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Title: Captain Paul
Author: Alexandre Dumas, Pere, - To be updated
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Captain Paul" ***

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CAPTAIN PAUL

By Alexandre Dumas, Pere



INTRODUCTION.

The admirers of “The Pilot,” one of the most magnificent of Cooper’s
novels, have evinced a general feeling of regret, in which we ourselves
have deeply participated, that the book, once finished, we altogether
lose sight of the mysterious being whom we had followed with such
intense interest, through the narrows of the Devil’s Grip, and the
Cloisters of St, Ruth. There is in the physiognomy, in the language, and
in the actions of this person, introduced in the first place by the name
of John, and afterwards under that of Paul, a melancholy so profound, a
grief so bitter, a contempt of life of so intense a nature, that every
reader desires to become acquainted with the motives which influenced so
brave and generous a heart. For ourselves, we acknowledge that we have
more than once been tempted, however indiscreet, to say the least of
it, it might have been, to write to Cooper himself, and ask him for
information regarding the early career and closing years of this
adventurous seaman--information which we have vainly searched for in his
narrative. I thought that such a request would be readily forgiven by
him to whom it was addressed, for it would have been accompanied by the
expression of the most sincere and ardent admiration of his work; but I
was restrained by the reflection that the author himself, perhaps, knew
no more of that career, of which, he had given us but an episode, than
that portion of it which had been illuminated by the sun of American
Independence: for, in fact, this brilliant meteor had passed from the
clouds which environed his birth to the obscurity of his death in such
a manner, that it was quite possible the “poet historian,” being far
distant from the place where his hero was born, and from the country in
which he died, knew no more of him than what he has transmitted to us.
The very mystery which surrounded him, may have been the cause of
his selecting Paul Jones to play a part in his annals. Urged by these
considerations, I resolved upon obtaining, by my own research, those
details which I had so often desired to receive from others. I searched
through the archives of the Navy; all I found there was a copy of the
letters of marque granted to him by Louis XVI. I examined the annals of
the Convention; I only found in them the Decree passed at the time of
his death. I questioned his contemporaries; they told me that he was
buried in the cemetery of Père la Chaise. This was all the information I
could gather from my first attempts.

I then consulted our living library--Nodier, the learned--Nodier, the
philosopher--Nodier, the poet. After reflecting for a few moments, he
mentioned a small book written by Paul Jones himself, containing memoirs
of his life, bearing this motto, “Munera sunt Laudi.” I started off
to hunt for this precious relic; but it was in vain I searched through
libraries, rummaged the old book-stalls--all that I could find was an
infamous libel, entitled, “_Paul Jones, ou Prophétie sur l’Amérique,
l’Angleterre, la France, l’Espagne et la Hollande_” which I threw from
me with disgust, before I had got through the fourth page, marvelling
that poisons should be so enduring, and be perfectly preserved, whilst
we search in vain for wholesome and nutritious food--I therefore
renounced all hope in this quarter.

Some time afterwards, while taking a voyage along our coast, having
started from Cherbourg, I visited St. Malo, Quimper, and l’Orient. Upon
my arrival at the latter place I recollected having read in a biography
of Paul Jones, that this celebrated seaman had been three times in that
port. This circumstance had struck me--I had noted down the dates, and
had only to open my pocket-book to ascertain them. I examined the naval
archives, and in them I actually found entries of the sojourn which
the two frigates, the Hanger, of eighteen guns, and the Indienne, of
thirty-two, had made in these roads. As to the reasons for their coming
there, whether from ignorance or neglect, the secretary who had kept
the register had omitted to assign them. I was just leaving the office
without further information, when I thought of inquiring of an old clerk
who was sitting there, whether there was no traditional recollection in
the country as to the captain of these two ships. The old man told me
that in 1784, he being then a boy, and employed in the Quarantine Office
at Havre, had seen Paul Jones there. He was at that time a commodore
in the fleet of the Count de Vaudreuil. The renowned courage of this
officer, and his extraordinary exploits, had made such an impression
upon him, that upon his, the clerk’s, return to Brittany, he spoke of
him to his father, who then had charge of the Chateau d’Auray. Upon
hearing the name of Paul Jones, the old man started, and made a sign to
him to be silent--the young man obeyed, though not without astonishment.
He frequently afterwards questioned his father upon the subject, but he
always refused to satisfy his curiosity. It was not till after the death
of the Marchioness d’Auray, the emigration of her son, the Marquis, and
the dispersion of the family at the Revolution, that the old man felt
himself permitted to reveal, even to his son, the strange and mysterious
history, in which that of the object of my inquiries was so singularly
blended. Although nearly, forty years had passed away since his father
had related that eventful history, it had made so deep an impression
upon him that he repeated it to me, as he assured me, nearly word for
word.

I have treasured up this history in the recesses of my memory for nearly
seven years: and it would have still remained buried there, with a mass
of other recollections, destined never to see the light, had I not about
six months ago read “The Pilot” for the second time, and even with much
greater interest than before; for, thanks to the researches I had made,
the hero was no longer to me an unknown being, appearing only for an
instant, his face but partially visible, and with merely the portion
of a name; he had now become a friend, almost a brother, to me--for
new sympathies had been awakened in my heart besides those which had
formerly been inspired by the recital of the expedition to Whitehaven.
These led me to reflect that whatever of interest and disappointment
I had experienced on reading’ Cooper’s novel, they must have been
entertained alike by others, and that the anxious desire I had felt
to know more of the former lover of Alice Dunscombe was not a feeling
peculiar to myself, but would be participated by all those, and their
number must be great, who have followed this skilful seaman from the
moment of his first meeting Lieutenant Barnstaple on the English cliffs,
until that in which he quitted the Alert to land on the shores of
Holland.

I have, therefore, gathered up my recollections, and have written this
history.



CAPTAIN PAUL.



CHAPTER I--A STRANGE SAIL

     Hoarse o’er her side the rustling cable rings-
     The sails are furled--and anchoring, round she swings;
     And gathering loiterers on the land discern
     Her boat descending from the latticed stern.
     ‘Tis mann’d--the oars keep concert to the strand,
     Till grates her keel upon the shallow sand.--Byron.


Toward the close of a fine evening in the month of October, 1779, the
most inquisitive among the inhabitants of the small town of Fort Louis,
had assembled on the point of land immediately opposite to that on which
stands the city of Lorient. The object which attracted their attention,
and which was the subject of their inquiries, was a noble beautiful
frigate, carrying 32 guns, which had been anchored for about a week, not
in the port, but in a small cove in the roadstead, and which had been
perceived for the first time early one morning, like an ocean flower
which had suddenly blossomed during the night. From the elegant and
coquettish appearance of this frigate, it was imagined that this was
the first time of her putting to sea; she bore the French flag, for the
three golden _fleur-de-lis_ were seen glittering in the last rays of the
setting sun.

That which, above all, appeared to excite the curiosity of the
admirers of this spectacle, so frequent, and notwithstanding, always so
interesting in a seaport, was the uncertainty as to the country in which
this vessel had been built; for, having all her sails clewed up and
snugly stowed around her yards, showed in the setting sun the graceful
outline of her hull, and a minute elegance as to her running rigging.
Some thought they could discern in her the bold and taunt masts used
by the Americans, but the perfection exemplified in the finish which
distinguished the rest of her construction, was in perfect contrast with
the barbarous rudeness of those rebellious children of England. Others,
deceived by the flag she had hoisted, were endeavouring to divine in
what port of France she had been launched, but their national pride soon
gave way to the conviction that she was not built in France, for they
sought in vain for those heavy galleries, ornamented with sculpture,
which is the compulsory decoration of the stern of every daughter of
the ocean, or of the Mediterranean, born on the stocks of Brest or of
Toulon; others, again, knowing that the flags were frequently used as a
mask to hide the real face, maintained that the lion and the towers of
Spain would have more properly been placed upon the ensign waving from
her peak, than the three _fleur-de-lis_ of France: but the latter were
asked whether the straight and elegant sides and quarters of the frigate
all resembled the bulging build of Spanish galleons. In short, there
were some among them who would have sworn that this beautiful fairy of
the waters had been brought to life among the frogs of Holland, had not
the dangerous boldness of her masts and rigging fully contradicted
the suggestion that she could have been built by those old but prudent
sweepers of the seas. But, as we have said, for eight whole days, and
ever since the first appearance of this splendid vision upon the
coast of Brittany, she had been the constant theme of wonder and
of conversation, for nothing had happened to give them any positive
information, as not an individual from the crew had landed from the
ship, under any pretext whatever. They might, indeed, have doubted
whether she had a crew or not, had not they now and then seen the
head of a sentinel, or of the officer of the watch, peering above the
bulwarks. It appeared, however, that this vessel, although she had not
communicated with the shore, could not have any hostile intention;
her arrival had not seemed to give the least uneasiness to the public
authorities of Lorient, for she had run under the guns of a small fort,
which the recent declaration of war between England and France had
caused to be put in order, and which displayed a battery of long guns of
heavy calibre.

Among this crowd of idlers, however, there was a young man, who was
remarked for the anxious eagerness of his inquiries:--without any one
being able to devise the cause, it was easily perceived that he felt
some direct interest in this mysterious vessel. His brilliant uniform
was that of the _mousquetaires_, and as these royal guards rarely
left the capital, he had, at first, directed a portion of the public
curiosity to himself, but it was soon discovered that this person, whom
they thought a stranger, was the young Count d’Auray, the last scion of
one of the most ancient families of Brittany. The castle inhabited by
his family rose above the shores of the Golf of Morbihan, at six or
seven leagues, distance from Fort Louis. The family consisted of the
Marquis d’Auray, a poor insane old man, who for twenty years had never
been seen beyond the boundaries of his estates; of the Marchioness
d’Auray, whose rigid morality, and whose ancient nobility, could alone
excuse her haughty and aristocratic bearing; of the young Marquerite, a
sweet girl of seventeen or eighteen years of age, delicate and pale
as the flower whose name she bore; and of Count Emanuel, whom we have
mentioned above, and around whom the crowd had gathered, carried away,
as it always is, by a sounding title, a brilliant uniform, and noble and
lordly manners.

However eager might have been the desire of those he addressed to
satisfy his curiosity, they could only answer his questions in a
vague and undecided manner; all they knew of the frigate being mere
conjecture. The count was about retiring from the jetty, when he
perceived a six-oared boat approaching it. At a moment when curiosity
had been so much excited, this incident could not fail to attract all
eyes. In the stern of the boat sat a young man, who appeared to be from
twenty to twenty-two years of age, and who was dressed in the uniform of
a lieutenant of the royal navy--he was sitting, or rather lying, upon a
bearskin, one hand reclining carelessly on the tiller of the small
boat, while the coxswain, who, thanks to the caprice of his officer,
had nothing to do, was sitting in the bow. From the moment that it
first made its appearance, every eye was directed towards it, as if it
contained the means of solving the mystery which had so much puzzled
them. The boat, urged on by the last efforts of its oarsmen, took the
ground at eight or ten feet distance from the beach, there being too
little water in that place to allow it to come nearer. Two of the
sailors jumped into the sea up to their knees. The young lieutenant then
rose up in a careless way, walked to the bow of the boat, and allowed
the two sailors to carry him in their arms to the beach, so that not a
drop of salt water should soil his elegant uniform. He then ordered his
men to double the point of land which advanced about three hundred feet
into the sea, and to go and wait for him on the opposite side of the
battery. As for himself, he stopped a moment on the beach to arrange his
dress, which had been a little disordered by the rough mode of transport
he had been compelled to adopt, and then he advanced, humming a French
air, towards the gate of a small fort, which he passed, after having
slightly returned the military salute of the sentinel on duty.

Although nothing could, in a seaport, be more natural than that a naval
officer should cross the roads and walk into a fort, the minds of the
lookers-on had been so much occupied with the foreign vessel, that there
was hardly one among the crowd who did not imagine that this visit to
the commandant of the fort had some relation to her, so that when the
young officer issued from it, he found himself surrounded so closely by
the crowd, that for a moment he appeared half inclined to use the rattan
which he carried in his hand, to make way through it. However after
having flourished it with impertinent affectation above the heads of
those who were nearest him, he appeared all at once to change his
mind, and perceiving Count Emanuel, whose distinguished appearance,
and elegant uniform, contrasted strikingly with the vulgar air and
habiliments of the persons who surrounded him, he made a few steps
towards him at the same moment that the count had advanced to meet him.
The two officers merely exchanged a rapid glance, but that look at
once assured both that they were persons of rank and station. They
immediately saluted each other with that easy grace and affable
politeness which characterized the young nobility of that period.

“By Heaven!” exclaimed the young midshipman; “my dear countryman, for I
suppose that like myself you are a Frenchman, although I meet you in
a seemingly hyperborean land, and in regions which, if not absolutely
savage, appear sufficiently barbarous--will you have the goodness to
tell me what there is so extraordinary about me, that I seem to cause
quite a revolution in the country? Or is the appearance of an officer of
the navy an event so rare and so extraordinary at Lorient, that his mere
presence excites, in so singular a degree, the curiosity of the natives
of Lower Brittany? By solving this mystery, you will render me a service
which I shall be happy to reciprocate, should any opportunity present
itself in which I can be useful to you.”

“This will be so much the more easy,” replied Count Emanuel, “as
this curiosity is not founded in any feeling which you would consider
offensive to your uniform or hostile to your person--and the proof of
this is, my dear comrade--for I see by your epaulettes that we are of
equal rank in the service of his majesty--that I participate with these
honest Britons in the curiosity which they evince, although, perhaps,
my motives are more weighty than theirs, in endeavouring to obtain a
solution of the problem which has occupied us.”

“If I can be of any assistance to you, in the inquiries which you have
undertaken, I place all the algebra I possess at your disposal. Only the
position we are in is not a comfortable one to carry out mathematical
demonstrations. Will it please you to remove to a small distance from
these honest people, whose presence would only tend to confuse our
calculations.”

“Certainly,” replied the mousquetaire, “and the more readily, as, if I
do not deceive myself, by walking this way I shall lead you nearer
to your boat and your sailors.”

“Oh! that is not of the slightest consequence; should this path not be
convenient to you we can take another. I have plenty of time; and my men
are less eager to, return on board than I am. Therefore, we will about
ship, if such is your good pleasure.”

“Not at all; on the contrary, let us go on, the nearer we are to
the beach the better we can discuss the matter in question. Let us,
therefore, walk upon this strip of land as far as we can.”

The young seamen, without replying a word, conti-nued to walk on, like a
man to whom the direction he was to take was perfectly indifferent, and
these two young men, who had thus met for the first time, walked arm in
arm, as though they had been friends from infancy, towards the end of
the promontory. When they had reached the extreme point, Count Emanuel
paused, and pointed towards the frigate, saying, “Do you know what ship
that is?”

The young seaman threw a rapid and scrutinizing glance upon the
mousquetaire, and then looked towards the ship: “Yes,” replied he,
negligently, “it is a pretty frigate carrying two and thirty guns, with
her sails bent and her starboard anchor atrip, ready to sail at the
first signal given.”

“Excuse me,” replied Emanuel, smiling; “that is not what I ask of you. It
signifies little to me how many guns she carries, or by what anchor she
is holding--is not that your technical mode of speaking?”

The lieutenant smiled: in turn. “But,” continued Emanuel, “what I wish
to know is, to what nation she actually belongs, the port, that she is
bound to, and the name of her captain.”

“As to the nation she belongs to,” replied the lieutenant,

“She has taken care to give us that information herself, or she is, an
outrageous liar; Do you not see her flag flying from her peak? It is the
flag without a stain, rather worn out from being too much used that’s
all. As to the place she is bound to, it is as the commandant of the
fort told you, when, you asked him,--Mexico.” Emanuel looked with
astonishment at the young lieutenant. “And finally, as to her captain,
that is a much more difficult matter.. There are some people who would
swear he is a young man about my own age or yours, for; I, believe we
left the cradle pretty closely the one after, the other, although the
professions we follow may place a long interval between our graves.
There are others who pretend he is of the same age with my uncle the
Count d’Estaing, who as you doubtless know, has just been made an
admiral, and who is at: this moment affording every assistance to the
rebels of America, as some people, even in France, still call them.
But, in short, as to his name, that is quite another thing; it is said
he does not know it himself; and until some fortunate occurrence shall
apprise him of it, he calls himself Paul.”

“Paul?”

“Yes, Captain Paul.”

“Paul, what?”

“Paul, of the _Providence_, of the _Banger_, of the _Alliance_,
according to the name of the ship he commands. Are there not also in
France some of our young nobles, who, finding their family name too
short, lengthen it out by the name of an estate, and surmount the whole
with a knight’s casque, or a baron’s coronet: so that their seals or
their carriages bear the evidence of belonging to some ancient family,
quite delightful to reflect upon? Well! so it is with him. At this
moment he calls himself, I believe, Paul, of the _Indienne_, and he is
proud of the appellation; if I may judge front my naval sympathies, I
do not think he would exchange his frigate for the finest estate to be
found between the Port of Brest and the mouth of the Rhone.”

“But, tell me,” rejoined Emanuel, after reflecting for a moment on the
singular mixture of simplicity and sarcasm which pervaded the answers of
his companion; “what is the character of this man?”

“His character--but, my dear baron--count--marquis”--

“Count,” replied Emanuel, bowing.

“Well, my dear count, then, I was about to say that you pursued me from
one abstraction to another, and that when I placed at you disposal all
my knowledge in algebra, I did not intend that we should enter into a
research of the unknown. His character! good heaven, my dear count, who
can speak knowingly of the character of a man, unless it be himself--and
even then--but hold--I, myself, as you now see me, have ploughed for
twenty years, at one time with the keel of a brig, at another with that
of a frigate, this vast expanse, which now extends itself before us.
My eyes, for so I may express myself, discerned the ocean almost at the
same moment that they saw the sky above it; since my tongue was able to
join two words together, or my comprehension could combine two ideas,
I have interrogated and studied the caprices of the ocean, and yet I
do not, even to this time, know its character--and there are only four
principal winds and thirty-two breezes which agitate it--that’s all.
How, then, can you expect that I should judge of man, torn as he is by
his thousand passions.”

“Nor did I ask you, my dear--duke--marquis--count?”--

“Lieutenant,” replied the young sailor, bowing, as Emanuel had done
before.

“I was about to say, then, my dear lieutenant, I do not ask a
physiological lecture on the passions of Captain Paul. I only wish to
inform myself upon two points. Firstly, whether you consider him a man
of honor?”

“We must first of all understand each other as to the meaning of words,
my dear count--what is your precise definition of the word honor?”

“Permit me to remark, my dear lieutenant, that this question is a most
singular one. Honor! Why, honor--is--honor.”

“That’s it precisely--a word without a definition, like the word God!
God--is God! and every one creates a God after his own fashion. The
Egyptians adored him under the form of a scorpion--the Israelites,
under that of a golden calf. So it is with honor. There is the honor
of Camillus, and that of Coriolanus--that of the Cid, and that of Count
Julian. Define your question better if you wish me to reply to it.”

“I ask, then, whether his word may be relied upon?”

“I do not believe he ever failed in that regard. His enemies--and no one
can arrive to his station without having them--even his enemies, I say,
have never doubted that he would keep, even unto death, an oath which he
had sworn to. This point is, therefore, believe me, fully settled. In
this respect, he is a man of _honor_. Let us pass, therefore, to your
second question, for if I do not deceive myself, you wish to know
something farther.”

“Yes, I wish to know whether he would faithfully obey an order given by
his Majesty?”

“What Majesty?”

“Really, my dear lieutenant, you affect a difficulty of comprehension
which would better suit the gown of a sophist, than a naval uniform.”

“Why so? You accuse me of cavilling, because, before replying, I wish
to know precisely what I have to answer. We have, at this? present time,
eight or ten majesties, seated securely or otherwise, upon the different
thrones of Europe. We have his Catholic Majesty--a feeble majesty, who
allows the inheritance, left him by Charles, the Fifth, to be torn
from him piece by piece;--we have his Britannic Majesty--a headstrong
majesty, who clings to his America, as Cyingetus to the Persian ship,
and whose hands we shall cut off, if he does not loose his hold;--we
have his Christian Majesty, whom I venerate and honor”--

“Well--it is of him I wish to speak,” said Emanuel,

“Do you believe that Captain Paul would feel disposed to obey an order
which I should deliver from him?”

“Captain Paul,” replied the lieutenant, “would, as every captain ought
to do, obey every order emanating from a power which has the right of
commanding him--unless indeed he be an accursed pirate, or some damned
privateersman, some buccaneer, who owes no allegiance, and which I
should doubt from the appearance of the frigate he commands, and from
the way she is fitted. He must have then in some drawer of his cabin, a
commission signed by some power or other. Well! should this commission
bear the name of Louis, and be sealed with the fleur-de-lis of France,
there can be no doubt that he would obey any order sealed, and signed by
the same name.”

“This is all then that I wish to be informed of,” replied the young
mousquetaire, who began to grow impatient at the strange and evasive
answers given by his companion. “I will only ask you one more question.”
 “I am ready to obey your wishes in that, as I have in the rest, count,”
 returned the lieutenant.

“Do you know any way of getting on board of that ship?”

“There is one,” replied the lieutenant, pointing towards his own boat,
which lay rocked, by the waves, in a small creek close to them.

“That boat! why, is it yours?”

“Well! I will take you on board.”

“You know this Captain Paul, then?”

“I? not in the least! But as nephew of an admiral, I am naturally
acquainted with every officer of a ship, from a boatswain, who pipes the
hands aloft, to the rear admiral, who commands a squadron. Besides
which, we sailors have secret signs among us, a certain masonic
language, by which we know one another as brothers in whatever part of
the ocean we may meet. You may, therefore, accept my proposal with the
same frankness in which I offer it. I, my rowers, and my boat, are at
your disposal.”

“Do me this service, then,” said Emanuel, “and”--

“You will forgive me the annoyance I have caused by my tergiversations,
will you not?” said the lieutenant. “You cannot be surprised at it,”
 continued he smiling, “my dear count, the solicitude of a seaman’s life
has given to us children of the sea, the habit of soliloquising. During
a calm, we invoke the winds! During the tempest, we invoke the calm; and
during the night we address ourselves to God.”

Emanuel again looked doubtingly at his companion, who met his gaze with
that apparent good tempered simplicity, which had appeared to spread
over his features every time he had become the object of investigation,
to the mousquetaire. The latter was surprised at this mixture of
contempt for human things, and of poetic feeling toward the works of
God. But finding that this singular man was disposed to render him,
although in a strange manner, the service he had asked of him, he
accepted his proffered assistance. Five minutes afterwards, the two
young men were advancing towards the unknown vessel with as much
rapidity as the vigor of six stout rowers could give to the light bark
in which they were seated. Their oars rose and fell with so regular a
movement, that it appeared rather impelled by some powerful machine,
than by the combination of human strength.



CHAPTER II.--THE FRIGATE.

     And oh! the little warlike world within!
     The well-reeved guns, the netted canopy;
     The hoarse command, the busy humming din-
     When, at a word, the tops are mann’d on high,
     Hark to the boatswain’s call, the cheering cry;
     While through the seaman’s hands the tackle glides:
     Or schoolboy midshipman that, standing by,
     Strains his shrill pipe, as good or ill betides,
     And well the docile crew that skilful urchin guides.--Byron.


As they advanced, the graceful form of the ship became more and more
clearly defined, and although the vocation of the count did not lead him
to admire beauty under such a form, yet he could not avoid being struck
by the graceful model of her construction, the loftiness and strength of
her masts, and the elegance of her rigging, which appeared, as it stood
out against the richly tinted sky, reddened by the setting sun, to be
composed of flexible and silky fibres, spun by some gigantic spider.
There was not, however, any appearance of movement on board the ship,
which seemed, either from inattention or contempt, to care but little
for the visit she was about to receive. The young mousquetaire thought,
however, at one moment, that he perceived the end of a telescope peeping
out of one of the port-holes, near the muzzle of a gun, and which was
pointed towards the boat; but the ship being gently moved round by
the quiet heaving of the waves, presented her prow toward them, his
attention was attracted by the figure-head which generally bears
some allusion to the name of the vessel that it decorates: it was
a representation of one of the daughters of America, discovered by
Columbus, and conquered by Cortez, with a head-dress of many colored
feathers, her bosom naked, and ornamented with a coral necklace. As to
the remainder of the figure, it was a curious combination, half syren,
half serpent, attached to the fore part of the ship in a graceful though
fantastic form. The nearer the boat approached the ship, the more did
the attention of the count appear attracted by this figure. It was, in
fact, a sculpture, not only singular as to form, but very remarkable
from the finish of its execution; and it was easy to perceive, that
it was not the work of vulgar hands, but had been carved by a superior
artist. The lieutenant remarked, with the satisfaction of a seaman, the
increasing admiration which appeared in the countenance of the soldier;
and at last perceiving that his attention was concentrated in the
figure-head we have described, he seemed to wait with impatience that
the latter should express his opinion upon it; but finding that he did
not give any, although they were near enough not to lose any of its
beauties, he took upon himself to be the first to speak, and to question
his young companion.

“Well, count,” said he, concealing the interest which he took in
his reply under an apparent gaiety, “what do you think of this
master-piece?”

