a vast, uncultivated field. This Clos-Marie was the old
orchard of the monks. A rivulet of purest spring-water crossed it, the
Chevrotte, where the women who occupied the houses in the neighbourhood
had the privilege of washing their linen; certain poor people sheltered
themselves in the ruins of an old tumble-down mill; and no other persons
inhabited this field, which was connected with the Rue Magloire simply
by the narrow lane of the Guerdaches, which passed between the high
walls of the Bishop's Palace and those of the Hotel Voincourt. In
summer, the centenarian elms of the two parks barred with their
green-leaved tops the straight, limited horizon which in the centre
was cut off by the gigantic brow of the Cathedral. Thus shut in on
all sides, the Clos-Marie slept in the quiet peace of its abandonment,
overrun with weeds and wild grass, planted with poplars and willows sown
by the wind. Among the great pebbles the Chevrotte leaped, singing as it
went, and making a continuous music as if of crystal.

Angelique was never weary of this out-of-the-way nook. Yet for seven
years she had seen there each morning only what she had looked at on the
previous evening. The trees in the little park of the Hotel Voincourt,
whose front was on the Grand Rue, were so tufted and bushy that it
was only in the winter she could occasionally catch a glimpse of the
daughter of the Countess, Mademoiselle Claire, a young girl of her own
age.

In the garden of the Bishop was a still more dense thickness of
branches, and she had often tried in vain to distinguish there the
violet-coloured cassock of Monseigneur; and the old gate, with its
Venetian slats above and at the sides, must have been fastened up for
a very long time, for she never remembered to have seen it opened, not
even for a gardener to pass through. Besides the washerwomen in the
Clos, she always saw the same poor, ragged little children playing or
sleeping in the grass.

The spring this year was unusually mild. She was just sixteen years of
age, and until now she had been glad to welcome with her eyes alone
the growing green again of the Clos-Marie under the April sunshine.
The shooting out of the tender leaves, the transparency of the warm
evenings, and all the reviving odours of the earth had simply amused her
heretofore. But this year, at the first bud, her heart seemed to beat
more quickly. As the grass grew higher and the wind brought to her all
the strong perfumes of the fresh verdure, there was in her whole being
an increasing agitation. Sudden inexplicable pain would at times seize
her throat and almost choke her. One evening she threw herself, weeping,
into Hubertine's arms, having no cause whatever for grief, but, on the
contrary, overwhelmed with so great, unknown a happiness, that her heart
was too full for restraint. In the night her dreams were delightful.
Shadows seemed to pass before her, and she fell into such an ecstatic
state that on awakening she did not dare to recall them, so confused
was she by the angelic visions of bliss. Sometimes, in the middle of her
great bed, she would rouse herself suddenly, her two hands joined and
pressed against her breast as if a heavy burden were weighing her down
and almost suffocating her. She would then jump up, rush across the
room in her bare feet, and, opening the window wide, would stand there,
trembling slightly, until at last the pure fresh air calmed her. She
was continually surprised at this great change in herself, as if the
knowledge of joys and griefs hitherto unknown had been revealed to
her in the enchantment of dreams, and that her eyes had been opened to
natural beauties which surrounded her.

What--was it really true that the unseen lilacs and laburnums of the
Bishop's garden had so sweet an odour that she could no longer breathe
it without a flush of colour mounting to her cheeks? Never before had
she perceived this warmth of perfume which now touched her as if with a
living breath.

And again, why had she never remarked in preceding years a great
Japanese Paulownia in blossom, which looked like an immense violet
bouquet as it appeared between two elm-trees in the garden of the
Voincourts? This year, as soon as she looked at it, her eyes grew
moist, so much was she affected by the delicate tints of the pale purple
flowers. She also fancied that the Chevrotte had never chattered
so gaily over the pebbles among the willows on its banks. The river
certainly talked; she listened to its vague words, constantly repeated,
which filled her heart with trouble. Was it, then, no longer the field
of other days, that everything in it so astonished her and affected her
senses in so unusual a way? Or, rather, was not she herself so changed
that, for the first time, she appreciated the beauty of the coming into
life of trees and plants?

But the Cathedral at her right, the enormous mass which obstructed the
sky, surprised her yet more. Each morning she seemed to see it for the
first time; she made constant discoveries in it, and was delighted to
think that these old stones lived and had lived like herself. She did
not reason at all on the subject, she had very little knowledge, but
she gave herself up to the mystic flight of the giant, whose coming into
existence had demanded three centuries of time, and where were placed
one above the other the faith and the belief of generations. At the
foundation, it was kneeling as if crushed by prayer, with the Romanesque
chapels of the nave, and with the round arched windows, plain,
unornamented, except by slender columns under the archivolts. Then it
seemed to rise, lifting its face and hands towards heaven, with the
pointed windows of its nave, built eighty years later; high, delicate
windows, divided by mullions on which were broken bows and roses. Then
again it sprung from the earth as if in ecstasy, erect, with the piers
and flying buttresses of the choir finished and ornamented two centuries
after in the fullest flamboyant Gothic, charged with its bell-turrets,
spires, and pinnacles. A balustrade had been added, ornamented with
trefoils, bordering the terrace on the chapels of the apse. Gargoyles at
the foot of the flying buttresses carried off the water from the roofs.
The top was also decorated with flowery emblems. The whole edifice
seemed to burst into blossom in proportion as it approached the sky in
a continual upward flight, as if, relieved at being delivered from the
ancient sacerdotal terror, it was about to lose itself in the bosom of a
God of pardon and of love. It seemed to have a physical sensation which
permeated it, made it light and happy, like a sacred hymn it had just
heard sung, very pure and holy, as it passed into the upper air.

Moreover, the Cathedral was alive. Hundreds of swallows had constructed
their nests under the borders of trefoil, and even in the hollows of the
bell-turrets and the pinnacles, and they were continually brushing their
wings against the flying buttresses and the piers which they inhabited.
There were also the wood-pigeons of the elms in the Bishop's garden, who
held themselves up proudly on the borders of the terraces, going slowly,
as if walking merely to show themselves off. Sometimes, half lost in
the blue sky, looking scarcely larger than a fly, a crow alighted on
the point of a spire to smooth its wings. The old stones themselves were
animated by the quiet working of the roots of a whole flora of plants,
the lichens and the grasses, which pushed themselves through the
openings in the walls. On very stormy days the entire apse seemed to
awake and to grumble under the noise of the rain as it beat against the
leaden tiles of the roof, running off by the gutters of the cornices and
rolling from story to story with the clamour of an overflowing torrent.
Even the terrible winds of October and of March gave to it a soul, a
double voice of anger and of supplication, as they whistled through
its forests of gables and arcades of roseate ornaments and of little
columns. The sun also filled it with life from the changing play of
its rays; from the early morning, which rejuvenated it with a delicate
gaiety, even to the evening, when, under the slightly lengthened-out
shadows, it basked in the unknown.

And it had its interior existence. The ceremonies with which it was ever
vibrating, the constant swinging of its bells, the music of the organ,
and the chanting of the priests, all these were like the pulsation of
its veins. There was always a living murmur in it: half-lost sounds,
like the faint echo of a Low Mass; the rustling of the kneeling
penitents, a slight, scarcely perceptible shivering, nothing but the
devout ardour of a prayer said without words and with closed lips.

Now, as the days grew longer, Angelique passed more and more time in the
morning and evening with her elbows on the balustrade of the balcony,
side by side with her great friend, the Cathedral. She loved it the best
at night, when she saw the enormous mass detach itself like a huge block
on the starry skies. The form of the building was lost. It was with
difficulty that she could even distinguish the flying buttresses, which
were thrown like bridges into the empty space. It was, nevertheless,
awake in the darkness, filled with a dream of seven centuries, made
grand by the multitudes who had hoped or despaired before its altars.
It was a continual watch, coming from the infinite of the past, going to
the eternity of the future; the mysterious and terrifying wakefulness
of a house where God Himself never sleeps. And in the dark, motionless,
living mass, her looks were sure to seek the window of a chapel of the
choir, on the level of the bushes of the Clos-Marie, the only one which
was lighted up, and which seemed like an eye which was kept open all
the night. Behind it, at the corner of a pillar, was an ever-burning
altar-lamp. In fact, it was the same chapel which the abbots of old had
given to Jean V d'Hautecoeur, and to his descendants, with the right of
being buried there, in return for their liberality. Dedicated to Saint
George, it had a stained-glass window of the twelfth century, on which
was painted the legend of the saint. From the moment of the coming on of
twilight, this historic representation came out from the shade,
lighted up as if it were an apparition, and that was why Angelique was
fascinated, and loved this particular point, as she gazed at it with her
dreamy eyes.

The background of the window was blue and the edges red. Upon this
sombre richness of colouring, the personages, whose flying draperies
allowed their limbs to be seen, stood out in relief in clear light
on the glass. Three scenes of the Legend, placed one above the other,
filled the space quite to the upper arch. At the bottom, the daughter of
the king, dressed in costly royal robes, on her way from the city to be
eaten by the dreadful monster, meets Saint George near the pond, from
which the head of the dragon already appears; and a streamer of silk
bears these words: "Good Knight, do not run any danger for me, as you
can neither help me nor deliver me, but will have to perish with me."
Then in the middle the combat takes place, and the saint, on horseback,
cuts the beast through and through. This is explained by the following
words: "George wielded so well his lance that he wounded the enemy and
threw him upon the earth." At last, at the top, the Princess is seen
leading back into the city the conquered dragon: "George said, 'Tie your
scarf around his neck, and do not be afraid of anything, oh beautiful
maiden, for when you have done so he will follow you like a well-trained
dog.'"

When the window was new it must have been surmounted in the middle of
the arch by an ornamental design. But later, when the chapel belonged to
the Hautecoeurs, they replaced the original work by their family coat
of arms. And that was why, in the obscure nights, armorial bearings of
a more recent date shown out above the painted legend. They were the
old family arms of Hautecoeur, quartered with the well-known shield of
Jerusalem; the latter being argent, a cross potencee, or, between four
crosselettes of the same; and those of the family, azure, a castle, or,
on it a shield, sable, charged with a human heart, argent, the whole
between three fleurs-de-lys, or; the shield was supported on the dexter
and sinister sides by two wyverns, or; and surmounted by the silver
helmet with its blue feathers, embossed in gold, placed frontwise, and
closed by eleven bars, which belongs only to Dukes, Marshals of France,
titled Lords and heads of Sovereign Corporations. And for motto were
these words: "_Si Dieu volt, ie vueil_."

Little by little, from having seen him piercing the monster with
his lance, whilst the king's daughter raised her clasped hands in
supplication, Angelique became enamoured of Saint George. He was her
hero. At the distance where she was she could not well distinguish the
figures, and she looked at them as if in the aggrandisement of a dream;
the young girl was slight, was a blonde, and, in short, had a face not
unlike her own, while the saint was frank and noble looking, with the
beauty of an archangel. It was as if she herself had just been saved,
and she could have kissed his hands with gratitude. And to this
adventure, of which she dreamed confusedly, of a meeting on the border
of a lake and of being rescued from a great danger by a young man more
beautiful than the day, was added the recollection of her excursion
to the Chateau of Hautecoeur, and a calling up to view of the feudal
donjon, in its original state, peopled with the noble lords of olden
times.

The arms glistened like the stars on summer nights; she knew them well,
she read them easily, with their sonorous words, for she was so in the
habit of embroidering heraldic symbols. There was Jean V, who stopped
from door to door in the town ravaged by the plague, and went in to
kiss the lips of the dying, and cured them by saying, "_Si Dieu volt,
ie vueil_." And Felician III, who, forewarned that a severe illness
prevented Philippe le Bel from going to Palestine, went there in his
place, barefooted and holding a candle in his hand, and for that he had
the right of quartering the arms of Jerusalem with his own. Other and
yet other histories came to her mind, especially those of the ladies of
Hautecoeur, the "happy dead," as they were called in the Legend. In
that family the women die young, in the midst of some great happiness.
Sometimes two or three generations would be spared, then suddenly Death
would appear, smiling, as with gentle hands he carried away the daughter
or the wife of a Hautecoeur, the oldest of them being scarcely twenty
years of age, at the moment when they were at the height of earthly love
and bliss. For instance, Laurette, daughter of Raoul I, on the evening
of her betrothal to her cousin Richard, who lived in the castle, having
seated herself at her window in the Tower of David, saw him at his
window in the Tower of Charlemagne, and, thinking she heard him call
her, as at that moment a ray of moonlight seemed to throw a bridge
between them, she walked toward him. But when in the middle she made in
her haste a false step and overpassed the ray, she fell, and was crushed
at the foot of the tower. So since that day, each night when the moon is
bright and clear, she can be seen walking in the air around the Chateau,
which is bathed in white by the silent touch of her immense robe. Then
Balbine, wife of Herve VII, thought for six months that her husband had
been killed in the wars. But, unwilling to give up all hope, she watched
for him daily from the top of the donjon, and when at last she saw him
one morning on the highway, returning to his home, she ran down quickly
to meet him, but was so overcome with joy, that she fell dead at the
entrance of the castle. Even at this day, notwithstanding the ruins, as
soon as twilight falls, it is said she still descends the steps, runs
from story to story, glides through the corridors and the rooms, and
passes like a phantom through the gaping windows which open into the
desert void. All return. Isabeau, Gudule, Vonne, Austreberthe, all these
"happy dead," loved by the stern messenger, who spared them from the
vicissitudes of life by taking them suddenly when, in early youth, they
thought only of happiness. On certain nights this white-robed band fill
the house as if with a flight of doves. To their number had lately been
added the mother of the son of Monseigneur, who was found lifeless on
the floor by the cradle of her infant, where, although ill, she dragged
herself to die, in the fullness of her delight at embracing him. These
had haunted the imagination of Angelique; she spoke of them as if they
were facts of recent occurrence, which might have happened the day
before. She had read the names of Laurette and of Balbine on old
memorial tablets let into the walls of the chapel. Then why should not
she also die young and very happy, as they had? The armouries would
glisten as now, the saint would come down from his place in the
stained-glass window, and she would be carried away to heaven on the
sweet breath of a kiss. Why not?

The "Golden Legend" had taught her this: Was not it true that the
miracle is really the common law, and follows the natural course of
events? It exists, is active, works with an extreme facility on
every occasion, multiplies itself, spreads itself out, overflows even
uselessly, as if for the pleasure of contradicting the self-evident
rules of Nature. Its power seems to be on the same plane as that of the
Creator. Albrigan, King of Edeese, writes to Jesus, who replies to him.
Ignatius receives letters from the Blessed Virgin. In all places the
Mother and the Son appear, disguise themselves, and talk with an air of
smiling good-nature. When Stephen meets them they are very familiar with
him. All the virgins are wed to Jesus, and the martyrs mount to heaven,
where they are to be united to Mary. And as for the angels and saints,
they are the ordinary companions of men. They come, they go, they pass
through walls, they appear in dreams, they speak from the height of
clouds, they assist at births and deaths, they support those who are
tortured, they deliver those who are in prison, and they go on dangerous
missions. Following in their footsteps is an inexhaustible efflorescence
of prodigies. Sylvester binds the mouth of a dragon with a thread.
The earth rises to make a seat for Hilary, whose companions wished to
humiliate him. A precious stone falls into the chalice of Saint Loup. A
tree crushes the enemies of Saint Martin; a dog lets loose a hare, and
a great fire ceases to burn at his command. Mary the Egyptian walks
upon the sea; honey-bees fly from the mouth of Ambrosius at his birth.
Continually saints cure diseases of the eye, withered limbs, paralysis,
leprosy, and especially the plague. There is no disease that resists the
sign of the Cross. In a crowd, the suffering and the feeble are placed
together, that they may be cured in a mass, as if by a thunderbolt.
Death itself is conquered, and resurrections are so frequent that they
become quite an everyday affair. And when the saints themselves are
dead the wonders do not cease, but are redoubled, and are like perennial
flowers which spring from their tombs. It is said that from the head and
the feet of Nicholas flowed two fountains of oil which cured every ill.
When the tomb of Saint Cecilia was opened an odour of roses came up from
her coffin. That of Dorothea was filled with manna. All the bones of
virgins and of martyrs performed marvels: they confounded liars, they
forced robbers to give back their stolen goods, they granted the prayers
of childless wives, they brought the dying back to life. Nothing was
impossible for them; in fact the Invisible reigned, and the only law
was the caprice of the supernatural. In the temples the sorcerers mix
themselves up with the popular idea, and scythes cut the grass without
being held, brass serpents move, and one hears bronze statues laugh and
wolves sing. Immediately the saints reply and overwhelm them. The Host
is changed into living food, sacred Christian images shed drops of
blood, sticks set upright in the ground blossom into flower, springs
of pure water appear in dry places, warm loaves of bread multiply
themselves at the feet of the needy, a tree bows down before some holy
person, and so on. Then, again, decapitated heads speak, broken chalices
mend themselves, the rain turns aside from a church to submerge a
neighbouring palace, the robes of hermits never wear out, but renew
themselves at each season like the skin of a beast. In Armenia at one
time the persecutors threw into the sea the leaden coffins of five
martyrs, and the one containing the body of Saint Bartholomew the
Apostle took the lead, and the four others accompanied it as a guard of
honour. So, all together, in regular order, like a fine squadron, they
floated slowly along, urged by the breeze, through the whole length of
the sea, until they reached the shores of Sicily.

Angelique was a firm believer in miracles. In her ignorance she lived
surrounded by wonders. The rising of the stars, or the opening of a
violet; each fact was a surprise to her. It would have appeared to her
simply ridiculous to have imagined the world so mechanical as to
be governed by fixed laws. There were so many things far beyond her
comprehension, she felt herself so weak and helpless in the midst of
forces whose power it was impossible to measure, that she would not even
have suspected they existed, had it not been for the great questioning
breath which at times passed over her face. So, trusting, and
as thoroughly Christian as if belonging to the primitive Church,
spiritually fed by her readings from the "Golden Legend," she gave
herself up entirely into the hands of God, with only the spot of
original sin to be cleansed from her soul. She had no liberty of action
or freedom of will; God alone could secure her salvation by giving
her the gift of His grace. That grace had been already manifested by
bringing her to the hospitable roof of the Huberts, where, under the
shadow of the Cathedral, she could lead a life of submission, of purity,
and of faith. She often heard within her soul the grumblings of heredity
tendency to evil, and asked herself what would have become of her had
she been left on her native soil. Without doubt she would have been bad;
while here, in this blessed corner of the earth, she had grown up free
from temptation, strong and healthy. Was it not grace that had given her
this home, where she was surrounded by such charming histories she had
so easily committed to memory, where she had learned such perfect faith
in the present and hope in the future, and where the invisible and
unknown, or the miracles of ages, seemed natural to her, and quite on
a level with her daily life? It had armed her for all combats, as
heretofore it had armed the martyrs. And she created an imaginary
experience for herself almost unknowingly. It was, in fact, the
inevitable result of a mind overcharged and excited by fables; it was
increased by her ignorance of the life within and about her, as well
as from her loneliness. She had not had many companions, so all desires
went from her only to return to her.

Sometimes she was in such a peculiar state that she would put her hands
over her face, as if doubting her own identity. Was she herself only
an illusion, and would she suddenly disappear some day and vanish into
nothingness? Who would tell her the truth?

One evening in the following May, on this same balcony where she had
spent so much time in vague dreams, she suddenly broke into tears.
She was not low-spirited in the least, but it seemed to her as if her
anxiety arose from a vain expectation of a visit from someone. Yet who
was there to come? It was very dark; the Clos-Marie marked itself out
like a great black spot under the sky filled with stars, and she could
but vaguely distinguish the heavy masses of the old elm-trees of the
Bishop's garden, and of the park of the Hotel Voincourt. Alone the
window of the chapel sent out a little light. If no one were to come,
why did her heart beat so rapidly? It was nothing new, this feeling of
waiting, or of hope, but it was dated from the long ago, from her early
youth; it was like a desire, a looking forward for something which
had grown with her growth, and ended in this feverish anxiety of her
seventeen years. Nothing would have surprised her, as for weeks she
had heard the sound of voices in this mysterious corner, peopled by her
imagination. The "Golden Legend" had left there its supernatural world
of saints and martyrs, and the miracle was all ready to appear there.
She understood well that everything was animated, that the voices came
from objects hitherto silent; that the leaves of the trees, the waters
of the Chevrotte, and the stones of the Cathedral spoke to her. But what
was it that all these whisperings from the Invisible wished to explain?
What did these unknown forces above and around her wish to do with her
as they floated in the air? She kept her eyes fixed upon the darkness,
as if she were at an appointed meeting with she knew not whom, and
she waited, still waited, until she was overcome with sleep, whilst it
seemed to her as if some supernatural power were deciding her destiny,
irrespective of her will or wish.

For four evenings Angelique was nervous, and wept a great deal in
the darkness. She remained in her usual place and was patient. The
atmosphere seemed to envelope her, and as it increased in density it
oppressed her more and more, as if the horizon itself had become smaller
and was shutting her in. Everything weighed upon her heart. Now there
was a dull murmuring of voices in her brain; yet she was not able to
hear them clearly, or to distinguish their meaning. It was as if Nature
itself had taken possession of her, and the earth, with the vast heavens
above it, had penetrated into her being. At the least sound her hands
burned and her eyes tried to pierce the darkness. Was the wonderful
event about to take place, the prodigy she awaited? No, there was
nothing yet. It was probably merely the beating of the wings of a night
bird. And she listened again, attentively, until she could distinguish
the difference of sound between the leaves of the elms and the willows.
At least twenty times she trembled violently when a little stone rolled
in the rivulet, or a prowling animal jumped over the wall. She leaned
forward; but there was nothing--still nothing.

At last, after some days, when at night a warmer darkness fell from the
sky where no moon was visible, a change began. She felt it, but it was
so slight, so almost imperceptible, she feared that she might have been
mistaken in the little sound she heard, which seemed unlike the usual
noises she knew so well. She held her breath, as the sound seemed
very long in returning. At last it came again, louder than before, but
equally confused. She would have said it came from a great distance,
that it was a scarcely-defined step, and that the trembling of the air
announced the approach of something out of sight and out of hearing.
That which she was expecting came slowly from the invisible slight
movement of what surrounded her. Little by little it disengaged itself
from her dream, like a realisation of the vague longings of her youth.
Was it the Saint George of the chapel window, who had come down from his
place and was walking on the grass in silence towards her? Just then,
by chance, the altar-light was dimmed, so that she could not distinguish
the faintest outline of the figures on the painted glass, but all seemed
like a blue cloud of vapoury mist. That was all she heard or learned at
that time of the mystery.

But on the morrow, at the same hour, by a like obscurity, the noise
increased and approached a little nearer. It was certainly the sound of
steps, of real steps, which walked upon the earth. They would stop for a
moment, then recommence here and there, moving up and down, without her
being able to say precisely where they were. Perhaps they came from
the garden of the Voincourts, where some night pedestrian was lingering
under the trees. Or it might be, rather, that they were in the tufted
masses of the great lilac-bushes of the park of the Bishop, whose strong
perfume made her almost ill. She might do her best to try to penetrate
the darkness, it was only by her hearing that she was forewarned of the
coming events, aided a little by her sense of smell, as the perfume of
the flowers was increased as if a breath were mingled with it. And
so for several nights the steps resounded under the balcony, and she
listened as they came nearer, until they reached the walls under her
feet. There they stopped, and a long silence followed, until she seemed
almost to lose consciousness in this slow embrace of something of which
she was ignorant.

Not long after, she saw one evening the little crescent of the new moon
appear among the stars. But it soon disappeared behind the brow of
the Cathedral, like a bright, living eye that the lid re-covers.
She followed it with regret, and at each nightfall she awaited its
appearance, watched its growth, and was impatient for this torch which
would ere long light up the invisible. In fact, little by little, the
Clos-Marie came out from the obscurity, with the ruins of its old mill,
its clusters of trees, and its rapid little river. And then, in the
light, creation continued. That which came from a vision ended in being
embodied. For at first she only perceived that a dim shadow was moving
under the moonlight. What was it, then? A branch moved to and fro by the
wind? Or was it a large bat in constant motion? There were moments when
everything disappeared, and the field slept in so deathly a stillness
that she thought her eyes had deceived her. Soon there was no longer any
doubt possible, for a dark object had certainly just crossed the open
space and had glided from one willow-tree to another. It appeared, then
disappeared, without her being able exactly to define it.

One evening she thought she distinguished the dim outline of two
shoulders, and at once she turned her eyes towards the chapel window. It
had a greyish tint, as if empty, for the moon shining directly upon
it had deadened the light within. At that moment she noticed that the
living shadow grew larger, as it approached continually nearer and
nearer, walking in the grass at the side of the church. In proportion as
she realised it was a fact that someone was there, she was overcome by
an indefinable sensation, a nervous feeling that one has on being looked
at by mysterious unseen eyes.

Certainly someone was there under the trees who was regarding her
fixedly. She had on her hands and face, as it were, a physical
impression of those long, ardent, yet timid looks; but she did not
withdraw herself from them, because she knew they were pure, and came
from the enchanted world of which she had read in the "Golden Legend";
and, in the certainty of a promised happiness, her first anxiety was
quickly changed into a delicious tranquillity.

One night, suddenly, on the ground whitened by the moon's rays, the
shadow designed itself plainly and clearly. It was indeed that of a man
whom she could not see, as he was hidden by the willows. As he did not
move, she was able to look for a long time at his shadow.

From that moment Angelique had a secret. Her bare, whitewashed chamber
was filled with it. She remained there for hours lying on her great
bed--where she seemed lost, she was so little--her eyes closed, but not
asleep, and seeing continually before her, in her waking dreams, this
motionless shadow upon the earth. When she re-opened her eyes at dawn,
her looks wandered from the enormous wardrobe to the odd carved chest,
from the porcelain stove to the little toilet-table, as if surprised
at not seeing there the mysterious silhouette, which she could have so
easily and precisely traced from memory. In her sleep she had seen it
gliding among the pale heather-blossoms on her curtains. In her dreams,
as in her waking hours, her mind was filled with it. It was a companion
shadow to her own. She had thus a double being, although she was alone
with her fancies.

This secret she confided to no one, not even to Hubertine, to whom,
until now, she had always told even her thoughts. When the latter,
surprised at her gaiety, questioned her, she blushed deeply as she
replied that the early spring had made her very happy. From morning to
evening she hummed little snatches of song, like a bee intoxicated
by the heat of the sun's rays. Never before had the chasubles she
embroidered been so resplendent with silk and gold. The Huberts smiled
as they watched her, thinking simply that this exuberance of spirits
came from her state of perfect health. As the day waned she grew more
excited, she sang at the rising of the moon, and as soon as the hour
arrived she hurried to her balcony, and waited for the shadow to appear.
During all the first quarters of the moon she found it exact at each
rendezvous, erect and silent. But that was all. What was the cause
of it? Why was it there? Was it, indeed, only a shadow? Was not it,
perhaps, the saint who had left his window, or the angel who had
formerly loved Saint Cecilia, and who had now come to love her in her
turn? Although she was not vain, these thoughts made her proud, and were
as sweet to her as an invisible caress. Then she grew impatient to know
more, and her watching recommenced.

The moon, at its full, lighted up the Clos-Marie. When it was at its
zenith, the trees, under the white rays which fell straight upon them
in perpendicular lines, cast no more shadows, but were like running
fountains of silent brightness. The whole garden was bathed and filled
with a luminous wave as limpid as crystal, and the brilliancy of it
was so penetrating that everything was clearly seen, even to the fine
cutting of the willow-leaves. The slightest possible trembling of air
seemed to wrinkle this lake of rays, sleeping in the universal peace
among the grand elm-trees of the neighbouring garden and the gigantic
brow of the Cathedral.

Two more evenings had passed like this, when, on the third night, as
Angelique was leaning on her elbows and looking out, her heart seemed to
receive a sudden shock. There, in the clear light, she saw him standing
before her and looking at her. His shadow, like that of the trees, had
disappeared under his feet, and he alone was there, distinctly seen. At
this distance she saw--as if it were full day--that he was tall, slight,
a blonde, and apparently about twenty years of age. He resembled either
a Saint George or a superb picture of Christ, with his curly hair, his
thin beard, his straight nose, rather large, and his proudly-smiling
black eyes. And she recognised him perfectly; never had she seen another
like him; it was he, her hero, and he was exactly as she expected to
find him. The wonder was at last accomplished; the slow creation of the
invisible had perfected itself in this living apparition, and he came
out from the unknown, from the movement of things, from murmuring
voices, from the action of the night, from all that had enveloped her,
until she almost fainted into unconsciousness. She also saw him as if he
were lifted above the earth, so supernatural appeared to be his coming,
whilst the miraculous seemed to surround him on every side as it floated
over the mysterious moon-lake. He had as his escort the entire people of
the Legend--the saints whose staffs blossomed, the virgins whose wounds
shed milk--and the stars seemed to pale before this white group of
perfection.

Angelique continued to look at him. He raised his arms, and held them
out, wide open. She was not at all afraid, but smiled sweetly.



CHAPTER VI

It was a great affair for the whole household when, every three months,
Hubertine prepared the "lye" for the wash. A woman was hired to aid
them, the Mother Gabet, as she was called, and for four days all
embroidery was laid aside, while Angelique took her part in the unusual
work, making of it a perfect amusement, as she soaped and rinsed the
clothes in the clean water of the Chevrotte. The linen when taken from
the ashes was wheeled to the Clos-Marie, through the little gate of
communication in the garden. There the days were spent in the open air
and the sunshine.

"I will do the washing this time, mother, for it is the greatest of
delights to me."

And gaily laughing, with her sleeves drawn up above her elbows,
flourishing the beetle, Angelique struck the clothes most heartily
in the pleasure of such healthy exercise. It was hard work, but she
thoroughly enjoyed it, and only stopped occasionally to say a few words
or to show her shiny face covered with foam.

"Look, mother! This makes my arms strong. It does me a world of good."

The Chevrotte crossed the field diagonally, at first drowsily, then its
stream became very rapid as it was thrown in great bubbles over a pebbly
descent. It came from the garden of the Bishop, through a species
of floodgate left at the foot of the wall, and at the other end it
disappeared under an arched vault at the corner of the Hotel Voincourt,
where it was swallowed up in the earth, to reappear two hundred yards
farther on, as it passed along the whole length of the Rue Basse to the
Ligneul, into which it emptied itself. Therefore it was very necessary
to watch the linen constantly, for, run as fast as possible, every piece
that was once let go was almost inevitably lost.

"Mother, wait, wait a little! I will put this heavy stone on the
napkins. We shall then see if the river can carry them away. The little
thief!"

She placed the stone firmly, then returned to draw another from the old,
tumble-down mill, enchanted to move about and to fatigue herself; and,
although she severely bruised her finger, she merely moistened it a
little, saying, "Oh! that is nothing."

During the day the poor people who sheltered themselves in the ruins
went out to ask for charity from the passers-by on the highways. So the
Clos was quite deserted. It was a delicious, fresh solitude, with its
clusters of pale-green willows, its high poplar-trees, and especially
its verdure, its overflowing of deep-rooted wild herbs and grasses, so
high that they came up to one's shoulders. A quivering silence came from
the two neighbouring parks, whose great trees barred the horizon.
After three o'clock in the afternoon the shadow of the Cathedral
was lengthened out with a calm sweetness and a perfume of evaporated
incense.

Angelique continued to beat the linen harder still, with all the force
of her well-shaped white arms.

"Oh, mother dear! You can have no idea how hungry I shall be this
evening! . . . Ah! you know that you have promised to give me a good
strawberry-cake."

On the day of the rinsing, Angelique was quite alone. The _mere_ Gabet,
suffering from a sudden, severe attack of sciatica, had not been able to
come as usual, and Hubertine was kept at home by other household cares.

Kneeling in her little box half filled with straw, the young girl took
the pieces one by one, shook them for a long time in the swiftly-rolling
stream, until the water was no longer dimmed, but had become as clear
as crystal. She did not hurry at all, for since the morning she had been
tormented by a great curiosity, having seen, to her astonishment, an old
workman in a white blouse, who was putting up a light scaffolding before
the window of the Chapel Hautecoeur. Could it be that they were about to
repair the stained-glass panes? There was, it must be confessed, great
need of doing so. Several pieces were wanting in the figure of Saint
George, and in other places, where in the course of centuries panes that
had been broken had been replaced by ordinary glass. Still, all this was
irritating to her. She was so accustomed to the gaps of the saint who
was piercing the dragon with his sword, and of the royal princess as she
led the conquered beast along with her scarf, that she already mourned
as if one had the intention of mutilating them. It was sacrilege to
think of changing such old, venerable things. But when she returned
to the field after her lunch, all her angry feelings passed away
immediately; for a second workman was upon the staging, a young man this
time, who also wore a white blouse. And she recognised him! It was he!
Her hero!

Gaily, without any embarrassment, Angelique resumed her place on her
knees on the straw of her box. Then, with her wrists bare, she put her
hands in the deep, clear water, and recommenced shaking the linen back
and forth.

Yes, it was he--tall, slight, a blonde, with his fine beard and his hair
curled like that of a god, his complexion as fresh as when she had first
seen him under the white shadow of the moonlight. Since it was he, there
was nothing to be feared for the window; were he to touch it, he would
only embellish it. And it was no disappointment to her whatever to
find him in this blouse, a workman like herself, a painter on glass, no
doubt. On the contrary, this fact made her smile, so absolutely certain
was she of the eventual fulfillment of her dream of royal fortune. Now,
it was simply an appearance, a beginning. What good would it do her
to know who he was, from whence he came, or whither he was going? Some
morning he would prove to be that which she expected him to be. A shower
of gold would stream from the roof of the Cathedral, a triumphal march
would break forth in the distant rumblings of the organ, and all would
come true. She did not stay to ask herself how he could always be there,
day and night. Yet it was evident either that he must live in one of the
neighbouring houses, or he must pass by the lane des Guerdaches, which
ran by the side of the Bishop's park to the Rue Magloire.

Then a charming hour passed by. She bent forward, she rinsed her linen,
her face almost touching the fresh water; but each time she took a
different piece she raised her head, and cast towards the church a look,
in which from the agitation of her heart, was a little good-natured
malice. And he, upon the scaffolding, with an air of being closely
occupied in examining the state of the window, turned towards her,
glancing at her sideways, and evidently much disturbed whenever she
surprised him doing so. It was astonishing how quickly he blushed, how
dark red his face became. At the slightest emotion, whether of anger or
interest, all the blood in his veins seemed to mount to his face. He had
flashing eyes, which showed will; yet he was so diffident, that, when he
knew he was being criticised, he was embarrassed as a little child, did
not seem to know what to do with his hands, and stammered out his orders
to the old man who accompanied him.

As for Angelique, that which delighted her most, as she refreshed her
arms in this turbulent water, was to picture him innocent like herself,
ignorant of the world, and with an equally intense desire to have a
taste of life. There was no need of his telling to others who he was,
for had not invisible messengers and unseen lips made known to her that
he was to be her own? She looked once more, just as he was turning his
head; and so the minutes passed, and it was delicious.

Suddenly she saw that he jumped from the staging, then that he walked
backwards quite a distance through the grass, as if to take a certain
position from which he could examine the window more easily. But she
could not help smiling, so evident was it that he simply wished
to approach her. He had made a firm decision, like a man who risks
everything, and now it was touching as well as comical to see that he
remained standing a few steps from her, his back towards her, not daring
to move, fearing that he had been too hasty in coming as far as he
had done. For a moment she thought he would go back again to the
chapel-window as he had come from it, without paying any attention to
her. However, becoming desperate, at last he turned, and as at that
moment she was glancing in his direction, their eyes met, and they
remained gazing fixedly at each other. They were both deeply confused;
they lost their self-possession, and might never have been able to
regain it, had not a dramatic incident aroused them.

"Oh dear! Oh dear!" exclaimed the young girl, in distress.

In her excitement, a dressing-sacque, which she had been rinsing
unconsciously, had just escaped her, and the stream was fast bearing it
away. Yet another minute and it would disappear round the corner of the
wall of the Voincourt park, under the arched vault through which the
Chevrotte passed.

There were several seconds of anxious waiting. He saw at once what had
happened, and rushed forward. But the current, leaping over the pebbles,
carried this sacque, which seemed possessed, as it went along, much more
rapidly than he. He stooped, thinking he had caught it, but took up only
a handful of soapy foam. Twice he failed. The third time he almost fell.
Then, quite vexed, with a brave look as if doing something at the peril
of his life, he went into the water, and seized the garment just as it
was about being drawn under the ground.

Angelique, who until now had followed the rescue anxiously, quite upset,
as if threatened by a great misfortune, was so relieved that she had an
intense desire to laugh. This feeling was partly nervous, it is true,
but not entirely so. For was not this the adventure of which she had so
often dreamed? This meeting on the border of a lake; the terrible danger
from which she was to be saved by a young man, more beautiful than the
day? Saint George, the tribune, the warrior! These were simply united in
one, and he was this painter of stained glass, this young workman in
his white blouse! When she saw him coming back, his feet wet through
and through, as he held the dripping camisole awkwardly in his hand,
realising the ridiculous side of the energy he had employed in saving it
from the waves, she was obliged to bite her tongue to check the outburst
of gaiety which seemed almost to choke her.

He forgot himself as he looked at her. She was like a most adorable
child in this restrained mirth with which all her youth seemed to
vibrate. Splashed with water, her arms almost chilled by the stream,
she seemed to send forth from herself the purity and clearness of
these living springs which rushed from the mossy woods. She was an
impersonation of health, joy, and freshness, in the full sunlight. One
could easily fancy that she might be a careful housekeeper and a queen
withal as she was there, in her working dress, with her slender waist,
her regal neck, her oval face, such as one reads of in fairy-tales. And
he did not know how to give her back the linen, he found her exquisite,
so perfect a representation of the beauty of the art he loved. It
enraged him, in spite of himself, that he should have the air of an
idiot, as he plainly saw the effort she made not to laugh. But he was
forced to do something, so at last he gave her back the sacque.

Then Angelique realised that if she were to open her mouth and try to
thank him, she would shout. Poor fellow! She sympathised with him and
pitied him. But it was irresistible; she was happy, and needed to give
expression to it; she must yield to the gaiety with which her heart
overflowed. It was such lovely weather, and all life was so beautiful!

At last she thought she might speak, wishing simply to say: "Thank you,
Monsieur."

But the wish to laugh had returned, and made her stammer, interrupting
her at each word. It was a loud, cheery laugh, a sonorous outpouring of
pearly notes, which sang sweetly to the crystalline accompaniment of the
Chevrotte.

The young man was so disconcerted that he could find nothing to say. His
usually pale face had become very red, the timid, childlike expression
of his eyes had changed into a fiery one, like that of an eagle, and he
moved away quickly. He disappeared with the old workman, and even then
she continued to laugh as she bent over the water, again splashing
herself as she shook the clothes hither and thither, rejoicing in the
brightness of the happy day.

On the morrow he came an hour earlier. But at five o'clock in the
morning the linen, which had been dripping all night, was spread out on
the grass. There was a brisk wind, which was excellent for drying. But
in order that the different articles need not be blown away, they were
kept in place by putting little pebbles on their four corners. The whole
wash was there, looking of a dazzling whiteness among the green herbage,
having a strong odour of plants about it, and making the meadow as if it
had suddenly blossomed out into a snowy covering of daisies.

When Angelique came to look at it after breakfast, she was distressed,
for so strong had become the gusts of wind that all threatened to be
carried away. Already a sheet had started, and several napkins had gone
to fasten themselves to the branches of a willow. She fortunately caught
them, but then the handkerchiefs began to fly. There was no one to help
her; she was so frightened that she lost all her presence of mind. When
she tried to spread out the sheet again, she had a regular battle,
for she was quite lost in it, as it covered her with a great crackling
sound.

Through all the noise of the wind she heard a voice saying,
"Mademoiselle, do you wish me to help you?"

It was he, and immediately she cried to him, with no other thought than
her pre-occupation as a good housewife:

"Of course I wish it. Come and help me, then. Take the end over there,
nearest to you. Hold it firm!"

The sheet, which they stretched out with their strong arms, flapped
backwards and forwards like a sail. At last they succeeded in putting it
on the ground, and then placed upon it much heavier stones than before.
And now that, quite conquered, it sank quietly down, neither of them
thought of leaving their places, but remained on their knees at the
opposite corners, separated by this great piece of pure white linen.

She smiled, but this time without malice. It was a silent message of
thanks. He became by degrees a little bolder.

"My name is Felicien."

"And mine is Angelique."

"I am a painter on glass, and have been charged to repair the
stained-glass window of the chapel here."

"I live over there with my father and mother, and I am an embroiderer of
church vestments."

The wind, which continued to be strong under the clear blue sky, carried
away their words, lashed them with its purifying breath in the midst of
the warm sunshine in which they were bathed.

They spoke of things which they already knew, as if simply for the
pleasure of talking.

"Is the window, then, to be replaced?"

"No! oh no! it will be so well repaired that the new part cannot be
distinguished from the old. I love it quite as much as you do."

"Oh! it is indeed true that I love it! I have already embroidered a
Saint George, but it was not so beautiful as this one."

"Oh, not so beautiful! How can you say that? I have seen it, if it is
the Saint George on the chasuble which the Abbot Cornille wore last
Sunday. It is a marvellous thing."

She blushed with pleasure, but quickly turned the conversation, as she
exclaimed:

"Hurry and put another stone on the left corner of the sheet, or the
wind will carry it away from us again."

He made all possible haste, weighed down the linen, which had been in
great commotion, like the wings of a great wounded bird trying its best
to fly away. Finding that this time it would probably keep its place,
the two young people rose up, and now Angelique went through the narrow,
green paths between the pieces of linen, glancing at each one, while
he followed her with an equally busy look, as if preoccupied by the
possible loss of a dish-towel or an apron. All this seemed quite natural
to them both. So she continued to chatter away freely and artlessly, as
she told of her daily life and explained her tastes.

"For my part, I always wish that everything should be in its place. In
the morning I am always awakened at the same hour by the striking of
the cuckoo-clock in the workroom; and whether it is scarcely daylight or
not, I dress myself as quickly as possible; my shoes and stockings
are here, my soap and all articles of toilette there--a true mania for
order. Yet you may well believe that I was not born so! Oh no! On the
contrary, I was the most careless person possible. Mother was obliged to
repeat to me the same words over and over again, that I might not leave
my things in every corner of the house, for I found it easier to scatter
them about. And now, when I am at work from morning to evening, I can
never do anything right if my chair is not in the same place, directly
opposite the light, Fortunately, I am neither right nor left handed, but
can use both hands equally well at embroidering, which is a great help
to me, for it is not everyone who can do that. Then, I adore flowers,
but I cannot keep a bouquet near me without having a terrible headache.
Violets alone I can bear, and that is surprising. But their odour seems
to calm me, and at the least indisposition I have only need to smell
them and I am at once cured."

He was enraptured while listening to her prattle. He revelled in
the beautiful ring of her voice, which had an extremely penetrating,
prolonged charm; and he must have been peculiarly sensitive to this
human music, for the caressing inflection on certain words moistened his
eyelids.

Suddenly returning to her household cares she exclaimed:

"Oh, now the shirts will soon be dry!"

Then, in the unconscious and simple need of making herself known, she
continued her confidences:

"For colouring, the white is always beautiful, is it not? I tire at
times of blue, of red, and of all other shades; but white is a constant
joy, of which I am never weary. There is nothing in it to trouble you;
on the contrary, you would like to lose yourself in it. We had a white
cat, with yellow spots, which I painted white. It did very well for a
while, but it did not last long. Listen a minute. Mother does not know
it, but I keep all the waste bits of white silk, and have a drawer full
of them, for just nothing except the pleasure of looking at them, and
smoothing them over from time to time. And I have another secret, but
this is a very serious one! When I wake up, there is every morning near
my bed a great, white object, which gently flies away."

He did not smile, but appeared firmly to believe her. Was not all she
said, in her simple way, quite natural? A queen in the magnificence of
her courtly surroundings could not have conquered him so quickly. She
had, in the midst of this white linen on the green grass, a charming,
grand air, happy and supreme, which touched him to the heart, with an
ever-increasing power. He was completely subdued. She was everything to
him from this moment. He would follow her to the last day of his life,
in the worship of her light feet, her delicate hands, of her whole
being, adorable and perfect as a dream. She continued to walk before
him, with a short quick step, and he followed her closely, suffocated by
a thought of the happiness he scarcely dared hope might come to him.

But another sudden gust of wind came up, and there was a perfect flight
into the distance of cambric collars and cuffs, of neckerchiefs and
chemisettes of muslin, which, as they disappeared, seemed like a flock
of white birds knocked about by the tempest.

Angelique began to run.

"Oh dear! What shall I do? You will have to come again and help me. Oh
dear!"

They both rushed forward. She caught a kerchief on the borders of the
Chevrotte. He had already saved two chemisettes which he found in the
midst of some high thistles. One by one the cuffs and the collars were
retaken. But in the course of their running at full speed, the flying
folds of her skirt had at several different times brushed against
him, and each time his face became suddenly red, and his heart beat
violently. In his turn, he touched her face accidentally, as she jumped
to recover the last fichu, which he had carelessly let go of. She was
startled and stood quietly, but breathing more quickly. She joked
no longer; her laugh sounded less clear, and she was not tempted to
ridicule this great awkward, but most attractive fellow. The feminine
nature so recently awakened in her softened her almost to tears, and
with the feeling of inexplicable tenderness, which overpowered her, was
mingled a half-fear.

What was the matter with her that she was less gay, and that she was so
overcome by this delicious pang? When he held out the kerchief to her,
their hands, by chance, touched for a moment. They trembled, as they
looked at each other inquiringly. Then she drew back quickly, and
for several seconds seemed not to know what she should do under the
extraordinary circumstances which had just occurred. At last she
started. Gathering up all the smaller articles of linen in her arms, and
leaving the rest, she turned towards her home.

Felicien then wished to speak . . . "Oh, I beg your pardon. . . . I pray
you to----"

But the wind, which had greatly increased, cut off his words. In despair
he looked at her as she flew along, as if carried away by the blast. She
ran and ran, in and out, among the white sheets and tablecloths, under
the oblique, pale golden rays of the sun. Already the shadow of the
Cathedral seemed to envelop her, and she was on the point of entering
her own garden by the little gate which separated it from the Clos,
without having once glanced behind her. But on the threshold she turned
quickly, as if seized with a kind impulse, not wishing that he should
think she was angry, and confused, but smiling, she called out:

"Thank you. Thank you very much."

Did she wish to say that she was grateful to him for having helped her
in recovering the linen? Or was it for something else? She disappeared,
and the gate was shut after her.

And he remained alone in the middle of the field, under the great
regular gusts, which continued to rage, although the sky was still clear
and pure. The elms in the Bishop's garden rustled with a long, billowy
sound, and a loud voice seemed to clamour through the terraces and the
flying buttresses of the Cathedral. But he heard only the light flapping
of a little morning cap, tied to a branch of a lilac bush, as if it were
a bouquet, and which belonged to her.

From that date, each time that Angelique opened her window she saw
Felicien over there in the Clos-Marie. He passed days in the field,
having the chapel window as an excuse for doing so, on which, however,
the work did not advance the least in the world. For hours he would
forget himself behind a cluster of bushes, where, stretched out on
the grass, he watched through the leaves. And it was the greatest of
pleasures to smile at each other every morning and evening. She was
so happy that she asked for nothing more. There would not be another
general washing for three months, so, until then, the little garden-gate
would seldom be open. But three months would pass very quickly, and
if they could see each other daily, was not that bliss enough? What,
indeed, could be more charming than to live in this way, thinking during
the day of the evening look, and during the night of the glance of the
early morrow? She existed only in the hope of that desired moment; its
joy filled her life. Moreover, what good would there be in approaching
each other and in talking together? Were they not constantly becoming
better acquainted without meeting? Although at a distance, they
understood each other perfectly; each penetrated into the other's
innermost thoughts with the closest intimacy. At last, they became so
filled one with the other that they could not close their eyes without
seeing before them, with an astonishing clearness of detail, the image
of their new friend; so, in reality, they were never separated.

It was a constant surprise to Angelique that she had unbosomed herself
at once to Felicien. At their first meeting she had confided in him,
had told him everything about her habits, her tastes, and the deepest
secrets of her heart. He, more silent, was called Felicien, and that was
all she knew. Perhaps it was quite right that it should be so; the woman
giving everything, and the man holding himself back as a stranger. She
had no premature curiosity. She continued to smile at the thought of
things which would certainly be realised. So for her, that of which she
was ignorant counted for nothing. The only important fact in her mind
was the intimacy between them, which united them, little by little,
apart from the world. She knew nothing about him, yet she was so well
acquainted with his nature that she could read his thoughts in a simple
look or smile. He, her hero, had come as she always said he would. She
had at once recognised him, and they loved each other.

So they enjoyed most thoroughly this true possession from a distance.
They were certainly encouraged by the new discoveries they made. She had
long, slender hands, roughened a little at the ends of the fingers by
her constant use of the needle, but he adored them. She noticed that
his feet were small, and was proud of the fact. Everything about him
flattered her; she was grateful to him for being so handsome; and she
was overcome with joy the evening that she found his beard to be of a
lighter shade than his hair, which fact gave a greater softness to his
smile. He went away transported when, one morning, as she leaned over
the balcony, he saw a little red spot on her pretty neck. Their hearts
being thus laid open, new treasures were daily found. Certainly the
proud and frank manner in which she opened her window showed that, even
in her ignorance as a little embroiderer, she had the royal bearing of
a princess. In the same way she knew that he was good, from seeing
how lightly he walked over the herbs and the grass. Around them was a
radiance of virtues and graces from the first hour of their meeting.
Each interview had its special charm. It seemed to them as if their
felicity in seeing each other could never be exhausted.

Nevertheless, Felicien soon showed certain signs of impatience, and he
no longer remained for hours concealed behind a bush in the immobility
of an absolute happiness. As soon as Angelique appeared at her window,
he was restless, and tried to approach her as he glided from willow to
willow. At length she was a little disturbed, fearing that someone might
see him. One day there was almost a quarrel, for he came even to the
wall of the house, so she was obliged to leave the balcony. It was a
great shock to him that she should be offended, and he showed in the
expression of his face so mute a prayer of submission that the next day
she pardoned him, and opened her window at the usual hour.

But although expectation was delightful, it was not sufficient for him,
and he began again. Now he seemed to be everywhere at once: he filled
the Clos-Marie with his restlessness; he came out from behind every
tree; he appeared above every bunch of brambles. Like the wood-pigeons
of the great elms in the Bishop's garden, he seemed to have his
habitation between two branches in the environs. The Chevrotte was an
excuse for his passing entire days there, on its willowy banks, bending
over the stream, in which he seemed to be watching the floating of the
clouds.

One day she saw that he had climbed up on the ruins of the old mill,
and was standing on the framework of a shed, looking happy to have thus
approached her a little, in his regret at not being able to fly even so
far as her shoulder.

Another day she stifled a slight scream as she saw him far above her,
leaning on an ornamented balustrade of the Cathedral, on the roof of the
chapels of the choir, which formed a terrace. In what way could he have
reached this gallery, the door of which was always fastened, and whose
key no one had a right to touch but the beadle? Then again, a little
later on, how was it that she should find him up in the air among the
flying buttresses of the nave and the pinnacles of the piers? From these
heights he could look into every part of her chamber, as the swallows
who, flying from point to point among the spires, saw everything that
was therein, without her having the idea of hiding herself from them.
But a human eye was different, and from that day she shut herself up
more, and an ever-increasing trouble came to her at the thought that her
privacy was being intruded upon, and that she was no longer alone in
the atmosphere of adoration that surrounded her. If she were really not
impatient, why was it that her heart beat so strongly, like the bell of
the clock-tower on great festivals?

Three days passed without Angelique showing herself, so alarmed was she
by the increasing boldness of Felicien. She vowed in her mind that she
would never see him again, and wound herself up to such a degree of
resentment, that she thought she hated him. But he had given her his
feverishness. She could not keep still, and the slightest pretext was
enough for an excuse to leave the chasuble upon which she was at work.

So, having heard that _mere_ Gabet was ill in bed, in the most profound
poverty, she went to see her every morning. Her room was on the Rue des
Orfevres, only three doors away from the Huberts. She would take her
tea, sugar, and soup, then, when necessary, go to buy her medicine at
the druggist's on the Grand Rue. One day, as she returned with her hands
full of the little phials, she started at seeing Felicien at the bedside
of the old sick woman. He turned very red, and slipped away awkwardly,
after leaving a charitable offering. The next day he came in as she was
leaving, and she gave him her place, very much displeased. Did he really
intend to prevent her from visiting the poor?

In fact, she had been taken with one of her fits of charity, which made
her give all she owned that she might overwhelm those who had nothing.
At the idea of suffering, her whole soul melted into a pitiful
fraternity. She went often to the _pere_ Mascart's, a blind paralytic
on the Rue Basse, whom she was obliged to feed herself the broth she
carried him; then to the Chouteaux, a man and his wife, each one over
ninety years of age, who lived in a little hut on the Rue Magloire,
which she had furnished for them with articles taken from the attic of
her parents. Then there were others and others still whom she saw among
the wretched populace of the quarter, and whom she helped to support
from things that were about her, happy in being able to surprise them
and to see them brighten up for a little while. But now, strange to say,
wherever she went she encountered Felicien! Never before had she seen
so much of him; she who had avoided going to her window for fear that he
might be near. Her trouble increased, and at last she was very angry.

But the worst of all in this matter was that Angelique soon despaired of
her charity. This young man spoilt all her pleasure of giving. In other
days he might perhaps have been equally generous, but it was not among
the same people, not her own particular poor, of that she was sure. And
he must have watched her and followed her very closely to know them all
and to take them so regularly one after the other.

Now, go when she might with a little basket of provisions to the
Chouteaux, there was always money on the table. One day, when she
went to _pere_ Mascart, who was constantly complaining that he had no
tobacco, she found him very rich, with a shining new louis d'or on his
table. Strangest of all, once when visiting _mere_ Gabet, the latter
gave her a hundred franc note to change, and with it she was enabled to
buy some high-priced medicines, of which the poor woman had long been
in need, but which she never hoped to obtain, for where could she find
money to pay for them?

Angelique herself could not distribute much money, as she had none. It
was heart-breaking to her to realise her powerlessness, when he could so
easily empty his purse. She was, of course, happy that such a windfall
had come to the poor, but she felt as if she were greatly diminished
in her former self-estimation. She no longer had the same happiness in
giving, but was disturbed and sad that she had so little to distribute,
while he had so much.

The young man, not understanding her feelings, thinking to conquer her
esteem by an increase of gifts, redoubled his charity, and thus daily
made hers seem less.

Was not it exasperating to run against this fellow everywhere; to see
him give an ox wherever she offered an egg? In addition to all this, she
was obliged to hear his praises sung by all the needy whom he visited:
"a young man so good, so kind, and so well brought up." She was a mere
nothing now. They talked only of him, spreading out his gifts as if to
shame hers. Notwithstanding her firm determination to forget him, she
could not refrain from questioning them about him. What had he left?
What had he said? He was very handsome, was he not? Tender and diffident
as a woman! Perhaps he might even have spoken of her! Ah, yes indeed!
That was true, for he always talked of her. Then she was very angry;
yes, she certainly hated him, for at last she realised that he weighed
on her breast too heavily.

But matters could not continue in this way for ever, a change must take
place; and one May evening, at a wondrously beautiful nightfall, it
came. It was at the home of the Lemballeuse, the family who lived in
the ruins of the mill. There were only women there; the old grandmother,
seamed with wrinkles but still active, her daughter, and her
grandchildren. Of the latter, Tiennette, the elder, was a large,
wild-looking girl, twenty years of age, and her two little sisters, Rose
and Jeanne, had already bold, fearless eyes, under their unkempt mops
of red hair. They all begged during the day on the highway and along the
moat, coming back at night, their feet worn out from fatigue in their
old shoes fastened with bits of string. Indeed, that very evening
Tiennette had been obliged to leave hers among the stones, and had
returned wounded and with bleeding ankles. Seated before their door, in
the midst of the high grass of the Clos-Marie, she drew out the thorns
from her flesh, whilst her mother and the two children surrounded her
and uttered lamentations.

Just then Angelique arrived, hiding under her apron the bread which she
had brought them, as she did once every week. She had entered the field
by the little garden-gate, which she had left open behind her, as she
intended to go back as quickly as possible. But she stopped on seeing
all the family in tears.

"What is the matter? Why are you in such distress?"

"Ah, my good lady!" whined the mother Lemballeuse, "do not you see in
what a terrible state this great foolish girl has put herself? To-morrow
she will not be able to walk, so that will be a whole day lost. She must
have some shoes!"

Rose and Jeanne, with their eyes snapping from under their tangled hair,
redoubled their sobs, as they cried out loudly--

"Yes, yes! She must have some shoes! She must have some shoes!"

Tiennette, half lifting up her thin, dark face, looked round furtively.
Then, fiercely, without a word, she made one of her feet bleed still
more, maddened over a long splinter which she had just drawn out by the
aid of a pin, and which must have pained her intensely.

Angelique, quite touched by the scene, offered her the gift.

"See! Here at least is some bread."

"Oh, bread!" said the mother. "No doubt it is necessary to eat. But
it is not with bread that she will be able to walk again, of that I am
certain! And we were to go to the fair at Bligny, a fair where, every
year, she makes at least two francs. Oh, good heavens! What will become
of us if she cannot go there?"

Pity and embarrassment rendered Angelique mute. She had exactly five
sous in her pocket. It surely was not with five sous that one could buy
a pair of shoes, even at an auction sale. As it had often done before,
her want of money now paralysed her. And that which exasperated her
still more and made her lose her self-control was that at this moment,
as she looked behind her, she saw Felicien, standing a few feet from her
in the darkening shadow. Without doubt he had heard all that had been
said; perhaps even he had been there for a great while, for he always
appeared to her in this way when least expected without her ever knowing
whence he came or whither he was going.

She thought to herself, "He will give the shoes."

Indeed, he had already come forward. The first stars were appearing in
the pale sky. A sweet, gentle quiet seemed to fall down from on high,
soothing to sleep the Clos-Marie, whose willows were lost in the dusk.
The Cathedral itself was only a great black bar in the West.

"Yes, certainly, now he will offer to give the shoes."

And at this probability she was really quite discouraged. Was he always,
then, to give everything? Could she never, even once, conquer him?
Never! Her heart beat so rapidly that it pained her. She wished that she
might be very rich, to show him that she, too, could make others happy.

But the Lemballeuse had seen the good gentleman. The mother had rushed
forward; the two little sisters moaned as they held out their hands for
alms, whilst the elder one, letting go of her wounded ankles, looked at
the new-comer inquiringly with her wild eyes.

"Listen, my noisy children," said Felicien. Then, addressing the mother,
he continued, "You may go to the Grand Rue, at the corner of the Rue
Basse--"

Angelique had understood immediately, for the shoemaker had his shop
there. She interrupted him quickly, and was so agitated that she
stammered her words at random.

"But that is a useless thing to do! What would be the good of it? It is
much more simple--"

Yet she could not find in her own mind the more simple thing she
desired. What could she do? What could she invent, so to be before him
in giving her charity? Never had it seemed to her possible she could
detest him as she did now.

"You will say from me, that it is I who have sent you," continued
Felicien. "You will ask--"

Again she interrupted him. The contest lasted a moment longer. She
repeated in an anxious way:

"It is, indeed, much more simple; it is much easier--"

Suddenly she was calm. She seated herself upon a stone, thoughtfully
examined her shoes, took them off, and then drew off her stockings,
saying:

"Look! This is the best thing to do, after all! Why should you have any
trouble about the matter?"

"Oh, my good young lady! God will reward you!" exclaimed the mother
Lemballeuse, as she turned over the shoes and found they were not only
excellent and strong, but almost new. "I will cut them a trifle on the
top, to make them a little larger--Tiennette, why do you not thank her,
stupid creature?"

Tiennette snatched from the hands of Rose and Jeanne the stockings they
were coveting. She did not open her lips; she only gave one long, fixed,
hard look.

But now Angelique realised that her feet were bare, and that Felicien
saw them. She blushed deeply, and knew not what to do. She dared not
move, for, were she to rise to get up, he would only see them all the
more. Then, frightened, she rose quickly, and without realising what she
was doing, began to run. In the grass her flying feet were very white
and small. The darkness of the evening had increased, and the Clos-Marie
was a lake of shadow between the great trees on one side and the
Cathedral on the other. And on the ground the only visible light came
from those same little feet, white and satiny as the wing of a dove.

Startled and afraid of the water, Angelique followed the bank of the
Chevrotte, that she might cross it on a plank which served as a bridge.
But Felicien had gone a shorter way through the brambles and brushwood.
Until now he had always been overcome by his timidity, and he had turned
redder than she as he saw her bare feet, pure and chaste as herself.
Now, in the overflow of his ignorant youth, passionately fond of beauty
and desirous for love, he was impatient to cry out and tell her of the
feeling which had entirely taken possession of him since he had first
seen her. But yet, when she brushed by him in her flight, he could only
stammer, with a trembling voice, the acknowledgment so long delayed and
which burnt his lips:

"I love you."

She stopped in surprise. For an instant she stood still, and, slightly
trembling, looked at him. Her anger and the hate she thought she had for
him all vanished at once, and melted into a most delicious sentiment
of astonishment. What had he said, what was the word he had just
pronounced, that she should be so overcome by it? She knew that he loved
her; yet when he said so, the sound of it in her ear overwhelmed her
with an inexplicable joy. It resounded so deeply through her whole
being, that her fears came back and were enlarged. She never would dare
reply to him; it was really more than she could bear; she was oppressed.

He, grown more bold, his heart touched and drawn nearer to hers by their
united deeds of charity, repeated:

"I love you."

And she, fearing the lover, began to run. That was surely the only way
to escape such a danger; yet it was also a happiness, it was all so
strange. The Chevrotte was gaily singing, and she plunged into it like a
startled fawn. Among its pebbles her feet still ran on, under the chill
of icy water. The garden-gate was at last reached, it closed, and she
disappeared.



CHAPTER VII

For two days Angelique was conscience-smitten. As soon as she was alone,
she sobbed as if she had done something wrong. And this question, which
she could not answer, came constantly to her mind: Had she sinned in
listening to this young man? Was she lost, like the dreadful women in
the Legend, who, having been tempted, had yielded to the Devil? Was life
to-day as it was centuries ago? The words, so softly uttered, "I love
you," still resounded with such a tumult in her ears, and she was
confused, yet pleased by them to such a degree, that they must certainly
have come from some terrible power hidden in the depth of the invisible.
But she knew not--in fact, how could she have known anything in the
ignorance and solitude in which she had grown up? Her anguish was
redoubled by this mysterious and inexplicable struggle within her.

Had she sinned in making the acquaintance of Felicien, and then in
keeping it a secret? She recalled to her mind, one by one, all the
details of her daily experience during the past few weeks; she argued
with her innocent scruples.

What was sin, in short? Was it simply to meet--to talk--and afterwards
to tell a falsehood to one's parents? But that could not be the extent
of the evil. Then why was she so oppressed? Why, if not guilty, did she
suddenly seem to have become quite another person--as agitated as if
a new soul had been given her? Perhaps it was sin that had made her
so weak and uncomfortable. Her heart was full of vague, undefined
longings--so strange a medley of words, and also of acts, in the future,
that she was frightened by them, without in the least understanding
them. The blood mounted to her face, and exquisitely coloured her
cheeks, as she heard again the sweet, yet appalling words, "I love you";
and she reasoned no longer, but sobbed again, doubting evident facts,
fearing the commission of a fault in the beyond--in that which had
neither name nor form.

But that which especially distressed her now was that she had not made a
_confidante_ of Hubertine. Could she only have asked her what she wished
to know, no doubt the latter with a word would have explained the whole
mystery to her. Then it seemed to her as if the mere fact of speaking to
someone of her trouble would have cured her. But the secret had become
too weighty; to reveal it would be more than she could bear, for the
shame would be too great. She became quite artful for the moment,
affected an air of calmness, when in the depths of her soul a tempest
was raging. If asked why she was so pre-occupied, she lifted her
eyes with a look of surprise as she replied that she was thinking of
something. Seated before the working-frame, her hands mechanically
drawing the needle back and forth, very quiet to all outward appearance,
she was, from morning till evening, distracted by one thought. To be
loved! To be loved! And for herself, on her side, was she in love? This
was still an obscure question, to which, in her inexperience, she found
no answer. She repeated it so constantly that at last it made her giddy,
the words lost all their usual meaning, and everything seemed to be in a
whirl, which carried her away. With an effort she recovered herself, and
realised that, with needle in hand, she was still embroidering with her
accustomed application, although mechanically, as if in a half-dream.
Perhaps these strange symptoms were a sign that she was about to have a
severe illness. One evening she had such an attack of shivering when she
went to bed that she thought she would never be able to recover from it.
That idea was at the same time both cruel and sweet. She suffered from
it as if it were too great a joy. Even the next day her heart beat as if
it would break, and her ears were filled with a singing sound, like the
ringing of a distant bell. What could it mean? Was she in love, or was
she about to die? Thinking thus, she smiled sweetly at Hubertine, who,
in the act of waxing her thread, was looking at her anxiously.

Moreover, Angelique had made a vow that she would never again see
Felicien. She no longer ran the risk of meeting him among the brambles
and wild grasses in the Clos-Marie, and she had even given up her
daily visits to the poor. Her fear was intense lest, were they to find
themselves face to face, something terrible might come to pass. In her
resolution there was mingled, besides a feeling of penitence, a wish to
punish herself for some fault she might unintentionally have committed.
So, in her days of rigid humiliation, she condemned herself not even to
glance once through the window, so sure was she of seeing on the banks
of the Chevrotte the one whom she dreaded. But, after a while, being
sorely tempted, she looked out, and if it chanced that he were not
there, she was sad and low-spirited until the following day.

One morning, when Hubert was arranging a dalmatic, a ring at the
door-bell obliged him to go downstairs. It must be a customer; no doubt
an order for some article, as Hubertine and Angelique heard the hum of
voices which came through the doorway at the head of the stairs, which
remained open. Then they looked up in great astonishment; for steps
were mounting, and the embroiderer was bringing someone with him to
the workroom, a most unusual occurrence. And the young girl was quite
overcome as she recognised Felicien. He was dressed simply, like a
journeyman artist, whose hands are white. Since she no longer went to
him he had come to her, after days of vain expectation and of anxious
uncertainty, during which he had constantly said to himself that she did
not yet love him, since she remained hidden from him.

"Look, my dear child, here is something which will be of particular
interest to you," explained Hubert. "Monsieur wishes to give orders for
an exceptional piece of work. And, upon my word, that we might talk of
it at our ease, I preferred that he should come up here at once. This is
my daughter, sir, to whom you must show your drawing."

Neither he nor Hubertine had the slightest suspicion that this was not
the first time the young people had met. They approached them only
from a sentiment of curiosity to see. But Felicien was, like Angelique,
almost stifled with emotion and timidity. As he unrolled the design,
his hands trembled, and he was obliged to speak very slowly to hide the
change in his voice.

"It is to be a mitre for Monseigneur the Bishop. Yes, certain ladies in
the city who wished to make him this present charged me with the drawing
of the different parts, as well as with the superintendence of its
execution. I am a painter of stained glass, but I also occupy myself
a great deal with ancient art. You will see that I have simply
reconstituted a Gothic mitre."

Angelique bent over the great sheet of parchment which he had spread
before her, and started slightly as she exclaimed:

"Oh! it is Saint Agnes."

It was indeed the youthful martyr of but thirteen years of age; the
naked virgin clothed with her hair, that had grown so long only her
little hands and feet were seen from under it, just as she was upon the
pillar at one of the doors of the cathedral; particularly, however, as
one found her in the interior of the church, in an old wooden statue
that formerly was painted, but was to-day a light fawn colour, all
gilded by age. She occupied the entire front of the mitre, half
floating, as she was carried towards heaven borne by the angels;
which below her, stretched out into the distance, was a fine delicate
landscape. The other sides and the lappets were enriched with
lance-shaped ornaments of an exquisite style.

"These ladies," continued Felicien, "wish to make the present on the
occasion of the Procession of the Miracle, and naturally I thought it my
duty to choose Saint Agnes."

"The idea was a most excellent one," interposed Hubert.

And Hubertine added, in her turn:

"Monseigneur will be deeply gratified."

The so-called Procession of the Miracle, which takes place each year on
July 28, dates from the time of Jean V d'Hautecoeur, who instituted it
as a thanksgiving to God for the miraculous power He had given to him
and to his race to save Beaumont from the plague. According to the
legend, the Hautecoeurs are indebted for this remarkable gift to the
intervention of Saint Agnes, of whom they were the greatest admirers;
and since the most ancient time, it has been the custom on the
anniversary of her fete to take down the old statue of the saint and
carry it slowly in a solemn procession through the streets of the town,
in the pious belief that she still continues to disperse and drive away
all evils.

"Ah," at last murmured Angelique, her eyes on the design, "the
Procession of the Miracle. But that will come in a few days, and we
shall not have time enough to finish it."

The Huberts shook their heads. In truth, so delicate a piece of work
required the most minute care and attention. Yet Hubertine turned
towards her daughter as she said:

"I could help you, my dear. I might attend to the ornaments, and then
you will only have the figure to do."

Angelique continued to closely examine the figure of the saint, and was
deeply troubled. She said to herself, "No, no." She refused; she would
not give herself the pleasure of accepting. It would be inexcusable on
her part thus to be an accomplice in a plan, for it was evident that
Felicien was keeping something back. She was perfectly sure that he was
not poor, and that he wore a workman's dress simply as a disguise; and
this affected simplicity, all this history, told only that he might
approach her, put her on her guard, amused and happy though she was,
in reality, transfiguring him, seeing in him the royal prince that he
should be; so thoroughly did she live in the absolute certainty of the
entire realisation of her dream, sooner or later.

"No," she repeated in a half-whisper, "we should not have the needed
time."

And without lifting her eyes she continued, as if speaking to herself:

"For the saint, we could use neither the close embroidery nor the lace
openwork. It would not be worthy of her. It should be an embroidery in
gold, shaded by silk."

"Exactly," said Felicien. "That is what I had already thought of, for
I knew that Mademoiselle had re-found the secret of making it. There is
still quite a pretty little fragment of it at the sacristy."

Hubert was quite excited.

"Yes, yes! it was made in the fifteenth century, and the work was done
by one of my far-off ancestresses. . . . Shaded gold! Ah, Monsieur,
there was never anything equal to that in the whole world. But,
unfortunately, it took too much time, it cost altogether too dear, and,
in addition, only a real artist ever succeeded in it. Think of it; it
is more than two hundred years since anyone has ever attempted such
embroidery. And if my daughter refuses, you will be obliged to give it
up entirely, for she is the only person who is qualified to undertake
it. I do not know of anyone else who has the delicacy of fingers and the
clearness of eye necessary for it."

Hubertine, who, since they had spoken of the style of the work, realised
what a great undertaking it was, said, in a quiet, decided tone:

"It would be utterly impossible to do it in a fortnight. It would need
the patience and skill of a fairy to accomplish it."

But Angelique, who had not ceased studying all the features of the
beautiful martyr, had ended by making a discovery which delighted
her beyond expression. Agnes resembled her. In designing from the old
statue, Felicien certainly thought of her, and this idea--that she
was in his mind, always present with him, that he saw her
everywhere--softened her resolution to avoid him. At last she looked up;
she noticed how eager he was, and his eyes glistened with so earnest
a supplication that she was conquered. Still, with the intuitive
half-malice, the love of tormenting, this natural science which comes to
all young girls, even when they are entirely ignorant of life, she did
not wish to have the appearance of yielding too readily.

"It is impossible," she repeated. "I could not do it for anyone."

Felicien was in despair. He was sure he understood the hidden meaning
in her words. It was he whom she had refused, as well as the work. As he
was about to go out of the room, he said to Hubert:

"As for the pay, you could have asked any price you wished. These ladies
gave me leave to offer as much as three thousand francs."

The household of the Huberts was in no way a selfish one; yet so great
a sum startled each member of it. The husband and wife looked at each
other inquiringly. Was it not a pity to lose so advantageous an offer?

"Three thousand francs," repeated Angelique, with her gentle voice; "did
you say three thousand francs, Monsieur?"

And she, to whom money was nothing, since she had never known its value,
kept back a smile, a mocking smile, which scarcely drew the corners of
her mouth, rejoicing that she need not seem to yield to the pleasure of
seeing him, and glad to give him a false opinion of herself.

"Oh, Monsieur, if you can give three thousand francs for it, then I
accept. I would not do it for everyone, but from the moment that one is
willing to pay so well, why, that is different. If it is necessary, I
can work on it at night, as well as during the day."

Hubert and Hubertine then objected, wishing to refuse in their turn, for
fear the fatigue might be too great for her.

"No," she replied. "It is never wise to send away money that is brought
to you. You can depend upon me, Monsieur. Your mitre will be ready the
evening before the procession."

Felicien left the design and bade them good-day, for he was greatly
disappointed, and he had no longer the courage to give any new
explanations in regard to the work, as an excuse for stopping longer.
What would he gain by doing so? It was certainly true that she did not
like him, for she had pretended not to recognise him, and had treated
him as she would any ordinary customer, whose money alone is good to
take. At first he was angry, as he accused her of being mean-spirited
and grasping. So much the better! It was ended between them, this
unspoken romance, and he would never think of her again. Then, as
he always did think of her, he at last excused her, for was she not
dependent upon her work to live, and ought she not to gain her bread?

Two days later he was very unhappy, and he began to wander around the
house, distressed that he could not see her. She no longer went out to
walk. She did not even go to the balcony, or to the window, as before.
He was forced to acknowledge that if she cared not for him, if in
reality she was mercenary, in spite of all, his love for her increased
daily, as one loves when only twenty years of age, without reasoning,
following merely the drawing of one's heart, simply for the joy and the
grief of loving.

One morning he caught a glimpse of her for a moment, and realised that
he could not give her up. Now she was his chosen one and no other.
Whatever she might be, bad or good, ugly or pretty, poor or rich, he
would give up his life rather than not be able to claim her.

The third day his sufferings were so great that, notwithstanding all his
wise resolves, he returned to the house of the embroiderers.

After having rung the bell, he was received as before, downstairs by
Hubert, who, on account of the want of clearness in his explanations in
regard to his visit, concluded the best thing to be done was to allow
him to go upstairs again.

"My daughter, Monsieur, wishes to speak to you on certain points of the
work that I do not quite understand."

Then Felicien stammered, "If it would not disturb Mademoiselle too
much, I would like to see how far--These ladies advised me to personally
superintend the work--that is, if by doing so I should not be in
anyone's way."

Angelique's heart beat violently when she saw him come in. She almost
choked, but, making a great effort, she controlled herself. The
blood did not even mount her cheeks, and with an appearance of calm
indifference, she replied:

"Oh, nothing ever disturbs me, Monsieur. I can work equally well before
anyone. As the design is yours, it is quite natural that you should wish
to follow the execution of it."