“I think,” replied Emanuel, “that comparing it with works of the same
description, which I have seen, it merits the appellation which you have
given it.”

“Yes,” said the lieutenant, carelessly, “it is the last work of William
Coustou, who died before he had completed it: it was finished by one of
his pupils, named Duprè, a man of genius, who is starving, and who is
obliged to carve wood for want of marble, and to cut figure-heads of
ships, when he ought to be employed in sculpturing statues. See,” said
he, giving an impulsion to the rudder which laid then across her bows,
“it is a real necklace of coral that she wears, and they are real pearls
that are hanging from her ears. As to her eyes, each pupil is a diamond
worth a hundred guineas. The captain who takes this frigate, will,
besides the honor of capturing her, have a splendid wedding present to
offer to his bride.”

“What an odd caprice,” exclaimed Emanuel, carried away by the
singularity of the object he was gazing at, “to ornament a ship in the
same way that one would an animated, being, and to risk considerable
sums to the chances of a battle, or the dangers of a storm.”

“Why should this astonish you?” said the lieutenant with an accent
of indescribable melancholy; “we seamen have no other family than our
sailors, no other country but the ocean, no gorgeous pageants but the
tempest, no amusements but the battle. We must attach ourselves to
something, having no real mistresses, for who would love us sea-gulls,
who are always on the wing? We must therefore shape to ourselves an
imaginary love. The one becomes enamoured of some verdant and shady
island, and every time he perceives one in the distance, rising from the
ocean like a flower garden, his heart becomes as joyous as that of a
bird, when returning to its nest. Another selects some favorite star
from out the firmament, and during the long and lovely nights on the
Atlantic, every time he passes the equator, it appears to him that it
approaches nearer to him, and salutes him with a more vivid light. There
are others, and they are the greater number, who attach themselves to
their frigate as to a well beloved daughter, who groan whenever the
tempest tears away any part of her, at every wound given by the shot
that strikes her, and when she is at length sunk by the tempest or
the combat, prefer to perish with her, rather than to save themselves
without her, giving to landsmen a holy example of fidelity. Captain Paul
is one of the latter class, that’s all, and he has given to his frigate
the wedding present which he had intended for his bride. Ah? I see they
are waking up.”

“Boat ahoy?” cried some one from on board the frigate, “what boat’s
that?”

“We want to come on board,” replied Emanuel; “throw us a rope that we
may catch hold of.”

“Go round to the starboard side, and you will find the gangway ladder.”

The sailors pulled round, and in a few seconds the two young men were
going up the ship’s side. The officer of the watch came forward with an
eagerness which appeared in Emanuel’s mind to promise well.

“Sir,” said the lieutenant to a young man who was dressed in the same
uniform as himself, and appeared to be of the same rank, “this is my
friend, the Count ---- By the by, I forgot to ask your name?”

“Count Emanuel d’Auray.”

“I was saying then, that this is my friend, the Count Emanuel d’Auray,
who anxiously desires to speak to Captain Paul. Is he on board?”

“He has just this moment arrived,” replied the officer.

“In that case I will go below and prepare him to receive you, my dear
count. In the meantime, this is Mr. Walter, who will have the pleasure
of showing you through the ship. It is an interesting sight for a land
officer, and the more so, as I doubt whether you would find many ships
kept in such order as this is. The people are at supper just now, I
believe?”

“Yes, sir.”

“In that case it will be the more curious sight.”

“But,” observed the officer, hesitating a little, “it is my watch on
deck.”

“Bah! you can easily find one of your brother officers who will relieve
you for a short time. I will endeavour to manage so that the captain
shall not make you kick your heels too long in the ante-room. Adieu,
till I meet you again, count: I shall recommend you in such a way as will
insure a good reception for you.” With these words, the young lieutenant
disappeared down the companion ladder, while the one who remained with
Emanuel to show him over the ship, took him into the ‘tween decks.

As the lieutenant had presumed, the crew of the frigate were at their
supper. It was the first time that the young count had been present at
such a repast; and however much he desired to speak immediately to
the captain, he felt so curious to observe what was going on, that he
examined everything with eager attention.

Between every two guns, a table and benches were prepared, not standing
on their feet, but slung by ropes from above. Four men were seated
upon each of the benches, taking their portion of pieces of beef, which
seemed to resist the action of their knives, but which had to do with
hearty fellows who did not appear at all disposed to be daunted by its
toughness. At every table there were two cans of wine, that is to say,
about a pint for each man. As to the bread, it did not appear to be
distributed by rations, but they could take as much as they wanted. The
most profound silence reigned throughout the crew, which, was composed
of of more than from one hundred and eighty to two hundred men.

Although none of those seated at the table, opened their mouths for any
other purpose than to eat, Emanuel perceived, with some surprise,
that they were composed of many different nations, which was easily
discernible from the contour of their countenances. His _cicerone_
remarked his astonishment, and replying to his thought before he had
given utterance to it, said, with an American accent, which Emanuel had
already observed, and which proved that he who spoke to him was born on
the other side of the Atlantic: “Yes, yes, we have a tolerably pretty
sample of every nation in the world, and if all at once a good deluge
should carry off the children of Noah, as it formerly did those of Adam,
our ark could furnish people who speak every language. Do you observe
those three fellows who are exchanging a piece of roast beef for a
clove of garlick, they are lads from Galicia, whom we picked up at Cape
Ortegal, and who would not go into action without having said a prayer
to St Jago, of Corapostello, but who, when once their prayer is over,
would rather allow themselves to be cut in pieces, like martyrs, than
retreat a single step. Those two who are polishing their table at
the expense of their jacket-sleeves, are honest Dutchmen, who still
complain: of the injury done to their commerce by the discovery of the
Cape of Good Hope. You see them--at first sight they look like very
beer-pots. Well, those brave fellows, the moment they hear the drum beat
to quarters, become as active as monkeys; Go near them, and they will
talk to you about their ancestors; they will tell you they descend from
those famous sweepers of the sea, who when going into action, hoisted a
broom instead of a flag; but they will take good care not to inform you
that one fine morning the English took their broom, and made rods of it
to whip them with. That whole table, where they are chattering together
at such a rate, but in an under tone, is occupied by Frenchmen, who
would talk louder if they dared. The seat of honor is occupied by a
chief, elected by themselves; he is a Parisian by birth, a cosmopolite
from taste, a great master at the small sword, singlestick, and a
dancing-master to boot. Always gay and contented, he sings when he is
on duty, sings when he is fighting, and will die singing, unless a hemp
cravat should stop his voice, which may very likely happen to him should
he have the misfortune to fall into the hands of John Bull. Turn your
eyes to the other side now, and observe that row of square and idle
heads. These are strange faces to you, are they not? but which every
American born between Hudson’s Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, would
recognize at once for bears born on: the borders of Lake Erie, or
seals from Nova Scotia.. There are three, or four of them who are one
eyed--this arises from, their peculiar mode of fighting; they twist
their fingers in the hair of their antagonist, and gouge out his eye
with their thumbs. There are some of them who are very expert at this
exercise, and who never miss their mark. So that when they are boarding
a ship, they almost invariable throw away their boarding, pikes, or
their cutlass, and seizing the first Englishman they can catch hold
of, they uneye him with a dexterity and quickness quite delightful to
behold. You will now comprehend that I did not deceive you in what I
said, and that our collection is complete.”

“But,” asked Emanuel, who had listened to this long enumeration with
a certain degree of interest, “how does your captain manage to make
himself understood by men brought together from such distant nations?”

“First of all our captain understands all languages--and although in
battle and during stormy weather he speaks his mother tongue, he; gives
such an accent to it that every one understands him and obeys: him. But
see, the larboard cabin door is opening, and I doubt not he is ready
to-receive you.”

And instantly a boy dressed in a midshipman’s uniform came up to the
two officers, and asked Emanuel if he did not call himself the Count
d’Auray; and on his receiving an affirmative reply, he requested him
to follow him; and the officer who had so conscientiously sustained the
part of a cicerone, immediately went on deck to resume his duties there.
As to Emanuel, he advanced towards the cabin with a mixed feeling
of anxiety and curiosity, He was at last about to be ushered in the
presence of Captain Paul.

He was a man who appeared to be between fifty and fifty-five years of
age, and to whom the habit of walking between decks had given him
a stoop rather than age. He wore the uniform of the French navy,
accord-ing to its strictest regulations. It was a blue coat with
scarlet facings, a red waistcoat, and breeches of the same color, grey
stockings, with frilled shirt and’ ruffles. His hair, rolled up in large
curls, and powdered quite white, was tied into a queue by a ribbon, the
ends of which floated upon his shoulders. His cocked hat and his sword
were lying upon a table beside him. At the moment Emanuel entered the
door, he was sitting upon the carriage of a gun, but when he perceived
him, he rose up to receive him.

The young count felt intimidated by the aspect of this man: there was
in his eye a searching look which appeared to peer into the very soul
of the person whom he gazed upon. Perhaps, also, this impression was the
more powerful, that he presented himself before him with a conscience
that reproached him with the act he was endeavouring to accomplish, and
of which he was about to render the captain, if not an accomplice, at
all events the executioner. These two men, as though they felt a
secret repulsion, the one towards the other, saluted each other with
politeness, but with cold reserve.

“It is the Count d’Auray that I have the honor of addressing,” said the
old officer.

“And I Captain Paul, I believe,” replied the young mousquetaire; they
both bowed a second time.

“May I know to what fortunate chance I owe the honor,” rejoined the
captain, “of the visit which is now paid to me by the heir of one of the
oldest and greatest families in Brittany?”

Emanuel bowed again by way of thanks for this compliment, and then,
after hesitating for a moment as if he found it difficult to open the
conversation, he observed: “I am told, Captain Paul, that you are bound
to the Gulf of Mexico?”

“And you have not been deceived, sir; I purpose sailing for New Orleans,
calling on my way at Cayenne, and at the Havannah.”

“This falls out very fortunately, captain, and you will not have to
alter your course, in case you should be willing to undertake the
execution of the order of which I am the bearer.”

“You have an order to communicate to me, sir, and from whom?”

“From the Minister of Marine.”

“An order addressed to me personally?” reiterated the captain,
doubtingly.

“Not personally to you, sir; but to any captain of the royal navy, who
may be about to sail for South America.”

“Of what nature is it, count?”

“A state prisoner to be transported to Cayenne.”

“And you have the order with you?”

“Here it is,” replied Emanuel, taking it from his pocket, and presenting
it to the captain.

He took the paper, and going near the cabin window, that he might avail
himself of the last gleam of daylight, he read aloud:

“The Ministers of Marine and of the Colonies, orders any captain or
lieutenant, commanding a government vessel, who may be about to sail for
South America, or for the Gulf of Mexico, to take on board his ship
and to land at Cayenne, the person named Lusignan, condemned to
transportation for life. During the passage the convict shall take
his meals in his own cabin, and shall not be allowed to have any
communication with the ship’s company.”

“Is the order in due form?” asked Emanuel.

“Perfectly, sir,” replied the captain. “And are you disposed to execute
it?”

“Am I not under the orders of the Minister of Marine?”

“The prisoner may then be sent to you?”

“Whenever you will; but it had better be this evening, or as soon as
possible, as I do not expect to be long in these roads.”

“I will take care that due diligence shall be used.”

“Is this all that you have to say to me?”

“Nothing further, excepting to add my thanks.”

“Do not add anything, sir. The minister orders, and I obey, that’s all.
It is a duty which I fulfil, and not a service that I am rendering.”

Upon these words, the captain and the count bowed to each other and
separated, more coldly even than they had met.

When he reached the deck, Emanuel asked the officer of the watch for his
friend who had accompanied him on board, but was informed he had been
detained by Captain Paul to sup with him, and that being anxious to
oblige the count, he had placed his boat as his disposal.

She was waiting alongside the ship, and the sailors were in readiness
to accompany him. Emanuel had scarcely got into her when they rowed him
away with a rapidity equal to that with which they had conducted him on
board. But this time she proceeded in sorrowful silence, for the young
lieutenant was no longer there to animate the count with his practical
philosophy.

That same night the prisoner was conducted on board the _Indienne_, and
the next morning at day-break the inquisitive inhabitants of the
coast no longer discerned the frigate which had given rise to so many
conjectures, and whose unexpected arrival, her remaining there without
any apparent object, and her spontaneous departure, remained an
inexplicable mystery to the inhabitants of Fort Louis.



CHAPTER III.--THE SEA FIGHT.

     The gallant vessels side by side did lie,
     Yard-arm and yard-arm, and the murd’rous guns
     Belch’d forth their flame and shot, ‘till the white decks
     Ran like a sea with blood. Uncertain still
     The victory stood, ‘till Perry, waving
     His bright sword o’er his head, cried, “Follow me!”
      A hundred shouts responded to this call,
     Then with one spring he bounded on the deck
     Of his determined foe.--Oxd Play.


As the motives which had induced Captain Paul to visit the coast of
Brittany had no relation with our history, excepting as far as regards
the events which we have related, we shall leave our readers in the same
state of uncertainty as were the inhabitants of Fort Louis; and although
our’ vocation and our sympathies naturally incline us to terra-firma,
we must follow our hero for a few days in his adventurous course upon
the ocean. The weather was as beautiful as it generally is on the
western coast of France, at the commencement of autumn. The _Indienne_
sailed gaily on with as fair a wind as could blow for her. The ship’s
crew, excepting those actually employed in manoeuvring the vessel,
were availing themselves of the fine weather and occupied in their own
matters, as caprice directed them, or were idly lounging about the ship,
when all at once a voice which appeared to descend from the sky, called
out, “Below, there!”

“Hullo, there!” replied the quarter-master, who was standing near the
helm.

“Sail, ho!” cried the seaman who was on the lookout, at the head-mast.

“Sail, ho!” repeated the quarter-master. “Officer of the deck, be so
good as to inform the captain there is a sail in sight.”

“A sail! a sail!” re-echoed the crew from different parts of the deck;
for at that moment a wave, having raised the vessel which appeared upon
the horizon, had for an instant rendered her visible to the eyes of the
ship’s company.

“A sail!” exclaimed a young man of five-and-twenty, springing upon the
quarter deck from the cabin stairs; “ask Mr Arthur what he thinks of
her.”

“Mast head, there!” cried the lieutenant, using his speaking trumpet;
“the captain wants to know, Mr. Arthur, what you make of the strange
sail.”

Arthur, the young midshipman, had gone aloft immediately upon hearing
a sail announced. He replied, “She looks like a large square-rigged
vessel, close hauled, and steering for us.”

“Yes, yes,” said the young man, to whom Walter had given the title of
captain, “she has as good eyes as we have, and she has seen us.”

“Very well, if she wishes for a little chat, she will find us ready to talk
to her. Besides, our guns must be almost choked from having their mouths
stopped so long.”

After some little time, the midshipman again hailed the officer on deck,
and told him that the strange ship had just set her mainsail, and had
altered her course a little, so as to cross their bow.

“Sir,” said the captain, addressing the lieutenant, “get ready to
beat to quarters, we must prepare for this fellow; he looks rather
suspicious.” And then calling out to the midshipman, “How does the ship
seem to sail, Mr. Arthur? what do you think of her?”

“She seems to be a fast sailer, and is a man-of-war, I should think, by
the squareness of her yards; and although I cannot see her flag, I would
wager that she bears King George’s commission.”

“I should not wonder,” observed the captain to the first lieutenant,
“and that she has orders to give chase to a certain frigate called the
Indienne, and that her commander is promised good promotion should he
succeed in capturing her. Ha! ha! now she is loosing her top gallant
sails. The blood hound has scented us, and is decidedly about to give us
chase. Set our top gallant sails, too, Mr. Walter, and let us keep our
course without varying a point. We shall see whether they will dare to
come athwart our hawse.”

The captain’s orders were instantly repeated by the lieutenant, and in
a few minutes the ship which had been running under her top sails,
felt the influence of her top gallant sails, heeled over under this new
pressure and bounded along as if animated by the sight of an enemy, and
dashing away the spray from either bow with eager impetuosity.

For some time there was hardly a word uttered on board. Every one
appeared to wait anxiously the termination of this state of suspense,
and we shall profit by this momentary quiet, to call the attention of
our readers to the person of the officer to whom the lieutenant had
given the title of captain.

It was no longer either the young and sceptical lieutenant whom we
have seen accompanying the Count d’Auray on board the ship, nor the old
sea-wolf with his stooping gait, and harsh and snappish answers, who had
received him in the cabin. He was a handsome young man, from twenty to
twenty-five years of age, as we have said before, who, having thrown off
all disguise, appeared at length in his own person, and dressed in the
fanciful uniform which he always wore when upon the wide ocean. It was
a sort of great coat of black velvet, with gold shoulder knots and
fastened with hooks and eyes of the same metal. Round his waist he wore
a Turkish belt, in which was placed a pair of elegant duelling pistols,
richly inlaid and ornamented, apparently more for show than defence. His
pantaloons were of white kerseymere, with boots which reached nearly
to his knees. Round his neck, a cravat of transparent India muslin,
embroidered with flowers in their natural colors, was loosely tied; his
hair, no longer disfigured by powder, and black as ebony, flowed about
his cheeks, which were tanned by exposure to the sun; his eyes beamed
with hope and animation. Near him, upon a gun, was placed a steel helmet
which fastened by a curb chain under the chin. This was his battle
dress, and the only defensive armour which he wore. Some deep
indentations in his helmet proved that it had more than once-saved the
head which it protected from those severe wounds inflicted by those
terrible cutlasses used by seamen when boarding. As to the ship’s
company, they wore the elegant though plain uniform of the French navy.

During this time, the vessel which had been described by the man at
the mast head, and which had then appeared like a white speck upon the
horizon, had become, little by little, a pyramid of sails and rigging.
All eyes were fixed upon her, and although no order had been actually
given, every one of the crew had taken the position which individually
belonged to him, as though it had been determined that a combat should
take place. There reigned then on board the Indienne that solemn and
profound silence, which in a ship of war always precedes the decisive
orders of the captain. Finally, the hull of the strange sail appeared
rising out of the water, as her sails had successively done before.
It was then clearly discernible that she was a larger ship than the
Indienne, and that she carried thirty-six guns. She, however, showed no
colors, and as her crew were carefully and completely concealed behind
her bulwarks, it was impossible to ascertain, unless by some particular
indications, to what nation she belonged. These two observations were
made almost at the same moment by Captain Paul; the last, however,
seemed to strike him the most forcibly.

“It appears,” said he, addressing his lieutenant, “that we are going to
have a scene of a masked ball. Order Arthur to bring us a few flags, and
let us prove to this unknown, that the Indienne has several disguises
at her disposal. And then, Mr. Walter, give orders that cutlasses and
boarding pikes be distributed, for we can hardly expect, in these seas,
to meet with any but enemy’s ships.”

The two orders were executed; as soon as given. In an instant the young
midshipman had brought on deck a dozen flags of different nations, and
Lieutenant Walter, having had the arm chest opened, had boarding pikes
piled in different positions throughout the ship, and had distributed
cutlasses and axes to the ship’s company, he then returned to his place
by the Captain’s side. Every man again resumed his post by instinct
rather than by order, for they had not yet beat to quarters; so that the
apparent confusion which had existed for a moment ceased at once, and
the frigate became once more, as it were, silent and attentive.

However, the two ships following their converging directions, continued
to approach each other. When they were about the distance of three gun
shots, “Mr. Walter,” said the Captain, “I think it is time we should
begin to mistify our good friend here. Let us show him the old Scotch
flag.”

The lieutenant gave a sign to the quartermaster, and the red Lion
of Scotland, on a blue field, rose like a flame to the peak of the
_Indienne_; but nothing on board the enemy’s ship gave evidence of their
paying the slightest attention to this manouvre.

“Yes, yes,” murmured the captain, “the three leopards of England have so
well filed the teeth and pared the claws of the Scottish lion, that
they pay no attention to him, believing that he is tamed because he is
defenceless. Show him some other color, Mr. Walter, and perhaps we shall
succeed in loosening his tongue.”

“What flag shall I hoist, captain?”

“Take the first one that comes; chance may perhaps favor us.”

This order was scarcely given, when the Scotch flag was hauled down, and
that of Sardinia took its place. The ship still remained mute.

“Well, well,” said the captain, jestingly, “it appears that His Majesty,
King George, is on good terms with his brother of Cyprus and Jerusalem.
Do not let us bring them to loggerheads by carrying our joke farther,
Mr. Walter, let us show the American flag, and prove that it is really
the right one, by firing an unshotted gun.”

The same manouvre was repeated. The Sardinian flag was hauled down, and
the stars of the United States rose slowly towards the sky, and were
certified by firing a gun.

What the captain had foreseen then happened immediately on the display
of this symbol of rebellion rising insolently in the air. The unknown
ship immediately betrayed its incognita by hoisting the British flag. At
the same moment a cloud of smoke was seen issuing from the side of the
royalist ship, and before the report was heard, a cannon ball was seen
tipping from wave to wave, and fell about a hundred yards short of the
Indienne.

“Beat to quarters, Mr. Walter, for you see we have guessed rightly.
Come, my boys,” cried he, to the crew, “hurrah for America! and death to
England!”

This was answered by a general shout, and had not ceased, when they
heard them beating to quarters on board the _Drake_, for that was the
name of the English ship. The drums of the Indienne immediately replied,
and every man ran to his post:--the gunners to their guns, the officers
to their stations, and the sailors to their running rigging. As to the
captain, he jumped upon the top of the companion, his speaking trumpet
in his hand--the supreme symbol, the sceptre of nautical royalty, which
the commander always wields in the hour of combat or during the raging
of the tempest.

They now seem to have made an exchange of parts, for the English
appeared impatient, and the Americans affected calmness. The ships were
hardly within gun shot, when a long line of smoke was seen issuing from
the side of the English vessel, and a report similar to loud thunder
was heard, and the iron messengers sent to deal death among the rebels,
having in their impetuosity, miscalculated the distance, fell harmless
before reaching the sides of the frigate. The latter, however, as if
refusing to reply to so premature an attack, continued to haul to the
wind, as if to spare the enemy too long a course.

At this moment the captain turned, as if to give a last look round his
ship, and his astonished gaze was attracted by the appearance of a new
personage on the deck, who had selected this dangerous and exciting
moment to make his entrance upon the scene.

It was a young man, somewhere about twenty-two or twenty-three years of
age. His face was pale and mild; he was plainly, but elegantly dressed,
and whom the captain had not before seen on board. He was leaning
against the mizen-mast, his arms folded over his chest, and looking with
melancholy indifference at the English vessel which was approaching them
under a heavy press of canvas. The calmness at such a moment, and in
a man who appeared a stranger to nautical combats, forcibly struck the
captain. He then remembered the prisoner, whom the Count d’Auray had
announced to him, and who had been brought on board during the last
night he had passed at the anchorage of Port Louis.

“Who allowed you to come on deck, sir?” said he, softening as much as
possible, the tone of his enquiry, so that it would have been difficult
to ascertain whether this was addressed as a mere question, or as a
reproach.

“No one, sir,” replied the prisoner, in a soft and sorrowful voice;
“but I had hoped that under the present circumstances, you would less
severely observe the orders by which I became your prisoner.”

“Have you forgotten that you were forbidden to hold any communication
with the ship’s company.”

“I did not come here for the purpose of holding communication with the
ship’s company, sir; I came to see whether some friendly cannon ball
would do me a good’ turn.”

“You may, but too soon, have your desire accomplished, if you remain
where you are now standing; therefore, believe me, you had better remain
below.”

“Is this your advice; or an order, captain?”

“You have full liberty to construe it as you please.”

“In that case,” replied the young man, “I thank you--I will remain
here.”

At this instant, another loud report was heard; but the two ships had by
this time neared each other so much, that they were within gun-shot, and
the whole tempest of shot passed through the sails of the Indienne. Two
splinters fell from the masts; and the groans and stifled cries of some
of the ship’s company were heard. The captain, at that moment, had his
eyes fixed upon the prisoner, above whose head, a cannon ball had passed
within two feet, grazing the mizen mast, against which he was leaning;
but notwithstanding this death warning, he remained calm and unmoved,
in the same attitude as if he had not felt the wing of the exterminating
angel waft above his head. The captain knew how to appreciate
courage--this incident was sufficient to assure him of the undaunted
bravery of the man who stood before him.

“Tis well, sir,” said he to him; “remain where you are, and when we come
to boarding, if you should be tired of remaining with your arms crossed,
take up a cutlass, or an axe, and give us a helping hand. You will
excuse me not payings you more attention at this moment, for I have
other things to do.”

“Fire!” cried he, in a voice of thunder, through his speaking trumpet,
“now, give it her: fire!”

“Fire!” repeated the officers like an echo, at their different stations.

At the instant, the Indienne trembled from her keel, to her royal mast
head, as she poured her broadside into the enemy--a cloud of smoke
spread itself like a veil, along the starboard-side, which was
soon carried to leeward. The captain, standing upon the companion,
impatiently awaited its clearing off, that he might ascertain the effect
which the broadside had produced upon the enemy’s vessel. When his gaze
could penetrate through the smoke, he perceived that the enemy’s main
top mast had fallen, and had, with its sails, encumbered the after-part
of the Drake’s deck, and that her other sails were cut to ribbons. Then
putting his speaking trumpet to his mouth, he cried--

“Well done! my lads. Now watch her closely. They will be too busy in
clearing away the wreck of their mast, to think of raking us--fire--as
you can--and this time shave close!”