Quite discountenanced by this reception, Felicien would not have dared
to have taken a seat, had not Hubertine welcomed him cordially, as
she smiled in her sweet, quiet way at this excellent customer. Almost
immediately she resumed her work, bending over the frame where she was
embroidering on the sides of the mitre the Gothic ornaments in guipure,
or open lacework.

On his side, Hubert had just taken down from the wall a banner which was
finished, had been stiffened, and for two days past had been hung up to
dry, and which now he wished to relax. No one spoke; the three workers
kept at their tasks as if no other person had been in the room with
them.

In the midst of this charming quiet, the young man little by little grew
calmer. When the clock struck three, the shadow of the Cathedral was
already very long, and a delicate half-light entered by the window,
which was wide open. It was almost like the twilight hour, which
commenced early in the afternoon for this little house, so fresh and
green from all the verdure that was about it, as it stood by the side of
the colossal church. A slight sound of steps was heard on the pavement
outside; it was a school of young girls being taken to Confession.

In the workroom, the tools, the time-stained walls, everything
which remained there immovable, seemed to sleep in the repose of the
centuries, and from every corner came freshness and rest. A great
square of white light, smooth and pure, fell upon the frame over which
Hubertine and Angelique were bending, with their delicate profiles in
the fawn-coloured reflection of the gold.

"Mademoiselle," began Felicien, feeling very awkward, as he realised
that he must give some reason for his visit--"I wish to say,
Mademoiselle, that for the hair it seems to me it would be better to
employ gold rather than silk."

She raised her head, and the laughing expression of her eyes clearly
signified that he need not have taken the trouble of coming if he had no
other recommendation to make. And she looked down again as she replied,
in a half-mocking tone:

"There is no doubt about that, Monsieur."

He was indeed ridiculous, for he remarked then for the first time that
it was exactly what she was doing. Before her was the design he had
made, but tinted with water-colours, touched up with gold, with all the
delicacy of an old miniature, a little softened, like what one sees in
some prayer books of the fifteenth century. And she copied this image
with the patience and the skill of an artist working with a magnifying
glass. After having reproduced it with rather heavy strokes upon the
white silk, tightly stretched and lined with heavy linen, she covered
this silk with threads of gold carried from the bottom to the top,
fastened simply at the two ends, so that they were left free and close
to each other. When using the same threads as a woof, she separated them
with the point of her needle to find the design below. She followed this
same drawing, recovered the gold threads with stitches of silk across,
which she assorted according to the colours of the model. In the shaded
parts the silk completely hid the gold; in the half-lights the stitches
of silk were farther and farther apart, while the real lights were made
by gold alone, entirely uncovered. It was thus the shaded gold, that
most beautiful of all work, the foundation being modified by the silks,
making a picture of mellow colours as if warmed from beneath by a glory
and a mystic light.

"Oh!" suddenly said Hubert, who began to stretch out the banner by
separating with his fingers the cords of the trellis, "the masterpiece
of a woman who embroidered in the olden time was always in this
difficult work. To become a member of the Corporation she had to make,
as it is written in the statutes, a figure by itself in shaded gold,
a sixth part as tall as if life-size. You would have been received, my
Angelique."

Again there was an unbroken silence. Felicien watched her constantly, as
she stooped forward, absorbed in her task, quite as if she were entirely
alone. For the hair of the saint, contrary to the general rule, she had
had the same idea as he; that was, to use no silk, but to re-cover gold
with gold, and she kept ten needles at work with this brilliant thread
of all shades, from the dark red of dying embers, to the pale, delicate
yellow tint of the leaves of the forest trees in the autumn. Agnes was
thus covered from her neck to her ankles with a stream of golden hair.
It began at the back of her head, covered her body with a thick mantle,
flowed in front of her from the shoulders in two waves which united
under the chin, and fell down to her feet in one wavy sheet. It was,
indeed, the miraculous hair, a fabulous fleece, with heavy twists and
curls, a glorious, starry efflorescence, the warm and living robe of a
saint, perfumed with its pure nudity.

That day Felicien could do nothing but watch Angelique as she
embroidered the curls, following the exact direction of their rolling
with her little pointed stitches, and he never wearied of seeing the
hair grow and radiate under her magic needle. Its weight, and the great
quivering with which it seemed to be unrolled at one turn, disturbed
him.

Hubertine, occupied in sewing on spangles, hiding the thread with which
each one was attached with a tiny round of gold twist, lifted up her
head from time to time and gave him a calm motherly look, whenever she
was obliged to throw into the waste-basket a spangle that was not well
made.

Hubert, who had just taken away the side pieces of wood, that he might
unstitch the banner from the frame, was about folding it up carefully.
And at last, Felicien, whose embarrassment was greatly increased by this
unbroken silence, realised that it was best for him to take leave, since
as yet he had not been able to think of any of the suggestions which he
had said he intended to make.

He rose, blushed, and stammered:

"I will return another day. I find that I have so badly succeeded in
reproducing the charming design of the head of the saint that you may
perhaps have need of some explanations from me."

Angelique looked him fully in the face with her sweet, great eyes.

"Oh, not at all. But come again, Monsieur. Do not hesitate to do so, if
you are in the least anxious about the execution of the work."

He went away, happy from the permission given him, but chilled by the
coldness of manner of the young girl. Yes, he realised that she did not
now, and never would, love him. That being the case, what use was there
in seeing her? Yet on the morrow, as well as on the following days,
he did not fail to go to the little house on the Rue des Orfevres. The
hours which he could not pass there were sad enough, tortured as he was
by his uncertainties, distressed by his mental struggles. He was never
calm, except when he was near her as she sat at her frame. Provided that
she was by his side, it seemed to him that he could resign himself to
the acceptance of the fact that he was disagreeable to her.

Every morning he arrived at an early hour, spoke of the work, then
seated himself as if his presence there were absolutely necessary. Then
he was in a state of enchantment simply to look at her, with her finely
cut features, her motionless profile, which seemed bathed in the liquid
golden tints of her hair; and he watched in ecstasy the skilful play of
her flexible hands, as she moved them up and down in the midst of the
needlefuls of gold or silk. She had become so habituated to his
presence that she was quite at her ease, and treated him as a comrade.
Nevertheless, he always felt that there was between them something
unexpressed which grieved him to the heart, he knew not why.
Occasionally she looked up, regarding him with an amused, half-mocking
air, and with an inquiring, impatient expression in her face. Then,
finding he was intensely embarrassed she at once became very cold and
distant.

But Felicien had discovered one way in which he could rouse her, and
he took advantage of it. It was this--to talk to her of her art, of the
ancient masterpieces of embroidery he had seen, either preserved among
the treasures of cathedrals, or copies of which were engraved in books.
For instance, there were the superb copes: that of Charlemagne, in red
silk, with the great eagles with unfurled wings; and the cope of
Sion, which is decorated with a multitude of saintly figures. Then the
dalmatic, which is said to be the most beautiful piece of embroidery in
the whole world; the Imperial dalmatic, on which is celebrated the glory
of Jesus Christ upon the earth and in heaven, the Transfiguration, and
the Last Judgment, in which the different personages are embroidered
in silks of various colours, and in silver and gold. Also, there is
a wonderful tree of Jesse, an orfrey of silk upon satin, which is so
perfect it seems as if it were detached from a window of the fifteenth
century; Abraham at the foot, then David, Solomon, the Blessed Virgin
Mary, and at the very top the Saviour.

Among the admirable chasubles he had seen, one in particular was
touching in its simplicity. It represented Christ on the Cross, and the
drops of blood from His side and His feet were made by little splashes
of red silk on the cloth of gold, while in the foreground was Mary,
tenderly supported by Saint John.

On another one, which is called the chasuble of Naintre, the Virgin is
seated in majesty, with richly-wrought sandals on her feet, and holding
the Infant Jesus on her knees. Others, and still others of marvelous
workmanship were alluded to, venerable not only from their great age and
the beautiful faith that they expressed, but from a richness unknown
in our time, preserving the odour of the incense of tabernacles and the
mystic light which seemed to come from the slightly-faded gold.

"Ah," sighed Angelique, "all those exquisite things are finished now. We
can only find certain tones to remind us of their perfection."

With feverish hands and sparkling eyes she stopped working when Felicien
related to her the history of the most noted men and women who were
embroiderers in the olden time--Simonne de Gaules, Colin Jolye, and
others whose names have come down to us through the ages. Then, after
a few moments, she took up her needles again, and made them fly
vigorously, as she appeared transfigured, and guarded on her face the
traces of the delight her artist nature had received in listening to
all these accounts. Never had she seemed to him more beautiful, so
enthusiastic was she, so maidenly and so pure, seated there in the
brighter surroundings of so many coloured silks, applying herself with
unfailing exactitude to her work, into the slightest details of which
she put her whole soul. When he had left off speaking he looked at her
earnestly, until roused by the silence, she realised the excited state
into which all these histories had thrown her, and became as embarrassed
as if she had done something wrong.

"Oh, dear, look; all my silks are entangled again! Mother, please not to
move about so much."

Hubertine, who had not stirred at all, was amused, but simply smiled
without saying anything. At first she had been rather disturbed by the
constant attentions of the young man, and had talked the matter over
thoroughly with Hubert one evening in their room. But they could not
help being drawn towards him, and as in every respect his appearance
was good and his manners perfectly respectful, they concluded it was not
necessary to object to interviews from which Angelique derived so much
happiness. So matters were allowed to take their way, and she watched
over the young people with a loving air of protection.

Moreover, she herself for many days had been oppressed by the lamenting
caresses of her husband, who seemed never to weary of asking her if he
had been forgiven. This month was the anniversary of the time when
they had lost their child, and each year at this date they had the
same regrets and the same longings; he, trembling at her feet, happy
to realise that he was pardoned; she, loving and distressed, blaming
herself for everything, and despairing that Fate had been inexorable to
all their prayers. They spoke of all this to no one, were the same to
outsiders in every way, but this increase of tenderness between them
came from their room like a silent perfume, disengaged itself from their
persons at the least movement, by each word, and by their way of looking
at each other, when it seemed as if for the moment they almost exchanged
souls. All this was like the grave accompaniment, the deep continuous
bass, upon which sang in clear notes the two hearts of the young couple.

One week had passed, and the work on the mitre advanced. These daily
meetings had assumed a great and sweet familiarity.

"The forehead should be very high, should it not? Without any trace of
eyebrows?"

"Yes, very high, and not the slightest shade. Quite like an old
miniature."

"Will you pass me the white silk?"

"Wait a minute, that I may thread it."

He helped her, and this union of work put them at their ease. It made
the occupation of each day seem perfectly natural to them both, and
without a word of love ever having been spoken, without their hands
having once met by a voluntary touch, the bond between them grew
stronger each hour, and they were henceforth eternally united one to the
other. It was sufficient for them to have lived until now.

"Father, what are you doing that we no longer hear you?"

She turned and saw Hubert, who was occupied in winding a long spool, as
his eyes were fixed abstractedly on his wife.

"I am preparing some gold thread for your mother."

And from the reel taken to his wife, from the mute thanks of Hubertine,
from the constant little attentions her husband gave her, there was
a warm, caressing breath which surrounded and enveloped Angelique and
Felicien as they both bent again over the frame. The workroom itself,
this ancient hall, as it might almost be called, with its old tools and
its peace of other ages, was an unconscious accomplice in this work of
union. It seemed so far away from the noise of the street, remote as if
in dreamy depths, in this country of good, simple souls, where miracles
reign, the easy realisation of all joys.

In five days the mitre was to be finished; and Angelique, now sure
that it would be ready to be delivered, and that she would even have
twenty-four hours to spare, took a long breath of satisfaction, and
seemed suddenly astonished at finding Felicien so near her, with his
elbows on the trestle. Had they really become such intimate friends?
She no longer attempted to struggle against what she realised was his
conquering power; her half-malicious smiles ceased at what he tried
to keep back, and which she so well understood, in spite of his
subterfuges. What was it, then, that had made her as if asleep, in her
late restless waiting? And the eternal question returned, the question
that she asked herself every evening when she went to her room. Did she
love him? For hours, in the middle of her great bed, she had turned over
again and again these words, seeking for meanings she could not find,
and thinking she was too ignorant to explain them. But that night, all
at once, she felt her heart was softened by some inexplicable happiness.
She cried nervously, without reason, and hid her head in her pillow that
no one might hear her.

Yes, now she loved him; she loved him enough to be willing to die for
him. But why? But how? She could not tell, she never would know; simply
from her whole heart came the cry that she did indeed love him. The
light had come to her at last; this new, overpowering joy overwhelmed
her like the most ardent rays of the sun.

For a long time her tears flowed, but not from sorrow. On the contrary,
she was filled with an inexplicable confusion of happiness that was
indefinable, regretting now, more deeply than ever, that she had not
made a _confidante_ of Hubertine. To-day her secret burdened her, and
she made an earnest vow to herself that henceforth she would be as cold
as an icicle towards Felicien, and would suffer everything rather than
allow him to see her tenderness. He should never know it. To love
him, merely to love him, without even acknowledging it, that was the
punishment, the trial she must undergo to pardon her fault. It would be
to her in reality a delicious suffering. She thought of the martyrs of
whom she had read in the "Golden Legend," and it seemed to her that she
was their sister in torturing herself in this way, and that her guardian
angel, Agnes, would look at her henceforward with sadder, sweeter eyes
than ever.

The following day Angelique finished the mitre. She had embroidered with
split silk, light as gossamer, the little hands and feet, which were the
only points of white, naked flesh that came out from the royal mantle of
golden hair. She perfected the face with all the delicacy of the purest
lily, wherein the gold seemed like the blood in the veins under the
delicate, silken skin. And this face, radiant as the sun, was turned
heavenward, as the youthful saint was borne upward by the angels toward
the distant horizon of the blue plain.

When Felicien entered that day, he exclaimed with admiration:

"Oh! how exactly she looks like you."

It was an involuntary expression; an acknowledgment of the resemblance
he had purposely put in the design. He realised the fact after he had
spoken, and blushed deeply.

"That is indeed true, my little one; she has the same beautiful eyes
that you have," said Hubert, who had come forward to examine the work.

Hubertine merely smiled now, having made a similar remark many days
before, and she was surprised and grieved when she heard Angelique reply
in a harsh, disagreeable tone of voice, like that she sometimes had in
her fits of obstinacy years ago:

"My beautiful eyes! Why will you make fun of me in that way? I know as
well as you do that I am very ugly."

Then, getting up, she shook out her dress, overacting her assumed
character of a harsh, avaricious girl.

"Ah, at last! It is really finished! I am thankful, for it was too much
of a task, too heavy a burden on my shoulders. Do you know, I would
never undertake to make another one for the same price?"

Felicien listened to her in amazement. Could it be that after all she
still cared only for money? Had he been mistaken when he thought at
times she was so exquisitely tender, and so passionately devoted to her
artistic work? Did she in reality wish for the pay her labour brought
her? And was she so indifferent that she rejoiced at the completion of
her task, wishing neither to see nor to hear of it again? For several
days he had been discouraged as he sought in vain for some pretext of
continuing, later on, visits that gave him such pleasure. But, alas! it
was plain that she did not care for him in the least, and that she never
would love him. His suffering was so great that he grew very pale and
could scarcely speak.

"But, Mademoiselle, will you not make up the mitre?"

"No, mother can do it so much better than I can. I am too happy at the
thought that I have nothing more to do with it."

"But do you not like the work which you do so well?"

"I? I do not like anything in the world."

Hubertine was obliged to speak to her sternly, and tell her to be quiet.
She then begged Felicien to be so good as to pardon her nervous child,
who was a little weary from her long-continued application. She
added that the mitre would be at his disposal at an early hour on the
following morning. It was the same as if she had asked him to go away,
but he could not leave. He stood and looked around him in this old
workroom, filled with shade and with peace, and it seemed to him as if
he were being driven from Paradise. He had spent so many sweet hours
there in the illusion of his brightest fancies, that it was like tearing
his very heart-strings to think all this was at an end. What troubled
him the worst was his inability to explain matters, and that he could
only take with him such a fearful uncertainty. At last he said good-day,
resolved to risk everything at the first opportunity rather than not to
know the truth.

Scarcely had he closed the door when Hubert asked:

"What is the matter with you, my dear child? Are you ill?"

"No, indeed. It is simply that I am tired of having that young man here.
I do not wish to see him again."

Then Hubertine added: "Very well; you will not see him again. But
nothing should ever prevent one from being polite."

Angelique, making some trivial excuse, hurried up to her room as quickly
as possible. Then she gave free course to her tears. Ah, how intensely
happy she was, yet how she suffered! Her poor, dear beloved; he was sad
enough when he found he must leave her! But she must not forget that she
had made a vow to the saints, that although she loved him better than
life, he should never know it.



CHAPTER VIII

On the evening of this same day, immediately after leaving the
dinner-table, Angelique complained of not being at all well, and went
up at once to her room. The agitation and excitement of the morning, her
struggles against her true self, had quite exhausted her. She made haste
to go to bed, and covering her head with the sheet, with a desperate
feeling of disappearing for ever if she could, again the tears came to
her relief.

The hours passed slowly, and soon it was night--a warm July night, the
heavy, oppressive quiet of which entered through the window, which had
been left wide open. In the dark heavens glistened a multitude of stars.
It must have been nearly eleven o'clock, and the moon, already grown
quite thin in its last quarter, would not rise until midnight.

And in the obscure chamber, Angelique still wept nervously a flow of
inexhaustible tears, seemingly without reason, when a slight noise at
her door caused her to lift up her head.

There was a short silence, when a voice called her tenderly.

"Angelique! Angelique! My darling child!"

She recognised the voice of Hubertine. Without doubt the latter, in her
room with her husband, had just heard the distant sound of sobbing, and
anxious, half-undressed, she had come upstairs to find out what was the
matter with her daughter.

"Angelique, are you ill, my dear?"

Retaining her breath, the young girl made no answer. She did not wish to
be unkind, but her one absorbing idea at this moment was of solitude.
To be alone was the only possible alleviation of her trouble. A word of
consolation, a caress, even from her mother, would have distressed her.
She imagined that she saw her standing at the other side of the door,
and from the delicacy of the rustling movement on the tiled floor she
thought she must be barefooted. Two or three minutes passed, and she
knew the kind watcher had not left her place, but that, stooping, and
holding with her beautiful hands the clothing so carelessly thrown over
her, she still listened at the keyhole.

Hubertine, hearing nothing more, not even a sigh, did not like to call
again. She was very sure that she had heard sobs; but if the child had
at last been able to sleep, what good would it do to awaken her? She
waited, however, another moment, troubled by the thought of a grief
which her daughter hid from her, confusedly imagining what it might
be from the tender emotion with which her heart seemed filled from
sympathy. At last she concluded to go down as she had come up, quietly,
her hands being so familiar with every turning that she needed no
candle, and leaving behind her no other sound than the soft, light touch
of her bare feet.

Then, sitting up in bed, Angelique in her turn listened. So profound
was the outward silence that she could clearly distinguish the slight
pressure of the heel on the edge of each step of the stairway. At the
foot, the door of the chamber was opened, then closed again; afterward,
she heard a scarcely-distinct murmur, an affectionate, yet sad blending
of voices in a half-whisper. No doubt it was what her father and mother
were saying of her; the fears and the hopes they had in regard to her.
For a long time that continued, although they must have put out their
light and gone to bed.

Never before had any night sounds in this old house mounted in this way
to her ears. Ordinarily, she slept the heavy, tranquil sleep of youth;
she heard nothing whatever after placing her head upon her pillow;
whilst now, in the wakefulness caused by the inner combat against an
almost overpowering sentiment of affection which she was determined to
conquer, it seemed to her as if the whole house were in unison with
her, that it was also in love, and mourned like herself. Were not the
Huberts, too, sad, as they stilled their tears and thought of the child
they had lost long ago, whose place, alas! had never been filled? She
knew nothing of this in reality, but she had a sensation in this warm
night of the watch of her parents below her, and of the disappointment
in their lives, which they could not forget, notwithstanding their great
love for each other, which was always as fresh as when they were young.

Whilst she was seated in this way, listening in the house that trembled
and sighed, Angelique lost all self-control, and again the tears rolled
down her face, silently, but warm and living, as if they were her life's
blood. One question above all others had troubled her since the early
morning, and had grieved her deeply. Was she right in having sent away
Felicien in despair, stabbed to the heart by her coldness, and with the
thought that she did not love him? She knew that she did love him, yet
she had willingly caused him to suffer, and now in her turn she was
suffering intensely. Why should there be so much pain connected with
love? Did the saints wish for tears? Could it be that Agnes, her
guardian angel, was angry in the knowledge that she was happy? Now, for
the first time, she was distracted by a doubt. Before this, whenever she
thought of the hero she awaited, and who must come sooner or later, she
had arranged everything much more satisfactorily. When the right time
arrived he was to enter her very room, where she would immediately
recognise and welcome him, when they would both go away together, to
be united for evermore. But how different was the reality! He had
come, and, instead of what she had foreseen, their meeting was most
unsatisfactory; they were equally unhappy, and were eternally separated.
To what purpose? Why had this result come to pass? Who had exacted from
her so strange a vow, that, although he might be very dear to her, she
was never to let him know it?

But, yet again, Angelique was especially grieved from the fear that she
might have been bad and done some very wrong thing. Perhaps the original
sin that was in her had manifested itself again as when she was a little
girl! She thought over all her acts of pretended indifference: the
mocking air with which she had received Felicien, and the malicious
pleasure she took in giving him a false idea of herself. And the
astonishment at what she had done, added to a cutting remorse for her
cruelty, increased her distress. Now, her whole heart was filled with a
deep infinite pity for the suffering she had caused him without really
meaning to do so.

She saw him constantly before her, as he was when he left the house in
the morning: the despairing expression of his face, his troubled eyes,
his trembling lips; and in imagination she followed him through the
streets, as he went home, pale, utterly desolate, and wounded to the
heart's core by her. Where was he now? Perhaps at this hour he was
really ill!

She wrung her hands in agony, distressed that she could not at once
repair the evil she had done. Ah! how she revolted at the idea of having
made another suffer, for she had always wished to be good, and to render
those about her as happy as possible.

Twelve o'clock would ere long ring out from the old church-tower; the
great elms of the garden of the Bishop's palace hid the moon, which was
just appearing above the horizon, and the chamber was still dark. Then,
letting her head fall back upon the pillow, Angelique dwelt no longer
upon these disturbing questions, as she wished to go to sleep. But this
she could not do; although she kept her eyes closed, her mind was still
active; she thought of the flowers which every night during the last
fortnight she had found when she went upstairs upon the balcony before
her window. Each evening it was a lovely bouquet of violets, which
Felicien had certainly thrown there from the Clos-Marie. She recollected
having told him that flowers generally gave her a sick headache, whilst
violets alone had the singular virtue of calming her, and so he had sent
her quiet nights, a perfumed sleep refreshed by pleasant dreams. This
evening she had placed the bouquet by her bedside. All at once she had
the happy thought of taking it into her bed with her, putting it near
her cheek, and, little by little, being soothed with its sweet breath.
The purple blossoms did indeed do her good. Not that she slept, however;
but she lay there with closed eyes, penetrated by the refreshing
odour that came from his gift; happy to await events, in a repose and
confident abandonment of her whole being.

But suddenly she started. It was past midnight. She opened her eyes,
and was astonished to find her chamber filled with a clear bright light.
Above the great elms the moon rose slowly, dimming the stars in the pale
sky. Through the window she saw the apse of the cathedral, almost white,
and it seemed to her as if it were the reflection of this whiteness
which entered her room, like the light of the dawn, fresh and pure. The
whitewashed walls and beams, all this blank nudity was increased by it,
enlarged, and moved back as if it were unreal as a dream.

She still recognised, however, the old, dark, oaken furniture--the
wardrobe, the chest and the chairs, with the shining edges of their
elaborate carvings. The bedstead alone--this great square, royal
couch--seemed new to her, as if she saw it for the first time, with
its high columns supporting its canopy of old-fashioned, rose-tinted
cretonne, now bathed with such a sheet of deep moonlight that she half
thought she was on a cloud in the midst of the heavens, borne along by
a flight of silent, invisible wings. For a moment she felt the full
swinging of it; it did not seem at all strange or unnatural to her. But
her sight soon grew accustomed to the reality; her bed was again in its
usual corner, and she was in it, not moving her head, her eyes alone
turning from side to side, as she lay in the midst of this lake of
beaming rays, with the bouquet of violets upon her lips.

Why was it that she was thus in a state of waiting? Why could she not
sleep? She was sure that she expected someone. That she had grown quite
calm was a sign that her hero was about to appear. This consoling
light, which put to flight the darkness of all bad dreams, announced
his arrival. He was on his way, and the moon, whose brightness almost
equalled that of the sun, was simply his forerunner. She must be ready
to greet him.

The chamber was as if hung with white velvet now, so they could see each
other well. Then she got up, dressed herself thoroughly, putting on a
simple white gown of foulard, the same she had worn the day of their
excursion to the ruins of Hautecoeur. She did not braid her hair, but
let it hang over her shoulders. She put a pair of slippers upon her bare
feet, and drawing an armchair in front of the window, seated herself,
and waited in patience.

Angelique did not pretend to know how he would appear. Without doubt, he
would not come up the stairs, and it might be that she would simply see
him over the Clos-Marie, while she leaned from the balcony. Still,
she kept her place on the threshold of the window, as it seemed to her
useless to go and watch for him just yet. So vague was her idea of real
life, so mystic was love, that she did not understand in her imaginative
nature why he might not pass through the walls, like the saints in the
legends. Why should not miracles come now, as in the olden days, for had
not all this been ordained from the beginning?

Not for a moment did she think she was alone to receive him. No, indeed!
She felt as if she were surrounded by the crowd of virgins who had
always been near her, since her early youth. They entered on the rays of
the moonlight, they came from the great dark trees with their blue-green
tops in the Bishop's garden, from the most intricate corners of the
entanglement of the stone front of the Cathedral. From all the familiar
and beloved horizon of the Chevrotte, from the willows, the grasses,
and bushes, the young girl heard the dreams which came back to her, the
hopes, the desires, the visions, all that which she had put of herself
into inanimate objects as she saw them daily, and which they now
returned to her. Never had the voices of the Invisible unknown spoken
so clearly. She listened to them as they came from afar, recognising
particularly in this warm, beautiful night, so calm that there was not
the slightest movement in the air, the delicate sound which she was
wont to call the fluttering of the robe of Agnes, when her dear guardian
angel came to her side. She laughed quietly to know that she was now by
her, and waiting with the others who were near her.

Time passed, but it did not seem long to Angelique. She was quite
conscious of what was passing around her. It appeared to her perfectly
natural, and exactly as it had been foretold, when at last she saw
Felicien striding over the balustrade of the balcony.

His tall figure came out in full relief before the background of the
white sky; he did not approach the open window, but remained in its
luminous shadow.

"Do not be afraid. It is I. I have come to see you."

She was not in the slightest way alarmed; she simply thought that he was
exact to the hour of meeting, and said calmly:

"You mounted by the timber framework, did you not?"

"Yes, by the framework."

The idea of this way made her laugh, and he himself was amused by it.
He had in fact pulled himself up by the pent-house shed; then, climbing
along the principal rafters from there, whose ends were supported by the
string-course of the first story, he had without difficulty reached the
balcony.

"I was expecting you. Will you not come nearer me?"

Felicien, who had arrived in a state of anger, not knowing how he had
dared to come, but with many wild ideas in his head, did not move, so
surprised and delighted was he by this unexpected reception. As he had
come at last, Angelique was now certain that the saints did not prohibit
her from loving, for she heard them welcoming him with her by a laugh as
delicate as a breath of the night. Where in the world had she ever found
so ridiculous an idea as to think that Agnes would be angry with her! On
the contrary, Agnes was radiant with a joy that she felt as it descended
on her shoulders and enveloped her like a caress from two great wings.
All those who had died for love showed great compassion for youthful
troubles, and only returned to earth on summer nights, that, although
invisible, they might watch those young hearts who were sorrowful from
affection.

"But why do you not come to me? I was waiting for you."

Then, hesitatingly, Felicien approached. He had been so excited, so
carried away by anger at her indifference, that he had said she should
be made to love him, and that, were it necessary, he would carry her
away even against her will. And lo! now finding her so gentle as he
penetrated almost to the entrance of this chamber, so pure and white, he
became subdued at once, and as gentle and submissive as a child.

He took three steps forward. But he was afraid, and not daring to go
farther, he fell on his knees at the end of the balcony.

"Could you but know," he said, "the abominable tortures I have passed
through. I have never imagined a worse suffering. Really, the only true
grief is to think that you are not beloved by the person to whom you
have given your affection. I would willingly give up all else; would
consent to be poor, dying from hunger, or racked by pain; but I will
not pass another day with this terrible doubt gnawing at my heart, of
thinking that you do not love me. Be good, I pray you, and pity me."

She listened to him, silent, overcome with compassion, yet very happy
withal.

"This morning you sent me away in such a dreadful manner! I had fancied
to myself that you had changed your feelings towards me, and that,
appreciating my affection, you liked me better. But, alas! I found you
exactly as you had been on the first day, cold, indifferent, treating me
as you would have done any other simple customer who passed, recalling
me harshly to the commonplaces of life. On the stairway I staggered.
Once outside, I ran, and was afraid I might scream aloud. Then, the
moment I reached home, it seemed to me I should stifle were I to enter
the house. So I rushed out into the fields, walking by chance first on
one side of the road and then on another. Evening came, and I was still
wandering up and down. But the torment of spirit moved faster than ever
and devoured me. When one is hopelessly in love, it is impossible to
escape from the pains accompanying one's affection. Listen!" he said,
and he touched his breast; "it is here that you stabbed me, and the
point of the knife still continues to penetrate deeper and deeper."

He gave a long sigh at the keen recollection of his torture.

"I found myself at last in a thicket, overcome by my distress, like a
tree that has been drawn up by the roots. To me, the only thing that
existed in life, in the future, was you. The thought that you might
never be mine was more than I could bear. Already my feet were so weary
that they would no longer support me. I felt that my hands were growing
icy cold, and my head was filled with the strangest fancies. And that
is why I am here. I do not know at all how I came, or where I found the
necessary strength to bring me to you. You must try to forgive me;
but had I been forced to do so, I would have broken open doors with my
fists, I would have clambered up to this balcony in broad daylight, for
my will was no longer under my control, and I was quite wild. Now, will
you not pardon me?"

She was a little in the shadow, and he, on his knees in the full
moonlight, could not see that she had grown very pale in her tender
repentance, and was too touched by his story to be able to speak. He
thought that she was still insensible to his pleadings, and he joined
his hands together most beseechingly.

"All my interest in you commenced long ago. It was one night when I
saw you for the first time, here at your window. You were only a vague,
white shadow; I could scarcely distinguish one of your features, yet I
saw you and imagined you just as you are in reality. But I was timid and
afraid, so for several days I wandered about here, never daring to
try to meet you in the open day. And, in addition, since this is a
confession, I must tell you everything; you pleased me particularly in
this half mystery; it would have disturbed me to have you come out
from it, for my great happiness was to dream of you as if you were an
apparition, or an unknown something to be worshipped from afar, without
ever hoping to become acquainted with you. Later on, I knew who you
were, for after all it is difficult to resist the temptation to
know what may be the realisation of one's dream. It was then that
my restlessness commenced. It has increased at each meeting. Do you
recollect the first time that we spoke to each other in the field near
by, on that forenoon when I was examining the painted window? Never in
my life did I feel so awkward as then, and it was not strange that
you ridiculed me so. Afterwards I frightened you, and realised that I
continued to be very unfortunate in following you, even in the visits
you made to the poor people. Already I ceased to be master of my own
actions, and did things that astonished me beyond measure, and which,
under usual circumstances, I would not have dared attempt. For instance,
when I presented myself here with the order for a mitre, I was pushed
forward by an involuntary force, as, personally, I dared not do it,
knowing that I might make you angry. But at present I cannot regain my
old self, I can only obey my impulses. I know that you do not like me,
and yet, as you see, in spite of it all I have come back to you, that
I may hear you tell me so. If you would but try to understand how
miserable I am. Do not love me if it is not in your heart to do so. I
must accept my fate. But at least allow me to love you. Be as cold as
you please, be hateful if you will--I shall adore you whatever you may
choose to be. I only ask to be able to see you, even without any hope;
merely for the joy of living thus at your feet."

Felicien stopped, disheartened, losing all courage as he thought he
would never find any way of touching her heart. And he did not see that
Angelique smiled, half hidden as she was by the open window-sash. It was
an invincible smile, that, little by little, spread over her whole face.
Ah! the dear fellow! How simple and trusting he was as he outpoured the
prayer of his heart, filled with new longings and love, in bowing before
her, as before the highest ideal of all his youthful dreams.

To think that she had ever been so foolish as at first to try to avoid
all meetings with him, and then, later on, had determined that although
she could not help loving him, he should never know it! Such folly on
her part was quite inexplicable. Since love is right, and is the fate of
all, what good could be gained by making martyrs of them both?

A complete silence ensued, and in her enthusiastic, imaginative, nervous
state, she heard, louder than ever, in the quiet of the warm night, the
voices of the saints about her, who said love was never forbidden when
it was so ardent and true as this. Behind her back a bright flash of
light had suddenly appeared; scarcely a breath, but a delicate wave from
the moon upon the chamber floor. An invisible finger, no doubt that of
her guardian angel, was placed upon her mouth, as if to unseal her
lips and relieve her from her vow. Henceforth she could freely unburden
herself and tell the truth. All that which was powerful and tender in
her surroundings now whispered to her words which seemed to come from
the infinite unknown.

Then, at last, Angelique spoke.

"Ah! yes, I recollect--I recollect it all."

And Felicien was at once carried away with delight by the music of this
voice, whose extreme charm was so great over him that his love seemed to
increase simply from listening to it.

"Yes, I remember well when you came in the night. You were so far away
those first evenings that the little sound you made in walking left me
in quite an uncertain state. At last I realised perfectly that it was
you who approached me, and a little later I recognised your shadow. At
length, one evening you showed yourself boldly, on a beautiful, bright
night like this, in the full white light of the moon. You came out so
slowly from the inanimate objects near you, like a creation from all the
mysteries that surrounded me, exactly as I had expected to see you for a
long time, and punctual to the meeting.

"I have never forgotten the great desire to laugh, which I kept back,
but which broke forth in spite of me, when you saved the linen that
was being carried away by the Chevrotte. I recollect my anger when you
robbed me of my poor people, by giving them so much money, and thus
making me appear as a miser. I can still recall my fear on the evening
when you forced me to run so fast through the grass with my bare feet.
Oh, yes, I have not forgotten anything--not the slightest thing."

At this last sentence her voice, pure and crystalline, was a little
broken by the thought of those magic words of the young man, the power
of which she felt so deeply when he said, "I love you," and a deep blush
passed over her face. And he--he listened to her with delight.

"It is indeed true that I did wrong to tease you. When one is ignorant,
one is often so foolish. One does many things which seem necessary,
simply from the fear of being found fault with if following the impulses
of the heart. But my remorse for all this was deep, and my sufferings,
in consequence, were as great as yours. Were I to try to explain all
this to you, it would be quite impossible for me to do so. When you
came to us with your drawing of Saint Agnes, oh! I could have cried out,
'Thank you, thank you!' I was perfectly enchanted to work for you, as I
thought you would certainly make us a daily visit. And yet, think of it!
I pretended to be indifferent, as if I had taken upon myself the task of
doing all in my power to drive you from the house. Has one ever the need
of being willfully unhappy? Whilst in reality I longed to welcome you
and to receive you with open hands, there seemed to be in the depths of
my nature another woman than myself, who revolted, who was afraid of and
mistrusted you--whose delight it was to torture you with uncertainty,
in the vague idea of setting up a quarrel, the cause of which, in a time
long passed, had been quite forgotten. I am not always good; often in my
soul things seem to creep up that I cannot explain or account for. The
worst of it was that I dared to speak to you of money. Fancy it, then!
Of money! I, who have never thought of it, who would accept chariots of
it, only for the pleasure of making it rain down as I wished, among the
needy! What a malicious amusement I gave myself in this calumniating my
character. Will you ever forgive me?"



CHAPTER IX

Felicien was at her feet. Until now he had kept his place in the remote
corner of the balcony. But in the intense happiness she gave him in thus
unfolding the innermost secrets of her soul he had drawn himself on his
knees towards her, as he approached the window. This great, illimitable
joy was so unlooked for, that he yielded to it in all the infinitude of
its hopes of the future.

He half whispered:

"Ah, dear soul, pure, kind, and beautiful, your wonderful goodness has
cured me as with a breath! I know not now if I have ever suffered.
And, in your turn, you will now have to pardon me, for I have an
acknowledgment to make to you. I must tell you who I am."

He was troubled at the thought he could no longer disguise himself or
his position, since she had confided so freely and entirely in him. It
would be disloyal in the highest degree to do so. Yet he hesitated, lest
he might, after all, lose her, were she to be anxious about the future
when at last she knew the facts.

And she waited for him to speak again, a little malicious in spite of
herself.

In a very low voice he continued:

"I have told a falsehood to your parents."

"Yes, I know it," she said as she smiled.

"No, you do not know it; you could not possibly know it, for all that
happened too long ago. I only paint on glass for my own pleasure, and as
a simple amusement; you really ought to be told of that."

Then, with a quick movement, she put her hand on his mouth, as if she
wished to prevent this explanation.

"I do not care to hear any more. I have been expecting you. I knew
that sooner or later you would come, and you have done so. That is
all-sufficient."

They talked no longer for a while. That little hand over his lips seemed
almost too great a happiness for him.

"When the right time comes, then I shall know all. Yet I assure you that
I am ignorant of nothing connected with you, for everything had been
revealed to me before our first meeting. You were to be, and can be,
only the handsomest, the richest, and the most noble of men, the one
above all others; for that has ever been my dream, and in the sure
certainty of its full accomplishment I wait calmly. You are the chosen
hero who it was ordained should come, and I am yours."

A second time she interrupted herself in the tremor of the words she
pronounced. She did not appear to say them by herself alone; they came
to her as if sent by the beautiful night from the great white heavens,
from the old trees, and the aged stones sleeping outside and dreaming
aloud the fancies of the young girl. From behind her voices also
whispered them to her, the voices of her friends in the "Golden Legend,"
with whom she had peopled the air and the space around her. In this
atmosphere she had ever lived--mysticism, in which she revelled until
it seemed fact on one side, and the daily work of life on the other.
Nothing seemed strange to her.

Now but one word remained to be said--that which would express all the
long waiting, the slow creation of affection, the constantly increasing
fever of restlessness. It escaped from her lips like a cry from a
distance, from the white flight of a bird mounting upward in the light
of the early dawn, in the pure whiteness of the chamber behind her.

"I love you."

Angelique, her two hands spread out, bent forward towards Felicien. And
he recalled to himself the evening when she ran barefooted through the
grass, making so adorable a picture that he pursued her in order to
stammer in her ear these same words: "I love you." He knew that now she
was simply replying to him with the same cry of affection, the eternal
cry, which at last came from her freely-opened heart.

"Yes, I love you. I am yours. Lead the way, and I will follow you
wherever it may be."

In this surrender of her soul she gave herself to him fully and
entirely. It was the hereditary flame relighted within her--the pride
and the passion she thought had been conquered, but which awoke at the
wish of her beloved. He trembled before this innocence, so ardent and so
ingenuous. He took her hands gently, and crossed them upon her breast.
For a moment he looked at her, radiant with the intense happiness
her confession had given him, unwilling to wound her delicacy in the
slightest degree, and not thinking of yielding to the temptation of even
kissing her hair.

"You love me, and you know that I love you! Ah! what bliss there is in
such knowledge."

But they were suddenly drawn from their ecstatic state by a change about
them. What did it all mean? They realised that now they were looking
at each other under a great white light. It seemed to them as if the
brightness of the moon had been increased, and was as resplendent as
that of the sun. It was in reality the daybreak, a slight shade of which
already tinged with purple the tops of the elm-trees in the neighbouring
gardens. What? It could not be possible that the dawn had come? They
were astonished by it, for they did not realise so long a time had
passed since they began to talk together on the balcony. She had as yet
told him nothing, and he had so many things he wished to say!

"Oh, stay one minute more, only one minute!" he exclaimed.

The daylight advanced still faster--the smiling morning, already
warm, of what was to be a hot day in summer. One by one the stars were
extinguished, and with them fled the wandering visions, and all the host
of invisible friends seemed to mount upward and to glide away on the
moon's rays.

Now, in the full, clear light, the room behind them had only its
ordinary whiteness of walls and ceiling, and seemed quite empty with its
old-fashioned furniture of dark oak. The velvet hangings were no longer
there, and the bedstead had resumed its original shape, as it stood half
hidden by the falling of one of its curtains.

"Do stay! Let me be near you only one minute more!"

Angelique, having risen, refused, and begged Felicien to leave
immediately. Since the day had come, she had grown confused and anxious.
The reality was now here. At her right hand, she seemed to hear a
delicate movement of wings, whilst her hair was gently blown, although
there was not the slightest breath of wind. Was it not Saint Agnes, who,
having remained until the last, was now forced to leave, driven away by
the sun?

"No, leave me, I beg of you. I am unwilling you should stay longer."

Then Felicien, obedient, withdrew.

To know that he was beloved was enough for him, and satisfied him.
Still, before leaving the balcony, he turned, and looked at her again
fixedly, as if he wished to carry away with him an indelible remembrance
of her. They both smiled at each other as they stood thus, bathed with
light, in this long caressing look.

At last he said:

"I love you."

And she gently replied:

"I love you."

That was all, and he had in a moment, with the agility of a bird, gone
down the woodwork of the corner of the building, while she, remaining on
the balcony, leaned on the balustrade and watched him, with her tender,
beautiful eyes. She had taken the bouquet of violets and breathed the
perfume to cool her feverishness. When, in crossing the Clos-Marie, he
lifted his head, he saw that she was kissing the flowers.

Scarcely had Felicien disappeared behind the willows, when Angelique was
disturbed by hearing below the opening of the house-door. Four o'clock
had just struck, and no one was in the habit of getting up until two
hours later. Her surprise increased when she recognised Hubertine, as it
was always Hubert who went down the first. She saw her follow slowly the
walks of the narrow garden, her arms hanging listlessly at her sides, as
if, after a restless, sleepless night, a feeling of suffocating, a need
of breathing the fresh air, had made her leave her room so early. And
Hubertine was really very beautiful, with her clothes so hastily put on;
and she seemed very weary--happy, but in the deepest grief.

The morning of the next day, on waking from a sound sleep of eight
hours, one of those sweet, deep, refreshing sleeps that come after some
great happiness, Angelique ran to her window. The sky was clear, the
air pure, and the fine weather had returned after a heavy shower of the
previous evening. Delighted, she called out joyously to Hubert, who was
just opening the blinds below her:

"Father! Father! Do look at the beautiful sunlight. Oh, how glad I am,
for the procession will be superb!"

Dressing herself as quickly as possible, she hurried to go downstairs.
It was on that day, July 28, that the Procession of the Miracle would
pass through the streets of the upper town. Every summer at this date
it was also a festival for the embroiderers; all work was put aside, no
needles were threaded, but the day was passed in ornamenting the house,
after a traditional arrangement that had been transmitted from mother to
daughter for four hundred years.

All the while that she was taking her coffee, Angelique talked of the
hangings.

"Mother, we must look at them at once, to see if they are in good
order."

"We have plenty of time before us, my dear," replied Hubertine, in her
quiet way. "We shall not put them up until afternoon."

The decorations in question consisted of three large panels of the
most admirable ancient embroidery, which the Huberts guarded with the
greatest care as a sacred family relic, and which they brought out once
a year on the occasion of the passing of this special procession.

The previous evening, according to a time-honoured custom, the Master
of the Ceremonies, the good Abbe Cornille, had gone from door to door to
notify the inhabitants of the route which would be taken by the bearers
of the statue of Saint Agnes, accompanied by Monseigneur the Bishop,
carrying the Holy Sacrament. For more than five centuries this route had
been the same. The departure was made from the portal of Saint Agnes,
then by the Rue des Orfevres to the Grand Rue, to the Rue Basse, and
after having gone through the whole of the lower town, it returned by
the Rue Magloire and the Place du Cloitre, to reappear again at the
great front entrance of the Church. And the dwellers on all these
streets, vying with each other in their zeal, decorated their windows,
hung upon their walls their richest possessions in silks, satins,
velvets, or tapestry, and strewed the pavements with flowers,
particularly with the leaves of roses and carnations.

Angelique was very impatient until permission had been given her to
take from the drawers, where they had been quietly resting for the past
twelve months, the three pieces of embroidery.

"They are in perfect order, mother. Nothing has happened to them," she
said, as she looked at them, enraptured.

She had with the greatest care removed the mass of silk paper that
protected them from the dust, and they now appeared in all their beauty.
The three were consecrated to Mary. The Blessed Virgin receiving the
visit of the Angel of the Annunciation; the Virgin Mother at the foot
of the Cross; and the Assumption of the Virgin. They were made in
the fifteenth century, of brightly coloured silks wrought on a golden
background, and were wonderfully well preserved. The family had always
refused to sell them, although very large sums had been offered by
different churches, and they were justly proud of their possessions.

"Mother, dear, may I not hang them up to-day?"

All these preparations required a great deal of time. Hubert was
occupied the whole forenoon in cleaning the front of the old building.
He fastened a broom to the end of a long stick, that he might dust all
the wooden panels decorated with bricks, as far as the framework of the
roof; then with a sponge he washed all the sub-basement of stone, and
all the parts of the stairway tower that he could reach. When that
was finished, the three superb pieces of embroidery were put in their
places. Angelique attached them, by their rings, to venerable nails that
were in the walls; the Annunciation below the window at the left, the
Assumption below the window at the right, while for the Calvary, the
nails for that were above the great window of the first story, and she
was obliged to use a step-ladder that she might hang it there in its
turn. She had already embellished the window with flowers, so that the
ancient dwelling seemed to have gone back to the far-away time of its
youth, with its embroideries of gold and of silk glistening in the
beautiful sunshine of this festive day.

After the noon breakfast the activity increased in every direction, and
the whole Rue des Orfevres was now in excitement. To avoid the great
heat, the procession would not move until five o'clock, but after twelve
the town began to be decorated. Opposite the Huberts', the silversmith
dressed his shop with draperies of an exquisite light blue, bordered
with a silver fringe; while the wax-chandler, who was next to him, made
use of his window-curtains of red cotton, which looked more brilliant
than ever in the broad light of day. At each house there were different
colours; a prodigality of stuffs, everything that people owned, even to
rugs of all descriptions, were blowing about in the weary air of this
hot summer afternoon. The street now seemed clothed, sparkling, and
almost trembling with gaiety, as if changed into a gallery of fete open
to the sky. All its inhabitants were rushing to and fro, pushing against
each other; speaking loud, as if in their own homes; some of them
carrying their arms full of objects, others climbing, driving nails,
and calling vociferously. In addition to all this was the _reposoir_,
or altar, that was being prepared at the corner of the Grand Rue, the
arrangements for which called for the services of all the women of the
neighbourhood, who eagerly offered their vases and candlesticks.

Angelique ran down to carry the two candelabra, of the style of the
Empire, which they had on the mantel-shelf of their parlour. She had not
taken a moment's rest since the early morning, but had shown no signs of
fatigue, being, on the contrary, supported and carried above herself by
her great inward happiness. And as she came back from her errand, her
hair blown all about her face by the wind, Hubert began to tease her as
she seated herself to strip off the leaves of the roses, and to put them
in a great basket.

"You could not do any more than you have done were it your wedding-day,
my dear. Is it, then, that you are really to be married now?"

"But yes! oh, yes! Why not?" she answered gaily.

Hubertine smiled in her turn.

"While waiting, my daughter, since the house is so satisfactorily
arranged, the best thing for us to do is to go upstairs and dress."

"In a minute, mother. Look at my full basket."

She had finished taking the leaves from the roses which she had reserved
to throw before Monseigneur. The petals rained from her slender fingers;
the basket was running over with its light, perfumed contents. Then,
as she disappeared on the narrow stairway of the tower, she said, while
laughing heartily:

"We will be quick. I will make myself beautiful as a star!"

The afternoon advanced. Now the feverish movement in Beaumont-l'Eglise
was calmed; a peculiar air of expectation seemed to fill the streets,
which were all ready, and where everyone spoke softly, in hushed,
whispering voices. The heat had diminished, as the sun's rays grew
oblique, and between the houses, so closely pressed the one against
the others, there fell from the pale sky only a warm, fine shadow of a
gentle, serene nature. The air of meditation was profound, as if the old
town had become simply a continuation of the Cathedral; the only sound
of carriages that could be heard came up from Beaumont-la-Ville, the new
town on the banks of the Ligneul, where many of the factories were
not closed, as the proprietors disdained taking part in this ancient
religious ceremony.

Soon after four o'clock the great bell of the northern tower, the one
whose swinging stirred the house of the Huberts, began to ring; and it
was at that very moment that Hubertine and Angelique reappeared. The
former had put on a dress of pale buff linen, trimmed with a simple
thread lace, but her figure was so slight and youthful in its delicate
roundness that she looked as if she were the sister of her adopted
daughter. Angelique wore her dress of white foulard, with its soft
ruchings at the neck and wrists, and nothing else; neither earrings
nor bracelets, only her bare wrists and throat, soft in their satiny
whiteness as they came out from the delicate material, light as the
opening of a flower. An invisible comb, put in place hastily, scarcely
held the curls of her golden hair, which was carelessly dressed. She
was artless and proud, of a most touching simplicity, and, indeed,
"beautiful as a star."

"Ah!" she said, "the bell! That is to show that Monseigneur has left his
palace."

The bell continued to sound loud and clear in the great purity of the
atmosphere. The Huberts installed themselves at the wide-opened window
of the first story, the mother and daughter being in front, with
their elbows resting on the bar of support, and the husband and father
standing behind them. These were their accustomed places; they could not
possibly have found better, as they would be the very first to see
the procession as it came from the farther end of the church, without
missing even a single candle of the marching-past.

"Where is my basket?" asked Angelique.

Hubert was obliged to take and pass to her the basket of rose-leaves,
which she held between her arms, pressed against her breast.

"Oh, that bell!" she at last murmured; "it seems as if it would lull us
to sleep!"

And still the waiting continued in the little vibrating house, sonorous
with the musical movement; the street and the great square waited,
subdued by this great trembling, whist the hangings on every side blew
about more quietly in the air of the coming evening. The perfume of
roses was very sweet.

Another half-hour passed. Then at the same moment the two halves of the
portal of Saint Agnes were opened, and they perceived the very depths
of the church, dark in reality, but dotted with little bright spots from
the tapers. First the bearer of the Cross appeared, a sub-deacon in
a tunic, accompanied by the acolytes, each one of whom held a lighted
candle in his hand. Behind them hurried along the Master of the
Ceremonies, the good Abbe Cornille, who after having assured himself
that everything was in perfect order in the street, stopped under the
porch, and assisted a moment at the passing out, in order to be sure
that the places assigned to each section had been rightly taken.
The various societies of laymen opened the march: the charitable
associations, schools, by rank of seniority, and numerous public
organisations. There were a great many children: little girls all in
white, like brides, and little bareheaded boys, with curly hair, dressed
in their best, like princes, already looking in every direction to find
where their mothers were. A splendid fellow, nine years of age, walked
by himself in the middle, clad like Saint John the Baptist, with a
sheepskin over his thin, bare shoulders. Four little girls, covered with
pink ribbons, bore a shield on which was a sheaf of ripe wheat. Then
there were young girls grouped around a banner of the Blessed Virgin;
ladies in black, who also had their special banner of crimson silk, on
which was embroidered a portrait of Saint Joseph. There were other
and still other banners, in velvet or in satin, balanced at the end of
gilded batons. The brotherhoods of men were no less numerous; penitents
of all colours, but especially the grey penitents in dark linen suits,
wearing cowls, and whose emblems made a great sensation--a large cross,
with a wheel, to which were attached the instruments of the Passion.

Angelique exclaimed with tenderness when the children came by:

"Oh, the blessed darlings! Do look at them all!"

One, no higher than a boot, scarcely three years of age, proudly
tottered along on his little feet, and looked so comical that she
plunged her hands into her basket and literally covered him with
flowers. He quite disappeared under them for an instant; he had roses
in his hair and on his shoulders. The exquisite little laughing shout he
uttered was enjoyed on every side, and flowers rained down from all the
windows as the cherub passed. In the humming silence of the street one
could now only hear the deafened sound of the regular movement of feet
in the procession, while flowers by the handful still continued to fall
silently upon the pavement. Very soon there were heaps of them.

But now, reassured upon the good order of the laymen, the Abbe Cornille
grew impatient and disturbed, inasmuch as the procession had been
stationary for nearly two minutes, and he walked quickly towards the
head of it, bowing and smiling at the Huberts as he passed.

"What has happened? What can prevent them from continuing?" said
Angelique, all feverish from excitement, as if she were waiting for some
expected happiness that was to come to her from the other end that was
still in the church.

Hubertine answered her gently, as usual:

"There is no reason why they should run."

"There is some obstruction evidently; perhaps it is a _reposoir_ that is
still unfinished," Hubert added.

The young girls of the Society of the Blessed Virgin, the "daughters of
Mary," as they are called, had already commenced singing a canticle, and
their clear voices rose in the air, pure as crystal. Nearer and nearer
the double ranks caught the movement and recommenced their march.



CHAPTER X

After the civilians, the clergy began to leave the church, the lower
orders coming first. All, in surplices, covered their heads with their
caps, under the porch; and each one held a large, lighted wax taper;
those at the right in their right hand, and those at the left in their
left hand, outside the rank, so there was a double row of flame, almost
deadened by the brightness of the day. First were representatives from
the great seminaries, the parishes, and then collegiate churches; then
came the beneficed clergymen and clerks of the Cathedral, followed by
the canons in white pluvials. In their midst were the choristers, in
capes of red silk, who chanted the anthem in full voice, and to whom all
the clergy replied in lower notes. The hymn, "Pange Lingua," was grandly
given. The street was now filled with a rustling of muslin from the
flying winged sleeves of the surplices, which seemed pierced all over
with tiny stars of pale gold from the flames of the candles.

"Oh!" at last Angelique half sighed, "there is Saint Agnes!"

She smiled at the saint, borne by four clerks in white surplices, on a
platform of white velvet heavily ornamented with lace. Each year it was
like a new surprise to her, as she saw her guardian angel thus brought
out from the shadows where she had been growing old for centuries, quite
like another person under the brilliant sunshine, as if she were timid
and blushing in her robe of long, golden hair. She was really so old,
yet still very young, with her small hands, her little slender feet, her
delicate, girlish face, blackened by time.

But Monseigneur was to follow her. Already the swinging of the censers
could be heard coming from the depths of the church.

There was a slight murmuring of voices as Angelique repeated:

"Monseigneur, Monseigneur," and with her eyes still upon the saint who
was going by, she recalled to mind at this moment the old histories.
The noble Marquesses d'Hautecoeur delivering Beaumont from the plague,
thanks to the intervention of Agnes, then Jean V and all those of his
race coming to kneel before her image, to pay their devotions to the
saint, and she seemed to see them all, the lords of the miracle, coming
one by one like a line of princes.

A large space had been left empty. Then the chaplain charged with the
care of the crozier advanced, holding it erect, the curved part being
towards him. Afterward came two censer-bearers, who walked backwards and
swung the censers gently from side to side, each one having near him
an acolyte charged with the incense-box. There was a little difficulty
before they succeeded in passing by one of the divisions of the door the
great canopy of royal scarlet velvet, decorated with a heavy fringe of
gold. But the delay was short, order was quickly re-established, and the
designated officials took the supports in hand. Underneath, between his
deacons of honour, Monseigneur walked, bareheaded, his shoulders covered
with a white scarf, the two ends of which enveloped his hands, which
bore the Holy Sacrament as high as possible, and without touching it.

Immediately the incense-bearers resumed their places, and the censers
sent out in haste, fell back again in unison with the little silvery
sound of their chains.

But Angelique started as she thought, where had she ever seen anyone
who looked like Monseigneur? She certainly knew his face before, but
had never been struck by it as to-day! All heads were bowed in solemn
devotion. But she was so uneasy, she simply bent down and looked at him.
He was tall, slight, and noble-looking; superb in his physical strength,
notwithstanding his sixty years. His eyes were piercing as those of
an eagle; his nose, a little prominent, only seemed to increase the
sovereign authority of his face, which was somewhat softened by his
white hair, that was thick and curly. She noticed the pallor of his
complexion, and it seemed to her as if he suddenly flushed from some
unknown reason. Perhaps, however, it was simply a reflection from the
great golden-rayed sun which he carried in his covered hands, and which
placed him in a radiance of mystic light.

Certainly, he to-day made her think of someone, but of whom? As soon as
he left the church, Monseigneur had commenced a psalm, which he recited
in a low voice, alternating the verses thereof with his deacons. And
Angelique trembled when she saw him turn his eyes towards their window,
for he seemed to her so severe, so haughty, and so cold, as if he were
condemning the vanity of all earthly affection. He turned his face
towards the three bands of ancient embroidery--Mary and the Angel,
Mary at the foot of the Cross, Mary being borne to Heaven--and his face
brightened. Then he lowered his eyes and fixed them upon her, but she
was so disturbed she could not tell whether his glance was harsh or
gentle; at all events it was only for a moment, for quickly regarding
the Holy Sacrament, his expression was lost in the light which came from
the great golden vessel. The censers still swung back and forth with a
measured rhythm, while a little blue cloud mounted in the air.

But Angelique's heart now beat so rapidly she could scarcely keep still.
Behind the canopy she had just seen a chaplain, his fingers covered with
a scarf, who was carrying the mitre as devoutly as if it were a sacred
object, Saint Agnes flying heavenward with the two angels, the work of
her hands, and into each stitch of which she had put such deep love.
Then, among the laymen who followed, in the midst of functionaries, of
officers, of magistrates, she recognised Felicien in the front rank,
slight and graceful, with his curly hair, his rather large but straight
nose, and his black eyes, the expression of which was at the same time
proud and gentle. She expected him; she was not at all surprised to find
him transformed into a prince; her heart simply was overflowing with
joy. To the anxious look which he gave her, as of imploring forgiveness
for his falsehood, she replied by a lovely smile.

"But look!" exclaimed Hubertine, astonished at what she saw, "is not
that the young man who came to our house about the mitre?"

She had also recognised him, and was much disturbed when, turning
towards the young girl, she saw the latter transfigured, in ecstacy,
avoiding a reply.

"Then he did not tell us the truth about himself? But why? Do you know
the reason? Tell me, my dear, do you know who this young man is?"

Yes, perhaps in reality she did know. An inner voice answered all these
questions. But she dared not speak; she was unwilling to ask herself
anything. At the right time and at the proper place the truth would
be made clear. She thought it was approaching, and felt an increase of
pride of spirit, and of great love.

"But what is it? What has happened?" asked Hubert, as he bent forward
and touched the shoulder of his wife.

He was never present at the moment of an occurrence, but always appeared
to come from a reverie to the realisation of what passed about him. When
the young man was pointed out to him, he did not recognise him at all.

"Is it he? I think not. No, you must be mistaken; it is not he."

Then Hubertine acknowledged that she was not quite sure. At all events,
it was as well to talk no more about it, but she would inform herself
later on. But the procession, which had stopped again in order that
Monseigneur might incense the Holy Sacrament, which was placed among the
verdure of a temporary altar at the corner of the street, was now about
to move on again; and Angelique, whose hands seemed lost in the basket
on her lap, suddenly, in her delight and confusion, made a quick
movement, and carelessly threw out a great quantity of the perfumed
petals. At that instant Felicien approached. The leaves fell like a
little shower, and at last two of them fluttered, balanced themselves,
then quietly settled down on his hair.

It was over. The canopy had disappeared round the corner of the Grand
Rue, the end of the cortege went by, leaving the pavements deserted,
hushed as if quieted by a dreamy faith, in the rather strong exhalation
of crushed roses. Yet one could still hear in the distance, growing
weaker and weaker by degrees, the silvery sound of the little chains of
the swinging censers.

"Oh mother!" said Angelique, pleadingly, "do let us go into the church,
so as to see them all as they come back."

Hubertine's first impulse was to refuse. But she, for her own part, was
very anxious to ascertain what she could about Felicien, so she replied:

"Yes, after a while, if you really wish to do so."

But they must, of course, wait a little. Angelique, after going to her
room for her hat, could not keep still. She returned every minute to the
great window, which was still wide open. She looked to the end of the
street inquiringly, then she lifted her eyes as if seeking something
in space itself; and so nervous was she that she spoke aloud, as she
mentally followed the procession step by step.

"Now they are going down the Rue Basse. Ah! see, they must be turning on
the square before the Sous Prefecture. There is no end to all the long
streets in Beaumont-la-Ville. What pleasure can they take in seeing
Saint Agnes, I would like to know. All these petty tradesmen!"

Above them, in the heavens, was a delicately rose-tinted cloud, with a
band of white and gold around it, and it seemed as if from it there
came a devotional peace and a hush of religious expectation. In the
immobility of the air one realised that all civil life was suspended, as
if God had left His house, and everyone was awaiting His return before
resuming their daily occupations. Opposite them the blue draperies of
the silversmith, and the red curtains of the wax-chandler, still barred
the interior of their shops and hid the contents from view. The streets
seemed empty; there was no reverberation from one to the other, except
that of the slow march of the clergy, whose progress could easily be
realised from every corner of the town.

"Mother! mother! I assure you that now they are at the corner of the Rue
Magloire. They will soon come up the hill."

She was mistaken, for it was only half-past six, and the procession
never came back before a quarter-past seven. She should have known well,
had she not been over-impatient, that the canopy must be only at the
lower wharf of the Ligneul. But she was too excited to think.

"Oh! mother dear! _do_ hurry, or we may not find any places."

"Come, make haste then, little one," at last Hubertine said, smiling in
spite of herself. "We shall certainly be obliged to wait a great while,
but never mind."

"As for me, I will remain at home," said Hubert. "I can take down and
put away the embroidered panels, and then I will set the table for
dinner."

The church seemed empty to them, as the Blessed Sacrament was no longer
there. All the doors were wide open, like those of a house in complete
disorder, where one is awaiting the return of the master. Very few
persons came in; the great altar alone, a sarcophagus of severe
Romanesque style, glittered as if burning at the end of the nave,
covered as it was with stars from the flame of many candles; all
the rest of the enormous building--the aisles, the chapels, and the
arches--seemed filled with shadow under the coming-on of the evening
darkness.

Slowly, in order to gain a little patience, Angelique and Hubertine
walked round the edifice. Low down, it seemed as if crushed, thickset
columns supported the semicircular arches of the side-aisles. They
walked the whole length of the dark chapels, which were buried almost
as if they were crypts. Then, when they crossed over, before the great
entrance portal, under the triforium of the organ, they had a feeling of
deliverance as they raised their eyes towards the high, Gothic windows
of the nave, which shot up so gracefully above the heavy Romanesque
coursed work. But they continued by the southern side-aisle, and the
feeling of suffocation returned again. At the cross of the transept four
enormous pillars made the four corners, and rose to a great height, then
struck off to support the roof. There was still to be found a delicate
purple-tinted light, the farewell of the day, through the rose windows
of the side fronts. They had crossed the three steps which led to the
choir, then they turned by the circumference of the apse, which was
the very oldest part of the building, and seemed most sepulchral.
They stopped one moment and leaned against the ancient grating, which
entirely surrounded the choir, and which was most elaborately wrought,
that they might look at the flaming altar, where each separate light was
reflected in the old polished oak of the stalls, most marvellous stalls,
covered with rare sculptures. So at last they came back to the point
from which they started, lifting up their heads as if they breathed more
freely from the heights of the nave, which the growing shades at night
drove farther away, and enlarged the old walls, on which were faint
remains of paintings and of gold.

"I know perfectly well that we are altogether too early," said
Hubertine.

Angelique, without replying, said, as if to herself:

"How grand it is!"

It really seemed to her as if she had never known the church before, but
that she had just seen it for the first time. Her eyes wandered over the
motionless sea of chairs, then went to the depth of the chapels, where
she could only imagine were tombs and old funereal stones, on account
of the increased darkness therein. But she saw at last the Chapel
Hautecoeur, where she recognised the window that had been repaired, with
its Saint George, that now looked vague as a dream, in the dusk. She was
unusually happy.

At last there was a gentle shaking through the whole building, and the
great clock struck. Then the bell began to ring.

"Ah! now," she said, "look, for they are really coming up the Rue
Magloire."

This time it was indeed so. A crowd invaded the church, the aisles were
soon filled, and one realised that each minute the procession approached
nearer and nearer. The noise increased with the pealing of the bells,
with a certain rushing movement of air by the great entrance, the portal
of which was wide open.

Angelique, leaning on Hubertine's shoulder, made herself as tall as
possible by standing upon the points of her feet, as she looked towards
this arched open space, the roundness of whose top was perfectly defined
in the pale twilight of the Place du Cloitre. The first to appear was,
of course, the bearer of the Cross, accompanied by his two acolytes with
their candelabra; and behind them the Master of the Ceremonies hurried
along--the good Abbe Cornille, who now seemed quite out of breath and
overcome by fatigue. At the threshold of the door, the silhouette of
each new arrival was thrown out for a second, clear and strong, then
passed quickly away in the darkness of the interior. There were the
laymen, the schools, the associations, the fraternities, whose banners,
like sails, wavered for an instant, then suddenly vanished in the shade.
One saw again the pale "daughters of Mary," who, as they entered, still
sang with their voices like those of seraphim.

The Cathedral had room for all. The nave was slowly filled, the men
being at the right and the women at the left. But night had come. The
whole place outside was dotted with bright points, hundreds of moving
lights, and soon it was the turn for the clergy, the tapers that were
held outside the ranks making a double yellow cord as they passed
through the door. The tapers seemed endless as they succeeded each other
and multiplied themselves; the great seminary, the parishes, and the
Cathedral; the choristers still singing the anthem, and the canons in
their white pluvials. Then little by little the church became lighted
up, seemed inhabited, illuminated, overpowered by hundreds of stars,
like a summer sky.

Two chairs being unoccupied, Angelique stood upon one of them.

"Get down, my dear," whispered Hubertine, "for that is forbidden."

But she tranquilly remained there, and did not move.

"Why is it forbidden? I must see, at all events. Oh! how exquisite all
this is!"

At last she prevailed upon her mother to get upon the other chair.

Now the whole Cathedral was glowing with a reddish yellow light. This
billow of candles which crossed it illuminated the lower arches of the
side-aisles, the depth of the chapels, and glittered upon the glass
of some shrine or upon the gold of some tabernacle. The rays even
penetrated into the apse, and the sepulchral crypts were brightened
up by them. The choir was a mass of flame, with its altar on fire, its
glistening stalls, and its old railing, whose ornamentation stood out
boldly. And the flight of the nave was stronger marked than ever, with
the heavy curved pillars below, supporting the round arches, while
above, the numbers of little columns grew smaller and smaller as they
burst forth among the broken arches of the ogives, like an inexpressible
declaration of faith and love which seemed to come from the lights.
In the centre, under the roof, along the ribs of the nave, there was
a yellow cloud, a thick colour of wax, from the multitude of little
tapers.

But now, above the sound of feet and the moving of chairs, one heard
again the falling of the chains of the censers. Then the organ pealed
forth majestically, a glorious burst of music that filled to overflowing
the highest arches as if with the rumbling of thunder. It was at this
instant that Monseigneur arrived on the Place du Cloitre. The statue of
Saint Agnes had reached the apse, still borne by the surpliced clerks,
and her face looked very calm under the light, as if she were more than
happy to return to her dreams of four centuries. At last, preceded by
the crosier, and followed by the mitre, Monseigneur entered with his
deacons under the canopy, still having his two hands covered with a
white scarf, and holding the Blessed Sacrament in the same position
as at first. The canopy, which was borne down the central aisle, was
stopped at the railing of the choir, and there, on account of a certain
unavoidable confusion, the Bishop was for a moment made to approach the
persons who formed his suite. Since Felicien had reappeared, Angelique
had looked at him constantly. It so happened that on account of the
pressure he was placed a little at the right of the canopy, and at that
moment she saw very near together the white head of Monseigneur and the
blonde head of the young man. That glance was a revelation; a sudden
light came to her eyes; she joined her hands together as she said aloud:

"Oh! Monseigneur, the son of Monseigneur!"

Her secret escaped her. It was an involuntary cry, the certainty which
revealed itself in this sudden fact of their resemblance. Perhaps, in
the depths of her mind, she already knew it, but she would never have
dared to have said so; whilst now it was self-evident, a fact of which
there could be no denial. From everything around her, from her own
soul, from inanimate objects, from past recollections, her cry seemed
repeated.

Hubertine, quite overcome, said in a whisper, "This young man is the son
of Monseigneur?"

Around these two the crowd had gradually accumulated. They were well
known and were greatly admired; the mother still adorable in her simple
toilette of linen, the daughter with the angelic grace of a cherubim, in
her gown of white foulard, as light as a feather. They were so handsome
and in such full view, as they stood upon their chairs, that from every
direction eyes were turned towards them, and admiring glances given
them.

"But yes, indeed, my good lady," said the _mere_ Lemballeuse, who
chanced to be in the group; "but yes, he is the son of Monseigneur. But
how does it happen that you have not already heard of it? And not only
that, but he is a wonderfully handsome young man, and so rich! Rich!
Yes indeed, he could buy the whole town if he wished to do so. He has
millions and millions!"

Hubertine turned very pale as she listened.

"You must have heard his history spoken of?" continued the beggar-woman.
"His mother died soon after his birth, and it was on that account that
Monseigneur concluded to become a clergyman. Now, however, after all
these years, he sent for his son to join him. He is, in fact, Felicien
VII d'Hautecoeur, with a title as if he were a real prince."

Then Hubertine was intensely grieved. But Angelique beamed with joy
before the commencement of the realisation of her dream. She was not in
the slightest degree astonished, for she had always known that he would
be the richest, the noblest, and the handsomest of men. So her joy was
intense and perfect, without the slightest anxiety for the future, or
suspicion of any obstacle that could possibly come between them. In
short, he would in his turn now make himself known, and would tell
everything. As she had fancied, gold would stream down with the little
flickering flames of the candles. The organs would send forth their
most glorious music on the occasion of their betrothal. The line of
the Hautecoeurs would continue royally from the beginning of the
legend--Norbert I, Jean V, Felicien III, Jean XII, then the last,
Felicien VII, who just turned towards her his noble face. He was the
descendant of the cousins of the Virgin, the master, the superb son,
showing himself in all his beauty at the side of his father.

Just then Felicien smiled sweetly at her, and she did not see the angry
look of Monseigneur, who had remarked her standing on the chair, above
the crowd, blushing in her pride and love.

"Oh, my poor dear child!" sighed Hubertine.

But the chaplain and the acolytes were ranged on the right and the left,
and the first deacon having taken the Holy Sacrament from the hands
of Monseigneur, he placed it on the altar. It was the final
Benediction--the _Tantum ergo_ sung loudly by the choristers, the
incenses of the boxes burning in the censers, the strange, brusque
silence during the prayer--and in the midst of the lighted church,
overflowing with clergy and with people, under the high, springing
arches, Monseigneur remounted to the altar, took again in his two hands
the great golden sun, which he waved back and forth in the air three
times, with a slow sign of the Cross.



CHAPTER XI

That same evening, on returning from church, Angelique thought to
herself, "I shall see him again very soon, for he will certainly be in
the Clos-Marie, and I will go there to meet him."

Without having exchanged a word with each other, they appeared to have
silently arranged this interview. The family dined as usual in the
kitchen, but it was eight o'clock before they were seated at the table.
Hubert, quite excited by this day of recreation and of fete, was the
only one who had anything to say. Hubertine, unusually quiet, scarcely
replied to her husband, but kept her looks fixed upon the young girl,
who ate heartily and with a good appetite, although she scarcely seemed
to pay any attention to the food, or to know that she put her fork to
her mouth, so absorbed was she by her fancies. And under this candid
forehead, as under the crystal of the purest water, Hubertine read her
thoughts clearly, and followed them as they formed themselves in her
mind one by one.

At nine o'clock they were greatly surprised by a ringing of the
door-bell. It proved to be the Abbe Cornille, who, notwithstanding his
great fatigue, had come to tell them that Monseigneur the Bishop had
greatly admired the three old panels of marvellous embroidery.

"Yes, indeed! And he spoke of them so enthusiastically to me that I was
sure it would please you to know it."

Angelique, who had roused up on hearing the name of Monseigneur, fell
back again into her reveries as soon as the conversation turned to the
procession. Then after a few minutes she got up.

"But where are you going, dear?" asked Hubertine.

The question startled her, as if she herself knew not why she had left
her seat.

"I am going upstairs, mother, for I am very tired."

In spite of this plausible excuse, Hubertine imagined the true reason
that influenced her. It was the need of being by herself, the haste of
communing alone with her great happiness.

When she held her in her arms pressed against her breast, she felt that
she was trembling. She almost seemed to avoid her usual evening kiss.
Looking anxiously in her face, Hubertine read in her eyes the feverish
expectation connected with the hoped-for meeting. It was all so evident
to her that she promised herself to keep a close watch.

"Be good, dear, and sleep well."

But already, after a hurried good-night to Hubert and to the Abbe
Cornille, Angelique was halfway up the stairs, quite disturbed, as she
realised that her secret had almost escaped her. Had her mother held her
against her heart one second longer, she would have told her everything.
When she had shut herself in her own room, and doubly locked her door,
the light troubled her, and she blew out her candle. The moon, which
rose later and later, had not yet appeared above the horizon, and the
night was very dark. Without undressing, she seated herself before the
open window, looked out into the deep shade, and waited patiently
for the hours to pass. The minutes went by rapidly, as she was fully
occupied with the one idea that as soon as the clock struck for midnight
she would go down to find Felicien. As it would be the most natural
thing in the world to do, she traced out her way, step by step, and
every movement she would make with the most perfect composure.

It was not very late when she heard the Abbe Cornille take his leave.
Soon after, the Huberts, in their turn, came upstairs. Then it seemed
to her as if someone came out of their chamber, and with furtive steps
moved cautiously as far as the foot of the stairway, then stopped, as if
listening for a moment before returning. Then the house soon sank, as if
in the quiet of a deep sleep.