The crew hastened to obey this order--the frigate veered round, and as
the guns were brought to bear upon the enemy, they were discharged with
terrible effect; and, as the captain had imagined, without any hindrance
from the Drake. The Indienne once more trembled like a volcano, and, as
a volcano, vomited forth her flame and smoke.

This time the gunners had followed the orders of their captain to the
letter, (and the broadside had been fired point blank) striking the hull
and the lower masts. Both her masts were still standing; but on all
sides the sails were hanging in tatters. It appeared that some more
considerable damage had been done, which it was impossible to ascertain
at that distance; for some time, the broadside was not returned; at
length it was, and instead of raking the _Indienne_, it struck her in a
diagonal direction. It was not the less terrible, for it swept off many
a brave fellow from the deck; but by a chance which appeared positively
magical, touched neither of the masts. Some of the running rigging
was cut, but nothing that prevented her manoeuvring as before. At one
glance, Paul ascertained that he had only lost some men. His heart
bounded with joy. He once more placed the speaking-trumpet to his mouth.

“Larboard the helm,” cried he, “and board her on the larboard side!
Boarders, to your stations--be ready! Give her one more broadside.”

At the first movement of the _Indienne_, the enemy at once perceived the
intention, and endeavoured to neutralize it by it similar movement, but
at the instant of attempting to execute it, a dreadful crash was heard
on board her, and the mainmast, which had been nearly cut through by the
last discharge from the _Indienne_, trembled, for a few seconds like an
uprooted tree, and fell forward, covering the deck with the mainsail
and the rigging. Captain Paul at once comprehended what had delayed the
return of the broadside.

“Now, she is ours, my lads!” cried he; “we have only to take her. One
last broadside within pistol shot, and then we’ll board her!”

The _Indienne_ obeyed her helm, as does a well trained horse the
bridle, and unopposed, advanced towards her enemy, for the latter had no
steerage-way upon her, and her guns were consequently useless. The
Drake was therefore at the mercy of her adversary, who by remaining at a
distance and playing at long bowls, might have riddled her and sunk
her, but disdaining this too easy victory, sent in a last broadside; and
then, before seeing the effect it had produced, the frigate ran in upon
her larboard quarter, and threw her grappling-irons on board. On
the instant, the tops and forecastle of the Indienne blazed as with
fireworks on a holiday, and flaming grenades were showered upon the deck
of the Drake with the rapidity of hailstones.

“Courage, my lads, courage, lash the bowsprit to her quarter rails. Well
done! now, to your two forecastle carronades--fire!”

All these orders were executed with magical celerity: the two ships were
as securely lashed together as if by iron chains--the two carronades
which had not been fired during the combat, thundered in there turn, and
swept the enemy’s deck with a cloud of grape shot, and then another cry
was heard, uttered by the same stentorian voice--

“Now, board her!!!”

And, adding example to precept, the captain of the _Indienne_ threw
aside his speaking trumpet, now of no longer use, placed his helmet on
his head, fastening the clasp beneath his chin; placed the sabre which
he usually wore in his belt between his teeth, and rushed upon the
bowsprit to jump thence upon the deck of the enemy.

Although this movement followed the order he had given with as great
rapidity as the thunder succeeds the lightning, he was only the second
upon the English deck: he was preceded by the young prisoner with whom
he had conversed, who had thrown aside his coat, and armed only with a
hatchet, was the first to encounter death or victory.

“You are not conversant with the discipline of my ship,” said Paul,
laughing; “it is my place to be the first to board a ship I am
attacking. I forgive you this time, but take care it does not again
happen.”

At the same instant, the seamen of the _Indienne_ rushed from their own
ship to the enemy’s, taking advantage of every point of contact, some
from the bowsprit, others from the end of the yards, and nettings, and
fell upon the deck like ripe fruit falling from a tree when shaken
by the wind. Then the English, who had retreated to their forecastle,
unmasked a carronade which they had had time to turn upon their enemy. A
volley of fire and iron was vomited forth on the assailants. One fourth
of the crew of the _Indienne_ fell killed or mutilated on the enemy’s
deck, in the midst of cries and maledictions. But above the cries and
blasphemous oaths, a voice resounded, crying:

“Forward--all of you!”

Then ensued a scene of appalling confusion--a combat hand to hand--a
general duel. To the roar of cannon, to the report of musketry, to the
explosion of hand grenades, had succeeded the struggle with cold steel,
less noisy but more sure, above all with seamen, who have retained for
their sole use this inheritance from the giants, proscribed for more
than two centuries on the field of battle. It was with hatchets that
they cleaved each other’s sculls; it was with cutlasses they wounded
each other’s breasts; it was with boarding-pikes that they nailed each
other to the deck and masts. From time to time, in the midst of this
mute carnage, a stray pistol shot was heard, but isolated, and as if
ashamed of taking part in such a butchery. It lasted nearly a quarter of
an hour, and amidst a confusion it would be impossible to describe.
And then the British flag was lowered, and the crew of the Drake being
driven below, there remained on deck only the conquerors, the wounded
and the dead; in the midst of whom was the captain of the _Indienne_,
surrounded by his crew, with his foot upon the breast of the captain of
the enemy’s ship, having on his right his first lieutenant, Walter, and
on his left his young prisoner, whose shirt, steeped in blood, witnessed
the share he had in the victory.

“Now, all is over,” said Paul, stretching out his hand; “and he who
strikes another blow will have to deal with me.”

Then holding out his hand to his young prisoner, “Sir,” said he, “you
will relate to me, to-night, how it was that you were made my prisoner,
will you not! For there must be some cowardly machination in this
affair. The infamous only are transported to Cayenne, and you are too
brave to be infamous.”



CHAPTER IV.--THE MARCHIONESS.

     She was a woman Of virtue most austere; noble in birth,
     And of most royal presence--but sad thoughts
     Seemed to possess her wholly--her children, even,
     Seldom approached her, and when they did,
     No soft affection, motherly caress,
     Was e’er accorded to them--stern and cold,
     She looked a moving statue.--Old Play.


About six months after the occurrence of the events we have just
related, and in the early part of the spring of 1780, a post chaise,
whose wheels and panels covered with mud and dust, clearly certified
that it had performed a long journey, was dragging slowly along,
although two powerful horses were harnessed to it, upon the road between
Vanness and Auray. The traveller it contained, and who was roughly
jolted in traversing the cross-roads, was our former aquaintance, Count
Emanuel, whom we saw open the scene upon the jetty of Fort Louis. He was
coming from Paris with all haste, and proceeding to his ancient family
mansion, with regard to which it is now necessary to give some more
precise and circumstantial details.

Count Emanuel d’Auray was descended from one of the oldest families
in Brittany--one of his ancestors had followed Saint Louis to the Holy
Land, and from that time the name, of which he was the last inheritor,
had been constantly blended with the history of our monarchy, whether in
its victories or defeats. His father, the Marquis of d’Auray, Chevalier
of the order of St. Louis, Commander of the order of St. Michael, and
Grand Cross of the order of the Holy Ghost, enjoyed at the Court of
Louis XV., in which he filled the post of high steward, that high
distinction to which his birth, his fortune and nis personal merit,
truly entitled him. His influence there had been increased by his
marriage with Mademoiselle de Sable, who was his equal in every thing
that regarded family or credit at court: so that a brilliant future was
opened to the ambition of the young people, when, after being married
five years, a report was suddenly spread about the court, that the
Marquis d’Auray had become insane during a journey he had made to his
estates. This report was for a long time disbelieved. At length
the winter arrived, and neither the marquis nor his wife made their
appearance at Versailles. His place was kept open for him another
year, for the king, still hoping he would regain his reason, refused to
appoint a successor to it; but a second winter passed on, and even the
marchioness did not return to pay her court to the queen. In France
people are soon forgotten; absence is a wearying malady, to which
even the greatest names sooner or later must succumb. The shroud of
indifference was gradually spread over this family, immured in their old
chateau, as in a tomb, and whose voices were not heard either soliciting
or complaining. Genealogists alone had duly enregistered the birth of
a son and daughter, the only fruits of this union; the d’Aurays,
therefore, continued to figure among the names of the French nobility;
but not having mixed themselves up for more than twenty years either in
court intrigues or in political affairs, not having sided either with
a Pampadour or a Du Barry, not having distinguished themselves in the
victories of the Maréchal de Broglie, or in the defeats of the Count
Clermont--in short, having neither sound nor echo, they had been
completely forgotten.

However, the ancient name of the lords of d’Auray had been twice
pronounced at court, but without producing any impression. The first
time on the occasion of the young Count Emanuel’s being admitted in
1769, as one of the pages of Louis XV., and the second, when after
having served his time as page, he entered the company of mousquetaires
of the young King Louis XVI. He had, during this time, become acquainted
with the Baron de Lectoure, a distant relation of M. de Maurepas, who
was favorably disposed towards him, and who enjoyed a considerable
degree of influence with that minister. Emanuel had been presented to
his old courtier, who having been informed that the Count d’Auray had
a sister, one day let fall a few words upon the possibility of an union
between the two families. Emanuel, young and full of ambition, wearied
with struggling beneath the veil which had obscured his family name, saw
in this marriage a means of regaining the position which his father had
occupied at court under the late king, and had eagerly caught at the
first overtures for this alliance. M. de Lectoure, on his side, under
the pretext of uniting himself still closer by the bands of brotherhood,
to his young friend, had urged his suit with an eagerness which was so
much the more flattering to Emanuel, that the man who demanded the hand
of his sister had never seen her. The Marchioness d’Auray had listened
the more readily to this proposal, as it opened to her son the road to
royal favor, and the marriage was agreed upon, if not between the two
young people, at all events between the families. Emanuel, who preceded
M. de Lectoure three or four days only, had hastened into the country
to inform his mother that everything had been arranged according to her
desire. As to Marguerite, the intended wife, they contented themselves
with informing her of the resolution they had taken without thinking
it necessary to ask her consent to it, in about the same way that a
criminal is informed of the sentence which condemns him to the scaffold.

It was, therefore, thus cradling himself in the brilliant dreams of
future exalted favor, and bouying himself up with the most elevated
projects of ambition, that young Count Emanuel re-entered the gloomy
castle of his family, whose feudal towers, black walls, and court yards,
overgrown with grass, formed so striking a contrast with the golden
hopes that agitated him. The castle was a league and a half distant from
any other dwelling. The principal facade overlooked that part of the
ocean, which being so constantly swept by storms, has obtained the name
of “the Wild Sea.” The other looked toward an immense park, which,
being for twenty years abandoned and uncultivated, had become a complete
forest. As to the apartments, they had remained constantly closed, with
the exception of those inhabited by the family. The furniture, which had
been renewed during the reign of Louis XIV., had, thanks to the care of
a numerous household, retained a rich and aristocratic appearance, which
the more modern part of it had begun to lose, and which, although more
elegant, was less magnificent. It had been supplied from the workshops
of Boule, the appointed upholsterer of the court.

It was into one of these rooms, with deep mouldings, sculptured chimney
pieces, and ceiling painted in fresco, that the Count Emanuel was
ushered on alighting from his carriage. He was in such haste to
communicate to his mother the happy news of which he was the bearer,
that without taking the time to change his dress, he threw his hat, his
gloves, and travelling pistols on the table, and ordered an old servant
to inform the marchioness of his arrival, and to ask her permission to
present himself, saying that he would await it in that room; for such in
this old family was the respect paid to parents, that the son, after an
absence of five months, did not dare to present himself to his mother,
without in the first place consulting her desires upon the subject. As
to the Marquis d’Auray, his children could not remember having seen
him more than two or three times, and then it was by stealth: for his
insanity was of a nature, it was said, that certain objects irritated,
and they had been always kept from him with the greatest precaution. The
marchioness alone, a model of conjugal virtue, remained always with him,
fulfilling towards the poor lunatic not only the duties of a wife,
but also those of a servant. Consequently, her name was revered in the
surrounding villages, as that of a saint, whose devotedness on earth has
gained a place in heaven.

In a few moments the old servant returned, and announced that the
marchioness d’Auray preferred coming down to him, and begged that
the count would wait for her in the room in which he then was. Almost
immediately afterward the door of the room again opened, and Emanuel’s
mother entered it. She was about forty or forty-five years of age,
tall and pale, but still handsome, whose calm, austere and melancholy
features had a singular appearance of haughtiness, energy, and command.
She was in costume of a widow as adopted in 1760, for since the time
that her husband had lost his reason, she had never laid aside her
mourning garments. Her long black gown gave to her movements, cold and
slow as those of a shadow, a solemn appearance, which shed around this
extraordinary woman a feeling of awe, which even filial affection had
never been able to surmount. Therefore, on seeing her, Emanuel started
as at the sight of an unexpected apparition, and instantly rising, he
advanced three steps toward her, respectfully went down upon one knee,
and kissed the hand she presented to him.

“Rise, sir,” said the marchioness. “I am happy to see you again.” And
she pronounced these words with as little emotion as if her son, who
had been absent five months, had left her but the day before. Emanuel
obeyed, conducted his mother to a large arm chair, in which she seated
herself, and he remained standing before her.

“I received your letter, count,” she said, “and I congratulate you on
your skill. You appear to me born for diplomacy, and even more so than
for military life. You ought to request the Baron de Lectoure to obtain
an embassy for you, rather than a regiment.”

“Lectoure is ready to solicit any thing we may desire, madam; and what
is more, he will obtain any thing we may solicit, so great is his power
with M. Maurepas, and so great is his love for my sister.”

“In love with a woman he has never seen?”

“Lectoure is a gentleman, madam, and the portrait I have drawn of
Marguerite, and perhaps the information he has received as to our
fortune, has inspired him with the most earnest desire to become your
son and to call himself my brother. And therefore he has requested that
all the preliminary ceremonies may be gone through in his absence. You
have obtained the publication of the bans, madam?”

“Yes.”

“The day after to-morrow, then, the marriage contract can be signed.”

“With the help of God, all will be ready.”

“Thanks, madam.”

“But tell me,” continued the marchioness, leaning on the arm of her
chair, and bending toward Emanuel, “has he not questioned you regarding
that young man, for whom he obtained from the minister an order of
deportation?”

“By no means, my mother, these are services which are asked without
entering into any explanation, and which are granted in implicit
confidence. It is well understood between people who know the world,
that they are to be forgotten as soon as rendered.”

“Then he knows nothing?”

“No--but did he know all----”

“Well?”

“Well, madam, I believe he is so much of a philosopher, that the
discovery would not in any way influence his determination.”

“I thought as much; he is a ruined spendthrift,” replied the
marchioness, with an indescribable expression of contempt, and as if
speaking to herself.

“But supposing it should be so,” said Emanuel anxiously, “your
resolution would be still unchanged, I hope.”

“Are we not rich enough to repair his fortune if he can restore our
former influence?”

“Then, there is only my sister----”

“Do you doubt that she will obey me, when I inform her of my will?”

“Can you believe, then, that she has forgotten Lusignan?”

“For seven months, at least, she has not dared to remember him in my
presence.”

“Reflect, my mother, that this marriage is the only means by which our
family can be restored to influence; for there is one thing I must not
conceal from you. My father has been ill for fifteen years, and having
been absent from court so long, was completely forgotten by the old king
at his death, and by the young king on his accession to the throne. Your
virtuous attention to the marquis, has not permitted you to leave him,
even for a moment, since the hour in which he was deprived of reason;
your virtues, madam, are of that nature which God sees, and recompenses,
but of which the world remains ignorant; and while you are fulfilling in
this old forgotten castle in Brittany, the holy and consolatory mission,
which you call a duty, your former friends disappear, they die, or they
forget you (this is a painful truth to people, who like us, can count
six hundred years of illustrious nobility); for when I reappeared at
court, our name, the name of the family d’Auray, was hardly known to
their majesties, but as an historical recollection.”

“Yes; I know full well that kings have but short memories,” murmured
the marchioness; but instantly, and as if reproaching herself for such
a blasphemy, she rejoined, “I hope that the blessing of God may always
attend their majesties and France.”

“And what can in any way affect their happiness?” replied Emanuel,
with that perfect confidence in the future, which in those days was the
distinctive, characteristic of the hair-brained and unthinking nobility.
“Louis XVI. is young and good; Marie Antoinette young and lovely; both
of them beloved by a brave and loyal people. Fate has placed them,
Heaven be praised, beyond the reach of every evil.”

“No one, my son,” replied the marchioness, mournfully shaking her head,
“believe me, is placed beyond the reach of human woes and human frailty.
No heart, however confidently its owner may believe that he can master
it, firm as it may be, is proof against the passions; and no head,
were it even a crowned one, but may be blanched in a single night. The
people, you say, are brave and loyal.” The marchioness arose and slowly
advanced to the window, and with a solemn gesture pointing to the ocean.
“Observe that sea; it is now calm and peaceful; and yet to-morrow, this
night, in an hour perhaps, the breath of the tempest may bear us the
cries of distress of unhappy beings it is about to engulph. Although I
am separated from the world, strange reports sometimes reach my ears,
borne as it were by invisible and prophetic spirits. Does there not
exist a sect of philosophers which has led away men of high name, by the
errors which it propagates? Do they not speak of a whole world, which
is detaching itself from the mother country, whose children refuse to
acknowledge their father? Is there not a people who style themselves a
nation? Have I not heard it said that men of high birth have crossed the
ocean, to offer to rebels, swords which their ancestors never drew but
at the call of their legitimate sovereigns? and have I not been told,
moreover, or is it but the dream of my solitude, that King Louis XVI.
and the Queen, Marie Antoinette herself, forgetting that sovereigns are
a family of brothers, have authorised these armed emigrations, and have
given letters of marque to I know not what foreign pirate?”

“All this is true,” said Emanuel, much astonished.

“May God, then, watch over their majesties, the King and Queen of
France!” rejoined the marchioness as she slowly retired from the room,
leaving Emanuel so astounded at these painful forebodings, that he saw
her withdraw without uttering a word or even making a gesture to retain
her.

Emanuel remained for some time pensive and serious, but soon his buoyant
character surmounted these gloomy presages, and as if thinking to change
his ideas by changing the view he had been gazing at, he left the window
which opened towards the sea, and crossed the room to another, whence
he could discern the whole of the plain which extends itself between
d’Auray and Vannes. He had been there but a few minutes, when he
perceived two persons on horseback, following the same road he had just
travelled over, and who appeared to be approaching the castle. As they
drew nearer he could distinguish that they were a gentleman and his
servant. The first, dressed in the costume of young men of fashion of
that day, that is to say, in a short green riding coat with gold frogs,
stocking-knit breeches, and top-boots, wearing a round hat with a broad
brim, and his hair tied with a large bow of ribbons. He was mounted on
an English horse of rare beauty and great value, which he managed with a
grace that proved he had made equestrian exercises a profound study. He
was followed at a short distance by a servant, whose aristocratic livery
was in perfect harmony with the lordly air of the person whom he served.
Emanuel imagined for a moment on seeing them proceed so directly towards
the castle, that it was the Baron de Lectoure, who, having hastened his
departure from Paris, intended to surprise him; but he soon found that
he was mistaken; and although it appeared to him that it was not the
first time he had seen the horseman, he could not recollect where or
under what circumstances he had met him. While he was racking his memory
to discover the event in his life with which this vague remembrance was
connected, the strangers had disappeared behind an angle of the castle
wall. Five minutes afterwards Emanuel heard the sound of their horses’
feet in the court yard, and, almost immediately the door was opened; a
servant announced, “_Mr. Paul!_”



CHAPTER V.--DEVOTED LOVE.

                                Woman’s love
     Once given, may break the heart that holds--but never
     Melts into air save with her latest sigh.

     Bulwer.--The Sea Captain,


The name, as well as the appearance of the person thus announced,
awakened in their turn in the mind of Emanuel a confused recollection of
which he could not affix either date or event. The person, preceded by
the servant, entered the room by a door opposite the one through which
the marchioness had retired. Although the moment was ill-timed for a
visit, and though the young count, pre-occupied by his projects for the
future, would have preferred meditating upon and ripening them, he was
compelled, by the rules of etiquette, so severe in those days between
well-bred people, to receive the visitor with courtesy and politeness.
The deportment of the latter bespoke the man of distinction. After the
usual salutations, Emanuel, by a gesture, invited the stranger to be
seated, who bowed and took a chair, and then the conversation commenced
with some common-place polite observation.

“I am delighted to meet you, count,” said the stranger.

“Chance has favored me, sir,” replied Emanuel; “an hour sooner you would
not have found me here: I have just arrived from Paris.”

“I am aware of that, count, for we have been travelling the same road.
I set out an hour after you, and all along the road I heard of you, by
means of the postillions who had the honor of driving you.”

“May I be bold enough to ask,” said Emanuel, in a tone which began to
evince a certain degree of dissatisfaction, “to what circumstance I owe
the interest you appear to evince concerning me.”

“This interest is perfectly natural between old acquaintance, and
perhaps. I might have reason to complain that it does not appear to be
reciprocal.”

“In fact, sir, it does appear to me,” replied Emanuel, “that I have met
you somewhere; but my recollection serves me but confusedly; will you be
kind enough to assist it?”

“If what you say be the case, count, your memory must indeed be rather
fugitive, for within the last six months, on three separate occasions, I
have the honor of exchanging compliments with you.”

“Even should I expose myself to further reproach, I am compelled to say
that I still remain in the same state of uncertainty with regard to your
person. Pray, therefore, have the goodness to fix my memory, by aid
of more precise dates, on some event, and remind me under what
circumstances I had the honor of meeting you for the first time.”

“The first time, count? it was on the jetty of Port Louis. You desired
to obtain some information with regard to a certain frigate, which I
was so fortunate as to be able to furnish you. I believe, even, that
I accompanied you on board. Upon that occasion I wore the uniform of a
lieutenant in the royal navy, and you that of a mousquetaire.”

“I now well recollect it, sir, and I was obliged to leave the vessel
without offering the thanks I owed you.”

“You are mistaken, count; I received those thanks during our second
interview.”

“And where did that take place?”

“On board the very vessel to which I had conducted you--in the cabin. I
then wore the uniform of the captain of the ship: blue coat, red
waistcoat and breeches, with grey stockings, a three-cornered hat, and
curled hair. Only the captain appeared to you some thirty years older
than the lieutenant, and it was not without motive that I had made
myself appear so much older, for you would perhaps, not have chosen to
confide to a young man a secret of such importance as you then
communicated to me.”

“What you now say is incredible, sir; and yet something tells me that it
was really so. Yes, yes; I now remember that in the shade in which you
remained half concealed, I saw eyes sparkling similar to yours. I have
not forgotten them; but this was only the time before the last, you say,
that I had the honor of seeing you. Continue, sir, I beg, to assist my
memory, for I cannot recollect our third interview.”

“The last, count, was only a week since, at Paris--at a fencing match,
at Saint-George’s, in the rue Chanterecin. You remember, do you not, an
English gentleman, with his hair so red that his powder could scarcely
conceal its brilliant color--a scarlet coat, and tightly fitting
pantaloons. I even had the honor of trying a bout with you, and I was
fortunate enough to hit you three times, while, on the contrary, you
were not lucky enough to touch me once. On that occasion I called myself
Jones.”

“It is most singular--it was certainly the same look, but it could not
be the same man.”

“The will of God has directed that the look should be the only thing
which cannot be disguised, and this is why he has thrown into the look
a spark of his own light. Well, then, the lieutenant, the captain, the
Englishman, were one and the same person.”

“At the present moment, sir, what are you if you please? For, with a man
who can so perfectly disguise himself, that question you must admit, is
not altogether unnecessary.”

“At the present moment, count, as you see, I have no motive for
concealment, and, therefore, I have come to you in the simple costume of
the young nobility, when they visit each other as neighbors in the
country. I am whatever you may please to consider me; French, English,
Spanish, or even an American. In which of these languages would you wish
our conversation to be continued?”

“Although some of these languages may be as familiar to me as they are
to you, sir, I prefer the French language; it is that of a plain and
concise explanations.”

“Be it so,” replied Paul, with an expression of profound melancholy;
“the French is also the language I prefer; I first saw the day upon
French ground, for the sun of France was that which gladdened my eyes;
and although I have often seen more fertile climes, and a more brilliant
sun, there has never been for me but one country and one sun, the sun
and the country of Franco!”

“Your national enthusiasm,” said Emanuel, interrupting him ironically,
“causes you to forget the motive to which I am indebted for the honor of
this visit.”

“You are right, sir, and I will return to it. It was, then, about six
months ago, while walking on the jetty of Port Louis, you saw in the
outer roads a fine sharp frigate, with tall masts and square yards, and
you said to yourself: ‘the captain of that ship must have some motive
known only to himself, for carrying so much canvas, on masts so
slight,’--and from that sprung to your mind that he must be some
buccaneer, a pirate, a corsair”----

“And was I mistaken?”

“I thought I had already expressed to you, count,” replied Paul, with a
slight tone of irony, “my admiration of the perspicacity with which, at
the first glance, you sound the depths of men and circumstances”----

“A truce to compliments, if you please, sir, and let us to facts.”