When the great church clock struck twelve, Angelique left her seat.
"Now I must go, for he is waiting for me." She unlocked the door, and,
passing out, neglected closing it after her. Going down the first flight
of stairs, she stopped as she approached the room of the Huberts,
but heard nothing--nothing but the indefinable quivering of silence.
Moreover, she was neither in a hurry, nor had she any fear, for being
totally unconscious of any wrong intentions, she felt at perfect ease.
It would have been quite impossible for her not to have gone down.
An inward power directed and led her, and it all seemed so simple and
right; she would have smiled at the idea of a hidden danger. Once in the
lower rooms, she passed through the kitchen to go out into the garden,
and again forgot to fasten the shutters. Then she walked rapidly towards
the little gate of the Clos-Marie, which she also left wide open after
her. Notwithstanding the obscurity and the dense shadows in the field,
she did not hesitate an instant, but went direct to the little plank
which served as a bridge to the Chevrotte, crossed it, guiding herself
by feeling the way, as if in a familiar place, where every tree and bush
were well known to her. Turning to the right, under a great willow-tree,
she had only to put out her hands to have them earnestly grasped by
Felicien, whom she knew would be there in waiting for her.

For a minute, without speaking, Angelique pressed Felicien's hands in
hers. They could not see each other, for the sky was covered with a
misty cloud of heat, and the pale moon which had just risen, had not yet
lighted it up. At length she spoke in the darkness, her heart filled to
overflowing with her great happiness:

"Oh, my dear seigneur, how I love you, and how grateful I am to you!"

She laughed aloud at the realisation of the fact that at last she knew
him; she thanked him for being younger, more beautiful, and richer even
than she had expected him to be. Her gaiety was charming; it was a
cry of astonishment and of gratitude before this present of love, this
fulfillment of her dreams.

"You are the king. You are my master; and lo! here am I, your slave. I
belong to you henceforth, and my only regret is that I am of so little
worth. But I am proud of being yours; it is sufficient for you to love
me, and that I may be in my turn a queen. It was indeed well that I knew
you were to come, and so waited for you; my heart is overflowing with
joy since finding that you are so great, so far above me. Ah! my dear
seigneur, how I thank you, and how I love you."

Gently he put his arm around her as he said:

"Come and see where I live."

He made her cross the Clos-Marie, among the wild grass and herbs, and
then she understood for the first time in what way he had come every
night into the field from the park of the Bishop's Palace. It was
through an old gate, that had been unused for a long time, and which
this evening he had left half open. Taking Angelique's hand, he led her
in that way into the great garden of the Monseigneur.

The rising moon was half-hidden in the sky, under a veil of warm mist,
and its rays fell down upon them with a white, mysterious light. There
were no stars visible, but the whole vault of heaven was filled with a
dim lustre, which quietly penetrated everything in this serene night.
Slowly they walked along on the borders of the Chevrotte, which crossed
the park; but it was no longer the rapid rivulet rushing over a pebbly
descent--it was a quiet, languid brook, gliding along through clumps
of trees. Under this mass of luminous vapour, between the bushes which
seemed to bathe and float therein, it was like an Elysian stream which
unfolded itself before them.

Angelique soon resumed her gay chattering.

"I am so proud and so happy to be here on your arm."

Felicien, touched by such artless, frank simplicity, listened with
delight as she talked unrestrainedly, concealing nothing, but telling
all her inmost thoughts, as she opened her heart to him. Why should she
even think of keeping anything back? She had never harmed anyone, so she
had only good things to say.

"Ah, my dear child, it is I who ought to be exceedingly grateful to you,
inasmuch as you are willing to love me a little in so sweet a way. Tell
me once more how much you love me. Tell me exactly what you thought when
you found out at last who I really was."

But with a pretty, impatient movement she interrupted him.

"No, no; let us talk of you, only of you. Am I really of any
consequence? At all events, what matters it who I am or what I think!
For the moment you are the only one of importance."

And keeping as near him as possible, going more slowly along the sides
of the enchanted river, she questioned him incessantly, wishing to learn
everything about him, of his childhood, his youth, and the twenty years
he had passed away from his father. "I already know that your mother
died when you were an infant, and that you grew up under the care of an
uncle who is a clergyman. I also know that Monseigneur refused to see
you again."

Then Felicien answered, speaking in a very low tone, with a voice that
seemed as if it came from the far-away past.

"Yes, my father idolised my mother, and it seemed to him as if I were
guilty, since my birth had cost her her life. My uncle brought me up
in entire ignorance of my family, harshly too, as if I had been a poor
child confided to his care. I had no idea of my true position until very
recently. It is scarcely two years, in fact, since it was revealed to
me. But I was not at all surprised in hearing the truth; it seemed as
if I had always half-realised that a great fortune belonged to me. All
regular work wearied me; I was good for nothing except to run about the
fields and amuse myself. At last I took a great fancy for the painted
windows of our little church." Angelique interrupted him by laughing
gaily, and he joined her in her mirth for a moment.

"I became a workman like yourself. I had fully decided to earn my living
by painting on glass, and was studying for that purpose, when all this
fortune poured down upon me. My father was intensely disappointed when
my uncle wrote him that I was a good-for-nothing fellow, and that I
would never consent to enter into the service of the Church. It had been
his expressed wish that I should become a clergyman; perhaps he had
an idea that in so doing I could atone for the death of my mother. He
became, however, reconciled at last, and wished for me to be here
and remain near him. Ah! how good it is to live, simply to live," he
exclaimed. "Yes, to live, to love, and to be loved in return."

This trembling cry, which resounded in the clear night air, vibrated
with the earnest feeling of his healthy youth. It was full of passion,
of sympathy for his dead mother, and of the intense ardour he had thrown
into this, his first love, born of mystery. It filled all his spirit,
his beauty, his loyalty, his ignorance, and his earnest desire of life.

"Like you," he continued, "I was, indeed, expecting the unknown, and the
evening when you first appeared at the window I also recognised you at
once. Tell me all that you have ever thought, and what you were in the
habit of doing in the days that have passed." But again she refused,
saying gently:

"No; speak only of yourself. I am eager to know every petty incident of
your life, so please keep nothing back. In that way I shall realise
that you belong to me, and that I love you in the past as well as in the
present."

She never would have been fatigued in listening to him as he talked
of his life, but was in a state of joyous ecstasy in thus becoming
thoroughly acquainted with him, adoring him like a little child at
the feet of some saint. Neither of them wearied of repeating the same
things: how much they loved each other and how dearly they were beloved
in return. The same words returned constantly to their lips, but they
always seemed new, as they assumed unforeseen, immeasurable depths of
meaning. Their happiness increased as they thus made known the secrets
of their hearts, and lingered over the music of the words that passed
their lips. He confessed to her the charm her voice had always been
to him, so much so that as soon as he heard it he became at once her
devoted slave. She acknowledged the delicious fear she always had at
seeing his pale face flush at the slightest anger or displeasure.

They had now left the misty banks of the Chevrotte, and arm-in-arm they
entered under the shadows of the great elm-trees.

"Oh! this beautiful garden," whispered Angelique, happy to breathe in
the freshness which fell from the trees. "For years I have wished to
enter it; and now I am here with you--yes, I am here."

It did not occur to her to ask him where he was leading her, but she
gave herself up to his guidance, under the darkness of these centenarian
trees. The ground was soft under their feet; the archway of leaves above
them was high, like the vaulted ceiling of a church. There was neither
sound nor breath, only the beating of their own hearts.

At length he pushed open the door of a little pavilion, and said to her:
"Go in; this is my home."

It was there that his father had seen fit to install him all by himself,
in this distant corner of the park. On the first floor there was a hall,
and one very large room, which was now lighted by a great lamp. Above
was a complete little apartment.

"You can see for yourself," he continued smilingly, "that you are at the
house of an artisan. This is my shop."

It was a working-room indeed; the caprice of a wealthy young man,
who amused himself in his leisure hours by painting on glass. He had
re-found the ancient methods of the thirteenth century, so that he could
fancy himself as being one of the primitive glass-workers, producing
masterpieces with the poor, unfinished means of the older time. An
ancient table answered all his purposes. It was coated with moist,
powdered chalk, upon which he drew his designs in red, and where he
cut the panes with heated irons, disdaining the modern use of a diamond
point. The muffle, a little furnace made after the fashion of an old
model, was just now quite heated; the baking of some picture was going
on, which was to be used in repairing another stained window in the
Cathedral; and in cases on every side were glasses of all colours which
he had ordered to be made expressly for him, in blue, yellow, green, and
red, in many lighter tints, marbled, smoked, shaded, pearl-coloured, and
black. But the walls of the room were hung with admirable stuffs, and
the working materials disappeared in the midst of a marvellous luxury
of furniture. In one corner, on an old tabernacle which served as a
pedestal, a great gilded statue of the Blessed Virgin seemed to smile
upon them.

"So you can work--you really can work," repeated Angelique with childish
joy.

She was very much amused with the little furnace, and insisted upon it
that he should explain to her everything connected with his labour.
Why he contented himself with the examples of the old masters, who used
glass coloured in the making, which he shaded simply with black; the
reason he limited himself to little, distinct figures, to the gestures
and draperies of which he gave a decided character; his ideas upon the
art of the glass-workers, which in reality declined as soon as they
began to design better, to paint, and to enamel it; and his final
opinion that a stained-glass window should be simply a transparent
mosaic, in which the brightest colours should be arranged in the most
harmonious order, so as to make a delicate, shaded bouquet. But at this
moment little did she care for the art in itself. These things had but
one interest for her now--that they were connected with him, that they
seemed to bring her nearer to him and to strengthen the tie between
them.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, "how happy we shall be together. You will paint,
while I embroider."

He had just retaken her hands, in the centre of this great room, in
the luxury of which she was quite at her ease, as it seemed to be her
natural surrounding, where her grace would be fully developed. Both of
them remained silent for a moment. Then she was, as usual, the first to
speak.

"Now everything is decided upon, is it not?"

"What?" he smilingly asked, "what do you mean?"

"Our marriage."

He hesitated an instant. His face, which had been very pale, flushed
quickly. She was disturbed at such a change.

"Have I made you angry in any way?"

But he had already conquered himself, and pressed her hands tenderly,
with a grasp that seemed to cover everything.

"Yes, it is decided upon, and it is sufficient for you to wish for a
thing that it should be done, no matter how many obstacles may oppose
it. Henceforward my one great desire in life will be to obey you."

Then her face beamed with perfect happiness and delight.

She did not have a single doubt. All seemed to her quite natural, to be
so well-arranged that it could be finished on the morrow with the same
ease as in many of the miracles of the "Golden Legend." The idea never
occurred to her that there should be the slightest hindrance or the
least delay. Since they really loved each other, why should they be
any longer separated? It was the most simple thing in the world for two
persons who loved each other to be married. She was so secure in her
happiness that she was perfectly calm.

"Since it is agreed upon," she said jokingly, "give me your hand."

He took her little hand and kissed it, as he said:

"It is all arranged."

She then hastened to go away, in the fear of being surprised by the
dawn, and also impatient to relieve her mind of her secret. He wished to
accompany her.

"No, no," she replied. "We should not get back before daylight. I can
easily find the way. Good-bye until to-morrow."

"Until to-morrow, then."

Felicien obeyed, and watched Angelique as she ran, first under the shady
elms, then along the banks of the Chevrotte, which were now bathed in
light. Soon she closed the gate of the park, then darted across the
Clos-Marie, through the high grass. While on her way, she thought it
would be impossible to wait until sunrise, but that she would rap at the
door of the Huberts' room as soon as she reached home, that she might
wake them up and tell them everything. She was in such an expansion of
happiness, such a turmoil of sincerity, that she realised that she was
incapable of keeping five minutes longer this great secret which had
been hers for so long a time. She entered into their garden and closed
the gate.

And there, near the Cathedral, Angelique saw Hubertine, who waited for
her in the night, seated upon the stone bench, which was surrounded by
a small cluster of lilac-bushes. Awakened, warned by some inexpressible
feeling, she had gone upstairs, then down again, and on finding all the
doors open, that of the chamber as well as that of the house, she had
understood what had happened. So, uncertain what it was best to do, or
where to go, in the fear lest she might aggravate matters, she sat down
anxiously.

Angelique immediately ran to her, without embarrassment, kissed her
repeatedly, her heart beating with joy as she laughed merrily at the
thought that she had no longer need of hiding anything from her.

"Oh, mother mine, everything is arranged! We are to be married very
soon, and I am so happy."

Before replying, Hubertine examined her closely. But her fears vanished
instantly before the limpid eyes and the pure lips of this exquisite
young girl. Yet she was deeply troubled, and great tears rolled down her
cheeks.

"My poor, dear child," she whispered, as she had done the previous
evening in church.

Astonished to see her in such a way, she who was always so equable, who
never wept, Angelique exclaimed:

"But what is the matter, mother? It is, indeed, true that I have not
done right, inasmuch as I have not made you my confidante. But you would
pardon me if you knew how much I have suffered from it, and how keen
my remorse has been. Since at first I did not speak, later on I did not
dare to break the silence. Will you forgive me?"

She had seated herself near her mother, and had placed her arm
caressingly around her waist. The old bench seemed almost hidden in this
moss-covered corner of the Cathedral. Above their heads the lilacs made
a little shade, while near them was the bush of eglantine which the
young girl had set out in the hope that it might bear roses; but, having
been neglected for some time, it simply vegetated, and had returned to
its natural state.

"Mother, let me tell you everything now. Come, listen to me, please."



CHAPTER XII

Then, in a low tone, Angelique began her story. She related in a flow
of inexhaustible words all that had happened, calling up the most minute
details, growing more and more excited at the recollection of them. She
omitted nothing, but searched her memory as if it were for a confession.
She was not at all embarrassed, although her cheeks grew very red and
her eyes sparkled with flashes of pride; yet she did not raise her
voice, but continued to talk earnestly in a half-whisper.

At length Hubertine interrupted her, speaking also very low:

"Ah, my dear! Now you are too excited. You have indeed to correct
yourself, for you are carried away by your feelings, as if by a great
wind. Ah, my vain, my headstrong child, you are always the same little
girl who refused to wash up the kitchen floor, and who kissed her own
hands."

Angelique could not prevent herself from laughing.

"No, do not laugh. It may be that by-and-by you will not have tears
enough to weep. My poor darling, this marriage can never take place."

Again her gaiety burst out in a long musical laugh.

"But mother, mother, what are you saying? Do you wish to punish me by
teasing me? It is a very simple matter. This evening Felicien is to talk
of it with his father. To-morrow he will come to arrange everything with
you."

Could it be true that she believed all this? Hubertine was distressed,
and knew not what to do. At last she concluded it was best to be
pitiless and tell her; that it would be impossible for a little
embroiderer without money and without name to marry Felicien
d'Hautecoeur. A young man who was worth so many millions! The last
descendant of one of the oldest families of France! No, that could never
be.

But at each new obstacle Angelique tranquilly replied: "But why not?"
It would be a real scandal, a marriage beyond all ordinary conditions
of happiness. Did she hope, then, to contend against all the world? "But
why not?" Monseigneur is called very strict and very haughty, proud
of his name, and severe in his criticisms in regard to all marks of
affection. Could she dare to expect to bend him?

"But why not?" And, unshakable in her faith, in her firm, ingenuous
manner she said: "It is very odd, dear mother, that you should think
people all so bad! Especially when I have just assured you that
everything is well under way, and is sure to come out all right. Do you
not recollect that only two months ago you scolded me, and ridiculed
my plans? Yet I was right, and everything that I expected has come to
pass."

"But, unhappy child, wait for the end!"

Hubertine now thought of the past, and was angry with herself, as she
now reflected, more bitterly than ever before, that Angelique had
been brought up in such ignorance. Again she predicted to her the
hard lessons of the reality of life, and she would have liked to have
explained to her some of the cruelties and abominations of the world,
but, greatly embarrassed, she could not find the necessary words. What
a grief it would be to her if some day she were forced to accuse herself
of having brought about the unhappiness of this child, who had been kept
alone as a recluse, and allowed to dwell in the continued falsehood of
imagination and dreams!

"Listen to me, dearest. You certainly would not wish to marry this young
man against the wish of us all, and without the consent of his father?"

Angelique had grown very serious. She looked her mother in the face, and
in a serious tone replied:

"Why should I not do so? I love him, and he loves me."

With a pang of anguish, Hubertine took her again in her arms, clasped
her tenderly, but convulsively, and looked at her earnestly, but without
speaking. The pale moon had disappeared from sight behind the Cathedral,
and the flying, misty clouds were now delicately coloured in the heavens
by the approach of the dawn. They were both of them enveloped in this
purity of the early morn, in the great fresh silence, which was alone
disturbed by the little chirping of the just-awakening birds.

"But alas! my dear child, happiness is only found in obedience and in
humility. For one little hour of passion, or of pride, we sometimes are
obliged to suffer all our lives. If you wish to be contented on this
earth, be submissive, be ready to renounce and give up everything."

But feeling that she was still rebellious under her embrace, that which
she had never said to anyone, that which she still hesitated to speak
of, almost involuntarily escaped from her lips:

"Listen to me once more, my dear child. You think that we are happy,
do you not, your father and I. We should indeed be so had not our lives
been embittered by a great vexation."

She lowered her voice still more, as she related with a trembling breath
their history. The marriage without the consent of her mother, the death
of their infant, and their vain desire to have another child, which was
evidently the punishment of their fault. Still, they adored each other.
They had lived by working, had wanted for nothing; but their regret for
the child they had lost was so ever-present that they would have been
wretchedly unhappy, would have quarrelled, and perhaps even have been
separated, had it not been that her husband was so thoroughly good,
while for herself she had always tried to be just and reasonable.

"Reflect, my daughter. Do not put any stumbling-block in your path which
will make you suffer later on. Be humble, obey, check the impulse of
your heart as much as possible."

Subdued at last, Angelique restrained her tears, but grew very pale as
she listened, and interrupted her by saying:

"Mother, you pain me terribly. I love him, and I am sure that he loves
me."

Then she allowed her tears to flow. She was quite overcome by all she
had listened to, softened, and with an expression in her eyes as if
deeply wounded by the glimpse given her of the probable truth of the
case. Yet she could suffer, and would willingly die, if need be, for her
love.

Then Hubertine decided to continue.

"I do not wish to pain you too deeply at once, yet it is absolutely
necessary that you should know the whole truth. Last evening, after you
had gone upstairs, I had quite a talk with the Abbe Cornille, and he
explained to me why Monseigneur, after great hesitation, had at last
decided to call his son to Beaumont. One of his greatest troubles was
the impetuosity of the young man, the uncontrollable haste which he
manifested to plunge into the excitement of life, without listening to
the advice of his elders. After having with pain renounced all hope of
making him a priest, his father found that he could not establish him in
any occupation suitable to his rank and his fortune. He would never be
anything but a headstrong fellow, restless, wandering, yielding to his
artistic tastes when so inclined. He was alarmed at seeing in his son
traits of character like those from which he himself had so cruelly
suffered. At last, from fear that he might take some foolish step, and
fall in love with someone beneath him in position, he wished to have him
here, that he might be married at once."

"Very well," said Angelique, who did not yet understand.

"Such a marriage had been proposed even before his arrival, and all
preliminaries were settled yesterday, so that the Abbe Cornille formally
announced that in the autumn Felicien would wed Mademoiselle Claire de
Voincourt. You know very well the Hotel de Voincourt there, close to the
Bishop's Palace. The family are very intimate with Monseigneur. On both
sides, nothing better could be hoped for, either in the way of name or
of fortune. The Abbe himself highly approves of the union."

The young girl no longer listened to these reasons of the fitness of
things. Suddenly an image appeared to come before her eyes--that of
Claire. She saw her, as she had occasionally had a glimpse of her in
the alleys of the Park during the winter, or as she had seen her on fete
days in the Cathedral. A tall young lady, a brunette, very handsome, of
a much more striking beauty than her own, and with a royal bearing and
appearance. Notwithstanding her haughty air, she was said to be very
good and kind.

"So he is to marry this elegant young lady, who is not only beautiful
but very rich," she murmured.

Then, as if suddenly pierced by a sharp agony, she exclaimed:

"He uttered a falsehood! He did not tell me this!"

She recollected now the momentary hesitation of Felicien, the rush
of blood which had coloured his cheeks when she spoke to him of their
marriage. The shock was so great that she turned deadly pale, and her
head fell heavily on her mother's shoulders.

"My darling, my dear darling! This is, indeed, a cruel thing; I know it
well. But it would have been still worse had you waited. Take courage,
then, and draw at once the knife from the wound. Repeat to yourself,
whenever the thought of this young man comes to you, that never would
Monseigneur, the terrible Jean XII, whose intractable pride, it appears,
is still recollected by all the world, give his son, the last of his
race, to a little embroiderer, found under a gateway and adopted by poor
people like ourselves."

In her weakness, Angelique heard all this without making any objection.
What was it she felt pass over her face? A cold breath coming from a
distance, from far above the roofs of the houses, seemed to freeze her
blood. Was it true that her mother was telling her of this misery of the
world, this sad reality, in the same way that parents relate the story
of the wolf to unreasonable children? She would never forget the shock
and the grief of this first experience of a bitter disappointment. Yet,
however, she already excused Felicien. He had told no falsehood; he
simply had been silent. Were his father to wish him to marry this young
girl, no doubt he would refuse to do so. But as yet he had not dared to
rebel. As he had not said anything to her of the matter, perhaps it was
because he had just made up his mind as to what it was best for him to
do. Before this sudden vanishing away of her air-castles, pale and weak
from the rude touch of the actual life, she still kept her faith,
and trusted, in spite of all, in the future realisation of her dream.
Eventually the fair promises for the future would come to pass, even
although now her pride was crushed and she sank down into a state of
humiliation and resignation.

"Mother, it is true I have done wrong, but I will never sin again. I
promise you that I will be patient, and submit myself without a murmur
of revolt to whatever Heaven wishes me to be."

It was true grace which spoke within her. The trial was great, but she
was able to conquer, from the effects of the education she had received
and the excellent example of the home life in which she had grown up.
Why should she doubt the morrow, when until this present moment everyone
near her had been so generous and so tender towards her? She prayed
that she might be able to have the wisdom of Catherine, the meekness
of Elizabeth, the chastity of Agnes; and re-comforted by the aid of
the saints, she was sure that they alone would help her to triumph over
every trouble. Was it not true that her old friends the Cathedral, the
Clos-Marie, and the Chevrotte, the little fresh house of the Huberts,
the Huberts themselves, all who loved her, would defend her, without her
being obliged to do anything, except to be obedient and good?

"Then, dear child, you promise me that you will never act contrary to
our wishes, and above all against those of Monseigneur?"

"Yes, mother, I promise."

"You also promise me not to see this young man again, and no longer to
indulge in the foolish idea of marrying him?"

At this question her courage failed her. She almost felt the spirit
of rebellion rise again within her, as she thought of the depth of her
love. But in a moment she bowed her head and was definitely conquered.

"I promise to do nothing to bring about a meeting with him, and to take
no steps towards our marriage."

Hubertine, touched to the heart, pressed the young girl most
affectionately in her arms as she thanked her for her obedience. Oh!
what a dreadful thing it was, when wishing to do good to the child she
so tenderly loved, she was forced to make her suffer so intensely. She
was exhausted, and rose up hastily, surprised that daylight had come.
The little cry of the birds had increased in every direction, although
as yet none were to be seen in flight. In the sky the clouds, delicate
as gauze, seemed to float away in the limpid blueness of the atmosphere.

Then Angelique, whose look had mechanically fallen upon her wild
rose-bush, at last noticed it with its puny leaves. She smiled sadly as
she said:

"You were right, mother dear; it will never be in blossom."

At seven o'clock in the morning Angelique was at her work as usual. The
days followed each other, and every forenoon found her seated before the
chasuble she had left on the previous evening. Nothing appeared to be
changed outwardly; she kept strictly her promise, shut herself up, and
made no attempt whatever to see Felicien. This did not seem to depress
her at all, but she kept her bright, youthful look, smiling sweetly
at Hubertine when occasionally she saw her eyes fixed upon her as if
astonished. However, in this enforced silence she thought only of him;
he was always in her mind.

Her hope remained firm, and she was sure that in spite of all obstacles
everything would come out all right in the end. In fact, it was this
feeling of certainty that gave her such an air of courage, of haughty
rectitude, and of justice.

Hubert from time to time scolded her.

"You are over-doing, my dear; you are really growing pale. I hope at
least that you sleep well at night."

"Oh yes, father! Like a log! Never in my life did I feel better than
now."

But Hubertine, becoming anxious in her turn, proposed that they should
take a little vacation, and said:

"If you would like it, my child, we will shut up the house, and we will
go, all three of us, to Paris for a while."

"Oh! mother mine, of what are you thinking? What would become of all our
orders for work? You know I am never in better health than when closely
occupied."

In reality, Angelique simply awaited a miracle, some manifestation of
the Invisible which would give her to Felicien. In addition to the
fact that she had promised to do nothing, what need was there of her
striving, since in the beyond some unknown power was always working for
her? So, in her voluntary inaction, while feigning indifference, she was
continually on the watch, listening to the voices of all that quivered
around her, and to the little familiar sounds of this circle in which
she lived and which would assuredly help her. Something must eventually
come from necessity. As she leaned over her embroidery-frame, not far
from the open window, she lost not a trembling of the leaves, not a
murmur of the Chevrotte. The slightest sighs from the Cathedral came to
her, magnified tenfold by the eagerness of her attention; she even heard
the slippers of the beadle as he walked round the altar when putting
out the tapers. Again at her side she felt the light touch of mysterious
wings; she knew that she was aided by the unknown, and at times she even
turned suddenly, thinking that a phantom had whispered in her ear the
way of gaining the hoped-for victory. But days passed and no change
came.

At night, that she need not break her word, Angelique at first did not
go out upon the balcony, for fear of being tempted to rejoin Felicien,
were she to see him below her. She remained quietly waiting in her
chamber. Then, as the leaves even scarcely stirred, but seemed to sleep,
she ventured out, and began to question the dark shadows as before.

From whence would the miracle come? Without doubt, in the Bishop's
garden would be seen a flaming hand, which would beckon to her to
approach.

Or, perhaps, the sign would appear in the Cathedral, the great organs of
which would peal forth, and would call her to the altar.

Nothing would have surprised her: neither the doves of the "Golden
Legend" bringing the words of benediction, nor the intervention of
saints, who would enter through the walls, to tell her that Monseigneur
wished to see her. The only thing at which she wondered was the slowness
of the working of the marvel. Like the day, the nights succeeded nights,
yet nothing, nothing manifested itself.

At the close of the second week, that which astonished Angelique above
all was that she had not seen Felicien. She, it was true, had pledged
herself to take no steps towards meeting him, yet, without having said
so to anyone, she thought he would do all in his power to find her. But
the Clos-Marie remained deserted, and he no longer walked among the
wild grasses therein. Not once during the past fortnight had she had a
glimpse of him by day, or even seen his shadow in the evening. Still
her faith remained unshaken; that he did not come was simply that he
was occupied in making his preparations to rejoin her. However, as her
surprise increased there was at length mingled with it a beginning of
anxiety.

At last, one evening the dinner was sad at the embroiderer's, and as
soon as it was over Hubert went out, under the pretext of having an
important commission to attend to, so Hubertine remained alone with
Angelique in the kitchen. She looked at her for a long time with
moistened eyes, touched by such courage. During the past fortnight not
one word had been exchanged between them in reference to those things
with which their hearts were full, and she was deeply moved by the
strength of character and loyalty her daughter displayed in thus keeping
her promise. A sudden feeling of deep tenderness made her open her arms,
and the young girl threw herself upon her breast, and in silence they
clasped each other in a loving embrace.

Then, when Hubertine was able to speak, she said:

"Ah! my poor child, I have been impatient to be alone with you, for you
must know that now all is at an end; yes, quite at an end."

Startled, Angelique rose quickly, exclaiming:

"What! Is Felicien dead?"

"No! oh no!"

"If he will never come again, it is only that he is dead."

So Hubertine was obliged to explain to her that the day after the
procession she had been to see him, and had made him also promise that
he would keep way from them until he had the full authorisation of
Monseigneur to do otherwise. It was thus a definite leave-taking, for
she knew a marriage would be utterly impossible. She had made him almost
distracted as she explained to him how wrongly he had done in thus
compromising a young, ignorant, confiding child, whom he would not be
allowed to make his wife; and then he had assured her, that if he could
not see her again, he would die from grief, rather than be disloyal.

That same evening he confessed everything to his father.

"You see, my dear," continued Hubertine, "you are so courageous that I
can repeat to you all I know without hesitation. Oh! if you realised, my
darling, how I pity you, and what admiration I have for you since I have
found you so strong, so brave in keeping silent and in appearing gay
when your heart was heavily burdened. But you will have need of even
more firmness; yes, much more, my dear. This afternoon I have seen the
Abbe Cornille, and he gives me no encouragement whatever. Monseigneur
refuses to listen to the subject, so there is no more hope."

She expected a flood of fears, and she was astonished to see her
daughter reseat herself tranquilly, although she had turned very pale.
The old oaken table had been cleared, and a lamp lighted up this ancient
servants' hall, the quiet of which was only disturbed by the humming of
the boiler.

"Mother, dear, the end has not yet come. Tell me everything, I beg of
you. Have I not a right to know all, since I am the one above all others
most deeply interested in the matter?"

And she listened attentively to what Hubertine thought best to tell her
of what she had learned from the Abbe, keeping back only certain details
of the life which was as yet an unknown thing to this innocent child.



CHAPTER XIII

Since the return of his son to him Monseigneur's days had been full of
trouble. After having banished him from his presence almost immediately
upon the death of his wife, and remaining without seeing him for twenty
years, lo! he had now come back to him in the plenitude and lustre of
youth, the living portrait of the one he had so mourned, with the same
delicate grace and beauty. This long exile, this resentment against
a child whose life had cost that of the mother, was also an act of
prudence. He realised it doubly now, and regretted that he had changed
his determination of not seeing him again. Age, twenty years of prayer,
his life as clergyman, had not subdued the unregenerate man within him.
It was simply necessary that this son of his, this child of the wife he
had so adored, should appear with his laughing blue eyes, to make the
blood circulate so rapidly in his veins as if it would burst them, as he
seemed to think that the dead had been brought to life again. He struck
his breast, he sobbed bitterly in penitence, as he remembered that the
joys of married life and the ties springing therefrom were prohibited
to the priesthood. The good Abbe Cornille had spoken of all this to
Hubertine in a low voice and with trembling lips. Mysterious sounds had
been heard, and it was whispered that Monseigneur shut himself up
after twilight, and passed nights of combat, of tears and of cries, the
violence of which, although partly stifled by the hangings of his room,
yet frightened the members of his household. He thought that he had
forgotten; that he had conquered passion; but it reappeared with the
violence of a tempest, reminding him of the terrible man he had been
formerly--the bold adventurer, the descendant of brave, legendary
chieftains. Each evening on his knees he flayed his skin with haircloth,
he tried to banish the phantom of the regretted wife by calling from its
coffin the skeleton which must now be there. But she constantly appeared
before him, living, in the delicious freshness of youth, such as she
was when very young he had first met her and loved her with the devoted
affection of maturity. The torture then recommenced as keen and intense
as on the day after her death: he mourned her, he longed for her with
the same revolt against God Who had taken her from him; he was unable to
calm himself until the break of day, when quite exhausted by contempt of
himself and disgust of all the world. Oh! Divine love! When he went out
of his room Monseigneur resumed his severe attitude, his expression was
calm and haughty, and his face was only slightly pale. The morning
when Felicien had made his confession he listened to him without
interruption, controlling himself with so great an effort that not a
fibre of his body quivered, and he looked earnestly at him, distressed
beyond measure to see him, so young, so handsome, so eager, and so
like himself in this folly of impetuous love. It was no longer with
bitterness, but it was his absolute will, his hard duty to save his
son from the ills which had caused him so much suffering, and he would
destroy the passion in his child as he wished to kill it in himself.
This romantic history ended by giving him great anxiety. Could it be
true that a poor girl--a child without a name, a little embroiderer,
first seen under a pale ray of moonlight, had been transfigured into a
delicate Virgin of the Legends, and adored with a fervent love as if in
a dream? At each new acknowledgment he thought his anger was increased,
as his heart beat with such an inordinate emotion, and he redoubled his
attempts at self-control, knowing not what cry might come to his lips.
He had finished by replying with a single word, "Never!" Then Felicien
threw himself on his knees before him, implored him, and pleaded his
cause as well as that of Angelique, in the trembling of respect and of
terror with which the sight of his father always filled him. Until then
he had approached him only with fear. He besought him not to oppose
his happiness, without even daring to lift his eyes towards his saintly
personage. With a submissive voice he offered to go away, no matter
where; to leave all his great fortune to the Church, and to take his
wife so far from there that they would never be seen again. He only
wished to love and to be loved, unknown. Monseigneur shook from
trembling as he repeated severely the word, "Never!" He had pledged
himself to the Voincourts, and he would never break his engagement
with them. Then Felicien, quite discouraged, realising that he was very
angry, went away, fearing lest the rush of blood, which empurpled his
cheeks, might make him commit the sacrilege of an open revolt against
paternal authority.

"My child," concluded Hubertine, "you can easily understand that you
must no longer think of this young man, for you certainly would not
wish to act in opposition to the wishes of Monseigneur. I knew that
beforehand, but I preferred that the facts should speak for themselves,
and that no obstacle should appear to come from me."

Angelique had listened to all this calmly, with her hands listlessly
clasped in her lap. Scarcely had she even dropped her eyelids from
time to time, as with fixed looks she saw the scene so vividly
described--Felicien at the feet of Monseigneur, speaking of her in an
overflow of tenderness. She did not answer immediately, but continued to
think seriously, in the dead quiet of the kitchen, where even the little
bubbling sound of the water in the boiler was no longer heard. She
lowered her eyes and looked as her hands, which, under the lamplight,
seemed as if made of beautiful ivory. Then, while the smile of perfect
confidence came back to her lips, she said simply:

"If Monseigneur refuses, it is because he waits to know me."

That night Angelique slept but little. The idea that to see her would
enable at once Monseigneur to decide in her favor haunted her. There was
in it no personal, feminine vanity, but she was under the influence of a
deep, intense love, and her true affection for Felicien was so evident,
she was sure that when his father realised it he could not be so
obstinate as to make them both unhappy. Many times she turned restlessly
in her bed as she pictured what would happen. Before her closed eyes
Monseigneur constantly passed in his violet-coloured robe. Perhaps it
was, indeed, through him, and by him, that the expected miracle was to
appear. The warm night was sleeping without, and she eagerly listened
for the voices, trying to know what the trees, the Chevrotte, the
Cathedral, her chamber itself, peopled with such friendly shadows,
advised her to do. But there was only an indistinct humming, and nothing
precise came to her. It seemed, however, as if mysterious whispers
encouraged her to persevere. At last she grew impatient of these too
slow certitudes, and as she fell asleep she surprised herself by saying:

"To-morrow I will speak to Monseigneur."

When she awoke, her proposed plan seemed not only quite natural but
necessary. It was ingenuous and brave; born of a proud and great purity.

She knew that at five o'clock on every Saturday afternoon Monseigneur
went to kneel in the Chapel Hautecoeur, where he liked to pray alone,
giving himself up entirely to the past of his race and to himself,
seeking a solitude which was respected by all connected with the
Cathedral. As it fortunately happened, this was a Saturday. She quickly
came to a decision. At the Bishop's Palace, not only would she be apt
to find it difficult to be received, but, on the other hand, there were
always so many people about she would be ill at ease; whilst it would
be so simple to await him in the chapel, and to introduce herself to
Monseigneur as soon as he appeared. That day she embroidered with her
usual application and composure. Firm in her wish, sure of doing the
right thing, she had no impatient fever of expectation. When it was
four o'clock she spoke of going to see the _mere_ Gabet, and went out,
dressed as for an ordinary walk, wearing her little garden-hat tied
carelessly under her chin. She turned to the left, and pushing open
the linted, stuffed door of the portal of Saint Agnes, let it fall back
heavily behind her.

The church was empty; alone, the confessional of Saint Joseph was still
occupied by a penitent, the edge of whose black dress was just seen as
one passed. Angelique, who had been perfectly self-possessed until now,
began to tremble as she entered this sacred, cold solitude, where even
the little sound of her steps seemed to echo terribly. Why was it that
her heart grew so oppressed? She had thought she was quite strong, and
the day had passed most peacefully--she was so sure of being right in
her desire to be happy. But now that she was ignorant of what might
happen she turned pale as if guilty, quite frightened at thinking
that she was to see Monseigneur, and that in truth she had come there
expressly to speak to him. She went quietly to the Chapel Hautecoeur,
where she was obliged to remain leaning against the gate.

This chapel was one of the most sunken and dark of the old Romanesque
apse. Like a cave hewn in a rock, straight and bare, with the simple
lines of its low, vaulted ceiling, it had but one window, that of
stained glass, on which was the Legend of St. George, and in whose panes
the red and blue so predominated that they made a lilac-coloured light,
as if it were twilight. The altar, in black and white marble, was
unornamented, and the whole place, with its picture of the Crucifixion,
and its two chandeliers, seemed like a tomb. The walls were covered
with commemorative tablets, a collection from top to bottom of stones
crumbling from age, on which the deeply-cut inscriptions could still be
read.

Almost stifled, Angelique waited, motionless. A beadle passed, who
did not even see her, so closely had she pressed herself against the
interior of the iron railing. She still saw the dress of the penitent
who was at the confessional near the entrance. Her eyes, gradually
accustomed to the half-light, were mechanically fixed upon the
inscriptions, the characters of which she ended by deciphering. Certain
names struck her, calling back to her memory the legends of the Chateau
d'Hautecoeur, of Jean V le Grand, of Raoul III, and of Herve VII.

She soon found two others, those of Laurette and of Balbine, which
brought tears to her eyes, so nervous was she from trouble and
anxiety--Laurette, who fell from a ray of moonlight, on her way to
rejoin her betrothed, and Balbine, who died from sudden joy at the
return of her husband, whom she thought had been killed in the war.
They both of them came back at night and enveloped the Castle with their
immense, flowing white robes. Had she not seen them herself the day of
their visit to the ruins, as they floated, towards evening, above the
towers in the rosy pallor of the dusk? Ah! how willingly she would die
as they did, although but sixteen years of age, in the supreme happiness
of the realisation of her dream!

A loud noise which reverberated under the arches made her tremble. It
was the priest who came out from the confessional of Saint Joseph and
shut the door after him. She was surprised at no longer seeing the
penitent, who had already gone. And when in his turn the clergyman went
out by way of the sacristy, she realised that she was absolutely alone
in the vast solitude of the Cathedral. At the loud sound of the door
of the confessional, as it creaked on its hinges, she thought that
Monseigneur was coming. It was nearly half an hour since she had
expected him, yet she did not realise it, for her excitement prevented
her from taking any note of time.

Soon a new name drew her eyes towards the tablets--Felicien III, who
went to Palestine, carrying a candle in his hand, to fulfil a vow of
Philippe le Bel. And her heart beat with pride as she saw before
her, mentally, the youthful Felicien VII, the descendant of all these
worthies, the fair-haired nobleman whom she adored, and by whom she was
so tenderly loved. She suddenly became filled with pride and fear. Was
it possible that she herself was there, in the expectation of bringing
about a prodigy? Opposite her there was a fresher plaque of marble,
dating from the last century, the black letters upon which she could
easily read. Norbert Louis Ogier, Marquis d'Hautecoeur, Prince of
Mirande and of Rouvres, Count of Ferrieres, of Montegu and of Saint
Marc, and also of Villemareuil, Chevalier of the four Royal Orders
of Saint Esprit, Saint Michel, Notre Dame de Carmel and Saint Louis,
Lieutenant in the Army of the King, Governor of Normandy, holding office
as Captain-General of the Hunting, and Master of the Hounds. All these
were the titles of Felicien's grandfather, and yet she had come, so
simple, with her working-dress and her fingers worn by the needle, in
hopes of marrying the grandson of this dead dignitary!

There was a slight sound, scarcely a rustling, on the flagstones. She
turned and saw Monseigneur, and remained motionless at this silent
approach without the pomp and surroundings she had vaguely expected.
He entered into the chapel, tall, erect, and noble-looking, dressed in
purple, with his pale face, his rather large nose, and his superb eyes,
which still seemed youthful in their expression. At first he did not
notice her against the black gate. Then, as he was about to kneel down,
he saw her before him at his feet.

With trembling limbs, overcome by respect and fear, Angelique had fallen
upon her knees. He seemed to her at this moment like the Eternal Father,
terrible in aspect and absolute master of her destiny. But her heart was
still courageous, and she spoke at once.

"Oh! Monseigneur, I have come----"

As for the Bishop, he had risen immediately. He had a vague recollection
of her; the young girl, seen first at her window on the day of the
procession, and re-found a little later standing on a chair in the
church; this little embroiderer, with whom his son was so desperately
in love. He uttered no word, he made no gesture. He waited, stern and
stiff.

"Oh! Monseigneur, I have come on purpose that you may see me. You have,
it is true, refused to accept me, but you do not know me. And now, here
I am. Please look at me before you repel me again. I am the one who
loves, and am also beloved, and that is all. Nothing beyond this
affection. Nothing but a poor child, found at the door of this church.
You see me at your feet, little, weak, and humble. If I trouble you it
will be very easy for you to send me away. You have only to lift your
little finger to crush me. But think of my tears! Were you to know how
I have suffered, you would be compassionate. I wished, Monseigneur, to
plead my cause in my turn. I love, and that is why I kneel before you,
to tell you so. I am ignorant in many ways; I only know I love. All
my strength and all my pride is centred in that fact. Is not that
sufficient? It certainly makes one great and good to be able to say that
one really loves."

She continued with sighs, and in broken phrases, to confess everything
to him, in an unaffected outpouring of ardent feeling. It was a true
affection that thus acknowledged itself. She dared to do so because she
was innocent and pure. Little by little she raised her head.

"We love each other, Monseigneur. Without doubt he has already told
you how all this came to pass. As for me, I have often asked myself the
question without being able to reply to it. But we love each other, and
if it is a crime to do so, pardon it, I beseech you, for it came from
afar, from everything in short that surrounded us. When I realised that
I loved him, it was already too late to prevent it. Now, is it possible
to be angry on that account? You can keep him with you, make him marry
some other person, but you cannot prevent him from giving me his heart.
He will die without me, as I shall if obliged to part from him. When
he is not by my side I feel that he is really near me, and that we will
never be entirely separated, since we carry each other's life with us.
I have only to close my eyes to re-see him when I wish, so firmly is his
image impressed upon my soul. Our whole natures are thus closely united
for life. And could you wish to draw us away from this union? Oh!
Monseigneur, it is divine; do not try to prevent us loving each other!"

He looked at her in her simple working-dress, so fresh, so unpretending,
and attractive. He listened to her as she repeated the canticle of their
love in a voice that both fascinated and troubled him, and which grew
stronger by degrees. But as her garden-hat fell upon her shoulders, her
exquisite hair seemed to make a halo around her head of fine gold, and
she appeared to him, indeed, like one of those legendary virgins of the
old prayer-books, so frail was she, so primitive, so absorbed in her
deep feeling of intense and pure affection.

"Be good, be merciful, Monseigneur. You are the master. Do allow us to
be happy!"

She implored him, and finding that he remained unmoved, without
speaking, she again bowed down her head.

Oh! this unhappy child at his feet; this odour of youth that came up
from the sweet figure thus bent before him! There he saw, as it were
again, the beautiful light locks he had so fondly caressed in the days
gone by. She, whose memory still distressed him after twenty years of
penitence, had the same fresh youthfulness, the same proud expression,
and the same lily-like grace. She had re-appeared; it was she herself
who now sobbed and besought him to be tender and merciful.

Tears had come to Angelique, yet she continued to outpour her heart.

"And, Monseigneur, it is not only that I love him, but I also love the
nobility of his name, the lustre of his royal fortune. Yes, I know well
that being nothing, that having nothing, it seems as if I were only
desirous of his money. In a way, it is true it is also for his wealth
that I wish to marry him. I tell you this because it is necessary that
you should know me thoroughly. Ah! to become rich by him and with him,
to owe all my happiness to him, to live in the sweetness and splendour
of luxury, to be free in our loving home, and to have no more sorrow, no
misery around us! That is my ideal! Since he has loved me I fancy myself
dressed in heavy brocades, as ladies wore in olden days; I have on my
arms and around my neck strings of pearls and precious stones; I have
horses and carriages; groves in which I take long walks, followed
by pages. Whenever I think of him my dream recommences, and I say to
myself, 'This must all come to pass, for it perfects my desire to become
a queen.' Is it, then, Monseigneur, a bad thing to love him more because
he can gratify all my childish wishing by showering down miraculous
floods of gold upon me as in fairy-tales?"

He saw then that she rose up proudly, with a charming, stately air of
a true princess, in spite of her real simplicity. And she was always
exactly like the fair maiden of other years, with the same flower-like
delicacy, the same tender tears, clear as smiles. A species of
intoxication came from her, the warm breath of which mounted to his
face--the same shadow of a remembrance which made him at night throw
himself on his devotional chair, sobbing so deeply that he disturbed the
sacred silence of the Palace. Until three o'clock in the morning of this
same day he had contended with himself again, and this long history of
love, this story of passion, would only revive and excite his incurable
wound. But behind his impassiveness nothing was seen, nothing betrayed
his effort at self-control and his attempt to conquer the beating of his
heart. Were he to lose his life's blood, drop by drop, no one should see
it flow, and he now simply became paler, was silent and immovable.

At last this great persistent silence made Angelique desperate, and she
redoubled her prayers.

"I put myself in your hands, Monseigneur. Do with me whatever you think
best; but have pity when deciding my fate."

Still, as he continued silent, he terrified her, and seemed to grow
taller than ever as he stood before her in his fearful majesty. The
deserted Cathedral, whose aisles were already dark, with its high
vaulted arches where the daylight seemed dying, made the agony of this
silence still harder to bear. In the chapel, where the commemorative
slabs could no longer be seen, there remained only the Bishop in his
purple cassock, that now looked black, and his long white face, which
alone seemed to have absorbed all the light. She saw his bright eyes
fixed upon her with an ever-increasing depth of expression, and shrunk
from them, wondering if it were possible that anger made them shine in
so strange a way.

"Monseigneur, had I not come to-day, I should have eternally reproached
myself for having brought about the unhappiness of us both from my want
of courage. Tell me then, oh, tell me that I was right in doing so, and
that you will give us your consent!"

What use would there be in discussing the matter with this child? He
had already given his son the reasons for his refusal, and that was
all-sufficient. That he had not yet spoken was only because he thought
he had nothing to say. She, no doubt, understood him, and she seemed to
wish to raise herself up that she might be able to kiss his hands. But
he threw them behind him violently, and she was startled at seeing his
white face become suddenly crimson, from a rush of blood to his head.

"Monseigneur! Monseigneur!"

At last he opened his lips, to say to her just one word, the same he had
said to his son:

"Never!"

And without remaining to pray that day, as was his wont, he left the
chapel, and with slow steps soon disappeared behind the pillars of the
apse.

Falling on the flagstones, Angelique wept for a long time, sobbing
deeply in the great peaceful silence of the empty church.



CHAPTER XIV

That same evening in the kitchen, after they left the dinner-table,
Angelique confessed everything to Hubert, telling him of her interview
with the Bishop, and of the latter's refusal. She was very pale, but not
at all excited.

Hubert was quite overcome. What? Could it be possible that his dear
child already suffered? That she also had been so deeply wounded in her
affections? His eyes were filled with tears from his sympathy with her,
as they were both of that excessively sensitive nature that at the least
breath they were carried away by their imaginations.

"Ah! my poor darling, why did you not consult me? I would willingly have
accompanied you, and perhaps I might have persuaded Monseigneur to yield
to your prayers."

With a look Hubertine stopped him. He was really unreasonable. Was it
not much better to seize this occasion to put an end at once to all
ideas of a marriage which would be impossible? She took the young girl
in her arms, and tenderly kissed her forehead.

"Then, now it is ended, my dear child; all ended?"

Angelique at first did not appear to understand what was said to her.
Soon the words returned to her as if from a distance. She looked fixedly
before her, seeming anxious to question the empty space, and at last she
replied:

"Without doubt, mother."

Indeed, on the morrow she seated herself at the work-frame and
embroidered as she was wont to do. She took up her usual routine of
daily work, and did not appear to suffer. Moreover, no allusion was made
to the past; she no longer looked from time to time out of the window
into the garden, and gradually losing her paleness, the natural
colour came back to her cheeks. The sacrifice appeared to have been
accomplished.

Hubert himself thought it was so, and, convinced of the wisdom of
Hubertine, did all in his power to keep Felicien at a distance. The
latter, not daring to openly revolt against his father, grew feverishly
impatient, to such a degree that he almost broke the promise he had made
to wait quietly without trying to see Angelique again. He wrote to her,
and the letters were intercepted. He even went to the house one morning,
but it was Hubert alone who received him. Their explanatory conversation
saddened them both to an equal degree, so much did the young man appear
to suffer when the embroiderer told him of his daughter's calmness and
her air of forgetfulness. He besought him to be loyal, and go to away,
that he might not again throw the child into the fearful trouble of the
last few weeks.

Felicien again pledged himself to be patient, but he violently refused
to take back his word, for he was still hopeful that he might persuade
his father in the end. He could wait; he would let affairs remain in
their present state with the Voincourts, where he dined twice a week,
doing so simply to avoid a direct act of open rebellion.

And as he left the house he besought Hubert to explain to Angelique why
he had consented to the torment of not seeing her for the moment; he
thought only of her, and the sole aim of everything he did was to gain
her at last.

When her husband repeated this conversation to her, Hubertine grew very
serious. Then, after a short silence, she asked:

"Shall you tell our daughter what he asked you to say to her?"

"I ought to do so."

She was again silent, but finally added:

"Act according to your conscience. But he is now under a delusion. He
will eventually be obliged to yield to his father's wishes, and then our
poor, dear little girl will die in consequence."

Hubert, overcome with grief, hesitated. But after contending with
himself, he concluded to repeat nothing. Moreover, he became a little
reassured each day when his wife called his attention to Angelique's
tranquil appearance.

"You see well that the wound is healing. She is learning to forget."

But she did not forget; she also was simply waiting. All hope of human
aid having died within her, she now had returned to the idea of some
wonderful prodigy. There would surely be one, if God wished her to be
happy. She had only to give herself up entirely into His hands; she
believed that this new trial had been sent to her as a punishment
for having attempted to force His will in intruding upon Monseigneur.
Without true grace mankind was weak, and incapable of success. Her need
of that grace made her humble, bringing to her as an only hope the
aid of the Invisible; so that she gave up acting for herself, but left
everything to the mysterious forces which surrounded her. Each evening
at lamplight she recommenced her reading of the "Golden Legend," being
as delighted with it as when she was a young child. She doubted none
of the miracles related therein, being convinced that the power of the
Unknown is without limit for the triumph of pure souls.

Just at this time the upholsterer of the Cathedral ordered of the
Huberts a panel of the very richest embroidery for the throne of
Monseigneur the Bishop. This panel, one yard and a half in width and
three yards in length, was to be set in old carved wood, and on it were
to be represented two angels of life-size, holding a crown, on which
were to be the arms of the Hautecoeurs. It was necessary that the
embroidery should be in bas-relief, a work which not only required great
artistic knowledge, but also needed physical strength, to be well done.
When proposed to the Huberts, they at first declined the offer, being
not only fearful of fatiguing Angelique, but especially dreading that
she would be saddened by the remembrances which would be brought to her
mind as she wrought thread after thread during the several weeks. But
she insisted upon accepting the command, and every morning applied
herself to her task with an extraordinary energy. It seemed as if
she found her happiness in tiring herself, and that she needed to be
physically exhausted in order to be calm.

So in the old workroom life continued in the same regular way, as if
their hearts had not even for a moment beaten more quickly than usual.
Whilst Hubert occupied himself with arranging the frames, or drew
the patterns, or stretched or relaxed the materials, Hubertine helped
Angelique, both of them having their hands terribly tired and bruised
when evening came. For the angels and the ornaments it had been
necessary at the beginning to divide each subject into several parts,
which were treated separately. In order to perfect the most salient
points, Angelique first took spools of coarse unbleached thread,
which she re-covered with the strong thread of Brittany in a contrary
direction; and as the need came, making use of a heavy pair of shears,
as well as of a roughing-chisel, she modelled these threads, shaped the
drapery of the angels, and detached the details of the ornaments. In all
this there was a real work of sculpture. At last, when the desired form
was obtained, with the aid of Hubertine she threw on masses of gold
thread, which she fastened down with little stitches of silk. Thus there
was a bas-relief of gold, incomparably soft and bright, shining like a
sun in the centre of this dark, smoky room. The old tools were arranged
in the same lines as they had been for centuries--the punches, the
awls, the mallets, and the hammers; on the work-frame the little donkey
waste-basket and the tinsel, the thimbles and the needles, moved up
and down as usual, while in the different corners, where they ended by
growing rusty, the diligent, the hand spinning-wheel, and the reel for
winding, seemed to sleep in the peaceful quiet which entered through the
open window.

Days passed. Angelique broke many needles between morning and evening,
so difficult was it to sew down the gold, through the thickness of
the waxed threads. To have seen her, one would have said she was so
thoroughly absorbed by her hard work that she could think of nothing
else. At nine o'clock she was exhausted by fatigue, and, going to bed,
she sank at once into a heavy, dreamless sleep. When her embroidery gave
her mind a moment's leisure, she was astonished not to see Felicien.
Although she took no step towards seeking him, it seemed to her that he
ought to have tried every possible way to come to her. Yet she approved
of his wisdom in acting as he did, and would have scolded him had
he tried to hasten matters. No doubt he also looked for something
supernatural to happen. It was this expectation upon which she now
lived, thinking each night that it would certainly come on the morrow.
Until now she had never rebelled. Still, at times she lifted up her head
inquiringly, as if asking "What! Has nothing yet come to pass?" And then
she pricked her finger so deeply that her hand bled, and she was obliged
to take the pincers to draw the needle out. When her needle would break
with a sharp little sound, as if of glass, she did not even make a
movement of impatience.

Hubertine was very anxious on seeing her apply herself so desperately
to her work, and as the time for the great washing had come again, she
forced her to leave her panel of embroidery, that she might have four
good days of active outdoor life in the broad sunlight. The _mere_
Gabet, now free of her rheumatism, was able to help in the soaping and
rinsing. It was a regular fete in the Clos-Marie, these last August
days, in which the weather was splendid, the sky almost cloudless, while
a delicious fragrance came up from the Chevrotte, the water of which as
it passed under the willows was almost icy cold. The first day Angelique
was very gay, as she beat the linen after plunging it in the stream;
enjoying to the full the river, the elms, the old ruined mill, the wild
herbs, and all those friendly surroundings, so filled with pleasant
memories. Was it not there she had become acquainted with Felicien, who
under the moonlight had at first seemed so mysterious a being, and who,
later on, had been so adorably awkward the morning when he ran after
the dressing-sacque that was being carried away by the current? As she
rinsed each article, she could not refrain from glancing at the gateway
of the Bishop's garden, which until recently had been nailed up. One
evening she had passed through it on his arm, and who could tell but he
might suddenly now open it and come to take her as she applied herself
to her work in the midst of the frothy foam that at times almost covered
her.

But the next day, as the _mere_ Gabet brought the last barrow of linen,
which she spread out on the grass with Angelique, she interrupted her
interminable chattering upon the gossip of the neighbourhood to say
maliciously:

"By the way, you know that Monseigneur is to marry his son?"

The young girl, who was just smoothing out a sheet, knelt down in the
grass, her strength leaving her all at once, from the rudeness of the
shock.

"Yes, everyone is talking of it. The son of Monseigneur will in the
autumn marry Mademoiselle de Voincourt. It seems that everything was
decided upon and arranged yesterday."

She remained on her knees, as a flood of confused ideas passed through
her brain, and a strange humming was in her ears. She was not at all
surprised at the news, and she realised it must be true. Her mother had
already warned her, so she ought to have been prepared for it. She did
not yet even doubt Felicien's love for her, as that was her faith and
her strength. But at the present moment, that which weakened her so
greatly and excited her to the very depths of her being was the thought
that, trembling before the commands of his father, he could at last
yield from weariness, and consent to wed one whom he did not love. Then
he would be lost to her whom he really adored. Never had she thought
such an act on his part possible; but now she saw him obliged by his
filial duty and his sense of obedience to make them both unhappy for
ever. Still motionless, her eyes fixed upon the little gate, she at
last revolted against the facts, feeling as if she must go and shake the
bars, force them open with her hands, run to Felicien, and, aiding him
by her own courage, persuade him not to yield. She was surprised to hear
herself reply to the _mere_ Gabet, in the purely mechanical instinct of
hiding her trouble:

"Ah! then he is to marry Mademoiselle Claire. She is not only very
beautiful, but it is said she is also very good."

Certainly, as soon as the old woman went away, she must go and find him.
She had waited long enough; she would break her promise of not seeing
him as if it were a troublesome obstacle. What right had anyone
to separate them in this way? Everything spoke to her of their
affection--the Cathedral, the fresh water, and the old elm-trees under
which they had been so happy. Since their affection had grown on this
spot, it was there that she wished to find him again, to go with him
arm-in-arm far away, so far that no one would ever see them.

"That is all," said at last the _mere_ Gabet, as she hung the last
napkins on a bush. "In two hours they will be dry. Good-night,
mademoiselle, as you no longer have need of me."

Now, standing in the midst of this efflorescence of linen that shone
on the green grass, Angelique thought of that other day, when, in the
tempest of wind, among the flapping of the sheets and tablecloths, they
unfolded so ingenuously the secrets of their lives to each other. Why
had he discontinued his visits to her? Why had he not come to meet her
during her healthy exercise of the past three days? But it would not
be long before she would run to him, and when he had clasped her in his
arms, he would know well that he was hers, and hers only. She would not
even need to reproach him for his apparent weakness; it would be enough
for her to show herself to make him realise that their happiness was in
being together.

He would dare everything for her sake when once she had rejoined him.

An hour passed, and Angelique walked slowly between the pieces of
linen, all white herself from the blinding reflection of the sun; and
a confused sentiment awoke in her breast, which, growing stronger and
stronger, prevented her from going over to the gate, as she had wished
to do. She was frightened before this commencement of a struggle. What
did it mean? She certainly could act according to her own will. Yet
something new, inexplicable, thwarted her and changed the simplicity of
her passion. It was such a simple thing to go to a beloved one; yet she
could not possibly do so now, being kept back by a tormenting doubt.
Also, since she had given her promise, perhaps it would be wrong to
break it. In the evening, when the whole "wash" was dry, and Hubertine
came to help her to take it to the house, she was still undecided what
to do, and concluded to reflect upon it during the night. With her arms
filled to overflowing with linen, white as snow, and smelling fresh and
clean, she cast an anxious look towards the Clos-Marie, already bathed
in the twilight, as if it were a friendly corner of Nature refusing to
be her accomplice.

In the morning Angelique was greatly troubled when she awoke. Several
other nights passed without her having come to any decision. She could
not recover her ease of mind until she had the certainty that she was
still beloved. Were her faith in that unshaken she would be perfectly at
rest. If loved, she could bear anything. A fit of being charitable had
again taken possession of her, so that she was touched by the slightest
suffering, and her eyes were filled with tears ready to overflow at any
moment. The old man Mascart made her give him tobacco, and the Chouarts
drew from her everything they wished, even to preserved fruits. But the
Lemballeuses also profited by her gifts, and Tiennette had been seen
dancing at the fetes, dressed in one of "the good young lady's" gowns.
And one day, as she was taking to the grandmother some chemises promised
her the previous evening, she saw from a distance, in the midst of the
poor family, Madame de Voincourt and her daughter Claire, accompanied by
Felicien. The latter, no doubt, had taken them there. She did not show
herself, but returned home at once, chilled to the heart. Two days
later she saw the two again as they came out from the Chateau; then one
morning the old man Mascart told her of a visit he had received from
the handsome young gentleman and two ladies. Then she abandoned her poor
people, who seemed no longer to have claims upon her, since Felicien had
taken them and given them to his new friends. She gave up her walks
for fear she might see them, and thus be so deeply wounded that her
sufferings would be increased tenfold. She felt as if something were
dying within her, as if, little by little, her very life was passing
away.

One evening, after one of these meetings, when alone in her chamber,
stifling from anguish, she uttered this cry:

"But he loves me no longer."

She saw before her, mentally, Claire de Voincourt, tall, beautiful,
with her crown of black hair, and he was at her side, slight, proud, and
handsome. Were they not really created for each other, of the same race,
so well mated that one might think they were already married?

"He no longer loves me! Oh! he no longer loves me!"

This exclamation broke from her lips as if it were the ruin of all her
hopes, and, her faith once shaken, everything gave way without her being
able to examine the facts of the case or to regard them calmly. The
previous evening she believed in something, but that had now passed by.
A breath, coming from she knew not where, had been sufficient, and all
at once by a single blow she had fallen into the greatest despair--that
of thinking she was not beloved. He had indeed spoken wisely when he
told her once that this was the only real grief, the one insupportable
torture. Now her turn had come. Until then she had been resigned,
she felt so strong and confident as she awaited the miracle. But her
strength passed away with her faith; she was tormented by her distress
like a child; her whole being seemed to be only an open wound. And a
painful struggle commenced in her soul.

At first she called upon her pride to help her; she was too proud to
care for him any more. She tried to deceive herself, she pretended to be
free from all care, as she sang while embroidering the Hautecoeur coat
of arms, upon which she was at work. But her heart was so full it almost
stifled her, and she was ashamed to acknowledge to herself that she was
weak enough to love him still in spite of all, and even to love him more
than ever. For a week these armorial bearings, as they grew thread by
thread under her fingers, filled her with a terrible sorrow. Quartered
one and four, two and three, of Jerusalem and d'Hautecoeur; of
Jerusalem, which is argent, a cross potence, or, between four
cross-crosslets of the last; and d'Hautecoeur, azure, on a castle, or, a
shield, sable, charged with a human heart, argent; the whole accompanied
by three fleurs-de-lys, or, two at the top and one in the point. The
enamels were made of twist, the metals of gold and silver thread. What
misery it was to feel that her hands trembled, and to be obliged to
lower her head to hide her eyes, that were blinded with tears, from all
this brightness. She thought only of him; she adored him in the lustre
of his legendary nobility. And when she embroidered the motto of the
family, "_Si Dieu veult, je veux_," in black silk on a streamer of
silver, she realised that she was his slave, and that never again
could she reclaim him. Then tears prevented her from seeing, while
mechanically she continued to make little stitches in her work.

After this it was indeed pitiable. Angelique loved in despair, fought
against this hopeless affection, which she could not destroy. She still
wished to go to Felicien, to reconquer him by throwing her arms around
his neck; and thus the contest was daily renewed. Sometimes she thought
she had gained control over her feelings, so great a silence appeared to
have fallen within and around her. She seemed to see herself as if in a
vision, a stranger in reality, very little, very cold, and kneeling like
an obedient child in the humility of renunciation. Then it was no longer
herself, but a sensible young girl, made so by her education and her
home life. Soon a rush of blood mounted to her face, making her dizzy;
her perfect health, the ardent feelings of her youth, seemed to gallop
like runaway colts, and she resaw herself, proud and passionate, in all
the reality of her unknown origin. Why, then, had she been so obedient?
There was no true duty to consult, only free-will. Already she had
planned her flight, and calculated the most favourable hour for forcing
open the gate of the Bishop's garden. But already, also, the agony, the
grave uneasiness, the torment of a doubt had come back to her. Were she
to yield to evil she would suffer eternal remorse in consequence. Hours,
most abominable hours, passed in this uncertainty as to what part she
should take under this tempestuous wind, which constantly threw her from
the revolt of her love to the horror of a fault. And she came out of the
contest weakened by each victory over her heart.

One evening, as she was about leaving the house to go to join Felicien,
she suddenly thought of her little book from the Society of Aid to
Abandoned Children. She was so distressed to find that she no longer had
strength to resist her pride. She took it from the depths of the chest
of drawers, turned over its leaves, whispered to herself at each page
the lowness of her birth, so eager was she in her need of humility.
Father and mother unknown; no name; nothing but a date and a number; a
complete neglect, like that of a wild plant that grows by the roadside!
Then crowds of memories came to her: the rich pastures of the Mievre and
the cows she had watched there; the flat route of Soulanges, where she
had so often walked barefooted; and Maman Nini, who boxed her ears when
she stole apples. Certain pages specially attracted her by their painful
associations:--those which certified every three months to the visits
of the under-inspector and of the physician, whose signatures were
sometimes accompanied by observations or information, as, for instance,
a severe illness, during which she had almost died; a claim from her
nurse on the subject of a pair of shoes that had been burnt; and bad
marks that had been given her for her uncontrollable temper. It was, in
short, the journal of her misery. But one thing disturbed her above all
others--the report in reference to the breaking of the necklace she
had worn until she was six years of age. She recollected that she had
instinctively hated it, this string of beads of bone, cut in the shape
of little olives, strung on a silken cord, and fastened by a medallion
of plaited silver, bearing the date of her entrance into the "Home" and
her number. She considered it as a badge of slavery, and tried several
times to break it with her little hands, without any fear as to the
consequences of doing so. Then, when older, she complained that it
choked her. For a year longer she was obliged to wear it. Great, indeed,
was her joy when, in the presence of the mayor of the parish, the
inspector's aid had cut the cord, replacing this sign of individuality
by a formal description, in which allusion was made to her
violet-coloured eyes and her fine golden hair. Yet she always seemed
to feel around her neck this collar, as if she were an animal that was
marked in order that she might be recognised if she went astray; it cut
into her flesh and stifled her. When she came to that page on this day,
her humility came back to her, she was frightened, and went up to her
chamber, sobbing as if unworthy of being loved. At two other times this
little book saved her. At last it lost its power, and could not help her
in checking her rebellious thoughts.

Now, her greatest temptation came to her at night. Before going to
bed, that her sleep might be calm, she imposed upon herself the task of
resuming reading the Legends. But, resting her forehead on her hands,
notwithstanding all her efforts she could understand nothing. The
miracles stupefied her; she saw only a discoloured flight of phantoms.
Then in her great bed, after a most intense prostration, she started
suddenly from her sleep, in agony, in the midst of the darkness. She sat
upright, distracted; then knelt among the half thrown-back clothes, as
the perspiration started from her forehead, while she trembled from head
to foot. Clasping her hands together, she stammered in prayer, "Oh! my
God! Why have You forsaken me?"

Her great distress was to realise that she was alone in the obscurity
at such moments. She had dreamed of Felicien, she was eager to dress
herself and go to join him, before anyone could come to prevent her
from fleeing. It was as if the Divine grace were leaving her, as if God
ceased to protect her, and even the elements abandoned her. In despair,
she called upon the unknown, she listened attentively, hoping for some
sign from the Invisible. But there was no reply; the air seemed empty.
There were no more whispering voices, no more mysterious rustlings.
Everything seemed to be dead--the Clos-Marie, with the Chevrotte, the
willows, the elm-trees in the Bishop's garden, and the Cathedral itself.
Nothing remained of the dreams she had placed there; the white flight of
her friends in passing away left behind them only their sepulchre. She
was in agony at her powerlessness, disarmed, like a Christian of the
Primitive Church overcome by original sin, as soon as the aid of the
supernatural had departed. In the dull silence of this protected corner
she heard this evil inheritance come back, howling triumphant over
everything. If in ten minutes more no help came to her from figurative
forces, if things around her did not rouse up and sustain her, she would
certainly succumb and go to her ruin. "My God! My God! Why have You
abandoned me?" Still kneeling on her bed, slight and delicate, it seemed
to her as if she were dying.

Each time, until now, at the moment of her greatest distress she had
been sustained by a certain freshness. It was the Eternal Grace which
had pity upon her, and restored her illusions. She jumped out on to the
floor with her bare feet, and ran eagerly to the window. Then at last
she heard the voices rising again; invisible wings brushed against her
hair, the people of the "Golden Legend" came out from the trees and the
stones, and crowded around her. Her purity, her goodness, all that which
resembled her in Nature, returned to her and saved her. Now she was no
longer afraid, for she knew that she was watched over. Agnes had come
back with the wandering, gentle virgins, and in the air she breathed
was a sweet calmness, which, notwithstanding her intense sadness,
strengthened her in her resolve to die rather than fail in her duty or
break her promise. At last, quite exhausted, she crept back into
her bed, falling asleep again with the fear of the morrow's trials,
constantly tormented by the idea that she must succumb in the end, if
her weakness thus increased each day.

In fact, a languor gained fearfully upon Angelique since she thought
Felicien no longer loved her. She was deeply wounded and silent,
uncomplaining; she seemed to be dying hourly. At first it showed itself
by weariness. She would have an attack of want of breath, when she was
forced to drop her thread, and for a moment remain with her eyes half
closed, seeing nothing, although apparently looking straight before her.
Then she left off eating, scarcely taking even a little milk; and she
either hid her bread or gave it to the neighbours' chickens, that she
need not make her parents anxious. A physician having been called,
found no acute disease, but considering her life too solitary, simply
recommended a great deal of exercise. It was like a gradual fading away
of her whole being; a disappearing by slow degrees, an obliterating
of her physique from its immaterial beauty. Her form floated like the
swaying of two great wings; a strong light seemed to come from her
thin face, where the soul was burning. She could now come down from her
chamber only in tottering steps, as she supported herself by putting her
two hands against the wall of the stairway. But as soon as she realised
she was being looked at, she made a great effort, and even persisted in
wishing to finish the panel of heavy embroidery for the Bishop's seat.
Her little, slender hands had no more strength, and when she broke a
needle she could not draw it from the work with the pincers.

One morning, when Hubert and Hubertine had been obliged to go out, and
had left her alone at her work, the embroiderer, coming back first, had
found her on the floor near the frame, where she had fallen from her
chair after having fainted away. She had at last succumbed before her
task, one of the great golden angels being still unfinished. Hubert took
her in his arms, and tried to place her on her feet. But she fell back
again, and did not recover consciousness.

"My darling! My darling! Speak to me! Have pity on me!"

At last she opened her eyes and looked at him in despair. Why had he
wished her to come back to life! She would so gladly die!

"What is the matter with you, my dear child? Have you really deceived
us? Do you still love him?"

She made no answer, but simply looked at him with intense sadness. Then
he embraced her gently, took her in his arms, and carried her up to her
room. Having placed her upon her bed, when he saw how white and frail
she was he wept that he had had so cruel a task to perform as to keep
away from her the one whom she so loved.

"But I would have given him to you, my dear! Why did you say nothing to
me?"

She did not speak; her eyelids closed, and she appeared to fall
asleep. He remained standing, his looks fixed upon the thin, lily-white
countenance, his heart bleeding with pity. Then, as her breathing had
become quiet, he went downstairs, as he heard his wife come in.

He explained everything to her in the working-room. Hubertine had just
taken off her hat and gloves, and he at once told her of his having
found the child on the floor in a dead faint, that she was now sleeping
on her bed, overcome with weakness, and almost lifeless.

"We have really been greatly mistaken. She thinks constantly of this
young man, and it is killing her by inches. Ah! if you knew what a shock
it gave me, and the remorse which has made me almost distracted, since
I have realised the truth of the case, and carried her upstairs in so
pitiable a state. It is our fault. We have separated them by falsehoods,
and I am not only ashamed, but so angry with myself it makes me ill. But
what? Will you let her suffer so, without saying anything to save her?"

Still Hubertine was as silent as Angelique, and, pale from anxiety,
looked at him calmly and soothingly. But he, always an excitable man,
was now so overcome by what he had just seen that, forgetting his usual
submission, he was almost beside himself, could not keep still, but
threw his hands up and down in his feverish agitation.

"Very well, then! I will speak, and I will tell her that Felicien loves
her, and that it is we who have had the cruelty to prevent him from
returning, in deceiving him also. Now, every tear she sheds cuts me to
the heart. Were she to die, I should consider myself as having been her
murderer. I wish her to be happy. Yes! happy at any cost, no matter how,
but by all possible means."

He had approached his wife, and he dared to cry out in the revolt of
his tenderness, being doubly irritated by the sad silence she still
maintained.

"Since they love each other, it is they alone who should be masters of
the situation. There is surely nothing in the world greater than to love
and be loved. Yes, happiness is always legitimate."

At length Hubertine, standing motionless, spoke slowly:

"You are willing, then, that he should take her from us, are you not?
That he should marry her notwithstanding our opposition, and without the
consent of his father? Would you advise them to do so? Do you think that
they would be happy afterwards, and that love would suffice them?"

And without changing her manner she continued in the same heart-broken
voice:

"On my way home I passed by the cemetery, and an undefinable hope made
me enter there again. I knelt once more on the spot that is worn by our
knees, and I prayed there for a long time."

Hubert had turned very pale, and a cold chill replaced the fever of a
few moments before. Certainly he knew well the tomb of the unforgiving
mother, where they had so often been in tears and in submission, as they
accused themselves of their disobedience, and besought the dead to send
them her pardon from the depths of the earth. They had remained there
for hours, sure that if the grace they demanded were ever granted them
they would be cognisant of it at once. That for which they pleaded, that
for which they hoped, was for another infant, a child of pardon, the
only sign which would assure them that at last they themselves had been
forgiven. But all was in vain. The cold, hard mother was deaf to all
their entreaties, and left them under the inexorable punishment of the
death of their firstborn, whom she had taken and carried away, and whom
she refused to restore to them.

"I prayed there for a long time," repeated Hubertine. "I listened
eagerly to know if there would not be some slight movement."

Hubert questioned her with an anxious look.

"But there was nothing--no! no sound came up to me from the earth, and
within me there was no feeling of relief. Ah! yes, it is useless to hope
any longer. It is too late. We brought about our own unhappiness."

Then, trembling, he asked:

"Do you accuse me of it?"

"Yes, you are to blame, and I also did wrong in following you. We
disobeyed in the beginning, and all our life has been spoiled in
consequence of that one false step."

"But are you not happy?"

"No, I am not happy. A woman who has no child can never be happy. To
love merely is not enough. That love must be crowned and blest."

He had fallen into a chair, faint and overcome, as tears came to his
eyes. Never before had she reproached him for the ever-open wound which
marred their lives, and she who always after having grieved him by
an involuntary allusion to the past had quickly recovered herself and
consoled him, this time let him suffer, looking at him as she stood
near, but making no sign, taking no step towards him. He wept bitterly,
exclaiming in the midst of his tears:

"Ah! the dear child upstairs--it is she you condemn. You are not willing
that Felicien should marry her, as I married you, and that she should
suffer as you have done."

She answered simply by a look: a clear, affectionate glance, in which he
read the strength and simplicity of her heart.

"But you said yourself, my dear, that our sweet daughter would die of
grief if matters were not changed. Do you, then, wish for her death?"

"Yes. Her death now would be preferable to an unhappy life."

He left his seat, and clasped her in his arms as they both sobbed
bitterly. For some minutes they embraced each other. Then he conquered
himself, and she in her turn was obliged to lean upon his shoulder, that
he might comfort her and renew her courage. They were indeed distressed,
but were firm in their decision to keep perfectly silent, and, if it
were God's will that their child must die in consequence, they must
accept it submissively, rather than advise her to do wrong.