“It was under this persuasion that you caused yourself to be conducted
on board the frigate, by a certain lieutenant, and that you found a
certain captain in the cabin. You were the bearer of a letter from the
Minister of Marine, ordering any officer, upon your requisition, and
whose ship was under the French flag and bound for the Gulf of Mexico,
to conduct to Cayenne a person named Lusignan, guilty of a crime against
the state.”

“That is true.”

“I obeyed that order, for I was then ignorant that this great culprit,
thus transported, had committed no other crime than that of being the
lover of your sister.”

“Sir,” cried Emanuel, starting up.

“These are very fine pistols, count,” carelessly continued Paul, playing
with the weapons which the Count d’Auray had placed upon the table, on
alighting from his carriage.

“And they are ready loaded,” said Emanuel, in a tone which was not to be
mistaken.

“Are they so?” returned Paul, with affected indifference.

“That is a matter of which you can assure yourself, if you will take a
turn in the park with me.”

“There is no necessity for going out to do that,” replied Paul, without
pretending to understand Emanuel’s proposal in the sense which he meant
to give to it; “here is a mark which is well placed, and at a proper
distance.”

Saying these words, the captain cocked the pistol, and pointed it
through the open window towards the top of a small tree. A goldfinch
was rocking himself on the highest branch, singing forth his shrill and
joyful notes. Paul fired, and the poor bird, cut in two, fell at the
foot of the tree. Paul coolly replaced the pistol on the table.

“You were perfectly right, count,” said he, “they are excellent weapons,
and I advise you not to part with them.”

“You have just given me an extraordinary proof of it,” replied Emanuel;
“and I feel bound to acknowledge that you have a steady hand.”

“There is nothing extraordinary in that,” rejoined Paul, in that
melancholy tone which was peculiar to him. “During those long days,
when not a breath passes over that mirror of the Supreme Being, which
is called the ocean, we seamen are compelled to seek for amusements to
which you landsmen are daily accustomed. Then we try our skill upon
the sea-gulls, which hover over the crest of a wave; or the fish-hawks,
which dart down upon the imprudent tenant of the deep that rise to
its surface; or, again, upon the swallows which, fatigued with a long
flight, alight upon the royal mast-head or on the yards or rigging. It
is thus, count, that we acquire some dexterity in exercises which may
appear so incompatible with our profession.”

“Go on, sir; and if it be possible, let us return to the subject of our
conversation.”

“He was a handsome, brave young man, this Lusignan; he related his
whole history to me. That being the son of an old friend of your
father’s, who had died poor, he had been adopted by him some two years
before the unknown accident occurred which deprived him of his
reason. That having been brought up with you, he had inspired you with
hatred--your sister with affection. He told me that, during the long
years they passed together in the same solitude, they never perceived
the isolation from the world in which they lived, excepting when they
were absent from each other. He recounted to me all the details of their
youthful love, and how Marguerite had one day said to him, in the words
of the tender maiden of Verona--

     “‘I will be thine, or else I’ll be the tomb’s.’”

“She has but too truly kept her word.”

“Yes--has she not? And you virtuous people call that shame and
dishonour, when a poor child, lost through her own innocence, is carried
away by love. Your mother, whose duties estranged her from her daughter,
and perpetually confined her to your father’s room--(for I know the
virtues of your mother, sir, as well as I know your sister’s weakness:
she is an austere woman, more severe than one of God’s creatures ought
to be, whose only advantage over others is, that of never having
fallen)--your mother, I say, one night heard some stifled cries; she
entered your sister’s chamber, walked pale and silently up to her bed,
and coldly snatched from her arms a child which had just been born, and
left the room without addressing even a reproach to her daughter, but
only paler and more silent than when she entered it. As to poor
Marguerite, she did not utter even a cry--she made no complaint. She had
fainted away immediately on perceiving her mother. Was it so, sir? Have
I been rightly informed, and is the whole of this dreadful story true?”

“You seem to be acquainted with every detail of it!” exclaimed Emanuel,
with amazement.

“It is because the whole of these details are given in these letters
signed by your sister,” replied Paul, opening a pocket-book, “and
which Lusignan, at the time he was about to be thrown amid robbers and
assassins, through your instrumentality, confided to me, that I might
restore them to her who had written them.”

“Give them to me, then,” said Emanuel, stretching forth his hand towards
the pocket-book, “and they shall be faithfully delivered to her who has
had the imprudence”--

“To complain to the only person who loved her in this world--is it not
so?” said Paul, withdrawing the letters and the pocket-book. “Imprudent
daughter, whose own mother snatched the child from her heart, and who
poured her bitter tears into the bosom of the father of her child!
Imprudent sister, who, not finding any protection from this tyranny in
her brother, has compromised his noble name by signing with the name he
bears, letters, which, in the stupid and prejudiced eye of the world,
may--how is it you term this in your noble class--dishonour her family,
is it not?”

“Then,” cried Emanuel, reddening with impatience, “since you are aware
of the terrible tendency of these papers, fulfil the mission which you
have been charged, by delivering them either to me, to my mother, or my
sister.”

“This was my intention when I landed at Lorient; but about ten or twelve
days ago, on entering a church--”

“A church!”

“Yes, sir.”

“And for what purpose?”

“To pray there.”

“Ah! Captain Paul believes in God, then!”

“Did I not believe in him, whom should I invoke during the raging of the
tempest?”

“And in this church, then?”

“In that church, sir, I heard a priest announce the approaching marriage
of the noble Marguerite d’Auray with the very high and very potent Baron
de Lectoure. I immediately inquired for you, and was informed you were
at Paris, where I was myself compelled to go, to give an account of my
mission to the king.”

“To the king!”

“Yes, sir, to the king--Louis XVI.; to his majesty, in person. I
immediately set out, intending to return here as soon as you did. I
met you in Saint George’s rooms, and was informed of your approaching
departure. I arranged mine in consequence, in order that we might arrive
here at about the same time, and here I am, sir, with a very different
resolution to that I had formed before landing in Brittany.”

“And what is this new determination? Let me hear it, for we must come to
some conclusion.”

“Well, then, I think that as all the world, and even his mother, seem
to have forgotten the poor orphan, it is highly necessary that I should
remember it. In the position in which you are placed, sir, and with the
disposition you have evinced of becoming allied to the Baron de Lectoure
(who in your view, is the only person who can assist the realization
of your ambitious projects), these letters are well worth a hundred
thousand francs, are they not? and will make but a very trifling breach
in the income of two hundred thousand francs which your estates afford
you.”

“But who will prove to me that this hundred thousand francs--”

“You are right, sir, and therefore it will be in exchange for a contract
for an annuity upon the young Hector de Lusignan, that I will deliver up
these letters.”

“Is that all, sir?”

“I will also ask, that the child be confided to me, and I will have him
brought up, thanks to his little fortune, far from the mother who has
forgotten him, and far from his father whom you caused to be banished.”

“‘Tis well, sir; had I known that it was for so small a sum, and so
trifling an interest that you had come, I should not have experienced so
much anxiety. You will, however, permit me to speak to my mother on the
subject.”

“Monsieur le Comte,” said a servant, opening the door.

“I am not at home to any one. Leave the room.” replied Emanuel,
impatiently.

“It is your sister, sir, who wishes to see you.”

“Tell her to come by and by.”

“She desires to speak to you this instant.”

“Do not put yourself out of the way on my account,” said Paul.

“But my sister must not see you, sir,--you comprehend it is important
that she should not see you.”

“As you please; but as it is important, also, that I should not leave
the castle before concluding the affair which brought me here, permit me
to go into this side room.”

“That will do,” said Emanuel, himself opening the door; “but be quick,
I beg of you.”

Paul went into the small room, and Emanuel hastily closed the door upon
him, which was hardly done when Marguerite appeared.



CHAPTER VI. BROTHER AND SISTER.

     Look kindly on them; I cannot bear
                                   Severity;
     My heart’s so tender, should you charge me rough,
     I should but weep and answer you with sobbing;
     But use me gently, like a loving brother,
     And search through all the secrets of my soul.--Otway.


Marguerite d’Auray, whose history the reader has become aquainted with,
from the conversation between Captain Paul and Emanuel, was one of those
delicate, pale beauties, who bear impressed upon their features the
characteristic stamp of high birth. At the first glance, from the soft
flexibility of her form, the whiteness of her skin, the shape of her
hands and tapering fingers, with their thin, rosy and transparent nails,
could be discerned that she was descended from an ancient race. It was
evident that her feet, so small that both of them could have been placed
in the foot-mark of most women, had never walked excepting on carpeted
saloons or on the flowery turf of a park. There was in her movements,
graceful as they were, a certain degree of haughtiness and pride, the
attribute of all her family; in fine, she conveyed the impression that
her soul, capable of making any sacrifice she had resolved upon,
was very likely to rebel against tyranny; that devotedness was an
instinctive virtue of her heart, while obedience, in her view, was only
an educational duty, so that the tempest wind which blew upon her, might
make her bend down before it as a lily, but not as a reed.

And yet, when she appeared at the door, her features depicted such
complete discouragement, her eyes had retained the traces of such
burning tears, her whole frame seemed weighed down by such an
overwhelming despair, that Emanuel saw at once, that she must have
summoned all her strength to assume an appearance of calmness. On seeing
him, she made a violent effort, and it was with a certain degree of
nervous firmness that she approached the arm chair on which he was
sitting. And then, seeing that the features of her brother retained the
expression of impatience, which they had assumed on being interrupted,
she paused, and these two children of the same mother, looked at each
other as strangers, the one with the eyes of ambition, the other with
those of fear. By degrees, Marguerite resumed her courage.

“You have come at last, Emanuel! I was awaiting your return as the blind
await the light, and yet from the manner in which you look upon your
sister, it is easy to perceive that she was wrong in placing her hopes
in you.”

“If my sifter has become, as she always ought to have been,” replied
Emanuel, “that is to say, a submissive and respectful daughter, she will
have understood what her rank and her position demand of her; she will
have forgotten past events as things which never should have happened,
and which consequently she ought not to remember, and she will have
prepared herself for the new destiny which awaits her. If it is in this
disposition that she now comes before me, my arms are open to receive
her, and my sister is still my sister.”

“Listen attentively to what I am about to say,” said Marguerite, “and
above all, consider it as a justification of myself, and not intended as
a reproach to others. If my mother--and God forbid that I should accuse
her, for a holy duty keeps her apart from us--if my mother had been,
I was about to say, toward me as other mothers are towards their
daughters, I should constantly have opened my heart to her as a book;
at the first word traced upon it by any stranger hand, she would have
warned me of my danger and I should have avoided it. Had I been educated
in the world instead of being brought up like a poor wild flower beneath
the shade of this old castle, I should have learned from infancy the
value of the rank and position which you speak of to-day, and I should,
perhaps, not have infringed the decorum they prescribe, or the duties
they impose. In short, had I been tutored amidst women of the world,
with their sparkling wit and frivolous hearts, whom I have so often
heard you praise, but whom I never knew, had I been guilty of some
faults from levity, which love has caused me to commit--yes, I can well
understand, I might then have forgotten the past, have sown upon the
surface new recollections as flowers are planted upon tombs; and then,
forgetting the place where they had grown, have formed of them a bouquet
for a ball, or a bridal wreath. But unfortunately it is not so, Emanuel.
I was told to beware, when it was too late to avoid the danger. They
spoke to me of my rank and position in society, when I had already
forfeited them, and I am now called upon to look forward to joy in the
future, when my heart is drowned in the tears and misery of the past.”

“And the conclusion of all this,” bitterly rejoined Emanuel.

“The conclusion depends on you alone, Emanuel; it is in your power to
render it, if not happy, at all events becoming. I cannot have recourse
to my father. Alas! I know not even if he could recognise his daughter.
I have no hope in my mother; her glance freezes me, her words are
death to me. You alone, Emanuel, were left to me, to whom I could say,
brother: you are now the head of the family; it is to you alone that we
are answerable for our honor. I have fallen from ignorance, and I have
been punished for my fault as if it had been a wilful crime.”

“Well! well!”, murmured Emanuel impatiently, “what is it that you ask?”

“Brother, I demand, since a union with the only being I could have
loved, is said to be impossible, I demand that my punishment be
regulated according to my strength to bear it. My mother--may heaven
pardon her!--tore my child from me as if she had never herself been a
mother, and my child will be brought up far from me, neglected, and in
obscurity. You, Emanuel, removed the father, as my mother did the child,
and you were more cruel to him than the case required; I will not say as
man to man, but even as a judge towards a guilty person. As to myself,
you have both united to impose upon me a martyrdom more painful still.
Well, then, Emanuel, I demand in the name of our childhood spent in the
same cradle, of our youth passed under the same roof, in the name of the
tender appellations of brother and sister, which nature bestowed upon
us--I demand that a convent be opened to me, and that its gates should
close upon me for ever. And in that convent, I swear to you, Emanuel,
that every day upon my knees, before God, my forehead bent down to the
stone-pavement, weighed down by my fault, I will entreat the Lord as
a recompense for all my sufferings, to restore my father to reason, my
mother to happiness, and to pour on you, Emanuel, honor, and glory and
fortune. I swear to you, I will do this.”

“Yes; and the world will say that I had a sister whom I sacrificed to my
fortune, whose property I inherited while she still lived! Why this is
sheer madness!”

“Listen to me, Emanuel,” rejoined Marguerite, supporting herself on the
back of a chair, near which she was standing.

“Well?” replied Emanuel.

“When you have pledged your word, you keep it, do you not?”

“I am a gentleman.”

“Well, then! look at this bracelet.”

“I see it--perfectly--what then?”

“It is fastened by a key--the key which opens it is attached to a ring,
and with that ring, I pledged my word that I would not be released from
a promise I had made, until the ring should be brought back and returned
to me.”

“And he who has the key of it?”

“Thanks to you, and to my mother, Emanuel, he is too far from us to
ask it of him. He is at Cayenne.”

“Before you are married two months,” replied Emanuel, with an ironical
smile, “that bracelet will be so irksome to you, that you will be the
first to get rid of it.”

“I thought that I had told you it is locked upon my arm.”

“You know what people do when they have lost the key and cannot get into
their house--they send for a locksmith.”

“Well! in my case, Emanuel,” replied Marguerite, rasing her voice,
and extending her arm with a solemn gesture, “they must send for the
executioner then, for this hand shall be cut off before I give it to
another.”

“Silence! silence!” cried Emanuel, rising hastily, and looking anxiously
towards the door of the inner room.

“And now I have said all I had to say,” rejoined Marguerite: “my
only hope was in you, Emanuel; for although you cannot comprehend any
deep-seated feeling, you are not cruel. I came to you in tears, look
at me and you will see that it is true--I came to you to say, ‘Brother,
this marriage is the misfortune, is the misery of my life--I would
prefer a convent--I would prefer death to it--and you have not listened
to me, or if you have listened, you have not understood me. Well, then,
I will address myself to this man--I will appeal to his honor, to his
delicacy; if that should not be sufficient, I will tell him all; my love
for another, my weakness, my fault, my crime! I will tell him that I
have a child; that although he was torn from me, although I have never
since seen him, although I am ignorant of his abode, still my child
exists. A child cannot die, without his death striking some chord within
its mother’s heart. In short I will tell him, should it be necessary,
that I still love another, that I cannot love him, and that I never
will.”

“Well! tell him all this,” cried Emanuel, irritated by her persistence,
“and that evening we will sign the contract, and the next day you will
be Baroness de Lectoure.”

“And then,” replied Marguerite, “then, I shall be truly the most
miserable woman in existence, for I should then have a brother whom I
should no longer love, and a husband for whom I should have no esteem.
Farewell, Emanuel; believe me this contract is not yet signed.”

And after saying these words, Marguerite withdrew with that deep and
settled despair upon her features, which could not for a moment be
mistaken. And Emanuel, convinced that he had not, as he had anticipated,
obtained a victory, but that the struggle was still to be continued,
gazed after her with an anxiety which was not devoid of tenderness.

After a few moments of silence, in which he sat pensive and motionless,
he turned round and saw Captain Paul, whom he had completely forgotten,
standing at the door of the study, and then considering the vital
importance it was to him to get possession of the papers, which the
captain had offered him, he hurriedly sat down at the table, took a pen
and paper, and turning towards him, said--

“And now, sir, we are again alone, and there is nothing to prevent our
at once concluding this affair. In what terms do you wish the promise
to be drawn up? Dictate them, I am ready to write them down.”

“It is now useless,” coldly replied the captain.

“And why so?”

“I have changed my mind.”

“How is that?” said Emanuel, rising, alarmed at the consequences which
he perceived might arise from words which he was far from expecting.

“I will give,” replied Paul, with the calmness of a fixed determination,
“the hundred thousand livres to the child, and I will find a husband
for your sister.”

“Who are you, then,” said Emanuel, advancing a step towards him, “who
are you, sir, who thus disposes of a young girl who is my sister, who
has never seen you, and who does not even know that you exist?”

“Who am I!” replied Paul, smiling; “upon my honor, I know no more upon
that subject than you do, for my birth is a secret which is only to be
revealed to me when I have attained my twenty-fifth year.”

“And you will attain that age?”----

“This evening, sir. I place myself at your disposal from to-morrow
morning, to give you all the information you may require of me,” and
saying these words, Paul bowed.

“I allow you to depart, sir, but you will understand it is upon the
condition that we meet again.”

“I was about to propose that condition, count, and I thank you for
having anticipated me.”

He then bowed to Emanuel a second time, and left the room. At the castle
gate, Paul found his horse and servant, and resumed the route to Port
Louis. When he had got out of sight of the castle, he alighted from his
horse, and directed his steps towards a fisherman’s hut, built upon
the beach. At the door of this house, seated upon a bench, and in a
sailor’s’ dress, was a young man so deeply absorbed in thought, that he
did not observe Paul’s approach. The captain placed his hand upon the
young man’s shoulder, the other started, looked at him, and became
frightfully pale, although the open and joyful countenance of Paul,
indicated that he was far from being the bearer of bad news.

“Well!” said Paul to him, “I have seen her.”

“Who?” demanded the young man.

“Marguerite, by heaven!”

“And----”

“She is charming.”

“I did not ask you that.”

“She loves you still.”

“Gracious heaven!” exclaimed the young man, throwing himself into Paul’s
arms, and bursting into tears.



CHAPTER VII.--THE FAITHFUL SERVANT.

     O good old man; how well in thee appears
     The constant service of the antique world
     When service sweat for duty, not for need!

     Thou art not for the fashion of these times
     Where none will sweat but for promotion;
     And having that, do choice their service up
     Even with the having: it is not so with thee.

     Shakespeare.


Although our readers must readily comprehend, after that which we have
just related to them, all that had passed in the six months during which
we had lost sight of our heroes, some details are, however, necessary,
in order that they should fully understand the new events about to be
accomplished.

On the evening after the combat between the _Indienne_ and the Drake,
and which, notwithstanding our ignorance in naval matters, we have
attempted to describe to our readers, Lusignan had related to Paul the
history of his whole life. It was a very simple one, and contained but
few incidents. Love had formed the principal event in it, and after
having been its only joy, it had become its greatest grief. The
adventurous and independent life of Paul, his station, which had placed
him beyond the trammels of society, his caprice which was superior
to all laws, his habit of supreme command on board his own ship, had
inspired him with too just a sense of natural rights to obey the order
he had received with regard to Lusignan. Moreover, although he had
anchored under the French flag, Paul, as we have seen, belonged to
the navy of America, whose cause he had enthusiastically espoused.
He continued, therefore, his cruise along the shores of England; but
finding there was nothing to be done on the sea he landed at Whitehaven,
a small port in Cumberland, at the head of twenty men, among whom was
Lusignan, took the fort, spiked the guns, and put to sea again, after
having burnt the merchant vessels in the roads. Thence he sailed for
the coast of Scotland, with the intention of carrying off the Earl
of Selkirk and taking him as a hostage to the United States; but this
project had miscarried from an unforeseen circumstance, that nobleman
having unexpectedly gone to London. In this enterprise, as in the other,
Lusignan had seconded him with the courage we have seen him exhibit
in the battle between the _Indienne_ and the Drake; so that Paul
congratulated himself more than ever upon the chance which had enabled
him to oppose an injustice. But it was not enough that he had saved
Lusignan from transportation, it was necessary to restore his honor,
and to our young adventurer, in whom our readers will doubtless have
recognised the celebrated privateersman, Paul Jones, it was a more easy
matter than to any other person; for having letters of marque from Louis
XVI., against the English, he had to repair to Versailles to give an
account of his cruize.

Paul determined upon running into Lorient, and for the second time cast
anchor there, that he might be within a short distance of the Chateau
d’Auray. The first answer which the young men received to their
enquiries regarding that family, was that Marguerite d’Auray was about
to be married to M. do Lectoure. Lusignan thought himself’ forgotten,
and in the first paroxysm of his despair, insisted, even at the risk of
falling into the hands of his former persecutors, on once more seeing
Marguerite, if it were only to reproach her for infidelity; but Paul,
more calm and less credulous, made him pledge his word that he would not
land until he had heard from him; then, being assured that the marriage
would not take place in less than fifteen days, he set out for Paris,
and was received by the king, who presented him with a sword, the hilt
of which was of gold, and decorated him with the order of military
merit. Paul had availed himself of the kindness of the king towards him
to relate to him Lusignan’s adventures, and had obtained not only his
pardon, but also as a reward for his late services, the appointment
of Governor of Guadaloupe. All these cares had not prevented him
from keeping sight of Emanuel. Being informed of the count’s intended
departure, he left Paris, and having written to Lusignan, appointing a
place of meeting, he arrived at Auray an hour after the young count.

After their joyful meeting, Paul and Lusignan remained together until
nearly twilight. Then Paul, who, as he had told Emanuel, had a personal
revelation to receive, left his friend and again took the road to Auray.
But this time he was on foot, and did not enter the castle, but going
along the park wall, he directed his steps toward an iron gate which
opened into a wood belonging to the domains of Auray.

About an hour before Paul left the fisherman’s hut, where he had found
Lusignan, a person had preceded him on the road toward the cottage at
which he was to ask the revelation of the secret of his birth; that
person was the Marchioness d’Auray, the haughty heiress of the name of
Sable. She was attired in her usual mourning garments with the addition
of a long black veil, which enveloped her from head to foot. Moreover,
the habitation which our young adventurer, with the hesitation of
ignorance, was seeking for, was to her familiar. It was a sort of
keeper’s house, situated at a few paces from the entrance to the park,
and inhabited by an old man, in whose behalf the Marchioness d’Auray
had for twenty years fulfilled one of those acts of sedulous benevolence
which had gained for her in that part of Lower Brittany, the reputation
of rigid holiness which she enjoyed. These attentions to age were given,
it is true, with the same gloomy and solemn face which we have observed
in her, and which the tender emotions of pity never softened; but they
were nevertheless afforded, and all knew it, with careful punctuality.

The face of the Marchioness d’Auray was even more grave than it was wont
to be, while she crossed the park to repair to the dwelling of a man who
was said to be an old servant of the family. The door was standing open
as if to allow the last rays of the setting sun to penetrate into the
house, so sweet and balmy to old people in the month of May. The house
was however empty. The Marchioness d’Auray entered it, looked around
her, and then as if certain that the person she was in search of would
not be long absent, she resolved to await his return. She sat down. She
had remained there about half an hour, motionless and absorbed in her
reflections, when she saw, between her and the declining daylight, a
shadow cast before the door. She slowly raised her eyes and recognised
the person she had been expecting. They both started as though they had
met by chance, and were not in the habit of seeing each other every day.

“It is you, Achard,” said the marchioness, who was the first to speak. “I
have been waiting for you half an hour. Where can you have been?”

“Had your ladyship walked fifty paces farther, you would have found me
under the large oak, on the edge of the forest.”

“You know I never walk that way,” said the marchioness, with a visible
shudder.

“And you are wrong, madam; there is one in heaven who has a right to our
joint prayers, and who, perhaps, is astonished to hear only those of old
Achard.”

“And how know you that I do not also pray?” said the marchioness, with
a certain degree of feverish agitation. “Do you believe that the dead
require we should be constantly kneeling on their tombs?”

“No,” replied the old man, with a feeling of profound sorrow; “no, I do
not believe that the dead are so exacting, madam; but I believe if any
part of us lives under ground, it would thrill at the noise caused by
the steps of those whom we have loved during our life.”

“But,” said the marchioness, in a low and hollow tone, “if that love
were a guilty passion?”

“However guilty it may have been, madam,” replied the old man, also
lowering his voice, “do you not believe that blood and tears have
expatiated it? God was then, believe me, too severe a judge, not to have
now become an indulgent father.”

“Yes, God has perhaps pardoned it,” murmured the marchioness, “but did the
world know that which God knows, would it pardon as God has done?”

“The world!” exclaimed the old man; “the world! Yes, there is the great
word which has again escaped your lips! The world! It is to it, to that
phantom you have sacrificed everything, madam; your feelings as a lover,
your feelings as a wife, your feelings as a mother! your own happiness,
the happiness of others! The world! It is the fear of the world which
has clothed you in perpetual mourning, beneath which you hope to conceal
remorse! And in that you are right, for you have succeeded in deceiving
it, for it has taken your remorse for virtue!”

The marchioness raised her head with some degree of agitation, and
putting aside her veil that she might look upon the person who addressed
her in such extraordinary language; then, after a momentary silence, not
being able to discover any sinister expression in the calm features of
the old man.

“You speak to me,” she said to him, “with a bitterness which would lead
me to believe you have some personal reason for reproaching me. Have I
failed in any promise I have made? The persons who attend on you by my
orders, are they wanting in that respect which I have desired them to
observe? You know, if this should be the case, you have only to say a
word.”

“Forgive me, madam, it is in sorrow that I speak, not bitterness; it is
the effect of solitude and of age. You must well know what it is to
have sorrows that you cannot speak of--tears which we dare not shed,
and which fall back, drop by drop, upon the heart! No, I have not to
complain of any one, madam, since first, from a feeling for which I am
truly grateful, without seeking to know whence it emanated, you have
been pleased to see personally that my wants were all supplied, and
you have not for a single day forgotten your promise, but like the old
prophet, I have sometimes seen an angel come as your messenger.”

“Yes,” replied the marchioness, “I know that Marguerite often
accompanies the servant who is charged to wait upon you; and I have seen
with pleasure the attentions she has paid you, and the friendship she
feels for you.”

“But in my turn, I have not failed either, I trust, in the promises I
made. For twenty years I have lived far from the habitations of men, I
have kept away every living being from this dwelling; so much did I fear
on your account, the delirium of my waking hours, or the indiscretion of
my dreams.”

“Undoubtedly! undoubtedly! and happily the secret has been well
preserved,” said the marchioness, placing her hand upon Achard’s arm;
“but this is a stronger incentive in my mind not to lose in a single
day the fruit of twenty years, all more gloomy, more isolated, and more
terrible than yours have been.”

“Yes, I understand you perfectly; and you have shuddered more than once
upon suddenly remembering that there is roaming about the world, a man
who may one day call upon me to reveal that secret, and that I have not
the right to conceal it from that man. Ah! you tremble at the bare idea,
do you not? But, tranquilise yourself; that man, when but a boy, fled
from the school at which we had placed him in Scotland, and for
ten years past nothing has been heard of him. In short, destined to
obscurity, he himself rushed forward to meet his fate. He is now lost
amid the millions that crowd this populous world, and not a soul knows
where to find him; this poor unit, without a name, is lost for ever. He
must have lost his father’s letter, have mislaid the token by which I
was to recognise him; or, better still, perhaps he exists no longer.”

“It is cruel of you, Achard,” replied the marchioness, “to utter such
words to a mother. You cannot appreciate the strange feelings and
singular contradictions contained in the heart of woman. For, in fine,
can I not be tranquil unless my child be dead! Consider, my old friend;
this secret, of which he has been ignorant five and twenty years, has it
become at the age of twenty-five, so necessary to his existence that
he cannot live, unless it be revealed to him? Believe me, Achard, for
himself even it would be better he should still remain ignorant of it,
as he has been to this day. I feel assured that to this day he has been
happy--old man, do not mar this happiness--do not inspire his mind with
thoughts which may induce him to commit an evil action. No--tell him,
in lieu of the dreadful tale you were desired to communicate, that his
mother has gone to rejoin his father in heaven; and, would to God that
it were so! but that when dying (for I must see him whatever you may say
to the contrary, I will even if it be but once, press him to my heart),
when dying, as I said, his mother had bequeathed him to her friend the
Marchioness d’Auray, in whom he will find a second mother.”

“I understand you, madam,” said Achard, smiling. “It is not the first
time you have pointed out this path, in which you wish to lead me
astray. Only to-day, you speak more openly, and if you dared to do so,
or if you knew me less, you would offer me some reward to induce me to
disobey the last injunctions of him who sleeps by us.”

The marchioness made a gesture as if about to interrupt him.

“Listen to me, madam,” hastily said the old man, stretching forth his
hand, “and let my words be considered by you as holy and irrevocable. As
faithful as I have been to the promise which I made to the Marchioness
d’Auray, so faithful will I be to that I made to the Count de Morlaix,
on the day when his son, or your son, shall present himself before me
with the token of recognition, and shall demand to know the secret. I
shall reveal it to him, madam. As to the papers which attest it, you are
aware that they are to be delivered to him only after the death of the
Marquis d’Auray. The secret is here,” said the old man, placing his hand
upon his heart; “no human power could have extracted it before the time;
no human power, that time having arrived, can prevent me from revealing
it. The papers are there in that closet, the key of which I always have
about me, and it is only by robbery or by assassination that I can be
deprived of them.”

“But,” said the marchioness, half rising and supporting herself on
the arm of her chair, “you might die before my husband, old man; for
although he is more dangerously ill than you are, you are older than he
is, and then what would become of those papers?”

“The priest who shall attend my last moments will receive them under the
seal of confession.”

“Ah! it is that!” cried the marchioness, rising, “and thus this chain of
fears will be prolonged until my death! and the last link of it will be
to all eternity rivetted to my tomb. There is in this world a man, the
only one perhaps, who is as immoveable as a rock; and God has placed him
in my path, not only as a remorse,’ but as a vengeance also. My secret
is in your hands, old man,--tis well!--do with it as you will!--you are
the master, and I am your slave--farewell!”

So saying, the marchioness left the cottage, and returned towards the
chateau.



CHAPTER VIII.--THE SECRET.

     More than ten years have passed since I beheld him,
     The noble boy; now time annuls my oath
     And cancels all his wrongs.
     I took a solemn oath to veil the secret,
     Conceal thy rights, while lived her lord,
     And thus allow’d thy youth to quit my roof.
     Bulwer.--The Sea Captain.


“Yes,” said the old man, gazing after the marchioness as she withdrew,
“yes, I know you have a heart of adamant, madam, insensible to every
sort of fear, with the exception of that which God has placed within
your breast to supply the place of remorse. But that suffices; and it is
dearly buying that reputation you have obtained for virtue, to pay
the price of such eternal terrors. It is true that the virtue of the
Marchioness d’Auray is so firmly established, that if truth herself were
to rise from the earth or to descend from heaven to arraign her, she
would be treated as a calumniator. But God orders all things according
to His will, and what He does ordain, His wisdom has long before
matured.”

“Rightly reasoned,” cried a youthful and sonorous voice, replying to
the religious axiom which the resignation of the old man had led him to
utter. “Upon my word, good father, you speak like Ecclesiastes.” Achard
turned round and perceived Paul, who had arrived just as the marchioness
left him, but who was so absorbed by the scene we have just described,
that she had not observed the young captain. The latter, seeing the
old man alone, approached him, and not hearing the last words he had
uttered, had spoken with his usual good humor. Achard, who was surprised
by his unexpected appearance, looked at him as if he wished him to
repeat that which he had said.

“I say,” resumed Paul, “that there is more grandeur in resignation that
humbly bows itself, than in philosophy that doubts. That is a maxim of
our quakers, which, for my eternal welfare, I wish I had less often on
my tongue, and more frequently in my heart.”

“I beg your pardon, sir,” said the old man on seeing our adventurer, who
was fixedly gazing at him, while standing with one foot on the threshold
of his door. “May I know who you are?”

“For the moment,” replied Paul, giving, as usual, free course to his
poetical and heedless gaiety, “I am a child of the republic of Plato,
having all human kind for brothers, the world for a country, and
possessing upon this earth only the station I have worked out for
myself.”

“And what are you in search of?” continued the old man, smiling in spite
of himself at the air of jovial good-nature which was spread over the
features of the young man.

“I am seeking,” replied Paul, “at three leagues distance from Lorient,
at five hundred paces from resembles this one, and in which I am to find
an old man, whom it is very likely is yourself.”

“And what is the name of this old man?”

“Louis Achard.”

“That is my name.”

“Then may the blessing of heaven descend on your white hairs,” said
Paul, in a voice which at once changing its tone, assumed that of deep
feeling and respect; “for here is a letter which I believe was written
by my father, in which he says that you are an honest man.”

“Does not that letter enclose something?” cried d’Auray, and advancing a
step nearer to the young captain.

“It does,” replied the latter, opening the letter and taking out of it
one half of a Venetian sequin, which had been broken in two; “it seems
to be part of a gold coin, of which I have one half, and you ought to be
in possession of the other.”

Achard mechanically held out his hand, while gazing with intense
interest at the young man.

“Yes, yes,” said the old man, and eyes gradually became more and more
suffused with tears: “yes, this is the true token, and more than
that, the extraordinary resemblance,” and opening his arms, he cried,
“child!--oh! my God! my God!”

“What is it?” cried Paul, extending his arms to support the old man, who
was quite overcome by his emotions.

“Oh! can you not comprehend?” replied the latter, “can you not
comprehend that you are the living portrait of your father, and that I
loved your father--loved him so much that I would have shed my blood,
have given my life to serve him, as I would now for you, young man, were
you to demand it.”

“Embrace me, then, my old friend,” said Paul, throwing his arms around
the old man, “for the chain of feeling, believe me, is not broken, which
extended from the tomb of the father to the cradle of the son. Whatever
my father may have been, if in order to resemble him it be only
necessary to have a conscience without reproach, undaunted courage,
and a memory which never forgets a benefit conferred, although it may
sometimes forget an injury; if this be so, then am I, as you have said,
my father’s living portrait, and more so in soul than in form.”

“Yes, he possessed all these,” replied the old man, with solemnity, and
clasping Paul to his breast, looking at him with affectionate though
tearful tenderness--“Yes, he had the same commanding voice, the same
flashing eyes, the same nobleness of heart. But why was it that I have
not seen you sooner, young man? I have, during my life, passed many
gloomy hours, which your presence would have brightened.”

“Why--because this letter told me to seek you out only when I should
have attained the age of twenty-five, and because it is not long since I
attained that age, not more than an hour ago.”

The old man bowed down his head with a pensive air, and remained silent
for some time, seemingly absorbed by recollections of the past.

“Can it be so?” at length ne said, raising his head, “can it be
twenty-five years ago. Good heaven! it appears to me only yesterday that
you were born in this house, that you first saw the light in that very
room:” and the old man raised his head, and pointed to a door which led
into another room.

Paul, in his turn, appeared to reflect, and then, looking around him, to
strengthen by the aid of objects which presented themselves to his view,
the recollections which crowded on his memory.

“In this cottage, in that room,” he repeated, “and I lived here till
I was five years old, did I not?”

“Yes,” murmured the old man, as if fearful to disturb the feelings which
were taking possession of the young man’s mind.

“Well,” continued Paul, leaning his head on both his hands, as if to
concentrate his thoughts, “allow me for one moment to look back, in my
turn, to the past, for I am recollecting a room which I had thought I
had seen in a dream--it may be that one. Listen to me! Oh! how strange
it is--remembrances now rush upon me.”

“Speak, my child, speak!” said the old man.

“It it be that room, there ought to be on the right, as you go in, at
the end of the room, a bed with green hangings.”

“Yes.”

“A crucifix at the head of the bed.”

“Yes.”

“A closet opposite, in which were books, among the rest a large Bible,
with numerous engravings.”

“There it is,” said the old man, pointing to the sacred book which was
lying open on a desk for prayer.

“Oh! it is that--it is that,” cried Paul, pressing his lips against the
leaves.

“Oh! good and pious heart,” cried the old man, “I thank thee, oh! my
God--I thank thee.”

“Then,” said Paul, rising, “in that room there is a window, from which
you can discern the sea, and on the sea, three islands?”

“Yes, Houat, Hoedic, and Belle-Ileen-mer.

“Then, it is really so,” said Paul, rushing towards the room, and then
perceiving that the old man was about to follow him, he said: “No, no! I
must be alone--let me enter it alone--I feel that I must be alone,” and he
went into the room, closing the door after him.

He then paused a moment, impressed with that holy respect which
accompanies the remembrance of our infancy. The room was as he had
described it, for the religious devotedness of the old servant had
preserved it from any change. Paul, feeling doubtless that the eye of
a stranger would have interrupted the expression of the feelings he
experienced, and now certain of being alone, abandoned himself to them
He slowly advanced, and with clasped hands, towards the ivory crucifix;
and falling on his knees, which formerly he had the habit of doing,
morning and evening, he endeavoured to remember one of those simple
prayers, in which a child, still on the threshold of this life, prays
to God for those who have opened its gates to him. “What events had
succeeded each other in the lapse of time which had passed between these
genuflexions! Paul remained for a considerable time absorbed in thought,
and then slowly arose, and went to the window. The night was beautiful
and calm, the moon was shining in the heavens, and tipped the ocean
waves with silver. The three islands appeared on the horizon, like blue
vapor floating on the ocean. He remembered how often in his infancy he
had leaned against that window, gazing upon that same scene, following
with his eyes some bark, with its snowy sails, which glided silently
over the sea, like the wing of a night bird. Then his heart swelled with
sweet and tender recollection; his head fell upon his chest, and silent
tears ran down his cheeks. At that moment he felt that some one pressed
his hands--it was the old man--he wished to conceal his emotions; but
instantly repenting this vain feeling, he turned toward Achard, and
frankly let him see his face, down which the tears were streaming.

“You weep, my child,” said the old man.

“Yes, I weep,” replied Paul; “and why should I conceal it? Yea, look at
me. And yet I have, during my life, witnessed dreadful scenes. I have
seen the tempest bear my vessel to the summit of a mountain wave, and
then sink her into an abyss, from which I thought she would never rise
again; and I felt that she weighed no more upon the wings of the storm
than does a dried leaf on the evening breeze. I have seen men fall
around me like the ripe ears of corn before the sickle of the reaper.
I have heard the cries of distress, and the dying groans of those whose
meal I had shared but the day before. In order to receive their last
sigh, I have walked amid a shower of bullets, and grape-shot, upon a
plank slippery with blood. And yet, amid all this, my soul was calm--my
eyes remained unmoistened. But this room, see you; this room, of which
I had retained so holy a remembrance; this room, in which I had received
the first caresses of a father whom I shall never see again, and the
last kisses of a mother who perhaps desires no more to see me; this room
is sacred as a cradle and as a tomb. I cannot thus revisit it without
giving vent to my emotions; I must weep, or I shall suffocate.” The old
man clasped him in his arms. Paul leaned his head upon his shoulder,
and during some time nothing was heard but his sobs. At length the old
servant rejoined:

“Yes, you are right; this room is at once a cradle and a tomb; it was
there that you were born;” he pointed to one corner with his hand;
“and it was there that you received the last blessing of your father,”
 continued he, pointing to the opposite side of the room.

“He is then dead?” said Paul.

“He is dead.”

“You must tell me how he died.”

“I will tell you all.”

“Defer it for a moment,” added Paul, as he reached a chair and seated
himself, “for I am now too weak to listen to you. Let me recover
myself.” He placed his elbow on the window-sill, leaned his head upon
his hand, and once more cast his eyes upon the sea.

“What a magnificent spectacle is the ocean when the moon shines upon
it as brightly as it does now,” continued he, with that accent of soft
melancholy which was habitual to him. “It is as calm as God himself, and
vast as eternity. I do not believe that a man accustomed to study such a
scene can be afraid of death. My father met death bravely, did he not?”

“Assuredly!” proudly replied Achard.

“It could not be otherwise,” continued Paul, “for I remember my father,
although I was only four years old when I last saw him.”

“He was a handsome young man, as you yourself are,” said Achard, looking
sorrowfully at Paul, “and just as old as you are.”

“What was his name?”

“The Count de Moraix.”

“Then I also am of an old and noble family. I also have arms and an
escutcheon as well as those young and insolent nobles who ask me for my
parchments when I show them my wounds?”

“Wait, young man, wait; do not allow pride to carry you thus away, for
I have not yet told you the name of her who gave you being, and you are
still ignorant of the dreadful secret of your birth.”

“Well: be it so. I shall not with the less respect and veneration hear
the name of my mother. What was my mother’s name?”

“The Marchioness d’Auray,” slowly replied the old man, as if regretting
that he was compelled to mention her name.

“What is it that you tell me!” cried Paul, starting from his chair, and
seizing the hands of the old man.

“The truth!” replied Achard, sorrowfully.

“Then Emanuel is my brother--Marguerite is my sister.”

“Do you then already know them?” exclaimed the old servant, much
astounded.

“Oh! you were right, old man,” said Paul, throwing himself into his
chair. “God orders all things according to His will, and what He does
ordain, His wisdom has long before matured.”

They both remained silent for a time, when at length Paul raised his
head, and resolutely fixing his eyes on the old man’s face, said:

“Now, I am ready to hear all you have to communicate--you may go on.”



CHAPTER IX.--FATAL LOVE.

     I shall a tale unfold
     Will harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood;
     Make thy two eyes like stars, start from their spheres;
     Thy knotted and combined locks to part.
     And each particular hair to stand on end,
     Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.

     Shakespeare.


The old man seemed to be summoning up his recollections for a time, and
then began:

“They were affianced to each other. I know not what mortal hatred it
was that arose between the families and separated them. The Count de
Morlaix, broken hearted, could not remain in France. He sailed for Saint
Domingo, where his father possessed a large estate; I accompanied him,
for the Count de Morlaix reposed much confidence in me. I was the son of
her who had nursed him; I had received the same education as himself; he
used to call me his brother, and I alone remembered the distance which
nature had placed between us. The Marquis de Morlaix confided to me the
charge of watching over his son, for I loved him with all the love of
a father. We remained two years under a tropical sun; during that two
years, your father, lost amid the solitude of that magnificent island,
a traveller without an object and without an aim, an ardent and
indefatigable sportsman, endeavouring to cure the griefs of the mind,
by the fatigues of the body; but so far from succeeding, one would have
thought that his heart became still more inflamed under that ardent sun.
At length, after two years of trial and incessant struggles, his love
conquered. He must either see her again or die. I yielded and we set
sail for France. Never was a voyage more beautiful, or more prosperous.
The sea and sky seemed to smile upon us; so favourable were they that
it would have induced one to believe in lucky omens. Six weeks after our
departure from Port au Prince, we landed at Havre. Mademoiselle de Sablé
was married. The Marquis d’Auray was at Versailles, fulfilling at the
court of Louis XV. the duties of his charge, and his wife, who was
too much indisposed to follow him, was at the old chateau d’Auray, the
turrets of which you see from this place.”

“Yes, yes,” said Paul, “I know it; pray go on.”

“As to myself,” rejoined the old map, “during our voyage, one of my
uncles, an old servant of the house of Auray, had died, and left me
this small house, with a small quantity of land surrounding it. I took
possession of it. Your father had left me at Vannes, telling me he was
going to Paris, and for the whole of the first year that I inherited
this house I did not see him.”

“One night,--it is exactly twenty-five years ago,--some one knocked at
my door; I went to open it and found your father there, carrying in his
arms a woman whose face was veiled. He brought her into this room, and
laid her on that bed. And then returning to me in the adjoining room,
where I was waiting mute and motionless with astonishment, he placed
his hand upon my shoulder, and looking at me in a supplicating manner,
although he had the right to command me, said, ‘Louis, you can do more
than save my life and honor--you can save the life and honor of her I
love--get on horseback, gallop to the next town, and return here in an
hour with a doctor.’ He spoke to me in that short and hasty tone, which
indicated that there was not a moment to be lost. I immediately
obeyed. The day was beginning to break when we returned. The doctor was
introduced by the Count de Morlaix into this room, the door of which was
immediately closed: he remained there during the whole day; towards
five in the afternoon, the doctor left the house, and at nightfall your
father also left the house carrying in his arms the mysterious veiled
lady whom he had brought the previous night. When they had gone, I came
into this room and found you here--you had just been born.”

“And how did you learn that this woman was the Marchioness d’Auray?”

“Oh!” exclaimed the old man, in a way which was as terrible as it was
unexpected; “I had offered the Count de Morlaix to keep you here, and he
accepted my proposal: from time to time he would come to spend an hour
with you.”

“Alone?” demanded Paul, with much anxiety.

“Yes, always; but as he had given me permission to walk with you in the
park, it would sometimes happen that at the corner of one of the avenues
I would meet the marchioness, whom chance appeared to have conducted in
that direction. She would make you a sign to come to her, and she would
kiss you as people kiss a strange child, because he is handsome. Four
years passed on in this way, and then one night some one again knocked
at this door, and it was again your father. He was more calm, but had,
perhaps, a more gloomy look than on the first occasion. ‘Louis,’ said
he, ‘to-morrow, at the break of day, I have to meet the Marquis d’Auray.
It is a duel in which one of us must fall, and you are to be the only
witness of it. The terms are agreed upon. You must, therefore, give me
shelter for this night, and let me have materials for writing.’ He sat
down at this table, on the very chair you are now seated.”

Paul sprang up, but supported himself on the back of the chair, without
again sitting down upon it. “He sat up all night. At day-break he came
into my room and found me up--I had not gone to bed. As to you poor
child, unconscious of the passions and miseries of this life, you were
quietly sleeping.”

“And then,--pray go on.”

“Your father bent slowly over you, supporting himself by the wall, and
looking sorrowfully upon you: ‘Louis,’ said he to me, in a hollow voice,
‘should I be killed, and which may happen, wo to this child! You will
deliver him with this letter to Field, my valet de chambre, whom I have
charged to conduct him to Selkirk, in Scotland, there to leave him in
sure hands. When he is twenty-five years old, he will bring you the
other half of this gold coin, and will ask you to reveal to him the
secret of his birth. You will communicate it; for then, perhaps, his
mother will be alone and isolated. As to these papers which prove his
birth, you will not deliver them to him, until after the death of the
Marquis d’Auray. Now I have said all that is necessary, let us go, for
it is the appointed hour. He then leaned over your bed, bent down toward
you, and although he was a man of fortitude, as I have told you, I saw a
tear fall upon your cheek.”

“Proceed,” said Paul, in a voice choked by emotion.

“The rendezvous was in one of the avenues of the park, about a hundred
paces from this house. When we reached the place, we found the marquis
there, he had been waiting for us some minutes. Near him upon a bank
were pistols ready loaded. The adversaries bowed to each other without
exchanging a word. The marquis pointed to the weapons--they each took
one, and then, according to the terms which had been agreed upon, as
your father had told me, they placed themselves, mute and gloomily, at
the distance of thirty paces, and then began to walk towards each other.
Oh! it was a moment ef agony for me, I can assure you,” rejoined the
old man, almost as much moved as if the scene were then actually passing
before him, “when I saw the distance gradually diminishing between these
two men. When they were only about ten paces, the marquis stopped and
fired. I looked at your father; not a muscle of his face was moved, so
that I thought him safe and unhurt. He continued to walk on till he came
close to the marquis, and then placing the muzzle of the pistol to his
heart--”

“He did not kill him, I trust,” cried Paul seizing the old man’s arm.

“He said to him, Your life is in my hands, sir, and I might take it, but
I wish you to live, that you may pardon me, as I do you. And uttering
these words, he fell dead at the feet of the marquis, whose ball had
passed through his chest.”

“Oh! my father! my father!” cried Paul, wringing his hands. “And the man
who killed my father--he still lives, does he not? He is still young,
and has strength enough to wield a sword or raise a pistol? We will go
to him--to-day--instantly! You will tell him, that it is his son!
that he must fight with him.”

“God has avenged your father,” replied Achard--“that man is mad.”

“That is true--I had forgotten that,” murmured Paul.

“And in his madness that bloody scene is ever before his eyes, and he
repeats ten times a day the dying words your father addressed to him.”

“And that must be the reason why the marchioness will not leave him for
a single moment.”

“And that is also the reason, under the pretext that he will not see his
children, that she keeps Emanuel and Marguerite from him.”

“My poor sister,” said Paul, with an accent of undefinable tenderness;
“and now she wishes to sacrifice her by forcing her to marry that wretch
Lectoure.”

“Yes, but that wretch Lectoure will take Marguerite with him to Paris,
and give a regiment of dragoons to her brother, so that the marchioness
will no longer have cause to dread the presence of her children. Her
secret, therefore, remains henceforward in the breasts of two old men,
who to-morrow, this night even, may die. The grave is silent.”

“But, I--I!”----

“You! Does she know that you still exist! Has anything been heard of you
since you escaped from Selkirk? Could not some accident have prevented
you from coming to the appointment, which fortunately you have done
safely? It is certain that she has not forgotten you, but she hopes”----

“Oh! can you believe that my mother”----

“I beg your pardon, that is true. I do not believe it!” cried Achard, “I
was wrong; forget what I have said.”

“Yes, yes, let us speak of you, my friend; let us speak of my father.”

“Is it necessary that I should tell you that his last wishes were
fulfilled. Field came to fetch you during the day, and took you away
with him. Twenty-one years have passed since then, and since then not
a single day has passed without my putting up a prayer that I might see
you at the appointed time. My prayers have been granted,” continued the
old man; “and thanks be to God, you are here. Your father lives again in
you--I once more see him--I am speaking to him. I weep no longer, I am
now consoled.”

“And he died thus, instantly, without a struggle, without a sigh?”