From that day Angelique was obliged to keep in her room. Her weakness
increased so rapidly and to such a degree that she could no longer go
down to the workroom. Did she attempt to walk, her head became dizzy
at once and her limbs bent under her. At first, by the aid of the
furniture, she was able to get to the balcony. Later, she was obliged
to content herself with going from her armchair to her bed. Even that
distance seemed long to her, and she only tried it in the morning and
evening, she was so exhausted.

However, she still worked, giving up the embroidery in bas-relief as
being too difficult, and simply making use of coloured silks. She copied
flowers after Nature, from a bunch of hydrangeas and hollyhocks, which,
having no odour, she could keep in her room. The bouquet was in full
bloom in a large vase, and often she would rest for several minutes as
she looked at it with pleasure, for even the light silks were too heavy
for her fingers. In two days she had made one flower, which was fresh
and bright as it shone upon the satin; but this occupation was her
life, and she would use her needle until her last breath. Softened by
suffering, emaciated by the inner fever that was consuming her, she
seemed now to be but a spirit, a pure and beautiful flame that would
soon be extinguished.

Why was it necessary to struggle any longer if Felicien did not love
her? Now she was dying with this conviction; not only had he no love for
her to-day, but perhaps he had never really cared for her. So long as
her strength lasted she had contended against her heart, her health, and
her youth, all of which urged her to go and join him. But now that she
was unable to move, she must resign herself and accept her fate.

One morning, as Hubert placed her in her easy chair, and put a cushion
under her little, motionless feet, she said, with a smile:

"Ah! I am sure of being good now, and not trying to run away."

Hubert hastened to go downstairs, that she might not see his tears.



CHAPTER XV

It was impossible for Angelique to sleep that night. A nervous
wakefulness kept her burning eyelids from closing, and her extreme
weakness seemed greater than ever. The Huberts had gone to their room,
and at last, when it was near midnight, so great a fear came over her
that she would die if she were to remain longer in bed, she preferred to
get up, notwithstanding the immense effort required to do so.

She was almost stifled. Putting on a dressing-gown and warm slippers,
she crept along slowly as far as the window, which she opened wide.
The winter was somewhat rainy, but of a mild dampness; so the air was
pleasant to breathe. She sank back into her great armchair, after having
turned up the wick of a lamp which was on a table near her, and which
was always allowed to be kept burning during the entire night. There,
by the side of the volume of the "Golden Legend," was the bouquet of
hydrangeas and hollyhocks which she had begun to copy. That she might
once more attach herself to the life which she realised was fast passing
from her she had a sudden fancy to work, and drawing her frame forward,
she made a few stitches with her trembling fingers. The red silk of the
rose-tremiere seemed of a deeper hue than ever, in contrast with her
white hands: it was almost as if it were the blood from her veins which
was quietly flowing away drop by drop.

But she, who for two hours had turned in vain from side to side in the
burning bedclothes, yielded almost immediately to sleep as soon as she
was seated. Her head drooped a little toward her right shoulder, being
supported by the back of her chair, and the silk remaining in her
motionless hands, a looker-on would have thought she was still
embroidering. White as snow, perfectly calm, she slept under the light
of the lamp in the chamber, still and quiet as a tomb. The faded, rosy
draperies of the great royal couch were paler than ever in their shady
corner, and the gloom of the walls of the room was only relieved by the
great chest of drawers, the wardrobe, and the chairs of old carved oak.
Minutes passed; her slumber was deep and dreamless.

At last there was a slight sound, and Felicien suddenly appeared on the
balcony, pale, trembling, and, like herself, looking very worn and thin,
and his countenance distressed. When he saw her reclining in the easy
chair, pitiable and yet so beautiful to look at, he rushed at once into
the chamber, and his heart grew heavy with infinite grief as he went
forward, and, falling on his knees before her, gazed at her with an
expression of utter despair. Could it be that she was so hopelessly ill?
Was it unhappiness that had caused her to be so weak, and to have wasted
way to such a degree that she appeared to him light as air while she lay
there, like a feather which the slightest breath would blow away? In her
sleep, her suffering and her patient resignation were clearly seen. He
in fact would have known her only by her lily-like grace, the delicate
outlines of her neck, her drooping shoulders, and her oval face,
transfigured like that of a youthful virgin mounting towards heaven.
Her exquisite hair was now only a mass of light, and her pure soul shone
under the soft transparency of her skin. She had all the ethereal
beauty of the saints relieved from their bodies. He was both dazzled
and distressed; the violent shock rendered him incapable of moving,
and, with hands clasped, he remained silent. She did not awake as he
continued to watch her.

A little air from the half-closed lips of Felicien must have passed
across Angelique's face, as all at once she opened her great eyes. Yet
she did not start, but in her turn looked at him with a smile, as if he
were a vision. Yes, it was he! She recognised him well, although he was
greatly changed. But she did not think she was awake, for she often saw
him thus in her dreams, and her trouble was increased when, rousing from
her sleep, she realised the truth.

He held his hands out towards her and spoke:

"My dearest, I love you. I was told that you were ill, and came to you
immediately. Look at me! Here I am, and I love you."

She straightened herself up quickly. She shuddered, as with a mechanical
movement she passed her fingers over her eyes.

"Doubt no longer, then. See me at your feet, and realise that I love you
now, as I have ever done."

Then she exclaimed:

"Oh! is it you? I had given up expecting you, and yet you are here."

With her feeble, trembling hands, she had taken his, thus assuring
herself that he was not a fanciful vision of her sleep.

He continued:

"You have always loved me, and I love you for ever. Yes, notwithstanding
everything; and more deeply even than I should have ever thought it
possible to do."

It was an unhoped-for excess of happiness, and in this first minute of
absolute joy they forgot everything else in the world, giving themselves
up to the delightful certainty of their mutual affection, and their
ability to declare it. The sufferings of the past, the obstacles of
the future, had disappeared as if by magic. They did not even think of
asking how it was that they had thus come together. But there they were,
mingling their tears of joy together as they embraced each other with
the purest of feelings: he was overcome with pity that she was so worn
by grief and illness that she seemed like a mere shadow in his arms. In
the enchantment of her surprise she remained half-paralysed, trembling
from exhaustion, radiant with spiritual beauty, as she lay back in her
great easy chair, so physically weary that she could not raise herself
without falling again, but intoxicated with this supreme contentment.

"Ah, dear Seigneur, my only remaining wish is gratified. I longed to see
you before death came."

He lifted up his head, as with a despairing movement, and said:

"Do not speak of dying. It shall not be. I am here, and I love you."

She smiled angelically.

"I am not afraid to die now that you have assured me of your affection.
The idea no longer terrifies me. I could easily fall asleep in this way,
while leaning on your shoulders. Tell me once more that you love me."

"I love you as deeply to-day as I loved you yesterday, and as I will
love you on the morrow. Do not doubt it for one moment, for it is for
eternity! Oh, yes, we will love each other for ever and ever."

Angelique was enraptured, and with vague eyes looked directly before
her, as if seeing something beyond the cold whiteness of the chamber.
But evidently she aroused herself, as if just awaking from sleep. In
the midst of this great felicity which had appeased her, she had now had
time for reflection. The true facts of the case astonished her.

"You have loved me! Yet why did you not at once come to see me?"

"Your parents said that you cared for me no longer. I also nearly died
when learning that. At last, I was determined to know the whole truth,
and was sent away from the house, the door being absolutely closed
against me, and I was forbidden to return."

"Then they shut the door in your face? Yet my mother told me that you
did not love me, and I could but believe her, since having seen you
several times with that young lady, Mademoiselle Claire, I thought
naturally you were obeying your father."

"No. I was waiting. But it was cowardly on my part thus to tremble
before him. My great mistake has been to allow the matter to go so
far; for my duty was to have trusted only in you, to have insisted upon
seeing you personally, and to have acted with you."

There was a short silence. Angelique sat erect for an instant, as if
she had received a blow, and her expression grew cold and hard, and her
forehead was cut by an angry wrinkle.

"So we have both of us been deceived. Falsehoods have been told in order
to separate us from each other. Notwithstanding our mutual love, we have
been tortured to such a degree that they have almost killed us both.
Very well, then! It is abominable, and it frees us from the promises we
made. We are now at liberty to act as we will."

An intense feeling of contempt so excited her that she stood up on her
feet. She no longer realised that she was ill, but appeared to have
regained her strength miraculously in the reawakening of all the passion
and pride of her nature. To have thought her dream ended, and all at
once to have re-found it in its full beauty and vitality, delighted her.
To be able to say that they had done nothing unworthy of their love, but
that it was other persons who had been the guilty ones, was a comfort.
This growth of herself, this at last certain triumph, exalted her and
threw her into a supreme rebellion.

She simply said:

"Come, let us go."

And she walked around the room, brave in the return of her energy and
her will. She had already selected a mantle to throw over her shoulders.
A lace scarf would be sufficient for her head.

Felicien uttered one cry of joy as she thus anticipated his desire. He
had merely thought of this flight, but had not had the boldness to dare
propose it; and how delightful indeed it would be to go away together,
to disappear, and thus put an end to all cares, to overcome all
obstacles. The sooner it was done the better, for then they would avoid
having to contend with reflection or afterthought.

"Yes, darling, let us go immediately. I was coming to take you. I know
where we can find a carriage. Before daylight we will be far away: so
far that no one will ever be able to overtake us."

She opened her drawers, but closed them again violently, without taking
anything therefrom, as her excitement increased. Could it be possible
that she had suffered such torture for so many weeks! She had done
everything in her power to drive him from her mind, to try to convince
herself that he cared no more for her, until at last she thought she
had succeeded in doing so. But it was of no use, and all this abominable
work must be done over again. No! she could never have strength
sufficient for that. Since they loved each other, the simplest thing
in the world to do was to be married, and then no power on earth could
separate them.

"Let me see. What ought I to take? Oh! how foolish I have been with all
my childish scruples, when I think that others have lowered themselves
so much as even to tell us falsehoods! Yes! even were I to have died,
they would not have called you to me. But, tell me, must I take linen
and dresses? See, here is a warmer gown. What strange ideas, what
unnumbered obstacles, they put in my head. There was good on one side
and evil on the other: things which one might do, and again that which
one should never do; in short, such a complication of matters, it was
enough to make one wild. They were all falsehoods: there was no truth
in any of them. The only real happiness is to live to love the one
who loves you, and to obey the promptings of the heart. You are the
personification of fortune, of beauty, and of youth, my dear Seigneur;
my only pleasure is in you. I give myself to you freely, and you may do
with me what you wish."

She rejoiced in this breaking-out of all the hereditary tendencies of
her nature, which she thought had died within her. Sounds of distant
music excited her. She saw as it were their royal departure: this son of
a prince carrying her away as in a fairy-tale, and making her queen
of some imaginary realm; and she was ready to follow him with her arms
clasped around his neck, her head upon his breast, with such a trembling
from intense feeling that her whole body grew weak from happiness. To be
alone together, just they two, to abandon themselves to the galloping
of horses, to flee away, and to disappear in each other's arms. What
perfect bliss it would be!

"Is it not better for me to take nothing? What good would it do in
reality?"

He, partaking of her feverishness, was already at the door, as he
replied:

"No, no! Take nothing whatever. Let us go at once."

"Yes, let us go. That is the best thing to do."

And she rejoined him. But she turned round, wishing to give a last
look at the chamber. The lamp was burning with the same soft light, the
bouquet of hydrangeas and hollyhocks was blooming as ever, and in her
work-frame the unfinished rose, bright and natural as life, seemed to
be waiting for her. But the room itself especially affected her. Never
before had it seemed so white and pure to her; the walls, the bed, the
air even, appeared as if filled with a clear, white breath.

Something within her wavered, and she was obliged to lean heavily
against the back of a chair that was near her and not far from the door.

"What is the matter?" asked Felicien anxiously.

She did not reply, but breathed with great difficulty. Then, seized with
a trembling, she could no longer bear her weight on her feet, but was
forced to sit down.

"Do not be anxious; it is nothing. I only want to rest for a minute and
then we will go."

They were silent. She continued to look round the room as if she had
forgotten some valuable object there, but could not tell what it was.
It was a regret, at first slight, but which rapidly increased and filled
her heart by degrees, until it almost stifled her. She could no longer
collect her thoughts. Was it this mass of whiteness that kept her back?
She had always adored white, even to such a degree as to collect bits of
silk and revel over them in secret.

"One moment, just one moment more, and we will go away, my dear
Seigneur."

But she did not even make an effort to rise. Very anxious, he again
knelt before her.

"Are you suffering, my dear? Cannot I do something to make you feel
better? If you are shivering because you are cold, I will take your
little feet in my hands, and will so warm them that they will grow
strong and be able to run."

She shook her head as she replied:

"No, no, I am not cold. I could walk. But please wait a little, just a
single minute."

He saw well that invisible chains seemed again to have taken possession
of her limbs, and, little by little, were attaching themselves so
strongly to her that very soon, perhaps, it would be quite impossible
for him to draw her away. Yet, if he did not take her from there at
once, if they did not flee together, he thought of the inevitable
contest with his father on the morrow, of the distressing interview
before which he had recoiled for weeks past. Then he became pressing,
and besought her most ardently.

"Come, dear, the highways are not light at this hour; the carriage will
bear us away in the darkness, and we will go on and on, cradled in each
other's arms, sleeping as if warmly covered with down, not fearing the
night's freshness; and when the day dawns we will continue our route
in the sunshine, as we go still farther on, until we reach the country
where people are always happy. No one will know us there; we will live
by ourselves, lost in some great garden, having no other care than to
love each other more deeply than ever at the coming of each new day. We
shall find flowers as large as trees, fruits sweeter than honey. And
we will live on nothing, for in the midst of this eternal spring, dear
soul, we will live on our kisses."

She trembled under these burning words, with which he heated her face,
and her whole being seemed to be fainting away at the representation of
these promised joys.

"Oh! in a few minutes I will be ready; but wait a little longer."

"Then, if journeying fatigues us, we will come back here. We will
rebuild the Chateau d'Hautecoeur, and we will pass the rest of our
lives there. That is my ideal dream. If it is necessary, we will spend
willingly all our fortune therein. Once more shall its donjon overlook
from its height the two valleys. We will make our home in the Pavilion
d'Honneur, between the Tower of David and the Tower of Charlemagne.
The colossal edifice shall be restored as in the days of its primitive
power: the galleries, the dwellings, the chapels, shall appear in the
same barbaric luxury as before. And I shall wish for us to lead the life
of olden times; you a princess and I a prince, surrounded by a large
company of armed vassals and of pages. Our walls of fifteen feet of
thickness will isolate us, and we shall be as our ancestors were, of
whom it is written in the Legend. When the sun goes down behind the
hills we will return from hunting, mounted on great white horses,
greeted respectfully by the peasants as they kneel before us. The horn
will resound in welcome, the drawbridge will be lowered for us. In the
evening, kings will dine at our table. At night, our couch will be on a
platform surmounted by a canopy like a throne. While we sleep peacefully
in purple and gold, soft music will be played in the distance."

Quivering with pride and pleasure, she smiled now, but soon, overcome by
the great suffering that again took possession of her, her lips assumed
a mournful expression and the smile disappeared. As with a mechanical
movement of her hands she drove away the tempting pictures he called
forth, he redoubled his ardour, and wished to make her his by seizing
her and carrying her away in his arms.

"Come, dear. Come with me. Let us go, and forget everything but our
united happiness."

Disengaging herself brusquely, she escaped him, with an instinctive
rebellion, and trying to stand up, this cry came at last from her:

"No, no! I cannot go. I no longer have the power to do so."

However, again lamenting her fate, still torn by the contest in
her soul, hesitating and stammering, she again turned towards him
imploringly.

"I beg you to be good and not hurry me too much, but wait awhile. I
would so gladly obey you, in order to prove to you my love; I would like
above all to go away on your arm to that beautiful far-away country,
where we could live royally in the castle of your dreams. It seems to me
an easy thing to do, so often have I myself planned our flight. Yet now,
what shall I say to you? It appears to me quite an impossibility; it
is as if a door had suddenly been walled up between us and prevented me
from going out."

He wished to try to fascinate her again, but she quieted him with a
movement of her hands.

"No; do not say anything more. It is very singular, but in proportion
as you utter such sweet, such tender words, which ought to convince me,
fear takes possession of me and chills me to the heart. My God! What is
the matter with me? It is really that which you say which drives me from
you. If you continue, I can no longer listen to you; you will be obliged
to go away. Yet wait--wait a little longer!"

She walked very slowly about the room, anxiously seeking to resume her
self-control, while he looked at her in despair.

"I thought to have loved you no longer; but it was certainly only a
feeling of pique, since just now, as soon as I found you again at my
feet, my heart beat rapidly, and my first impulse was to follow you as
if I were your slave. Then, if I love you, why am I afraid of you? What
is it that prevents me from leaving this room, as if invisible hands
were holding me back by my whole body, and even by each hair of my
head?"

She had stopped near her bed; then she went as far as the wardrobe, then
to the different articles of furniture, one after the other. They all
seemed united to her person by invisible ties. Especially the walls of
the room, the grand whiteness of the mansard roof, enveloped her with
a robe of purity, that she could leave behind her only with tears; and
henceforth all this would be a part of her being; the spirit of her
surroundings had entered into her. And she realised this fact stronger
than ever when she found herself opposite her working-frame, which was
resting at the side of the table under the lamplight. Her heart softened
as she saw the half-made rose, which she would never finish were she to
go away in this secret, criminal manner. The years of work were brought
back to her mind: those quiet, happy years, during which life had been
one long experience of peace and honesty, so that now she rebelled at
the thought of committing a fault and of thus fleeing in the arms of
her lover. Each day in this little, fresh house of the embroiderers,
the active and pure life she had led there, away from all worldly
temptations, had, as it were, made over all the blood in her veins.

Then Felicien, realising that in some inexplicable way Angelique was
being reconquered and brought to her better self, felt the necessity of
hastening their departure. He seized her hands and said:

"Come, dear. Time passes quickly. If we wait much longer it will be too
late."

She looked at him an instant, and then in a flash realised her true
position. Freeing herself from his grasp she exclaimed, resolutely and
frankly:

"It is already too late. You can see for yourself that I am unable now
to follow you. Once my nature was so proud and passionate that I could
have thrown my two arms around your neck in order that you might carry
me away all the more quickly. But now I am no longer the same person. I
am so changed that I do not recognise myself. Yes, I realise now that
it is this quiet corner where I have been brought up, and the education
that has been given me, that has made me what I am at present. Do you
then yourself hear nothing? Do you not know that everything in this
chamber calls upon me to stay? And I do not rebel in the least against
this demand, for my joy at last is to obey."

Without speaking, without attempting to discuss the question with her,
he tried to take her hands again, and to lead her like an intractable
child. Again she avoided him and turned slowly toward the window.

"No, I beseech you to leave me. It is not my hand that you wish for, it
is my heart; and also that, of my own free will, I shall at once go away
with you. But I tell you plainly that I do not wish to do so. A while
ago I thought to have been as eager for flight as you are. But sure of
my true self now, I know it was only the last rebellion, the agony of
the old nature within me, that has just died. Little by little, without
my knowledge, the good traits of my character have been drawn together
and strongly united: humility, duty, and renunciation. So at each return
of hereditary tendency to excess, the struggle has been less severe, and
I have triumphed over temptation more easily. Now, at last, everything
assures me that the supreme contest has just taken place; that
henceforth it is finished for ever. I have conquered myself, and my
nature is freed from the evil tendencies it had. Ah! dear Seigneur,
I love you so much! Do not let us do the slightest thing to mar our
happiness. To be happy it is always necessary to submit."

As he took another step towards her, she was at the threshold of the
great window, which was now wide open on to the balcony. She had stopped
him with a half-smile as she said:

"You would not like to force me to throw myself down from here. Listen,
and understand me when I say to you that everything which surrounds
me is on my side. I have already told you that for a long time objects
themselves have spoken to me. I hear voices in all directions, and never
have they been so distinct as at this moment. Hear! It is the whole
Clos-Marie that encourages me not to spoil my life and yours by giving
myself to you without the consent of your father. This singing voice is
the Chevrotte, so clear and so fresh that it seems to have put within me
a purity like crystal since I have lived so near it. This other
voice, like that of a crowd, tender and deep, it is that of the entire
earth--the grasses, the trees, all the peaceable life of this sacred
corner which has so constantly worked for the good of my soul.

"And there are other voices which come from still farther away, from the
elms of the garden of Monseigneur, and from this horizon of branches,
the smallest of which interests itself in me, and wishes for me to be
victorious.

"Then, again, this great, sovereign voice, it is that of my old friend,
the Cathedral, who, eternally awake, both day and night, has taught me
many important things. Each one of the stones in the immense building,
the little columns in the windows, the bell-towers of its piers,
the flying buttresses of its apse, all have a murmur which I can
distinguish, a language which I understand. Listen to what they say:
that hope remains even in death. When one is really humble, love alone
remains and triumphs. And at last, look! The air itself is filled with
the whisperings of spirits. See, here are my invisible companions, the
virgins, who are ever near me and aid me. Listen, listen!"

Smiling, she had lifted up her hand with an air of the deepest
attention, and her whole being was in ecstasy from the scattered
breathings she heard. They were the virgins of the "Golden Legend"
that her imagination called forth, as in her early childhood, and whose
mystic flight came from the old book with its quaint pictures, that was
placed on the little table. Agnes was first, clothed with her beautiful
hair, having on her finger the ring of betrothal to the Priest Paulin.
Then all the others came in turn. Barbara with her tower; Genevieve
with her sheep; Cecilia with her viol; Agatha with her wounded breast;
Elizabeth begging on the highways, and Catherine triumphing over the
learned doctors. She did not forget the miracle that made Lucy so heavy
that a thousand men and five yoke of oxen could not carry her away: nor
the Governor who became blind as he tried to embrace Anastasia. Then
others who seemed flying through the quiet night, still bearing marks of
the wounds inflicted upon them by their cruel martyrdom, and from which
rivers of milk were flowing instead of blood. Ah! to die from love like
them, to die in the purity of youth at the first kiss of a beloved one!

Felicien had approached her.

"I am the one person who really lives, Angelique, and you cannot give me
up for mere fancies."

"Dreams!--fancies!" she murmured.

"Yes; for if in reality these visions seem to surround you, it is simply
that you yourself have created them all. Come, dear; no longer put a
part of your life into objects about you, and they will be quiet."

She gave way to a burst of enthusiastic feeling.

"Oh no! Let them speak. Let them call out louder still! They are my
strength; they give me the courage to resist you. It is a manifestation
of the Eternal Grace, and never has it overpowered me so energetically
as now. If it is but a dream, a dream which I have placed in my
surroundings, and which comes back to me at will, what of it? It
saves me, it carries me away spotless in the midst of dangers. Listen
yourself. Yield, and obey like me. I no longer have even a wish to
follow you."

In spite of her weakness, she made a great effort and stood up, resolute
and firm.

"But you have been deceived," he said. "Even falsehood has been resorted
to in order to separate us!"

"The faults of others will not excuse our own."

"Ah! You have withdrawn your heart from me, and you love me no longer."

"I love you. I oppose you only on account of our love and for our mutual
happiness. Obtain the consent of your father; then come for me, and I
will follow you no matter where."

"My father! You do not know him. God only could ever make him yield.
Tell me, then, is this really to be the end of everything? If my father
orders me to marry Claire de Voincourt, must I in that case obey him?"

At this last blow Angelique tottered. Was no torture to be spared her?
She could not restrain this heartbroken cry:

"Oh! that is too much! My sufferings are greater than I can bear. I
beseech you go away quickly and do not be so cruel. Why did you come at
all? I was resigned. I had learned to accept the misfortune of being
no longer loved by you. Yet the moment that I am reassured of your
affection, all my martyrdom recommences; and how can you expect me to
live now?"

Felicien, not aware of the depth of her despair, and thinking that she
had yielded simply to a momentary feeling, repeated his question:

"If my father wishes me to marry her----"

She struggled heroically against her intense suffering; she succeeded
in standing up, notwithstanding that her heart was crushed, and dragging
herself slowly towards the table, as if to make room for him to pass
her, she said:

"Marry her, for it is always necessary to obey."

In his turn he was now before the window, ready to take his departure,
because she had sent him away from her.

"But it will make you die if I do so."

She had regained her calmness, and, smiling sadly, she replied:

"Oh! that work is nearly done already."

For one moment more he looked at her, so pale, so thin, so wan; light
as a feather, to be carried away by the faintest breath. Then, with a
brusque movement of furious resolution, he disappeared in the night.

When he was no longer there, Angelique, leaning against the back of her
armchair, stretched her hands out in agony towards the darkness, and her
frail body was shaken by heavy sobs, and cold perspiration came out upon
her face and neck.

"My God!" This, then, was the end, and she would never see him again.
All her weakness and pain had come back to her. Her exhausted limbs no
longer supported her. It was with great difficulty that she could regain
her bed, upon which she fell helpless, but calm in spirit from the
assurance that she had done right.

The next morning they found her there, dying. The lamp had just gone out
of itself, at the dawn of day, and everything in the chamber was of a
triumphal whiteness.



CHAPTER XVI

Angelique was dying.

It was ten o'clock one cold morning towards the end of the winter, the
air was sharp, and the clear heavens were brightened up by the
beautiful sunshine. In her great royal bed, draped with its old, faded,
rose-coloured chintz, she lay motionless, having been unconscious during
the whole night. Stretched upon her back, her little ivory-like hands
carelessly thrown upon the sheet, she no longer even opened her eyes,
and her finely-cut profile looked more delicate than ever under the
golden halo of her hair; in fact, anyone who had seen her would have
thought her already dead, had it not been for the slight breathing
movement of her lips.

The day before, Angelique, realising that she was very ill, had
confessed, and partaken of the Communion. Towards three o'clock in
the afternoon the good Abbe Cornille had brought to her the sacred
_Viaticum_. Then in the evening, as the chill of death gradually crept
over her, a great desire came to her to receive the Extreme Unction,
that celestial remedy, instituted for the cure of both the soul and
body. Before losing consciousness, her last words, scarcely murmured,
were understood by Hubertine, as in hesitating sentences she
expressed her wish for the holy oils. "Yes--oh yes!--as quickly--as
possible--before it is too late."

But death advanced. They had waited until day, and the Abbe, having been
notified, was about to come.

Everything was now ready to receive the clergyman. The Huberts had just
finished arranging the room. Under the gay sunlight, which at this early
morning hour struck fully upon the window-panes, it looked pure as the
dawn in the nudity of its great white walls. The table had been covered
with a fresh damask cloth. At the right and the left of the crucifix two
large wax-tapers were burning in the silver candelabrum which had been
brought up from the parlour, and there were also there the consecrated
wafers, the asperges brush, an ewer of water with its basin and a
napkin, and two plates of white porcelain, one of which was filled with
long bits of cotton, and the other with little _cornets_ of paper. The
greenhouses of the lower town had been thoroughly searched, but the
only inodorous flowers that had been found were the peonies--great white
peonies, enormous tufts of which adorned the table, like a shimmering
of white lace. And in the midst of this intense whiteness, Angelique,
dying, with closed eyes, still breathed gently with a half-perceptible
breath.

The doctor, who had made his first morning visit, had said that she
could not live through the day. She might, indeed, pass away at any
moment, without even having come to her senses at all. The Huberts,
resolute and grave, waited in silent despair. Notwithstanding their
grief and tears, it was evidently necessary that this should be the end.
If they had ever wished for this death, preferring to lose their dear
child rather than to have her rebellious, it was evident that God also
wished it with them, and now, that in this last trying moment they were
quite powerless, they could only submit themselves to the inevitable.
They regretted nothing, although their sorrow seemed greater than they
could bear. Since she, their darling, had been there, suffering from
her long illness, they had taken the entire care of her day and night,
refusing all aid offered them from outside. They were still there alone
in this supreme hour, and they waited.

Hubert, scarcely knowing what he did, walked mechanically to the
porcelain stove, the door of which he opened, for the gentle roaring of
the flaming wood sounded to him like a plaintive moan; then there was a
perfect silence. The peonies seemed even to turn paler in the soft heat
of the room.

Hubertine, stronger than her husband, and still fully conscious of all
she did, listened to the sounds of the Cathedral as they came to
her from behind the walls. During the past moment the old stones had
vibrated from the swinging of the bell of the great tower. It must
certainly be the Abbe Cornille leaving the church with the sacred oils,
she thought; so she went downstairs, that she might receive him at the
door of the house.

Two minutes later, the narrow stairway of the little tower was filled
with a great murmuring sound. Then in the warm chamber, Hubert, struck
with astonishment, suddenly began to tremble, whilst a religious fear,
mingled with a faint hope, made him fall upon his knees. Instead of the
old clergyman whom they had expected, it was Monseigneur who entered.
Yes! Monseigneur, in lace surplice, having the violet stole, and
carrying the silver vessel in which was the oil for the sick, which he
himself had blessed on Holy Thursday. His eagle-like eyes were fixed,
as he looked straight before him; his beautiful pale face was really
majestic under the thick, curly masses of his white hair. Behind him
walked the Abbe Cornille, like a simple clerk, carrying in one hand a
crucifix, and under the other a book of ritual service.

Standing for a moment upon the threshold, the bishop said in a deep,
grave voice:

"_Pax huic domui_." ("Peace be to this house.")

"_Et omnibus habitantibus in ea_," replied the priest in a lower tone.
("And to all the inhabitants thereof.")

When they had entered, Hubertine, who had come up the stairs after them,
she also trembling from surprise and emotion, went and knelt by the
side of her husband. Both of them prostrated themselves most humbly, and
prayed fervently from the depths of their souls.

A few hours after his last visit to Angelique, Felicien had had the
terrible and dreaded explanation with his father. Early in the morning
of that same day he had found open the doors, he had penetrated even
into the Oratory, where the Bishop was still at prayer, after one of
those nights of frightful struggling against the memories of the past,
which would so constantly reappear before him. In the soul of this
hitherto always respectful son, until now kept submissive by fear,
rebellion against authority, so long a time stifled, suddenly broke
forth, and the collision of these two men of the same blood, with
natures equally prompt to violence, was intense. The old man had left
his devotional chair, and with cheeks growing purple by degrees, he
listened silently as he stood there in his proud obstinacy. The young
man, with face equally inflamed, poured out everything that was in
his heart, speaking in a voice that little by little grew louder and
rebuking. He said that Angelique was not only ill, but dying. He told
him that in a pressing moment of temptation, overcome by his deep
affection, he had wished to take her away with him that they might flee
together, and that she, with the submissive humility of a saint, and
chaste as a lily, had refused to accompany him. Would it not be a most
abominable murder to allow this obedient young girl to die, because she
had been unwilling to accept him unless when offered to her by the hand
of his father? She loved him so sincerely that she could die for him. In
fact, she could have had him, with his name and his fortune, but she
had said "No," and, triumphant over her feelings, she had struggled
with herself in order to do her duty. Now, after such a proof of her
goodness, could he permit her to suffer so much grief? Like her, he
would be willing to give up everything, to die even, if it might be, and
he realised that he was cowardly. He despised himself for not being at
her side, that they might pass out of life together, by the same breath.
Was it possible that anyone could be so cruel as to wish to torment
them, that they should both have so sad a death, when one word, one
simple word, would secure them such bliss? Ah! the pride of name, the
glory of wealth, persistence in one's determination: all these were
nothing in comparison to the fact that by the union of two hearts the
eternal happiness of two human beings was assured. He joined his
hands together, he twisted them feverishly, quite beside himself as
he demanded his father's consent, still supplicating, already almost
threatening. But the Bishop, with face deeply flushed by the mounting
of his blood, with swollen lips, with flaming eyes, terrible in his
unexpressed anger, at last opened his mouth, only to reply by this word
of parental authority: "Never!"

Then Felicien, absolutely raving in his rebellion, lost all control over
himself.

He spoke of his mother, he really threatened his father by the
remembrance of the dead. It was she who had come back again in the shape
of her son to vindicate and reclaim the right of affection. Could it be
that his father had never loved her? Had he even rejoiced in her death,
since he showed himself so harsh towards those who loved each other, and
who wished to live? But he might well do all he could to become cold in
the renunciations demanded by the Church; she would come back to haunt
and to torture him, because he was willing to torture the child they
had had, the living witness of their affection for each other. She would
always be there, so long as their son lived. She wished to reappear in
the children of their child for ever. And he was causing her to die
over again, by refusing to her son the betrothed of his choice, the
one through whom the race was to be continued. When a man had once been
married to a woman, he should never think of wedding the Church. Face to
face with his father, who, motionless, appeared in his fearful silence
to grow taller and taller, he uttered unfilial, almost murderous words.
Then, shocked at himself, he rushed away, shuddering at the extent to
which passion had carried him.

When once more alone, Monseigneur, as if stabbed in the full breast by
a sharp weapon, turned back upon himself and struggled deeply with his
soul, as he knelt upon his prie-Dieu. A half-rattling sound came
from his throat. Oh! these frightful heart contests, these invincible
weaknesses of the flesh. This woman, and his beloved dead, who was
constantly coming back to life, he adored her now, as he did the first
evening when he kissed her white feet; and this son, he idolised him as
belonging to her, as a part of her life, which she had left to him. And
even the young girl, the little working girl whom he had repulsed, he
loved her also with a tenderness like that of his son for her. Now his
nights were inexpressibly agitated by all three. Without his having been
willing to acknowledge it, had she then touched him so deeply as he saw
her in the great Cathedral, this little embroiderer, with her golden
hair, her fresh pure neck, in all the perfume of her youth? He saw her
again; she passed before him, so delicate, so pure in her victorious
submission. No remorse could have come to him with a step more certain
or more conquering. He might reject her with a loud voice. He knew well
that henceforth she held him strongly by the heart with her humble hands
that bore the signs of work. Whilst Felicien was so violently
beseeching him, he seemed to see them both behind the blonde head of the
petitioner--these two idolised women, the one for whom his son prayed,
and the one who had died for her child. They were there in all their
physical beauty, in all their loving devotion, and he could not tell
where he had found strength to resist, so entirely did his whole being
go out towards them. Overcome, sobbing, not knowing how he could again
become calm, he demanded from Heaven the courage to tear out his heart,
since this heart belonged no longer to God alone.

Until evening Monseigneur continued at prayer. When he at last
reappeared he was white as wax, distressed, anxious, but still resolute.
He could do nothing more, but he repeated to his son the terrible
word--"Never!" It was God alone who had the right to relieve him from
his promise; and God, although implored, gave him no sign of change. It
was necessary to suffer.

Some days had passed. Felicien constantly wandered round the little
house, wild with grief, eager for news. Each time that he saw anyone
come out he almost fainted from fear. Thus it happened that on the
morning when Hubertine ran to the church to ask for the sacred oils, he
learned that Angelique could not live through the day. The Abbe Cornille
was not at the Sacristy, and he rushed about the town to find him, still
having a last hope that through the intervention of the good man some
Divine aid might come. Then, as he brought back with him the sought-for
clergyman, his hope left him, and he had a frightful attack of doubt and
anger. What should he do? In what way could he force Heaven to come to
his assistance? He went away, hastened to the Bishop's palace, the
doors of which he again forced open, and before his incoherent words his
father was for a moment frightened. At last he understood. Angelique
was dying! She awaited the Extreme Unction, and now God alone could save
her. The young man had only come to cry out all his agony, to break all
relations with this cruel, unnatural father, and to accuse him to his
face of willingly allowing this death. But Monseigneur listened to him
without anger: upright and very serious, his eyes suddenly brightened
with a strange clearness, as if an inner voice had spoken to him.
Motioning to his son to lead the way, he followed him, simply saying at
last:

"If God wishes it, I also wish it."

Felicien trembled so that he could scarcely move. His father consented,
freed from his personal vow, to submit himself to the goodwill of the
hoped-for miracle. Henceforth they, as individuals, counted for nothing.
God must act for himself. Tears blinded him. Whilst in the Sacristy
Monseigneur took the sacred oils from the hands of the Abbe Cornille. He
accompanied them, almost staggering; he did not dare to enter into the
chamber, but fell upon his knees at the threshold of the door, which was
open wide.

The voice of the Bishop was firm, as he said:

"_Pax huic domui_."

"_Et omnibus habitantibus in ea_," the priest replied.

Monseigneur had just placed on the white table, between the two
wax-candles, the sacred oils, making in the air the sign of the cross,
with the silver vase. Then he took from the hands of the Abbe the
crucifix, and approached the sufferer that he might make her kiss it.
But Angelique was still unconscious: her eyes were closed, her mouth
shut, her hands rigid, and looking like the little stiff figures of
stone placed upon tombs. He examined her for a moment, and, seeing by
the slight movement of her chest that she was not dead, he placed upon
her lips the crucifix. He waited. His face preserved the majesty of
a minister of penitence, and no signs of emotion were visible when he
realised that not even a quivering had passed over the exquisite profile
of the young girl, nor in her beautiful hair. She still lived, however,
and that was sufficient for the redemption of her sins.

The Abbe then gave to Monseigneur the vessel of holy water and the
asperges brush, and while he held open before him the ritual book, he
threw the holy water upon the dying girl, as he read the Latin words,
_Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem
dealbabor_. ("Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.")

The drops sprang forth in every direction, and the whole bed was
refreshed by them as if sprinkled with dew. It rained upon her hands
and upon her cheeks; but one by one the drops rolled away as if from
insensible marble. At last the Bishop turned towards the assistants and
sprinkled them in their turn. Hubert and Hubertine, kneeling side by
side, in the full union of their perfect faith, bent humbly under the
shower of this benediction. Then Monseigneur blessed also the chamber,
the furniture, the white walls in all their bare purity, and as he
passed near the door he found himself before his son, who had fallen
down on the threshold, and was sobbing violently, having covered his
face with his burning hands. With a slow movement, he raised three times
the asperges brush, and he purified him with a gentle rain. This holy
water, spread everywhere, was intended at first to drive away all evil
spirits, who were flying by crowds, although invisible. Just at this
moment a pale ray of the winter sun passed over the bed, and a multitude
of atoms, light specks of dust, seemed to be living therein. They were
innumerable as they came down from an angle of the window, as if to
bathe with their warmth the cold hands of the dying.