“Yes--I brought him here. I placed him on the bed in which you were
born--I closed the door that no one might enter the house, and I went
alone and dug his grave. I passed the whole day in this painful duty;
for, according to the request of your father, to no one was to be
confided this dreadful secret. In the evening I returned for the body.
The heart of man is singularly constituted, and hope which God has
planted in it can with difficulty be eradicated. I had seen him fall--I
had felt his hands grow cold--I had kissed his ice-like face--I had
left him, to hollow out his grave, and that grave being made, that duty
being accomplished, I returned with a beating heart, for it appeared to
me, although a miracle would be required for such a change, that during
my absence life had returned to him, and that he would rise from his bed
and speak to me. I entered the house--alas! alas! the days of miracles
had passed away. Lazarus remained lying on his couch--dead! dead! dead!”
 and the old man remained for some time overwhelmed with grief, silent
and voiceless, and tears rolled down his furrowed cheeks.

“Yes, yes,” cried Paul, also bursting into tears; “yes, and you then
fulfilled your holy mission. Good old man, let me kiss those hands which
deposited my father in his last home. And you have remained faithful
to his tomb as you had been to him during life. Poor guardian of the
sepulchre; you have remained near him that your tears might water the
grass which grew about the unknown grave. Oh! how little are those who
think themselves great because their name resounds amid the tempest,
and the cry of war, louder than the storm or the din of battle, in
comparison with you, old man, whose devotedness has been mute and
noiseless. Oh! give me your blessings lay those hallowed hands upon my
head, since my father is not here to bless me,” continued Paul, throwing
himself on his knees before him.

“Rise to my arms--let me clasp you to my heart, my child, for you
exaggerate these actions, in themselves so simple and so natural. And
then, believe me, that which you term my piety has not been a useless
lesson to me. I have seen how little space a man occupies beneath the
ground, and how soon he is lost amid the world, should God turn his
face from him. Your father was young, full of courage, with a brilliant
career opening before him. Your father was the last descendant of an
ancient line; he bore a noble name. His path seemed marked with honors
and distinction; he had a family and powerful friends. Well, he suddenly
disappeared, as if the earth had opened beneath his feet. I know not if
some tearful eyes sought for him till they lost all trace of him; but
this I know, that for one-and-twenty years no one has sought out his
tomb--no one knows that he lies beneath that spot, where the grass
is greener and grows more luxuriantly than elsewhere--and yet, vain,
glorious, and miserable as he is, man considers himself of some value.”

“Oh! and my mother, has she not visited his grave?”

The old man did not answer.

“Well, then! there will be two of us who henceforward will know the
spot, where he reposes. Come, and show it to me; for I will return
to it, I promise solemnly, every time my ship returns to the coast of
France.”

Saying this, he drew Achard into the outer room, but as they opened the
door they heard a slight noise in the park. It was a servant from the
castle, who had accompanied Marguerite. Paul hurriedly returned into the
bedroom.

“It is my sister,” said he to Achard; “leave me alone with her a
moment. It is necessary that I should speak to her. I have something
to communicate which will make her pass a happy night. We must have
compassion for those who watch and weep.”

“Reflect,” said Achard, “that the secret I have revealed to you is your
mother’s.”

“Fear not--I will speak to her but of that which concerns herself.”

At that moment Marguerite entered the room.



CHAPTER X.--CONFIDENCE.

     This ring I gave him when he parted from me
     To bind him to remember my good will;
     The more shame for him that he sends it to me.

     Shakespeare.


Marguerite had come, as she frequently did, to bring some provisions for
the old man, and it was not without astonishment that she perceived in
the outer room, where she usually found Achard, a young and handsome
man, who looked at her with gladdened eyes, and with a kindly smile.
She made a sign to the servant to put down the basket in a corner of the
room; he obeyed, and then went out to wait for his mistress in the park.
When he had withdrawn, she advanced towards Paul, saying,--

“I beg your pardon, sir, but I expected to find my old friend, Achard,
here, and I came, to bring him something from my mother”--

Paul pointed to the inner room, to let her know that the person she was
seeking was within, for he could not reply to her; he felt that the tone
of his voice would betray the emotions he experienced. The young girl
thanked him, with a bow, and went into the room to find Achard.

Paul followed her with his eyes--his hand pressed upon his heart. That
virgin soul into which love had never penetrated, now expanded with
fraternal tenderness. Isolated as he had always been, having no friends
but the rude children of the ocean, all that was soft or tender in his
heart, he had turned towards God, and although in the eyes of rigid
Christians, his religion might not have appeared as strictly orthodox,
it is no less true, that the poetry which overflowed in every word he
uttered was nothing more than one vast and eternal prayer. It was not,
therefore, astonishing, that this first feeling which penetrated his
heart, although purely fraternal, was as extravagant and transporting as
the emotions of love.

“Oh!” murmured he, “poor isolated being that I am! How shall I be
able to restrain my feelings when she returns, and prevent myself from
clasping her to my heart and saying to her: Marguerite! my sister, no
woman has yet felt love for me; love me then with sisterly affection.
Oh! mother! mother! by depriving me of your caresses, you have also
deprived me of those of this dear angel. May God restore to you in
eternity that happiness which you have driven from yourself and others.”

“Farewell!” said Marguerite to the old man, opening the door, “farewell!
I wished this evening to come myself, for I know not when I may see you
again.”

And she went toward the outer door, pensive, and with her eyes cast
down, without seeing Paul, without remembering that a stranger was in
that room. Paul remained gazing at her with outstretched arms as if
to prevent her leaving the house, with palpitating heart and moistened
eyes. At length, when he saw her placing her hand upon the door-latch,
he cried aloud--

“Marguerite!”

She turned round amazed, but not being able to comprehend this strange
familiarity, in one who was totally unknown to her, she half-opened the
door.

“Marguerite!” reiterated Paul, advancing a step towards his sister,
“Marguerite, do you not hear me call you?”

“It is true that my name is Marguerite, sir,” she replied, with dignity;
“but I could not imagine that word was addressed to me by a person whom
I have the honor of knowing.”

“But I know you!” exclaimed Paul, going nearer to her, and then closing
the door he brought her back into the room. “I know that you are
unhappy, that you have not one friendly heart into which you can pour
your sorrows, not one arm from which you can ask support.”

“You forget the one which is on high,” replied Marguerite, raising her
eyes and hand toward heaven.

“No, no, Marguerite, I do not forget, for it is He who sends me to offer
you that which you most need; to tell you when all lips and all hearts
are closed toward you, ‘I am your friend, devotedly, eternally.’”

“Oh! sir!” replied Marguerite, “these are sacred and solemn words which
you have uttered; words, unfortunately, to which it would be difficult
for me to give credence without proofs.”

“And should I give you one?” said Paul.

“Impossible!” murmured Marguerite.

“Irrefragable!” continued Paul.

“Oh! then!” exclaimed Marguerite, with an indescribable accent, in which
doubt began to give place to hope--

“Well! and then”--

“Oh! then--but no, no!”

“Do you know this ring?” said Paul, showing her the one with the key
that opened the bracelet.

“Gracious heaven!” exclaimed Marguerite, “have mercy upon me! he is
dead!”

“He lives.”

“Then he no longer loves me.”

“He loves you!”

“If he be living--if he still love me--oh! I shall go mad--what was it I
was saying? If he be living--if he still love me, how comes it that this
ring is in your possession?”

“He confided it to me as a token of recognition.”

“And have I confided this bracelet to any one?” cried Marguerite,
pushing back the sleeve of her gown--“Look!”

“Yes, but you, Marguerite, you are not proscribed--dishonored, in the
eyes of the whole world--thrown amongst a condemned race!”

“Of what importance is that. Is he not innocent?”

“And then, he thought,” continued Paul, wishing to discover the extent
of the devotedness and love of his sister, “he thought that delicacy
required, banished as he is for ever from society, that he should offer
you, if not restore to you, the liberty of disposing of your hand.”

“When a woman has done for a man that which I have done for him,”
 replied Marguerite, “her only excuse is to love him eternally, and it is
that I mean to do.”

“Oh! you are an angel!” exclaimed Paul.

“Tell me!” rejoined Marguerite, seizing the young man’s hands, and
looking at him with a supplicating air--

“What?”

“Have you seen him, then?”

“I am his friend, his brother.”

“Speak to me of him, then?” she exclaimed, giving herself up entirely to
the recollection of her lover, and forgetting that it was the first
time she had seen the person to whom she was addressing questions of so
delicate a nature. “What is he doing? what hope has he? Poor, unhappy
man!”

“He loves you--and he hopes again to see you.”

“Then, then,” stammered Marguerite, and drawing back some paces,--“he
has told you----?”

“All!”

“Oh!” she cried, looking down and concealing her face, over which a
sudden tinge of red had cast itself, replacing for a moment its habitual
paleness.

Paul approached her and clasping her to his breast, exclaiming--

“You are a miracle of devotedness!”

“You do not then despise me, sir?” said Marguerite, Venturing to raise
her eyes.

“Marguerite!” cried Paul, “had I a sister I would pray to heaven that
she might resemble you.”

“Oh! were it so you would have a most unhappy sister,” she replied,
leaning upon his arm and bursting into tears.

“Perhaps,” said Paul, smiling.

“You know not, then----?”

“Proceed.”

“That Monsieur de Lectoure is to arrive to-morrow morning.”

“I have been informed of that.”

“And that to-morrow night the marriage contract is to be signed.”

“I know that, too.”

“Well! then! what can I hope for in such extremity as this? To whom can
I apply to prevent this hated union? Who can I interest to aid me?
My brother? God knows that I forgive him, but he cannot comprehend my
feelings. My mother? Oh! sir, you do not know my mother. She is a woman
whose reputation is unsullied, of the most austere virtue, and her will
inflexible, for never having failed in her duty, she does not believe
that others can forget it, and when she has once said, ‘It is my will,’
all that remains to do is to bow down one’s head, to weep, and to obey.
My father? Yes, I well know that my father must leave the room from
which he has never stirred for twenty years, to sign this contract. My
father! for any one less unhappy and less culpable than I might prove
a resource: but you know not that he is insane--that he has lost his
reason, and with it every feeling of paternal affection. And besides,
it is ten years since I last saw him. For the last ten years I have not
pressed his trembling hands, nor kissed his snow white hairs. He knows
not that he has still a daughter! he knows not even whether he has a
heart, and will not be able even to recognize me. And were he but to
know me, and took compassion on me, my mother would place a pen in
his hand and would say, ‘Sign that, it is my will!’ and he would sign
it--the poor feeble old man! and his daughter would be condemned.”

“Yes, yes. I know all this as well as you do, my poor child; but be
pacified, that contract never will be signed.”

“And who can prevent it?”

“I will!”

“You?”

“Do not despair. To-morrow I shall be present at the family council.”

“Who will present you there?”

“I have the means.”

“My brother is violent; and passionate. Oh! good heaven, beware, while
striving to save me that you do not sink me still deeper in misery?”

“Your brother’s person is in my eyes as sacred as your own, Marguerite.
Fear nothing, and rely confidently upon me.”

“Oh! I believe you, sir, and I implicitly confide in you,” said
Marguerite, as if overwhelmed by the contending feelings of confidence
and mistrust which she had till then labored under. “For what advantage
could you derive from endeavoring to deceive me? What interest could you
have to betray me?”

“None, undoubtedly; but let us talk of other matters. What line of
conduct do you intend to pursue with regard to the Baron de Lectoure?”

“I will tell him all!”

“Oh!” cried Paul, bowing profoundly, “allow me to adore you.”

“Sir!” murmured Marguerite, “sir!”

“As a sister! as a sister!”

“Yes, you are indeed kind and good,” cried Marguerite, “and I believe it
is God who sent you to my aid.”

“Believe it,” replied Paul. “Then--to-morrow evening.”

“Do not be astonished, nor alarmed at anything that may occur, only
contrive to let me know by letter, by a word, a sign, the result of your
interview with Lectoure!”

“I will endeavor to do so.”

“It is now late, and your servant may be surprised at the length of this
interview. Return to the castle, and say not a word of me to any one.
Farewell!”

“Farewell,” reiterated Marguerite; “you to whom I know not what name to
give.”

“Call me your brother.”

“Farewell, then, brother.”

“Oh, my sister! my sister!” cried Paul, clasping her convulsively in his
arms, “your lips are the first from which I have heard so sweet a word.
God will reward you for it.”

The young girl drew back amazed; and then returning to Paul, she held
out her hand to him. Paul again pressed it, and Marguerite left the
cottage.

The young man then went to the door of the inner room, and opened it.

“And now, good old man,” said he, “conduct me to my father’s grave.”



CHAPTER XI.--THE COURTIER.

     Hamlet.--Dost thou know this water-fly?
     Horatio.--No, my good lord.
     Hamlet.--Thy state is the more gracious; for ‘tis a vice to know him.
     SHAKESPEARE.

     Here on my knees by heaven’s blest nower I swear,
     If you persist, I ne’er henceforth will see you;
     But rather wander through the world a beggar,
     And live on sordid scraps at poor men’s doors.
     For, though to fortune lost, I’ll still inherit
     My mother’s virtues and my father’s honor.--Otway.


The day following that on which Paul had been made acquainted with the
secret of his birth, the inhabitants of the castle of Auray awoke more
than ever absorbed in the fears and hopes which their several interests
had created, for that day must necessarily prove a decisive one to
the whole of them. The marchioness, whom our readers have ere this
discovered, was neither perverse or wicked, but a haughty and inflexible
woman, saw in it the termination of those heart-rending apprehensions,
which for so many years, had been her daily companions; for it was
above all, in the eyes of her children, that she wished to preserve that
unsullied reputation, the usurpation of which had been purchased at
such cost. To her, Lectoure was not only a fitting son-in-law, being
the bearer of a name as noble as her own, but more than this, a man, or
rather a good genius, who at the same moment would bear away not only
her daughter, whom he would take with him as his wife, but her son also,
to whom the minister, thanks to this alliance, had promised to give a
regiment. Both her children gone, her first-born might come, and the
secret revealed to him, would find no echo. Moreover, there were
a thousand methods by which to close his lips. The fortune of the
marchioness was immense, and gold was one of those resources, which,
in such a case, she deemed infallible. The more terrible her fears, the
more ardently did she desire this union; so that she not only encouraged
the anxiety of Lectoure, but she also excited that of Emanuel. As to the
latter, tired of living unknown at Paris, or immured in Brittany, lost
in the crowd of brilliant young men who formed the household of the
King, or shut up in the antique castle of his ancestors, having their
portraits as his sole companions, he knocked with impatient eagerness at
the golden door which his intended brother-in-law was to open for him,
at Versailles. The grief and tears of his sister had, certainly, for
a time afflicted him; for he was ambitious, more from a dread of the
_ennui_, which would consume him if compelled to live on his estate, and
from the desire of parading at the head of his regiment, captivating the
hearts of all the ladies by the richness and good taste of his uniform,
than from either pride or hardness of heart. Being himself incapable of
forming any serious attachment, and despite the fatal consequences of
his sister’s love, he considered that love, merely as a childish fancy,
which the tumult and pleasure of the world would soon efface from her
memory, and he really believed that before a year had elapsed, she would
be the first to thank him for having thus done violence to her feelings.

As to Marguerite, poor victim, so irrevocably condemned to be immolated
to the fear of the one, and to the ambition of the other, the scene of
the preceding day had made a profound impression on her mind. She could
not at all account to herself for the extraordinary feelings which the
young man who had transmitted to her the words of Lusignan, had awakened
in her heart; who had tranquillized her as to the fate of the unhappy
exile, and had concluded by pressing her to his heart, and calling her
his sister. A vague and instinctive hope whispered to her heart, that
this man, as he had told her, had received from heaven the mission to
protect her. But as she was ignorant of the tie which bound him to
her, of the secret which made him master of his mother’s will, of the
influence he might exercise over her future life, she did not dare
allow herself to dream of happiness, habituated as she had been for six
months, to consider death as the only term to her misfortunes.

The marquis, alone, amid the various emotions which agitated all around
him, had remained coldly and impassibly indifferent; for to him the
world had ceased to move since the dreadful day on which reason had
abandoned him; continually absorbed by one fixed idea, that of his
mortal combat, without seconds. The only words he ever uttered, were
those pronounced by the Count de Morlaix, when he forgave him his death.
He was an old man, weak as an infant, and whom his wife could overawe
by a gesture, and who received from her cold and continuous will,
every impulsion, which, for twenty years, the vegetating instinct had
received, and which, on him, had usurped the place of reason and free
will. On this day, however, a great change had taken place in his
monotonous mode of life. A valet de chambre had entered his apartment,
and had succeeded to the marchioness in the cares of his toilette;
he had dressed him in his uniform of steward of the household, had
decorated his breast with the several orders that had been conferred
upon him; and then the marchioness, placing a pen in his hand, had
ordered him to try to sign his name, and he had obeyed, passively and
negligently, without imagining that he was studying the part of an
executioner.

About three in the afternoon, a postchaise, the sound of whose wheels
had very differently impressed the hearts of the three persons who were
expecting it, entered the court-yard of the castle. Emanuel had eagerly
run down to the vestibule to receive his future brother-in-law, for it
was he who had arrived. Lectoure sprang lightly from his carriage. He
had halted for some time at the last post-house, to attire himself in a
presentable costume, so that he arrived in an elegant court dress of the
latest fashion. Emanuel smiled at this evidence of his anxiety, for it
was clearly to be perceived, that Lectoure was determined not to lose
the advantage of a first favorable impression, by presenting himself in
a dusty travelling dress. His intercourse with the fair sex had taught
him, that they almost invariably judge from the first glance, and the
effect which it produces upon their minds or hearts, let it be favorable
or unfavorable, is with difficulty removed. Moreover, it is but
rendering justice to the baron to acknowledge that his person was
graceful and elegant, and might have been dangerous to any woman whose
heart was not already occupied by another.

“Permit me, my dear baron,” said Emanuel, advancing toward him, “in the
momentary absence of the ladies, to do the honors of the mansion of
my ancestors. See,” continued he, when they had reached the top of the
stone steps leading into the hall, and pointing to the turrets and
the bastions, “these date from the time of Philip Augustus, as to
architecture, and from Henry IV., in point of ornament.”

“Upon my honor,” replied the baron, in the affected tone which the young
men of that day had adopted, “it is a most charming fortress, and throws
around it, to a distance of at least three leagues, a baronial odour,
which would perfume even an army contractor. If ever,” continued he, as
they passed through the hall and entered a gallery ornamented on each
side with long lines of family portraits, “I should take a fancy to
enter into a rebellion against his most Christian Majesty, I shall
entreat you to lend me this jewel of a place; and,” added he, casting
his eyes on the long rows of ancestors which offered themselves to his
view, “the garrison with it.”

“Thirty-three quarters--I will not say in flesh and blood,” replied
Emanuel, “for they are long since turned to dust--but in painting,
as you see. They begin with a certain Chevalier Hugues d’Auray, who
accompanied King Louis VII. to the crusades; that one, it is pretended,
is my aunt Deborah, whom you see decked out as Judith; and all this
eventually ends in the male line, in the last member of this illustrious
family, your very humble and very obedient servant, Emanuel d’Auray.”

“It is perfectly respectable, and nothing can be more authentic.”

“Yes; but as I do not feel that I have, as yet, become sufficiently a
patriarch,” rejoined Emanuel, passing before the baron to show him the
way to the apartment which had been prepared for him, “to spend my days
in such formidable society, I hope, baron, that you have thought of the
means by which I can withdraw from it?”

“Undoubtedly, my dear count,” said Lectoure, following him. “I wished
even to have been myself the bearer of your commission, as my wedding
gift to you. I knew of a vacancy in the queen’s dragoon’s, and called
yesterday on M. de Maurepas to solicit it for you, when I heard that it
had been granted, at the request of I know not what mysterious admiral,
a sort of corsair, pirate, or fantastic being, whom the queen has made
the fashion by giving him her hand to kiss, and whom the king has taken
a great affection to because he beat the English, I know not where--so
that his majesty has conferred upon him the order of military merit, and
presented him a sword with a gold hilt, just as he would have done to
one of the nobility. In short, the game is lost on that side, but do not
be alarmed, we will turn round to another.”

“Very well,” replied Emanuel, “I care not what regiment it may be in;
what I desire is, that it should be a rank suitable to my name, and a
position which would be becoming to our wealth.”

“Precisely--you shall have them.”

“But how,” said Emanuel, wishing to change the subject of conversation,
“how did you manage to get rid of the thousand engagements you must have
had on your hands.”

“Why,” said the baron, with that perfectly free and easy air, which
belonged only to that distinguished class, and stretching himself upon
a couch, for they had at length reached the apartment destined for him,
“why, by frankly stating the fact to them. I announced at the queen’s
card table, I was going to be married.”

“Oh! good heaven! Why, this was perfect heroism! Above all, if you
acknowledged you were about to seek a wife in the depths of Lower
Brittany.”

“I did acknowledge it.”

“And then,” said Emanuel, smiling, “compassion stifled every angry
feeling.”

“Gad! you will readily comprehend, my dear count,” said Lectoure,
putting one knee over the other and, balancing his leg with a motion as
regular as that of a pendulum, “our women of the court believe that the
sun rises at Paris, and sets at Versailles--all the rest of France, is,
in their idea, a Lapland, Greenland, Nova Zembla! So that they expect,
as you have hinted, my dear count, to see me bring back with me from my
voyage to the pole some large hands, and formidable feet! Fortunately,
they are mistaken,” he added, with an accent half timorous, half
interrogatory; “is it not so, Emanuel? for you told me that your
sister”----

“You will see her,” replied Emanuel.

“It will be a dreadful disappointment to that poor Madame de Chaulne--it
cannot be helped--and she must console herself. What is it?”

This question was induced by the entrance of Emanuel’s valet-de-chambre;
who had half opened the door, and remained upon the threshold, waiting,
as was then the custom of all servants in great houses, till his master
should address him.

“What is it? repeated Emanuel.

“Mademoiselle Marguerite d’ Auray requests that Monsieur, the Baron de
Lectoure, will honor her with a private interview.”

“Me!” said Lectoure, rising from the sofa, “certainly, with the greatest
pleasure.”

“But no! it is a mistake!” exclaimed Emanuel; “you must be mistaken,
Celestin.”

“I have the honor to assure your lordship,” replied the valet de
chambre, “that I have correctly and faithfully executed the order which
was given to me.”

“Impossible!” said Emanuel, uneasy to the highest degree, at the step
his sister had ventured to take: “Baron, if you will be advised by me,
you will send the little simpleton about her business.”

“By no means! by no means,” replied Lectoure. “What does this bluebeard
of a brother mean? Celestin! Did you not call this lad, Celestin?”

Emanuel impatiently bowed his head in the affirmative. “Well then,
Celestin, tell my lovely betrothed that I throw myself at her knees, at
her feet, and that I await her orders either to go to her or to receive
her here;--and there, take this for the charges of your embassy.”

He threw him his purse.

“And you, count,” rejoined Lectoure, “I trust that you have confidence
enough in me, to permit this _ tête-à-tête?_”

“But it is so perfectly absurd!”

“Not at all,” replied Lectoure; “on the contrary, it is perfectly
befitting. I am not a crowned head, that I should marry a woman upon her
portrait, and by proxy. I wish to see her in person. Come, Emanuel,” he
continued, pushing his friend toward a side door, that he might not
meet his sister--“Come, now, tell me frankly--in confidence, between
ourselves--is there any--deformity?”

“Why, no, by heaven!” replied the young count, “no--on the contrary, she
is as lovely as an angel.”

“Well, then!” said the baron, “what does all this opposition mean? Come,
now, begone, or must I call my guards?”

“No; but on my word, I am afraid that this little simpleton, who has
not the slightest notion of the world, is coming to destroy all that has
been arranged between us.”

“Oh! if that is all you fear,” replied Lectoure, opening the door, “you
may be perfectly at ease. I like the brother too well not to look over
some caprice--some extraordinary fantasies in the sister--and I pledge
you my word as a gentleman, unless the devil should play us some strange
trick, (whom, I trust, is at this moment fully occupied in some other
corner of the world!) that Mademoiselle Marguerite d’Auray, shall be
Madame the Baroness de Lectoure, and that in a month you shall have your
regiment.”

This promise appeared in some degree to pacify Emanuel, who allowed
himself to be pushed out of the door without making further difficulty.
Lectoure immediately ran to a looking-glass to repair the slight
traces of disorder, which the jolting over the three last leagues had
occasioned in his dress. He had scarcely given to his, hair and garments
the most becoming turn and folds, when the door again opened, and
Celestin announced--

“Mademoiselle Marguerite d’Auray.”

The baron turned round, and perceived his betrothed standing pale and
trembling on the threshold of the door. Although the promises of Emanuel
had inspired him with some degree of hope, a certain residue of doubt
had still remained on his mind, if not as to the beauty, at all events,
with regard to the deportment of the lady who was about to become his
wife. His surprise was therefore unbounded, when he saw that delicate
and graceful creature standing before him, and whom the most fastidious
critic of female elegance could only have reproached with being in
a slight degree too pallid. Marriages, such as the one about to be
contracted by Lectoure, were by no means rare in an age in which
questions as to rank and suitableness of fortune in general, decided
alliances between noble houses; but that which was scarcely found once
in a thousand times, was, that a man in the baron’s position should
meet, immured in a distant province, a lady possessed of an immense
fortune, and whom, at the first glance, he could discern, was worthy,
by her demeanor, her elegance, and her beauty, to shine in the most
brilliant circles of the court. He, therefore, advanced toward her,
no longer with the feeling of superiority as a courtier, addressing a
country girl, but with all the respectful ease which distinguished good
society at that time.

“Pardon me, mademoiselle,” said he, offering her his hand to conduct her
to an arm chair, but which she did not accept; “it was to me to
solicit the favor you have bestowed upon me; and believe me, it was the
apprehension of being considered indiscreet, which alone has occasioned
the apparent neglect of allowing myself to be forestalled.”

“I truly appreciate this delicacy, sir,” replied Marguerite, in a
trembling voice, and retreating one step, she remained standing. “It
strengthens me still more in the confidence which, without having seen
you, without knowing you, I had placed in your honor and good faith.”

“Whatever aim this confidence may have had, I am honored by it,
mademoiselle, and I will endeavor to render myself worthy of it. But,
good heaven, what can so affect you?”

“Nothing, sir, nothing,” replied Marguerite, endeavoring to overcome her
emotion; “but it is--it is--that I have to tell you that--but--really--I
am not sufficiently mistress of myself to--”

She staggered, and appeared as if about to fall; the baron sprang toward
her to offer his support, but he had scarcely touched her when a flush
of crimson suffused the cheeks of the young girl, and with a feeling,
which might be attributed as well to modesty as to repugnance, she
disengaged herself from his arms. Lectoure had taken her hand, and
conducted her to a chair, against which she leaned, but would not seat
herself in it.

“Good God!” exclaimed the baron, still retaining her hand, “it must then
be something very difficult to utter, that has brought you hither! Or,
without my at all suspecting it, has my being affianced to you already
conferred upon me the imposing air of a husband?” Marguerite made
another effort to withdraw her hand from the baron, and which induced
the latter to observe it.

“How!” said he, “not satisfied with having the most adorable of
faces, the elegant figure of a fairy, but you must have such lovely
hands!--hands perfectly royal in their shape--why, ‘tis enough to make
me expire at once.”

“I trust M. le Baron,” rejoined Marguerite, and making a last effort,
she withdrew her hand from his grasp, “that the words with which you are
now addressing me, are merely words of gallantry.”

“No, by my soul! they are the sincere truth.”

“Well then, I hope, should it be, which I much doubt, that you really
think that which you have been pleased to say--I trust, I say, that such
motives will not lead you to attach a higher value to the union which
has been projected?”

“They will, indeed, and that I swear to you.”

“And yet,” continued Marguerite, gasping for breath, so much was her
heart oppressed, “and yet, sir, you consider marriage as a solemn
matter?”

“That is as it may happen,” smilingly replied Lectoure; “for example, if
I were about to marry an old dowager.”

“In short,” rejoined Marguerite, in a more determined tone, “I beg your
pardon, sir, if I have been mistaken; I thought, perhaps, that with
regard to the alliance proposed between us, you had formed some idea of
reciprocity of feeling.”

“Never!” cried Lectoure, interrupting her, for he appeared as eager to
avoid the frank explanation, which Marguerite desired, as she seemed to
provoke it. “Never! and above all, since I have seen you, I could not
hope to be worthy of your love. And yet my name, my position in society,
notwithstanding I should fail to influence your heart, may yet give me a
title to your hand.”

“But how, sir,” said Marguerite, timidly, “how can you separate the one
from the other?”

“As do three-fourths of the people who get married, mademoiselle,”
 replied Lectoure, with a carelessness which would have at once deterred
the confidence of a woman less candid than Marguerite. “A man marries
in order to have a wife, the wife to have a husband; it is a social
compact, an arrangement of convenience. What can love have to do in a
matter of this nature?”

“Your pardon, sir; perhaps I have not clearly expressed my meaning,”
 continued Marguerite, making an effort to control her feelings, and to
conceal from the man upon whom her future fate depended, the impression
his words had produced upon her mind. “But you must attribute my
hesitation, sir, to the timidity of a young girl, compelled by imperious
circumstances to speak on such a subject.”

“Not at all, mademoiselle,” replied Lectoure, bowing and giving to his
voice a tone which nearly approached raillery; “on the contrary, you
speak like _Clarissa Harlowe_, and all you say is as clear as daylight.
God has endowed me with a mind sufficiently quick-sighted perfectly
to comprehend things which are but hinted at.”

“How, sir!” cried Marguerite, “you comprehend what I had the intention
of saying, and you allow me to continue? How would it be if on looking
deeply into my heart and interrogating all its feelings, I found it
impossible to love--to love the person who had been presented to me as
my future husband?”

“Why,” replied Lectoure, in the same sarcastic tone in which he had
before spoken, “in my opinion the best course to pursue would be not to
tell him of it.”

“And why not, sir?”

“Because--but--but--because it would really be too simple.”

“And if that avowal were made, not from simplicity but from delicacy?
If I added, and may the shame of such an avowal fall back on those who
compel me to make it--if I added sir, that I have loved, that I
still love?”

“Oh! some little romance, is it not so?” said Lectoure, carelessly,
crossing his leg and playing with the frill of his shirt; “upon my
honor, the race of little cousins is an accursed race. But fortunately
we know what these ephemeral attachments are; and there is not a
school-girl, who, after the holidays, does not return to her convent but
with a passion in her little heart.”

“Unfortunately for me,” replied Marguerite, with, a voice as sorrowful
and grave as that of the baron was sarcastic and light, “unfortunately,
I am no longer a school-girl, sir; and although still young, I have long
ago passed the age of childish games and infantine attachments. When I
speak to the man who does me the honor to solicit my hand and to offer
me his name, of my love for another, he ought to understand that I
am speaking of a serious, profound, and eternal love; of one of those
passions, in fine, which leave their traces in the heart, and imprint
them there for ever.”

“The devil!” exclaimed Lectoure, as if beginning to attach some
importance to Marguerite’s confession; “why, this is perfectly pastoral.
But let us see! is it a young man whom one can receive at one’s house?”

“Oh! sir,” cried Marguerite, catching at the hope which these words
seemed to inspire: “oh! believe me, he is the most estimable being, the
most devoted soul----”

“Why, I am not asking you to tell me this--I was not speaking of the
qualities of his heart--he has all these, of course, that’s perfectly
understood. I ask you whether he is noble? if he is of good race?
in short, whether a woman of quality could acknowledge him, and that
without degrading her husband?”

“His father, whom he lost when very young, and who was my father’s
friend from infancy, was a counsellor at the Court of Rennes.”

“Nobility of the bar!” exclaimed Lectoure, dropping his nether lip with
a contemptuous shrug; “I would rather it were otherwise--is he a knight
of Malta, at least?”

“He was educated for a military life.”

“Oh! then, we must get a regiment for him, to give him rank and standing
in society. Well, that’s all arranged, and it is well. Now, listen to
me: he will absent himself for six months, merely for decency’s sake,
will obtain leave of absence, no difficult matter now, as we are not
at war--he will get himself presented to you for form’s sake, by some
mutual friend, and then all will go on rightly.”

“I do not understand you, sir,” replied Marguerite, looking at the baron
with an expression of profound astonishment.

“What I have said to you is, notwithstanding, perfectly pellucid,”
 rejoined the latter, with some show of impatience; “you have engagements
on your side--I have on mine--but that is no reason for preventing
an union which is perfectly suitable in every respect; and once
accomplished, why, I think, we are bound to render it as bearable as we
can. Do you comprehend me now?”

“Oh! pardon me, sir, pardon me,” cried Marguerite, starting back, as
though these words had outraged her; “I have been very imprudent, very
culpable perhaps; but whatever I may have been, I did not dream I could
have merited so gross an insult. Oh! sir, the blush of shame is now
scorching my cheek, but more for you than for myself. Yes, I understand
you--an apparent love and a concealed one; the face of vice and the mask
of virtue; and it is to me--to me, the daughter of the Marquis d’Auray,
that so shameful, so humiliating, so infamous a bargain is proposed.
Oh!” continued she, falling into an arm-chair, and hiding her face with
both her hands, “I must then be a most unfortunate, most contemptible
lost creature! Oh! my God! my God!”

“Emanuel! Emanuel!” cried the baron, opening the door, at which he
rightly suspected Marguerite’s brother had remained; “come in, my dear
friend; your sister is attacked with spasms; these things ought to be
attended to, or they may become chronic; Madame do Moulan died of them.
Here, take my scent bottle, and let her smell at it. As to myself, I am
going down into the park. If you have nothing else to do, you can rejoin
me there, and bring me, if you please, news of your sister.”

Saying these words, the Baron de Lectoure left the room with miraculous
calmness, leaving Marguerite and Emanuel together.



CHAPTER XII.--THE CHALLENGE.

     Do as you will, heap wrongs on wrongs upon me,
     It shall not anger me--I tell thee Claudius,
     Thou art enshrined in a holy circle
     My foot can never pass--nor taunt, nor insult
     Can e’er induce this hand to rise against thee.
     Therefore be satisfied--
     Once more I tell theo I will not fight with thee.
     --Old Play.


On the day on which the interview between Marguerite and the Baron
de Lectoure had taken place, the result of which had proved so
diametrically opposed to the hopes and expectations of the young girl,
on that day at four o’clock, the dinner bell recalled the baron to the
castle. Emanuel did the honors of the table, for the marchioness could
not leave her husband, and Marguerite had requested permission not to
come down stairs. The other guests were the notary, the relations of the
family, and the witnesses. The repast was a gloomy one, notwithstanding
the imperturbable gaiety of Lectoure; but it was evident that by his
joyous humor, so stirring that it appeared feverish, he strove to stun
his own feelings. From time to time, indeed, his boisterous
liveliness failed all at once, like a lamp, the oil of which is nearly
extinguished, and then it suddenly burst forth again, as doth the flame
when it devours its last aliment. At seven o’clock they rose from table,
and went into the drawing-room. It would be difficult to form an idea
of the strange aspect which the old castle then presented; the vast
apartments of which were hung with damask draperies, with gothic
designs, and ornamented with furniture of the times of Louis XIII. and
Louis XIV.

They had been so long closed that they appeared unaccustomed to the
presence of living beings. And, therefore, notwithstanding the abundance
of chandeliers with which the servants had decorated the rooms, the
feeble and vascillating light of the wax candles was insufficient to
illuminate the vast rooms, and in which the voice resounded as under the
arches of a cathedral. The small number of the guests, who were to
be joined during the evening by some three or four gentlemen of the
neighbourhood, increased the gloom which appeared to hover over the
emblazoned columns of the castle. In the centre of one of the saloons,
the same one in which Emanuel, at the moment after his arrival from
Paris, had received Captain Paul, was placed a table prepared with much
solemnity, on which was laid a closed portfolio, which, to the eyes of a
stranger ignorant of all that was preparing, might as well have enclosed
a death warrant as a marriage contract. In the midst of these grave
aspects and gloomy impressions, from time to time a shrill mocking laugh
would reach the ears of a group of persons whispering to each other. It
proceeded from Lectoure, who was amusing himself at the expense of some
good country gentlemen, without any respect for the feelings of Emanuel,
upon whom a portion of his raillery necessarily recoiled. He would,
however, every now and then cast an anxious glance around the room, and
then a gloomy cloud would pervade his features, for he saw not either
his father-in-law, or the marchioness, or Marguerite enter the room.
As we have already stated, that neither of them had been present at
the dinner table, and his interview with the latter had not, however
careless he endeavored to appear, left him without some uneasiness with
regard to the signing of the contract, which was to take place during
the evening. Neither was Emanuel exempt from all anxiety, and he had
just determined to go up to his sister’s apartment, when in passing
through one of the rooms he saw Lectoure, who made a sign to him to draw
near.

“By heaven! you have come in the nick of time, my dear count,” said he
to him, while appearing to pay the greatest attention to a good country
gentleman, who was talking to him, and of whom he seemed on terms of
perfect intimacy; “here is M. de Nozay, who is relating to me some very
curious things, upon my word! But do you know,” continued he, turning
to the narrator, “this is most admirable, and highly interesting. I also
have marshes and ponds, and I must ask my steward as soon as I get to
Paris, to tell me where they are situated. And do you catch many wild
ducks in this way.”

“An immense quantity,” replied the gentleman, and with the accent of
perfect simplicity, which proved that Lectoure could, without fear of
detection, for some time longer sustain the conversation in the same
tone.

“What, then, is this miraculous mode of sporting?” inquired Emanuel.

“Only imagine, my dear friend,” replied Lectoure, with the most complete
sang froid, “that this gentleman gets into the water up to his neck,--At
what time of the year, may I ask, without being indiscreet?”

“In the month of December and January.”

“It is impossible that any thing can be more picturesque. I was saying,
then, that he gets into the water up to his neck, puts a large toadstool
over his head, and conceals himself among the bulrushes. This so
completely metamorphoses him that the ducks do not recognise him, and
allow him to come close to them. Did you not say so?”

“As near as I am to you.”

“Bah! really?” exclaimed Emanuel.

“And this gentleman kills just as many as he pleases.”

“I kill them by dozens,” said he, proudly, being enchanted by the
attention which the two young men were paying to the recital of his
exploits.

“It must be a delightful thing for your good lady, if she be fond of
ducks,” said Emanuel.

“She adores them,” said M. de Nozay.

“I hope you will do me the honor to introduce me to so interesting a
person,” said Lectoure, bowing.

“Undoubtedly baron.”

“I swear to you,” said Lectoure, “that instantly on my return to
Paris, I will speak of this sport in the king’s dressing-room, and I am
persuaded that his majesty himself will make a trial of it in one of his
large ponds of Versailles.”

“I beg your pardon, dear marquis,” said Emanuel, taking Lectoure’s arm,
and whispering in his ear, “this is one of our country neighbors, whom
we could not do otherwise than invite on so solemn an occasion.”

“It requires no apology, my dear friend,” said Lectoure, using the same
precaution not to be heard by the party in question: “you would have
been decidedly wrong had you deprived me of so amusing a companion. He
is an appendage to the dower of my future wife, and I should have been
greatly chagrined not to have made his acquaintance.”

“Monsieur de la Jarry,” said a servant, opening the door.

“A sporting companion?” said Lectoure.

“No,” replied M. de Nozay; “he is a traveller.”

“Ah! ah!” exclaimed Lectoure, with an accent which announced that the
newly arrived personage was to be the subject of a new attack. He had
hardly made the ejaculation, when the person announced entered the room,
muffled up in a Polish dress, lined with fur.

“Ah! my dear La Jarry,” cried Emanuel, advancing to meet him, and
holding out his hand to him, “but how you are be-furred! Upon my honor,
you look like the Czar Peter.”

“It is,” replied La Jarry, shivering, although the weather was by no
means cold, “because, when one arrives from Naples--perrrrrou!”

“Ah! the gentleman has arrived from Naples,” said Lectoure, joining in
the conversation.

“Direct, sir.”

“Did you ascend Vesuvius, sir?”

“No. I was satisfied with looking at it from my window. And then,”
 continued the traveller, with a tone of contempt, most humiliating to
the volcano, “Vesuvius is not the most curious thing that is to be seen
at Naples. A mountain that smokes? my chimney does as much, when
the wind is in the wrong quarter,--and besides Madame La Jarry was
dreadfully alarmed at the idea of an eruption.”

“But of course you visited the _Grotto del Cane?_” continued Lectoure.

“To what purpose?” rejoined La Jarry; “to see an animal that has
vapors--give a pill to the first poodle that passes, and he will do as
much. And then, Madame La Jarry has quite a passion for dogs, and it
would have given her pain to witness so cruel an exhibition.”

“I hope, however, that a man of science, like yourself,” said Emanuel,
bowing, “did not neglect the Solfatara.”

“Who, I--I would not set my foot there. I can very easily imagine what
three or four acres of sulphur looks like, the sole produce of which is
a few millions of matches. Moreover, Madame La Jarry cannot support the
odour of sulphur.”

“What do you think of our new friend?” said Emanuel, leading Lectoure
into the room in which the contract was to be signed.

“I know not whether it is because I saw the other first, but I decidedly
prefer Nozay.”

The door again opened, and the servant loudly announced, “Monsieur
Paul.”

“Eh!” exclaimed Emanuel, turning round.

“Who is this?” inquired Lectoure, listlessly, “another country
neighbour?”

“No; this is quite another sort of person,” replied Emanuel, with
agitation. “How does this man dare to present himself here?”

“Ah! ah! a plebeian--eh? a common fellow, is he not? but rich, I
suppose. No--a poet? musician? painter? well, I can assure you, Emanuel,
that they are beginning to receive this sort of people--that accursed
philosophy has confounded every thing. It cannot be helped, my dear
fellow, we must courageously make up our minds to it--we have come to
that. An artist sits down by a great noble, elbows him, touches the
corner of his hat to him, remains seated when the other rises--they
converse together on court matters--they jest, they joke, they squabble,
it is _bon ton_ though decidedly bad taste.”

“You are mistaken, Lectoure,” replied Emanuel; “he is neither poet,
painter, or musician: he is a man to whom I must speak alone. Just lead
off Nozay, while I do the same with La Jarry.”

Upon this, the two young gentlemen took each of the country neighbours
by the arm, and drew them away into another room, talking of shooting
and travelling. The side door through which they went out, had scarcely
closed upon them, when Paul appeared at the principal one. He went into
the room he already knew, each corner of which concealed a door--the one
led to a library, the other to the room in which he had been shut up
on his first visit, awaiting the result of the conference between
Marguerite and Emanuel, and then approaching the table, he remained
there for a moment, looking attentively at the two doors, as though he
had expected to see one of them opened. His hope was not fallacious. In
a few moments, that of the library was opened, and he perceived a white
form standing within it; he rushed towards it.

“Is it you, Marguerite?” said he.

“Yes,” replied a trembling voice.

“Well?”

“I told him all?”

“And--”

“And in ten minutes the contract is to be signed.”

“I suspected as much--he is a miserable wretch.”

“What’s to be done?” cried the young girl.

“Take courage, Marguerite.”

“Courage--oh! it now fails me entirely.”

“There is that which will restore it,” said Paul, handing her a letter.

“What does this letter contain?”

“The name of the village in which you will find your son, and the name
of the woman in whose house he has been concealed.”

“My son! oh! you are my guardian angel,” cried Marguerite, endeavoring
to kiss the hand which held the paper to her.

“Silence! someone is coming--whatever may happen, you will find one at
Achards.”

Marguerite suddenly closed the door without replying to him, for she had
heard: the sound of her brother’s footsteps. Paul turned round, and went
to meet him, which he did, near the table.

“I expected you at another time, sir, and in less numerous company,”
 said Emanuel, who was the first to speak.

“It appears to me that we are alone at this moment,” said Paul, glancing
around the room.

“Yes, but it is here that the contract is to be signed, and in an
instant this room will be full.”

“But many things may be said in an instant, count.”

“You are right, sir, but you must meet a man who does not require more
than an instant to comprehend them.”

“I am listening,” said Paul.

“You spoke to me of letters,” rejoined Emanuel, drawing nearer to him,
and lowering his voice.

“It is true,” said Paul, with the same calmness.

“You fixed a price upon those letters?”

“That is also true.”

“Well, then! if you are a man of honor, for that price, for the sum
enclosed in this pocket-book, you ought now to be prepared to give them
up.”

“Yes, sir, yes,” replied Paul, “the case stood thus, as long as I
believed your sister, forgetful of the vows she had made, the fault
she had committed, and even the child to which she had given birth, was
seconding your ambition by her perjury. Then, I thought it would be a
sufficiently bitter fate for the poor child to enter upon life without
a name and without a family, not to allow him to enter it without
a fortune also, and I then demanded of you, it is true, that sum in
exchange for the letters in my possession. But now the state of things
is altered, sir. I saw your sister throw herself upon her knees before
you, I heard her entreat you not to force her into this infamous
marriage, and neither prayers, nor tears, nor supplications could make
any impression on your heart. It is now for me, for me who hold your
honor, and the honor of your family within my hands, it is for me to
save the mother from despair, as I would have saved the child from
penury and misery. Those letters, sir, shall be delivered to you, when
you shall, upon this table, instead of signing the marriage contract
of your sister with the Baron de Lectoure, sign that of Mademoiselle
Marguerite d’Auray with Anatole de Lusignan.”

“Never, sir, never!”

“You shall not have them, excepting on that condition, count.”

“Oh! I shall, perhaps, find some mode of compiling you to return them.”

“I know not any,” coldly replied Paul.

“Will you, sir, deliver those letters to me!”

“Count,” replied Paul, with an expression of countenance, which, under
the circumstances, was perfectly inexplicable to Emanuel, “count, listen
to me?”

“Will you return me those letters, sir?”

“Count--”

“Yes, or no!”

“No!” said Paul, calmly.

“Well then, sir, you wear a sword, as I do; we are both gentlemen, or
rather I would believe you to be such; let us leave the house together,
and one of us shall return alone, and he, being unfettered and powerful
from the death of the other, shall then do as he best pleases.”

“I regret I cannot accept the offer, count.”

“How? you wear that uniform, that cross upon your breast, by your side
that sword, and you refuse a duel.”

“Yes, Emanuel, I do refuse it, because I cannot raise my sword against
you, count--believe me, I entreat you.”

“You cannot fight with me!”

“I cannot, upon my honor.”

“You cannot fight with me, you say?”

“At this moment a person who had entered the room without being
perceived, burst into a loud laugh, close behind the two young men. Paul
and Emanuel turned hastily round. Lectoure was standing close to them.

“But,” said Paul, pointing to Lectoure, “I can fight with him, for he is
a miserable and infamous wretch.”

A burning blush passed over Lectoure’s features, like the reflection of
a flame. He made a step towards Paul, and then stopped.

“It is well, sir,” said he; “send your second to Emanuel and they can
arrange this matter.”

“You will understand that between us the affair is merely deferred,”
 said Emanuel, to Paul.

“Silence!” replied Paul, “they are announcing your mother.”

“Yes, silence, and to-morrow we meet again. Lectoure,” added Emanuel,
“let us go to receive my mother.”

Paul looked silently at the young men as they retired, and then he
entered the small room in which he had before been concealed.



CHAPTER XIII.--THE CONTRACT.

     Listen to me and heed me!
     If this contract
     Thou holdst me to, abide thou the result!
     Answer to heaven for what I suffer! act!
     Prepare thyself for such calamity
     To fall on me, and those whose evil
     Have linked them with me, as no past mishap,
     However rare and marvellously Sad,
     Can parallel.

     Knowles--The Hunchback.


At the moment that Paul went into the study, the marchioness appeared
at the door of the drawing-room, followed by the notary, and the
several persons who had been invited to be present at the signing of the
contract. Notwithstanding the nature of the meeting, the marchioness
had not considered it proper to lay aside, even for one evening, her
mourning garments, and dressed in complete black, as she had been always
during twenty years, she came into the room a few moments before the
marquis. None of the persons present, not even his son, had seen the
marquis for many years. Such attention was in those days paid to ancient
forms, that the marchioness would not allow the marriage contract of her
daughter to be signed, without the head of the family, although deprived
of reason, being present; at the ceremony. However little accustomed
Lectoure was to feel intimidated, the marchioness produced upon him the
effect which she did on every one that approached her, and on seeing her
enter the room with so grave and dignified an aspect, he bowed to her
with a feeling of profound respect.

“I am grateful to you, gentlemen,” said the marchioness, bowing to the
persons who accompanied her, “for the honor you have been pleased
to confer upon me, by being present at the betrothal of Mademoiselle
Marguerite d’Auray, with the Baron de Lectoure. I, in consequence, was
desirous that the marquis, although suffering from illness, should also
be present at this meeting, to thank you at least by his presence, if he
cannot do so verbally. You are all aware of his unfortunate malady, and
you will, therefore, not be astonished, should some disjointed words--”

“Yes, madam,” said Lectoure, interrupting her, “we know the misfortune
which has befallen him, and we admire the devoted wife, who for twenty
years has borne half the weight of this sad visitation.”

“You see, madam,” said Emanuel, addressing in his turn, and kissing
the hand of his mother, “all the world bows down in admiration of your
conjugal piety.”

“Where is Marguerite?” murmured the marchioness, in a hair whisper.

“She was here not a moment ago,” said Emanuel. “Let her know that we are
all assembled,” rejoined the marchioness, in the same tone.

A servant then announced “the Marquis d’Auray.” All present drew to
one side, so as to leave free passage from the door, and all eyes were
directed to the spot at which this new personage was to appear. It
was not long before their curiosity was satisfied; the marquis came in
almost immediately, supported by two servants.

He was an old man, whose countenance, notwithstanding that the traces
of suffering had deeply furrowed it, still retained that noble
and dignified appearance which had rendered him one of the most
distinguished men of the court of Louis XV. His large, hollow, and
feverish eyes, glanced around the assembly with a strange expression of
astonishment. He was dressed in his costume of Steward of the Household,
wore the order of the Holy Ghost suspended from his neck, and that of
St. Louis, at his button hole. He advanced slowly, and without uttering
a word. The two servants led him forward amid the most profound silence,
to an arm-chair, in which he seated himself, and the servants left the
room. The marchioness then placed herself at his right hand. The notary
opened the portfolio, drew from it the marriage contract and read it
aloud. The marquis and the marchioness made over the sum of five hundred
thousand francs to Lectoure, and gave a like sum to Marguerite, as her
dowry.