Going again towards the table, Monseigneur repeated the prayer, "_Exaudi
nos_." ("Give ear to us.")

He made no haste. It was true that death was there, hovering near the
old, faded chintz curtains, but he knew that it was patient, and that
it would wait. And although in her state of utter prostration the child
could not hear him, he addressed her as he asked her:

"Is there nothing upon your conscience which distresses you? Confess all
your doubts and fears, my daughter; relieve your mind."

She was still in the same position, and she was always silent. When, in
vain, he had given time for a reply, he commenced the exhortation with
the same full voice, without appearing to notice that none of his words
reached her ear.

"Collect your thoughts, meditate, demand from the depths of your soul
pardon from God. The Sacrament will purify you, and will strengthen
you anew. Your eyes will become clear, your ears chaste, your nostrils
fresh, your mouth pure, your hands innocent."

With eyes fixed upon her, he continued reading to the end all that was
necessary for him to say; while she scarcely breathed, nor did one of
her closed eyelids move. Then he said:

"Recite the Creed."

And having waited awhile, he repeated it himself:

"_Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem_." ("I believe in one God, the
Father Almighty.")

"Amen," replied the Abbe Cornille.

All this time the heavy sobbing of Felicien was heard, as upon the
landing-place he wept in the enervation of hope. Hubert and Hubertine
still prayed fervently, with the same anxious waiting and desire, as if
they had felt descend upon them all the invisible powers of the Unknown.
A change now came in the service, from the murmur of half-spoken
prayers. Then the litanies of the ritual were unfolded, the invocation
to all the Saints, the flight of the Kyrie Eleison, calling Heaven to
the aid of miserable humanity, mounting each time with great outbursts,
like the fume of incense.

Then the voices suddenly fell, and there was a deep silence. Monseigneur
washed his fingers in the few drops of water that the Abbe poured out
from the ewer. At length he took the vessel of sacred oil, opened the
cover thereof, and placed himself before the bed. It was the solemn
approach of the Sacrament of this last religious ceremony, by the
efficacy of which are effaced all mortal or venial sins not pardoned,
which rest in the soul after having received the other sacraments, old
remains of forgotten sins, sins committed unwittingly, sins of languor
which prevented one from being firmly re-established in the grace of
God. The pure white chamber seemed to be like the individuals collected
therein, motionless, and in a state of surprise and expectation. Where
could all these sins be found? They must certainly come from outside in
this great band of sun's rays, filled with dancing specks of dust, which
appeared to bring germs of life even to this great royal couch, so white
and cold from the coming of death to a pure young maiden.

Monseigneur meditated a moment, fixing his looks again upon Angelique,
assuring himself that the slight breath had not ceased, struggling
against all human emotion, as he saw how thin she was, with the beauty
of an archangel, already immaterial. His voice retained the authority of
a divine disinterestedness, and his thumb did not tremble when he dipped
it into the sacred oils as he commenced the unctions on the five parts
of the body where dwell the senses: the five windows by which evil
enters into the soul.

First upon the eyes, upon the closed eyelids, the right and then the
left; and slowly, lightly, he traced with his thumb the sign of the
Cross.

"_Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam,
indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per visum deliquisti_." ("By this holy
anointing and His gracious mercy, the Lord forgive whatever sins thou
hast committed through _seeing_.")[*]

     [*] This formula is repeated with reference to the other
     senses--hearing, smell, taste, and touch.

And the sins of the sight were redeemed; lascivious looks, immodest
curiosity, the pride of spectacles, unwholesome readings, tears shed for
guilty troubles.

And she, dear child, knew no other book than the "Golden Legend," no
other horizon than the apse of the Cathedral, which hid from view all
the rest of the world. She had wept only in the struggle of obedience
and the renunciation of passion.

The Abbe Cornille wiped both her eyes with a bit of cotton, which he
afterwards put into one of the little cornets of paper.

Then Monseigneur anointed the ears, with their lobes as delicate and
transparent as pearl, first the right ear, afterwards the left, scarcely
moistened with the sign of the cross.

"_Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam,
indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per auditum deliquisti_."

So all the abominations of hearing were atoned for: all the words and
music which corrupt, the slanders, the calumnies, the blasphemies, the
sinful propositions listened to with complacency, the falsehoods of love
which aided the forgetfulness of duty, the profane songs which excited
the senses, the violins of the orchestra which, as it were, wept
voluptuously under the brilliant lights.

She in her isolated life, like that of a cloistered nun--she had never
even heard the free gossip of the neighbours, or the oath of a carman as
he whips his horses. The only music that had ever entered her ears was
that of the sacred hymns, the rumblings of the organs, the confused
murmurings of prayers, with which at times vibrated all this fresh
little house, so close to the side of the great church.

The Abbe, after having dried the ears with cotton, put that bit also
into one of the white cornets.

Monseigneur now passed to the nostrils, the right and then the left,
like two petals of a white rose, which he purified by touching them with
the sacred oil and making on them the sign of the cross.

"_Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam,
indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per odoratum deliquisti_."

And the sense of smell returned to its primitive innocence, cleansed
from all stain: not only from the carnal disgrace of perfumes, from
the seduction of flowers with breath too sweet, from the scattered
fragrances of the air which put the soul to sleep; but yet again from
the faults of the interior sense, the bad examples given to others, and
the contagious pestilence of scandal. Erect and pure, she had at last
become a lily among the lilies, a great lily whose perfume fortified the
weak and delighted the strong. In fact, she was so truly delicate that
she could never endure the powerful odour of carnations, the musk of
lilacs, the feverish sweetness of hyacinths, and was only at ease with
the scentless blossoms, like the marguerites and the periwinkles.

Once more the Abbe, with the cotton, dried the anointed parts, and
slipped the little tuft into another of the cornets.

Then Monseigneur, descending to the closed mouth, through which the
faint breath was now scarcely perceptible, made upon the lower lip the
sign of the cross.

"_Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam,
indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per gustum deliquisti_."

This time it was the pardon for the base gratifications of taste,
greediness, too great a desire for wine, or for sweets; but especially
the forgiveness for sins of the tongue, that universally guilty member,
the provoker, the poisoner, the inventor of quarrels, the inciter to
wars, which makes one utter words of error and falsehood which at length
obscure even the heavens. Yet her whole mouth was only a chalice of
innocence. She had never had the vice of gluttony, for she had taught
herself, like Elizabeth, to eat whatever was set before her, without
paying great attention to her food. And if it were true that she lived
in error, it was the fault of her dream which had placed her there, the
hope of a beyond, the consolation of what was invisible, and all the
world of enchantment which her ignorance had created and which had made
of her a saint.

The Abbe having dried the lips, folded the bit of cotton in the fourth
white cornet.

At last Monseigneur anointed first the right and then the left palms of
the two little ivory-like hands, lying open upon the sheet, and cleansed
them from their sins with the sign of the cross.

"_Per istam sanctam unctionem, et suam piissimam misericordiam,
indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per tactum deliquisti_."

And the whole body was purified, being washed from its last spots--those
of the touch the most repugnant of all. Pilfering, fighting, murder,
without counting other sins of the breast, the body, and the feet, which
were also redeemed by this unction. All which burns in the flesh, our
anger, our desires, our unruled passions, the snares and pitfalls into
which we run, and all forbidden joys by which we are tempted. Since she
had been there, dying from her victory over herself, she had conquered
her few failings, her pride and her passion, as if she had inherited
original sin simply for the glory of triumphing over it. She knew not,
even, that she had had other wishes, that love had drawn her towards
disobedience, so armed was she with the breastplate of ignorance of
evil, so pure and white was her soul.

The Abbe wiped the little motionless hands, and putting the last puff of
cotton in the remaining cornet, he threw the five papers into the fire
at the back of the stove.

The ceremony was finished. Monseigneur washed his fingers before saying
the final prayer. He had now only to again exhort the dying, in placing
in her hand the symbolic taper, to drive away the demons, and to show
that she had just recovered her baptismal innocence. But she remained
rigid, her eyes closed, her mouth shut as if dead. The holy oils had
purified her body, the signs of the cross had left their traces on the
five windows of the soul, without making the slightest wave of colour,
or of life, mount to her cheeks.

Although implored and hoped for, the prodigy did not appear, and the
room was silent and anxious. Hubert and Hubertine, still kneeling
side by side, no longer prayed, but, with their eyes fixed upon their
darling, gazed so earnestly that they both seemed motionless for ever,
like the figures of the _donataires_ who await the Resurrection in a
corner of an old painted glass window. Felicien had drawn himself up on
his knees and was now at the door, having ceased from sobbing, as with
head erect he also might see if God would always remain deaf to their
prayers. Was it then a mere lure? Would not this holy Sacrament bring
her back to life?

For the last time Monseigneur approached the bed, followed by the Abbe
Cornille, who held, already lighted, the wax-taper which was to be
placed in the hand of the young girl. And the Bishop, not willing
to acknowledge the state of unconsciousness in which she remained,
determining to go even to the end of the rite, that God might have time
in which to work, pronounced the formula:--

"_Accipe lampadem ardentem, custodi unctionem tuam, ut cum Dominus ad
judicandum venerit, possis occurrere ei cum omnibus sanctis et vivas in
saecula saeculorum_." ("Receive this light, and keep the unction thou
hast received, that when the Lord shall come to judgment thou mayest
meet Him with all His saints, and live with Him for ever and ever.")

"Amen," replied the Abbe.

But when they endeavoured to open Angelique's hand and to press it round
the taper, the hand, powerless, as if already dead, escaped them and
fell back upon her breast.

Then, little by little, Monseigneur yielded to a great nervous
trembling. It was the emotion which, for a long time restrained,
now broke out within him, carrying away with it the last rigidity of
priesthood. He dearly loved her, this child, from the day when she had
come to sob at his feet, so innocent, and showing so plainly the pure
freshness of her youth. Since then, in his nights of distress, he had
contended chiefly against her, to defend himself from the overwhelming
tenderness with which she inspired him. At this moment she was worthy of
pity, with this pallor of death, with an ethereal beauty which showed,
however, so deep a suffering that he could not look at her without his
heart being secretly overwhelmed with distress.

He could no longer control himself. His eyelids were swollen by the
great tears which at last rolled down his cheeks. She must not die in
this way: he was conquered by her touching charms even in death, and all
his paternal feelings went out towards her.

Then Monseigneur, recalling to mind the numerous miracles of his race,
the power which had been given them by Heaven to heal, thought that
doubtless God awaited his consent as a father. He invoked Saint Agnes,
before whom all his ancestors had offered up their devotions, and as
Jean V d'Hautecoeur prayed at the bedside of those smitten by the plague
and kissed them, so now he prayed and kissed Angelique upon her lips.

"If God wishes, I also wish it."

Immediately Angelique opened her eyelids. She looked at the Bishop
without surprise as she awoke from her long trance, and, her lips still
warm from the kiss, smiled upon him. These things were not strange to
her, for they certainly must have been realised sooner or later, and
it might be that she was coming out of one dream only to have another
still; but it seemed to her perfectly natural that Monseigneur should
have come to betroth her to Felicien, since the hour for that ceremony
had arrived. In a few minutes, unaided, she sat up in the middle of her
great royal bed.

The Bishop, radiant, showing by his expression his clear appreciation of
the remarkable prodigy, repeated the formula:--

"_Accipe lampadem ardentem, custodi unctionem tuam, ut cum Dominus ad
judicandum venerit, possis occurrere ei cum omnibus sanctis et vivas in
saecula saeculorum_."

"Amen," replied the Abbe.

Angelique had taken the lighted taper, and held it up with a firm hand.
Life had come back to her, like the flame of the candle, which was
burning clear and bright, driving away the spirits of the night.

A great cry resounded through the room. Felicien was standing up, as if
raised by the power of the miracle, while the Huberts, overwhelmed by
the same feeling, remained upon their knees, with wonder-stricken eyes,
with delighted countenances, before that which they had seen. The bed
had appeared to them enveloped with a brilliant light; white masses
seemed still to be mounting up on the rays of the sunlight, and the
great walls, the whole room in fact, kept a white lustre, as that of
snow.

In the midst of all, Angelique, like a refreshed lily, replaced upon
its branch, appeared in the clear light. Her fine golden hair was like a
halo of glory around her head, her violet-coloured eyes shone divinely,
and her pure face beamed with a living splendour.

Felicien, seeing that she was saved, touched by the Divine grace that
Heaven had vouchsafed them, approached her, and knelt by the side of the
bed.

"Ah! dear soul, you recognise us now, and you will live. I am yours. My
father wishes it to be so, since God has desired it."

She bowed her head, smiling sweetly as she said, "Oh! I knew it must be
so, and waited for it. All that I have foreseen will come to pass."

Monseigneur, who had regained his usual proud serenity, placed the
crucifix once more on her lips, and this time she kissed it as a
submissive servant. Then, with a full movement of his hands, through
the room, above the heads of all present, the Bishop gave the final
benediction, while the Huberts and the Abbe Cornille wept.

Felicien had taken one of the little hands of Angelique, while in the
other little hand the taper of innocence burned bright and clear.



CHAPTER XVII

The marriage was fixed for the early part of March. But Angelique
remained very feeble, notwithstanding the joy which radiated from her
whole person. She had wished after the first week of her convalescence
to go down to the workroom, persisting in her determination to finish
the panel of embroidery in bas-relief which was to be used for the
Bishop's chair.

"It would be," she said cheerfully, "her last, best piece of work; and
besides, no one ever leaves," she added, "an order only half-completed."

Then exhausted by the effort, she was again forced to keep her chamber.
She lived there, happy and smiling, without regaining the full health
of former times, always white and immaterial as the sacred sacramental
oils; going and coming with a gentle step like that of a vision, and
after having occasionally made the exertion of walking as far as from
her table to the window, finding herself obliged to rest quietly for
hours and give herself up to her sweet thoughts. At length they deferred
the wedding-day, thinking it better to wait for her complete recovery,
which must certainly come if she were well nursed and cared for.

Every afternoon Felicien went up to see her. Hubert and Hubertine were
there, and they passed together most delightful hours, during which they
continually made and re-made the same bright projects. Seated in her
great chair she laughed gaily, seemed trembling with life and vivacity,
as she was the first to talk of the days which would be so well filled
when together they could take long journeys; and of all the unknown
joys that would come to them after they had restored the old Chateau
d'Hautecoeur. Anyone, to have seen her then, would have considered her
saved and regaining her strength in the backward spring, the air of
which, growing warmer and warmer daily, entered by the open window. In
fact, she never fell back into the deep gravities of her dreams, except
when she was entirely alone and was not afraid of being seen. In the
night, voices still appeared to be near her: then it seemed as if the
earth were calling to her; and at last the truth was clearly revealed to
her, so that she fully understood that the miracle was being continued
only for the realisation of her dream. Was she not already dead, having
simply the appearance of living, thanks to the respite which had
been granted her from Divine Grace? This idea soothed her with deep
gentleness in her hours of solitude, and she did not feel a moment's
regret at the thought of being called away from life in the midst of her
happiness, so certain was she of always realising to its fullest extent
her anticipated joy. The cheerfulness she had hitherto shown became
simply a little more serious; she abandoned herself to it quietly,
forgetting her physical weakness as she indulged in the pure delights
of fancy. It was only when she heard the Huberts open the door, or when
Felicien came to see her, that she was able to sit upright, to bring
her thoughts back to her surroundings, and to appear as if she were
regaining her health, laughing pleasantly while she talked of their
years of happy housekeeping far away, in the days to come.

Towards the end of March Angelique grew very restless and much weaker.
Twice, when by herself, she had long fainting fits. One morning she
fell at the foot of her bed, just as Hubert was bringing her up a cup
of milk; by a great effort of will she conquered herself, and, that
she might deceive him, she remained on the floor and smiled, as
she pretended to be looking for a needle that had been dropped. The
following day she was gayer than usual, and proposed hastening the
marriage, suggesting that at all events it should not be put off any
later than the middle of April. All the others exclaimed at this idea,
asking if it would not be advisable to wait awhile, since she was still
so delicate. There was no need of being in such a hurry. She, however,
seemed feverishly nervous, and insisted that the ceremony should take
place immediately--yes, as soon as possible. Hubertine, surprised at
the request, having a suspicion as to the true motive of this eagerness,
looked at her earnestly for a moment, and turned very pale as she
realised how slight was the cold breath which still attached her
daughter to life. The dear invalid had already grown calm, in her tender
need of consoling others and keeping them under an illusion, although
she knew personally that her case was hopeless. Hubert and Felicien,
in continual adoration before their idol, had neither seen nor
felt anything unusual. Then Angelique, exerting herself almost
supernaturally, rose up, and was more charming than ever, as she slowly
moved back and forth with the light step of former days. She continued
to speak of her wish, saying if it were granted she would be so happy,
and that after the wedding she would certainly be cured. Moreover, the
question should be left to Monseigneur; he alone should decide it. That
same evening, when the Bishop was there, she explained her desire to
him, fixing her eyes on his, regarding him steadily and beseechingly,
and speaking in her sweet, earnest voice, under which there was hidden
an ardent supplication, unexpressed in words. Monseigneur realised it,
and understood the truth, and he appointed a day in the middle of April
for the ceremony.

Then they lived in great commotion from the necessary bustle attendant
upon the preparations for the marriage. Notwithstanding his official
position as guardian, Hubert was obliged to ask permission, or rather
the consent of the Director of Public Assistance, who always represented
the family council, Angelique not yet being of age; and Monsieur
Grandsire, the Justice of the Peace, was charged with all legal details,
in order to avoid as much as possible the painful side of the position
to the young girl and to Felicien. But the dear child, realising that
something was being kept back, asked one day to have her little book
brought up to her, wishing to put it herself into the hands of her
betrothed. She was now, and would henceforth remain, in a state of such
sincere humility that she wished him to know thoroughly from what a
low position he had drawn her, to elevate her to the glory of his
well-honoured name and his great fortune. These were her parchments,
her titles to nobility; her position was explained by this official
document, this entry on the calendar where there was only a date
followed by a number. She turned over all the leaves once more, then
gave it to him without being confused, happy in thinking that in herself
she was nothing, but that she owed everything to him. So deeply touched
was he by this act, that he knelt down, kissed her hands while tears
came to his eyes, as if it were she who had made him the one gift, the
royal gift of her heart.

For two weeks the preparations occupied all Beaumont, both the upper and
the lower town being in a state of great excitement therefrom. It was
said that twenty working-girls were engaged day and night upon the
trousseau. The wedding-dress alone required three persons to make it,
and there was to be a _corbeille_, or present from the bridegroom, to
the value of a million of francs: a fluttering of laces, of velvets, of
silks and satins, a flood of precious stones--diamonds worthy a Queen.
But that which excited the people more than all else was the great
amount given in charity, the bride having wished to distribute to
the poor as much as she had received herself. So another million was
showered down upon the country in a rain of gold. At length she was able
to gratify all her old longings of benevolence, all the prodigalities
of her most exaggerated dreams, as with open hands she let fall upon the
wretched and needy a stream of riches, an overflow of comforts. In her
little, white, bare chamber, confined to her old armchair, she laughed
with delight when the Abbe Cornille brought to her the list of the
distributions he had made. "Give more! Give more!" she cried, as it
seemed to her as if not enough were done. She would, in reality, have
liked to have seen the Pere Mascart seated for ever at a table before
a princely banquet; the Chouteaux living in palatial luxury; the _mere_
Gabet cured of her rheumatism, and by the aid of money to have renewed
her youth. As for the Lemballeuse, the mother and daughters, she
absolutely wished to load them with silk dresses and jewellery. The hail
of golden pieces redoubled over the town as in fairy-tales, far beyond
the daily necessities, as if merely for the beauty and joy of seeing the
triumphal golden glory, thrown from full hands, falling into the street
and glittering in the great sunlight of charity.

At last, on the eve of the happy day, everything was in readiness.
Felicien had bought a large house on the Rue Magloire, at the back
of the Bishop's palace, which had been fitted up and furnished most
luxuriously. There were great rooms hung with admirable tapestries,
filled with the most beautiful articles imaginable; a salon in old, rare
pieces of hand embroidery; a boudoir in blue, soft as the early morning
sky; and a sleeping-room, which was particularly attractive: a perfect
little corner of white silk and lace--nothing, in short, but white,
airy, and light--an exquisite shimmering of purity. But Angelique had
constantly refused to go to see all these wonderful things, although
a carriage was always ready to convey her there. She listened to the
recital of that which had been done with an enchanted smile, but she
gave no orders, and did not appear to wish to occupy herself with any of
the arrangements. "No, no," she said, for all these things seemed so far
away in the unknown of that vast world of which she was as yet totally
ignorant. Since those who loved her had prepared for her so tenderly
this happiness, she desired to partake thereof, and to enter therein
like a princess coming from some chimerical country, who approaches
the real kingdom where she is to reign for ever. In the same way she
preferred to know nothing, except by hearsay, of the _corbeille_, which
also was waiting for her--a superb gift from her betrothed, the wedding
outfit of fine linen, embroidered with her cipher as marchioness, the
full-dress costumes tastefully trimmed, the old family jewels valuable
as the richest treasures of a cathedral, and the modern jewels in their
marvellous yet delicate mountings, precious stones of every kind, and
diamonds of the purest water. It was sufficient to her that her dream
had come to pass, and that this good future awaited her in her new home,
radiant in the reality of the new life that was opening before her. The
only thing she saw was her wedding-dress, which was brought to her on
the marriage morning.

That day, when she awoke, Angelique, still alone, had in her great bed
a moment of intense exhaustion, and feared that she would not be able to
get up at all. She attempted to do so, but her knees bent under her;
and in contrast to the brave serenity she had shown for weeks past, a
fearful anguish, the last, perhaps, took utter possession of her. Then,
as in a few minutes Hubertine came into the room, looking unusually
happy, she was surprised to find that she could really walk, for she
certainly did not do so from her own strength, but aid came to her
from the Invisible, and friendly hands sustained and carried her. They
dressed her; she no longer seemed to weigh anything, but was so slight
and frail that her mother was astonished, and laughingly begged her not
to move any more if she did not wish to fly quite away. During all the
time of preparing her toilette, the little fresh house of the Huberts,
so close to the side of the Cathedral, trembled under the great
breath of the Giant, of that which already was humming therein, of the
preparations for the ceremony, the nervous activity of the clergy, and
especially the ringing of the bells, a continuous peal of joy, with
which the old stones were vibrating.

In the upper town, for over an hour there had been a glorious chiming
of bells, as on the greatest holy days. The sun had risen in all its
beauty, and on this limpid April morning a flood of spring rays seemed
living with the sonorous peals which had called together all the
inhabitants of the place. The whole of Beaumont was in a state of
rejoicing on account of the marriage of this little embroiderer, to whom
their hearts were so deeply attached, and they were touched by the fact
of her royal good fortune. This bright sunlight, which penetrated all
the streets, was like the golden rain, the gifts of fairy-tales, rolling
out from her delicate hands. Under this joyful light, the multitude
crowded in masses towards the Cathedral, filling the side-aisles of the
church, and coming out on to the Place du Cloitre. There the great front
of the building rose up, like a huge bouquet of stone, in full blossom,
of the most ornamental Gothic, above the severe Romanesque of the
foundation. In the tower the bells still rung, and the whole facade
seemed to be like a glorification of these nuptials, expressive of the
flight of this poor girl through all the wonders of the miracle, as
it darted up and flamed, with its open lace-work ornamentations, the
lily-like efflorescence of its little columns, its balustrades, and its
arches, the niches of saints surmounted with canopies, the gable ends
hollowed out in trefoil points, adorned with crossettes and flowers,
immense rose-windows opening out in the mystic radiation of their
mullions.

At ten o'clock the organs pealed. Angelique and Felicien were
there, walking with slow steps towards the high altar, between the
closely-pressed ranks of the crowd. A breath of sincere, touching
admiration came from every side. He, deeply moved, passed along proud
and serious, with his blonde beauty of a young god appearing slighter
than ever from his closely-fitting black dress-coat. But she, above all,
struck the hearts of the spectators, so exquisite was she, so divinely
beautiful with a mystic, spiritual charm. Her dress was of white watered
silk, simply covered with rare old Mechlin lace, which was held by
pearls, a whole setting of them designing the ruches of the waist and
the ruffles of the skirt. A veil of old English point was fastened to
her head by a triple crown of pearls, and falling to her feet, quite
covered her. That was all--not a flower, not a jewel, nothing but this
slight vision, this delicate, trembling cloud, which seemed to have
placed her sweet little face between two white wings, like that of the
Virgin of the painted glass window, with her violet eyes and her golden
hair.

Two armchairs, covered with crimson velvet, had been placed for Felicien
and Angelique before the altar; and directly behind them, while the
organs increased their phrases of welcome, Hubert and Hubertine knelt
on the low benches which were destined for the family. The day before an
intense joy had come to them, from the effects of which they had not yet
recovered, and they were incapable of expressing their deep, heartfelt
thanks for their own happiness, which was so closely connected with that
of their daughter. Hubertine, having gone once more to the cemetery,
saddened by the thought of their loneliness, and the little house, which
would seem so empty after the departure of the dearly-beloved child, had
prayed to her mother for a long time; when suddenly she felt within her
an inexplicable relief and gladness, which convinced her that at last
her petition had been granted. From the depths of the earth, after more
than twenty years, the obstinate mother had forgiven them, and sent them
the child of pardon so ardently desired and longed for. Was this the
recompense of their charity towards the poor forlorn little creature
whom they had found one snowy day at the Cathedral entrance, and who
to-day was to wed a prince with all the show and pomp of the greatest
ceremony? They remained on their knees, without praying in formulated
words, enraptured with gratitude, their whole souls overflowing with
an excess of infinite thanksgiving. And on the other side of the nave,
seated on his high, official throne, Monseigneur was also one of the
family group. He seemed filled with the majesty of the God whom he
represented; he was resplendent in the glory of his sacred vestments,
and the expression of his countenance was that of a proud serenity, as
if he were entirely freed from all worldly passions. Above his head,
on the panel of wonderful embroidery, were two angels supporting the
brilliant coat of arms of Hautecoeur.

Then the solemn service began. All the clergy connected with the
cathedral were present to do honour to their Bishop, and priests had
come from the different parishes to assist them. Among the crowd of
white surplices which seemed to overflow the grating, shone the golden
capes of the choristers, and the red robes of the singing-boys. The
almost eternal night of the side-aisles, crushed down by the weight of
the heavy Romanesque chapels, was this morning slightly brightened by
the limpid April sunlight, which struck the painted glass of the windows
so that they seemed to be a burning of gems, a sacred bursting into
blossom of luminous flowers. But the background of the nave particularly
blazed with a swarming of wax-tapers, tapers as innumerable as the stars
of evening in a summer sky. In the centre, the high altar seemed on fire
from them, a true "burning bush," symbolic of the flame that consumes
souls; and there were also candles in large candelabra and in
chandeliers, while before the plighted couple, two enormous lustres with
round branches looked like two suns. About them was a garden of masses
of green plants and of living blossoms, where were in flower great tufts
of white azaleas, of white camellias, and of lilacs. Away to the back
of the apse sparkled bits of gold and silver, half-seen skirts of velvet
and of silk, a distant dazzling of the tabernacle among the sombre
surroundings of green verdure. Above all this burning the nave sprang
out, and the four enormous pillars of the transept mounted upward to
support the arched vaulting, in the trembling movement of these myriads
of little flames, which almost seemed to pale at times in the full
daylight which entered by the high Gothic windows.

Angelique had wished to be married by the good Abbe Cornille, and when
she saw him come forward in his surplice, and with the white stole,
followed by two clerks, she smiled. This was at last the triumphant
realisation of her dream--she was wedding fortune, beauty, and power far
beyond her wildest hopes. The church itself was singing by the organs,
radiant with its wax-tapers, and alive with the crowd of believers and
priests, whom she knew to be around her on every side. Never had the old
building been more brilliant or filled with a more regal pomp, enlarged
as it were in its holy, sacred luxury, by an expansion of happiness.
Angelique smiled again in the full knowledge that death was at her
heart, celebrating its victory over her, in the midst of this
glorious joy. In entering the Cathedral she had glanced at the Chapel
d'Hautecoeur, where slept Laurette and Balbine, the "Happy Dead," who
passed away when very young, in the full happiness of their love.
At this last hour she was indeed perfect. Victorious over herself,
reclaimed, renewed, having no longer any feeling of passion or of pride
at her triumph, resigned at the knowledge that her life was fast leaving
her, in this beautiful Hosanna of her great friend, the blessed old
church. When she fell upon her knees, it was as a most humble, most
submissive servant, entirely free from the stain of original sin; and in
her renunciation she was thoroughly content.

The Abbe Cornille, having mounted to the altar, had just come down
again. In a loud voice he made the exhortation; he cited as an example
the marriage which Jesus had contracted with the Church; he spoke of the
future, of days to come when they would live and govern themselves in
the true faith; of children whom they must bring up as Christians; and
then, once more, in face of this hope, Angelique again smiled sweetly,
while Felicien trembled at the idea of all this happiness, which he
believed to be assured. Then came the consecrated demands of the ritual,
the replies which united them together for their entire existence, the
decisive "Yes"--which she pronounced in a voice filled with emotion from
the depths of her heart, and which he said in a much louder tone, and
with a tender earnestness. The irrevocable step was taken, the clergyman
had placed their right hands together, one clasping the other, as he
repeated the prescribed formula: "I unite you in matrimony, in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost." But there were
still rings to be blessed, the symbols of inviolable fidelity, and of
the eternity of the union, which is lasting. In the silver basin, above
the rings of gold, the priest shook back and forth the asperges brush,
and making the sign of the Cross over each one, said, "Bless, O Lord,
this ring."

Then he presented them to the young couple, to testify to them that the
Church sanctified their union; that for the husband henceforth his heart
was sealed, and no other woman could ever enter therein; and the husband
was to place the ring upon his wife's finger in order to show her, in
his turn, that henceforth he alone among all men existed for her. This
was the strict union, without end, the sign of her dependence upon him,
which would recall to her constantly the vows she had made; it was also
the promise of a long series of years, to be passed together, as if by
this little circle of gold they were attached to each other even to the
grave.

And while the priest, after the final prayers, exhorted them once more,
Angelique wore always the sweet expression of renunciation; she, the
pure soul, who knew the truth.

Then, as the Abbe Cornille withdrew, accompanied by his clerks, the
organs again burst forth with peals of joy. Monseigneur, motionless
until now, bent towards the young couple with an expression of great
mildness in his eagle-like eyes. Still on their knees, the Huberts
lifted their heads, blinded by their tears of joy. And the enormous
depths of the organs' peals rolled and lost themselves by degrees in a
hail of little sharp notes, which were swept away under the high arches,
like the morning song of the lark. There was a long waving movement,
a half-hushed sound amongst the reverential crowd, who filled to
overflowing even the side-aisles and the nave. The church, decorated
with flowers, glittering with the taper lights, seemed beaming with joy
from the Sacrament.

Then there were nearly two hours more of solemn pomp; the Mass being
sung and the incense being burnt.

The officiating clergyman had appeared, dressed in his white chasuble,
accompanied by the director of the ceremonies, two censer-bearers
carrying the censer and the vase of incense, and two acolytes bearing
the great golden candlesticks, in which were lighted tapers.

The presence of Monseigneur complicated the rites, the salutations, and
the kisses. Every moment there were bowings, or bendings of the knee,
which kept the wings of the surplices in constant motion. In the old
stalls, with their backs of carved wood, the whole chapter of canons
rose; and then again, at other times it was as if a breath from heaven
prostrated at once the clergy, by whom the whole apse was filled. The
officiating priest chanted at the altar. When he had finished, he went
to one side, and took his seat while the choir in its turn for a long
time continued the solemn phrases of the services in the fine, clear
notes of the young choristers, light and delicate as the flutes of
archangels. Among these voices was a very beautiful one, unusually pure
and crystalline, that of a young girl, and most delicious to hear. It
was said to be that of Mademoiselle Claire de Voincourt, who had wished
and obtained permission to sing at this marriage, which had been so
wonderfully secured by a miracle. The organ which accompanied her
appeared to sigh in a softened manner, with the peaceful calm of a soul
at ease and perfectly happy.

There were occasionally short spells of silence. Then the music burst
out again with formidable rollings, while the master of the ceremonies
summoned the acolytes with their chandeliers, and conducted the
censer-bearers to the officiating clergyman, who blessed the incenses in
the vases. Now there was constantly heard the movements of the censer,
with the silvery sound of the little chains as they swung back and forth
in the clear light. There was in the air a bluish, sweet-scented cloud,
as they incensed the Bishop, the clergy, the altar, the Gospel, each
person and each thing in its turn, even the close crowd of people,
making the three movements, to the right, to the left, and in front, to
mark the Cross.

In the meantime Angelique and Felicien, on their knees, listened
devoutly to the Mass, which is significant of the mysterious
consummation of the marriage of Jesus and the Church. There had been
given into the hands of each a lighted candle, symbol of the purity
preserved since their baptism. After the Lord's Prayer they had remained
under the veil, which is a sign of submission, of bashfulness, and of
modesty; and during this time the priest, standing at the right-hand
side of the altar, read the prescribed prayers. They still held the
lighted tapers, which serve also as a sign of remembrance of death, even
in the joy of a happy marriage. And now it was finished, the offering
was made, the officiating clergyman went away, accompanied by the
director of the ceremonies, the incense-bearers, and the acolytes, after
having prayed God to bless the newly-wedded couple, in order that they
might live to see and multiply their children, even to the third and
fourth generation.

At this moment the entire Cathedral seemed living and exulting with
joy. The March Triumphal was being played upon the organs with such
thunder-like peals that they made the old edifice fairly tremble. The
entire crowd of people now rose, quite excited, and straining themselves
to see everything; women even mounted on the chairs, and there were
closely-pressed rows of heads as far back as the dark chapels of the
outer side-aisles. In this vast multitude every face was smiling, every
heart beat with sympathetic joy. In this final adieu the thousands of
tapers appeared to burn still higher, stretching out their flames like
tongues of fire, vacillating under the vaulted arches. A last Hosanna
from the clergy rose up through the flowers and the verdure in the midst
of the luxury of the ornaments and the sacred vessels. But suddenly the
great portal under the organs was opened wide, and the sombre walls of
the church were marked as if by great sheets of daylight. It was the
clear April morning, the living sun of the spring-tide, the Place du
Cloitre, which was now seen with its tidy-looking, white houses; and
there another crowd, still more numerous, awaited the coming of the
bride and bridegroom, with a more impatient eagerness, which already
showed itself by gestures and acclamations. The candles had grown paler,
and the noises of the street were drowned in the music of the organs.

With a slow step, between the double hedge of the worshippers, Angelique
and Felicien turned towards the entrance-door. After the triumphant
carrying out of her dream, she was now about to enter into the reality
of life. This porch of broad sunlight opened into the world of which
as yet she was entirely ignorant. She retarded her steps as she looked
earnestly at the rows of houses, at the tumultuous crowd, at all which
greeted and acclaimed her. Her weakness was so intense that her husband
was obliged to almost carry her. However, she was still able to look
pleased, as she thought of the princely house, filled with jewels and
with queenly toilettes, where the nuptial chamber awaited her, all
decorated with white silk and lace. Almost suffocated, she was obliged
to stop when halfway down the aisle; then she had sufficient strength
to take a few steps more. She glanced at her wedding ring, so recently
placed upon her finger, and smiled at this sign of eternal union. Then,
on the threshold of the great door, at the top of the steps which went
down into the Place du Cloitre, she tottered. Had she not really arrived
at the summit of her happiness? Was not it there that the joy of her
life, being perfected, was to end? With a last effort she raised herself
as much as possible, that she might put her lips upon the lips of
Felicien. And in that kiss of love she passed away for ever.

But her death was without sadness. Monseigneur, with his habitual
movement of pastoral benediction, aided this pure soul to free itself
from the frail body. He had regained his calmness, and had once more
found in the fulfillment of his sacred calling the desired-for peace.

The Huberts, unconscious of what had taken place, were still kneeling,
grateful for the pardon at last granted them, and feeling as if
re-entering into existence. For them, as well as for their beloved
daughter, the dream was accomplished. All the Cathedral and the whole
town were _en fete_. The organs sounded louder than ever; the bells
pealed joyously; the multitude waited to greet the loving couple on the
threshold of the mystic church under the glorious spring sunlight.

It was indeed a beautiful death. Angelique, happy and pure, carried away
suddenly at the moment of the realisation of her fondest dream, taken
into the heavenly life from the dark Romanesque chapels with the
flamboyant, Gothic-vaulted ceiling, from among the gilded decorations
and paintings of ancient times, in the full Paradise of Golden Legends.
What more could she have asked for?

Felicien held in his arms simply a soft and tender form, from which life
had departed; this bridal robe of lace and pearls seemed like the light
wings of a bird, still warm to the touch. For a long time he had well
known that he could claim but a shadow. The exquisite vision that came
from the Invisible had returned to the Invisible.

It was merely a semblance, which effaced itself; the vanishing of an
illusion.

Everything is only a dream.

And so, at the moment of supreme earthly happiness, Angelique had
disappeared in the slight breath of a loving kiss.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dream" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home