During the whole of the time occupied by the reading of the contract,
the marchioness, notwithstanding her great self command, had betrayed
some symptoms of uneasiness. But just at the moment when the notary had
placed the contract open on the table, Emanuel returned and approached
his mother.

“And Marguerite?” said the marchioness.

“She will be here instantly.”

“Madam,” murmured Marguerite, half opening the door, and clasping her
hands.

The marchioness pretended not to hear her, and pointed with her finger
at the pen.

“Baron, it is you who are first to sign.”

Lectoure immediately approached the table and signed the contract.

“Madam!” cried Marguerite, in a tone of supplication, and advancing one
step toward her mother.

“Pass the pen to your betrothed, Baron,” said the marchioness.

The Baron walked round the table, and drew near to Marguerite.

“Madam!” again cried the latter, with an accent so melancholy, that
it struck to the heart of every person present, and even the marquis
himself raised his head.

“Sign!” said the marchioness, pointing to the marriage contract.

“Oh! my father! my father!” exclaimed Marguerite throwing herself at the
feet of the marquis.

“What does this mean?” said the marchioness, leaning upon the arm of the
marquis’ chair, and bending over him, “are you mad, mademoiselle?”

“My father! oh! my father!” again cried Marguerite, throwing her arms
around him, “my father, have pity, save your daughter!”

“Marguerite!” murmured the marchioness, in a threatening accent.

“Madam!” replied Marguerite, “I cannot address myself to you--permit me,
then, to implore my father’s pity; unless,” she added, pointing to the
notary with a firm and determined gesture, “you would prefer my invoking
the protection of the law.”

“Come, come,” said the marchioness, rising, and in a tone of bitter
irony, “this is a family scene, and which, although highly interesting
to near relations, must be sufficiently tedious to strangers. Gentlemen,
you will find refreshments in the adjoining rooms. My son, conduct these
gentlemen, and do the honors. Baron, I must beg your pardon for a short
time.” Emanuel and Lectoure bowed in silence and withdrew, followed by
all the company. The marchioness remained motionless until the last of
them had withdrawn, and then she closed all the doors leading into the
room, when, returning to the marquis, whom Marguerite still held clasped
in her arms.

“And now,” said she, “that there is no one present excepting those
who have the right to lay their commands upon you, sign that paper,
mademoiselle, or leave the room.”

“For pity’s sake, madam, for pity’s sake, do not compel me to commit so
infamous an act!”

“Have you not heard me?” said the marchioness, giving to her voice an
imperative tone, which she thought impossible to be resisted, “or must I
repeat my words? ‘Sign, or leave the room.’”

“Oh! my father!” cried Marguerite, “mercy! mercy! No, it shall not be
said, that after having been banished from my father’s presence for ten
years, I was torn from his arms the first time I again beheld him--and
that, before he had recognized me, before he has embraced me. Oh!
father! father!--it is I, it is your daughter!”

“What is that voice that is imploring me?” murmured the marquis. “Who
is this child who calls me father?”

“That voice,” said the marchioness, seizing the arm of her daughter,
“is a voice that is raised against the rights of nature. That child is a
rebellious daughter.”

“My father!” cried Marguerite imploringly, “look at me. Oh! my father,
save me I defend me! I am Marguerite.”

“Marguerite? Marguerite?” stammered the marquis, “I had formerly a child
of that name.”

“It is I! it is I!” rejoined Marguerite: “I am your child--I am your
daughter.”

“There are no children but those who obey. Obey! and you will then have
the right to call yourself our daughter,” rejoined the marchioness.

“To you, my father, yes,--to you I am ready to obey. But you do
not command this sacrifice! you do not wish that I should be
unhappy--unhappy even to despair--unhappy even to death.”

“Come! come!” said the marquis holding her in his turn, and pressing her
to his heart. “Oh! this is a delicious and unknown feeling to me. And
now--wait! wait!” He pressed his hand to his forehead. “It seems to me
that I recollect.”

“Sir!” cried the marchioness, “tell her that she ought to obey; that
the malediction of God awaits rebellious children. Tell her that, rather
than to encourage her in her impiety!”

The marquis slowly raised his head, and fixed his piercing eyes upon his
wife, and then slowly pronounced the following words: “Take care! madam,
take care. Have I not told you that I begin to remember!” and then again
bending down his head to that of Marguerite, so that his grey hairs
mingled with the dark tresses, of his daughter--“Speak--speak!” said he,
“what is it that disturbs you, my child--tell me all.”

“Oh! I am most unhappy!”

“Everybody, then, is unhappy here,” exclaimed the marquis, “whether
their hair be grey or black--an old man or a child.. Oh! and I also--I
am unhappy--be assured.

“Sir, go up stairs into your room again: you must,” said the
marchioness.

“Yes, that I may again be face to face with you; shut up like a
prisoner! That may be very well, when I am mad.”

“Yes, yes, my father, you are right. My mother has devoted herself to
you long enough; it is now time that your daughter should perform that
duty. Take me with you, father. I will not leave you day or night. You
will only have to make a sign, to utter a word, and I will serve you on
my knees.”

“Oh! you would not have the strength to do it.”

“Yes, yes, my father, I will--as truly as I am your daughter.”

The marchioness wrung her hands with impatience.

“If you are my daughter, how is it that I have not seen you for ten
years?”

“Because I was told that you would not see me, my father; because they
told me that you did not love me.”

“You were told that I would not see you--not see that angel face!” said
he, taking her head between his hands, and looking at her with intense
auction; “they told you that--they told you that a poor condemned soul
did not wish for heaven! Who was it, then, that told you a father would
not see his child? Who has dared to say, child, your father loves you
not?”

“I!----” said the marchioness, again endeavoring to take Marguerite from
her father’s arms.

“You!” exclaimed the marquis, interrupting her: “it was you? To you
then, has been confided the fatal mission of deceiving me in all my
affections. All my griefs, then, must find their source in you? You
wish, then, now to break the father’s heart, as twenty years ago, you
did that of the husband.”

“You are delirious, sir,” said the marchioness, loosing the arm of her
daughter; and going to the right of the marquis, she whispered--“be
silent!”

“No, madam, no, I am not now delirious,” replied the marquis, “No! no!
Say rather, say that,--and it will be the truth,--say that I am now
between an angel who would recall me to reason, and a demon who wishes
me again to become insane. No! No! I am not mad. Do you wish that I
should prove it to you?” He rose, supporting himself on the arms of his
chair. “Must I speak to you of letters, of adultery, of a duel?”

“I say,” said the marchioness, grasping his arm, “I tell you that you
are more forsaken by heaven than ever, when you utter such things,
without reflecting as to whose ears are listening. Cast down your eyes,
sir--look who is standing yonder, and then dare assert that you are not
mad!”

“You are right;” said the marquis, falling back in his chair. “Your
mother is right,” continued he, addressing Marguerite--“I am mad, and
you must not believe what I say, but what she says. Your mother is
devotedness, virtue itself, and therefore, she has not sleepless nights,
nor remorse, nor madness. What does your mother wish?”

“My misery, father; my everlasting misery.”

“And how can I prevent this misery?” said the unhappy old man, with a
most heart-rending anguish; “how can I, a poor, insane old man, prevent
it? who thinks he always sees the blood issuing from a wound--who thinks
he constantly hears a voice proceeding from a tomb!”

“Oh you can do all; say but one word and I am saved! They wish me to
marry--”

The marquis listlessly reclined his head on the back of his chair.

“Listen to me! they wish to marry me to a man whom I do not love--do you
understand me?--to a wretch!--and you have been brought here--placed
in that arm-chair, before the table--you, you my father! to sign this
infamous contract--this contract which I now hand to you.”

“Without consulting me,” said the marquis, taking the contract; “without
asking me whether I will, or I will not! Do they believe me dead? And if
they think me dead, do they fear me less than they would a spectre? This
marriage would cause your misery, you say?”

“My eternal misery!” exclaimed Marguerite. “The marriage, then, shall
not take place.”

“I have pledged your word and mine,” said the marchioness, and with
the more energy, that she felt her influence over her husband about to
escape her.

“This marriage, I tell you, shall not take place!” replied the marquis,
in a tone louder than that of his wife. “It is too dreadful a thing,”
 continued he, in a gloomy sepulchral tone, “to be permitted. A marriage
in which a wife loves not her husband--why, it causes madness! As
to myself, the marchioness has always loved me, and loved me
faithfully--that which drove me mad--oh! that was a different matter.”

A flash of diabolical joy shot from the eyes of the marchioness, for she
at once saw from the violence of the expressions used by her husband,
and the terror depicted on his features, that his insanity was about to
return.

“This contract,” said the marquis, and he raised it in his hands as if
about to tear it.

The marchioness eagerly caught his hand. Marguerite appeared to be
hanging by a thread between heaven and hell.

“That which drives me mad!” reiterated the marquis, “is a tomb which
widely opens, a spectre that issues from the earth, it is a phantom that
speaks to me, and says--”

“Your life is in my hands!” murmured the marchioness in his ear,
repeating the last words of the dying Morlaix: “I could take it.”

“Do you hear that?” cried the marquis, rising, and as if about to rush
from the room.

“My father! oh! my father! recall your senses; there is no tomb, there
is no spectre, there is no phantom; those words were uttered by the
marchioness.”

“But I wish you to live,” continued the latter, concluding the sentence
she had begun, “to forgive me as I forgive you.”

“Pardon, Morlaix, pardon!” cried the marquis, falling back in his
arm-chair, his hair standing on end with terror, and the perspiration
streaming from his forehead.

“Oh! father! father!”

“You see that your father is altogether deranged,” said the
marchioness, triumphantly; “say no more to him.”

“Oh!” cried Marguerite, “God will, I trust perform a miracle! My love,
my caresses, my tears, will restore him to reason.”

“Make the attempt,” replied the marchioness, coldly, abandoning to her
care the marquis, who was powerless, speechless, and almost without
consciousness.

“Oh! my poor father!” exclaimed Marguerite, in a tone of agony.

The marquis remained perfectly impassible.

“Sir!” said the marchioness, in an imperative manner.

“Eh! eh!” cried the marquis, shuddering.

“Save me! oh! save me, father!” cried Marguerite, wringing her hands,
and throwing herself back in despair.

“Take this pen and sign,” said the marchioness, “you must--it is my
will.”

“Now, I am lost indeed!” cried Marguerite, overwhelmed with terror, and
feeling that she had no longer strength to continue the struggle.

But at the moment that the marquis, overpowered, had written the first
letters of his name; when the marchioness was congratulating herself on
the victory she had obtained, and Marguerite was about to leave the room
in despair, an unexpected incident suddenly changed the scene. The door
of the study opened, and Paul, who had been anxiously watching, though
invisibly, the whole of this terrible conflict, issued from it.

“Madam,” said he, “one word before this contract is signed!”

“Who is it calls me!” said the marchioness, endeavoring to distinguish
in the distance that separated them, the person who had thus spoken, and
who stood in a dark corner of the room.

“I know that voice!” exclaimed the marquis, shuddering, as if seared by
a red-hot iron.

Paul advanced three paces, and the light from the lustre hanging in the
centre of the room fell full upon him.

“Is it a spectre?” cried the marchioness, in her turn, struck with the
resemblance of the youth who stood before her to her former lover.

“I know that face!” cried the marquis, believing that he saw the man
whom he had killed.

“My God! my God! protect me,” stammered Marguerite, raising her eyes and
hands to heaven.

“Morlaix! Morlaix!” said the marquis, rising and advancing toward Paul,
“Morlaix!--pardon! mercy!” and he fell at full length upon the floor.

“My father!” cried Marguerite, rushing to his assistance.

At that moment a servant entered the room, with terror in his looks, and
addressing the marchioness said--

“Madam, Achard has sent to request that the priest and the doctor of the
castle, may instantly be ordered to attend him--he is dying.”

“Tell him,” replied the marchioness, pointing to her husband, whom
Marguerite was vainly endeavoring to restore to consciousness, “that
they are both obliged to remain here to attend upon the marquis.”



CHAPTER XIV.--RELIGIOUS CONVICTION.

     And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
     Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
     Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

     Shakespeare.


As has been seen by the end of the preceding chapter, God, by one of
those extraordinary combinations, which short-sighted man almost always
attributes to chance, had summoned to his presence, and almost at
the same moment, the souls of the noble Marquis d’Auray, and the poor
low-born Achard. We have seen that the former, struck by the sight of
Paul, the living portrait of his father, as if by a thunderbolt, fell at
the feet of the young man, who was himself terrified at the effect his
appearance had produced.

As to Achard, the circumstances which had hastened his death, although
differing in their nature, and from very opposite feelings, had arisen
from the same fatal causes, and had been brought about by the same
individual. The sight of Paul had created direful emotions in the
breasts both of the marquis and Achard. On the former from excess of
terror, on the latter from excess of joy.

During the day which had preceded the intended signing of the contract,
Achard had felt himself more feeble than usual. Notwithstanding this, he
had not neglected in the evening to crawl to his master’s grave, there
to put up his accustomed prayer. Thence he had observed with a devotion
more profound than ever, that ever new and splendid spectacle, the sun
sinking into the ocean. He had followed the decline of its enpurpled
light, and as though the vast torch of the world had drawn his soul
toward it, he had felt his strength extinguished with its last rays;
so that when the servant from the castle came in the evening at the
accustomed hour to receive his orders, not finding him in his house,
had sought for him without the park, and as it was well known that he
generally walked in that direction, found him lying extended at the foot
of the great oak tree, upon the grave of his master, and deprived of
consciousness. Thus did he remain constant to the last in that religious
devotedness he had vowed to his master’s tomb, and which had been the
exclusive feeling of the last years of his life.

The servant took him in his arms, and carried him into his house;
and then, terrified at the unexpected accident, had hastened to the
marchioness to inform her that Achard required the attendance of a
physician and a priest, which message was delivered to her by the
servant then in waiting, to which the marchioness refused to accede,
under the pretext that they were required as urgently by the marquis as
the old servant, and that superiority of rank, powerful, even when at
the point of death, gave her husband the right of first employing.

But the intelligence which had been announced to the marchioness at the
moment of that dreadful agony, into which their varying interests and
varying passions had thrown the actors in this family drama, of which we
have become the historian, this intelligence, we say, was heard by Paul.
Conceiving that the signature of the contract had now become impossible
from the state of the marquis, he had only allowed himself time to
whisper to Marguerite, that should she need his assistance, she would
find him at Achard’s cottage, and then he rushed into the park, and
winding his way amid its serpentine walks and thickets, with the skill
of a sear man, who reads his path in the starry firmament, he soon
reached the house, entered it panting from his rapid course, and found
Achard just as he was recovering from his fainting fit, and clasped him
in his arms. The delight of again seeing him renewed the strength of
the old man, who now felt certain of having a friendly hand to close his
eyes.

“Oh! it is you--it is you!” exclaimed the old man.

“I did not hope to see you again.”

“And could you possibly believe that I should have been apprized of
the state in which you were, and that I would not instantly fly to your
assistance?”

“But I knew not where to find you--where I could send to tell you that
I wished once more to see you before I died.”

“I was at the castle, father, where I learned that you were dangerously
ill, and I hastened hither.”

“And how was it that you were at the castle?” said the old man, with
amazement.

Paul related to him all that had occurred.

“Eternal Providence!” cried the old man, when Paul had concluded his
recital, “how hidden and inevitable are thy decrees. Thou, who, after
twenty years, hast conducted this youth to the cradle of his infancy,
and hast killed the assassin of the father, by the mere aspect of the
son!”

“Yes, yes, thus it happens,” replied Paul, “and it is Providence, also,
who conducts me to you, that I might save you. For I heard them refuse
to send you the physician and the priest.”

“According to common justice,” rejoined Achard, “they might have made
a fair division. The marquis, who fears death, might have retained the
physician, while to me who am tired of life, they might have sent the
priest.”

“I can go on horseback,” said Paul, “and in less than an hour--”

“In an hour it would be too late,” said the dying man, in an enfeebled
voice, “a priest! a priest only--I ask but for a priest.”

“Father,” replied Paul, “in his sacred functions, I know I cannot supply
his place; but we can speak of God, of his greatness and his goodness.”

“Yes, but let us first finish with the things of this earth, that we
may then be able to turn our thoughts wholly to those of heaven. You say
that, like myself, the marquis is dying.”

“I left him at the last agony.”

“You know, that immediately after his death, the papers which are
deposited in that closet, and which prove your birth, are yours by
right.”

“I know it.”

“If I die before the marquis, to whom can I confide them?” The old man
sat up and pointed to a key hanging at the head of his bed. “You will
take that key, you will open the closet--in it you will find a casket.
You are a man of honor. Swear to me that you will not open that casket
until the marquis shall be dead.”

“I swear it,” said Paul solemnly, and extending his hand towards the
crucifix hanging at the head of the bed.

“‘Tis well,” replied Achard; “now I shall die in peace.”

“You may do so, for the son holds your hand in this world, and the
father stretches out his towards you from heaven!”

“Do you believe, my child, that he will be satisfied with my fidelity?”

“No king was ever so faithfully obeyed during life, as he has been since
his death.”

“Yes,” murmured the old man, in a gloomy tone, “I was but too exact
in following his orders. I ought not to have suffered the duel to have
taken place; I ought to have refused attending it as a witness. Hear me,
Paul; it is this that I wished to have said to a priest, for it is
the only thing that weighs upon my conscience: listen: there have been
moments of doubt, during which, I have regarded this solitary duel as
an assassination. In that case, Paul, oh! in that case, I have not only
been a witness, but an accomplice!”

“Oh! my second father,” replied Paul, “I know not whether the laws of
earth are always in accordance with the laws of heaven, and whether
honor as it is considered by man, would be a virtue in the eyes of the
Lord; I know not whether our holy church, an enemy to bloodshed, permits
that the injured should attempt with his own hands, to avenge the wrongs
inflicted upon him by attacking his injurer, and if in that case, the
judgment of heaven directs the pistol ball or the sword’s point. These
are questions not to be decided by reasoning, but by conscience. Well,
then, my conscience tells me, that situated as you were, I should have
done precisely as you did. Should conscience in this case mislead me, it
also misled you, and in this view of the matter, I have a greater right
than a priest, to absolve you; and in my name, and in that of my father,
I pardon you.”

“Thanks! thanks!” cried the old man, pressing the hands of Paul;
“thanks, for these words, pour consolation into the soul of a dying
man. Remorse is a dreadful thing! remorse would lead one to believe that
there exists no God. For without a judge there can be no judgment.”

“Listen to me,” said Paul, in that poetic and solemn accent, which was
peculiar to him: “I also have often doubted in the existence of a God:
isolated and lost in the wide world, without family, and without a
single friend, I sought for support in the Lord, and I asked of every
thing that encircled me, some proof of his existence. Often have I
arrested my steps at the foot of one of these crosses, erected by the
road side, and with my eyes fixed upon the Saviour, I demanded, and with
tears, to be assured of his existence, and divine mission; I prayed that
his eyes would deign to look upon me: that one drop of blood might fall
from his wound, or that a sigh might issue from his lips. The crucifix
remained motionless, and I arose, my heart being overcome with despair,
saying--‘did I but know where I could find my father’s tomb, I would
question him as Hamlet did the ghost, and he would perhaps answer me!’”

“Poor child!”

“Then would I enter a church,” continued Paul, “one of those churches of
the north, gloomy, religious, Christian! And I would feel myself borne
down with sorrow; but sorrow is not faith! I approached the altar;
I threw myself upon my knees before the tabernacle, in which God dwells;
I bowed my head till it touched the marble of the steps; and when I had
thus remained prostrated for hours and lost in doubt, I raised my head,
hoping that the God I was seeking would at length manifest his presence
to me by a ray of his glory, or by some dazzling proof of his power. But
the church remained gloomy, as the cross had remained motionless. And
I would then rush from its porches with insensate haste, crying, ‘Lord!
Lord! didst thou exist, thou would reveal thyself to man. It is thy
will, then, that men should doubt, since thou canst reveal thyself to
them, but dost not.’”

“Beware of what you are saying, Paul,” cried the old man: “beware that
the doubt thy heart contains do not attaint mine! Thou hast time left to
thee to believe, whereas, I--I am about to die.”

“Wait, father, wait!” continued Paul, with softened voice, and placid
features. “I have not told you all. It was then, that I said to myself,
‘the crucifix by the road side, the churches of the cities are but the
work of man. Let us seek God, in God’s own works.’ From that moment, my
father, began that wandering life, which will remain an eternal mystery,
known only to the heavens, the ocean, and myself--it led me into the
solitary wilds of America, for I thought the newer a world was, the more
freshly would it retain the impress of God’s hand. I did not deceive
myself. There, often in those virgin forests, into which I was perhaps
the first who had ever penetrated; with no shelter, but the heavens, no
couch, but the earth, absorbed by one sole thought, I have listened
to the thousand noises of a world about to sleep, and nature when
awakening. For a long time, did I still remain without comprehending
that unknown tongue, formed by the mingling of the murmur of rivers,
the vapor of the lakes, the rustling of the forest, and the perfume of
flowers. Finally, the veil which had obscured my eyes, and the weight
which had oppressed my heart, was little by little removed; and from
that time, I began to believe that these noises of evening, and of
approaching day, were but one universal hymn, by which created things
expressed their gratitude to the Creator.”

“Almighty God!” cried the dying man, clasping his hands, and raising his
eyes to heaven, with an expression of holy faith, “I cried to you from
the bottomless pit, and you heard me in my distress; oh! my God I I
thank thee.”

“Then,” continued Paul, with still increasing enthusiasm, “then, I
sought upon the ocean, that full conviction which earth had refused to
me. The earth is but a span--the ocean is immensity! The ocean is, after
God himself, the grandest, the most powerful object in the universe. I
have heard the ocean roar like a chafed lion, and then at the voice of
its master, become tranquil as a submissive dog; I have seen it rise
like a Titan, to scale the heavens; and then beneath the whip of the
tempest, moan like a weeping infant. I have seen it dashing its waves to
meet the lightning, and endeavoring to quench the thunder with its foam;
and then become smooth as a mirror, and reflect even the smallest
star in the heavens. Upon the land, I had become convinced of God’s
existence, upon the ocean, I recognised his power. In the solitary
wilds, as Moses, I had heard the voice of the Lord, but during the
tempest, I saw him, as did Ezekiel, riding upon the wings of the storm.
Thenceforward, my father, thenceforward, all doubt was driven from my
mind, and from the evening on which I witnessed the first hurricane, I
believed, and prayed.”

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth,” said
the dying man, with ardent faith; and he continued thus the symbol of
the apostles to the last word.

Paul listened to him in silence, with his eyes raised to heaven, and
when he had concluded, said--

“It is not thus, that a priest would have spoken to you, my father, for
I have spoken to you as a seaman, and with a voice more accustomed to
pronounce words of death than consolation. Forgive me, father, forgive
me for it.”

“You have made me pray, and believe as you do,” said the old man; “tell
me, then, what more could a priest have done? What you have said is
plain and grand--let me reflect on what you have said.”

“Listen!” said Paul, shuddering, “What is it?”

“Did you not hear?”

“No.”

“I thought that a voice of some one in distress called to me--there
again--do you not hear it?--now, again!--It is the voice of Marguerite.”

“Go to her instantly,” replied the old man; “I need to be alone.”

Paul rushed into the adjoining room, and as he entered it he heard his
name again repeated, and close to the door of the cottage. Then, running
to the door he anxiously opened it, and found Marguerite upon the
threshold, her strength having failed her, and she had fallen upon her
knees.

“Save me! save me!” she cried, with an expression of profound terror, on
perceiving Paul, and clasped his knees.



CHAPTER XV.--THE PAPERS.

     Mercy from him!
     And how can I expect it?
     By what right
     Can I demand he should withhold his claim,
     The proofs once in his power?--Anonymous.


Paul ran to Marguerite, and caught her in his arms; she was pale and icy
cold. He carried her into the first room, placed her in an arm chair,
returned to the door which had remained open, and closed it, and then
hastened back.

“What is it that so terrifies you? who is pursuing you? and how does it
happen that you come here at this unusual hour?”

“Oh!” exclaimed Marguerite, “at any hour, whether by day or night, I
should have flown as long as the earth would have borne me! I should
have flown till I had found some heart in which I could have poured
forth my sorrows, an arm capable of defending me. Paul! Paul! my father
is dead?”

“Poor child!” said Paul, pressing Marguerite to his heart, “who flies
from one house of death to fall into another; who leaves death in the
castle, to find it in the cottage.”

“Yes, yes!” cried Marguerite rising, still trembling with terror, and
convulsively pressing Paul’s arm. “Death is yonder, and I find death
here! but yonder it is attended with despair and fear, while here it is
met with tranquillity and hope. Oh! Paul! Paul! had you but seen that
which I have seen!”

“Tell me all that happened.”

“You saw the terrible effect produced by your appearance, and the mere
sound of your voice?”

“Yes, I saw that.”

“They carried him still fainting and speechless into his own room.”

“It was to your mother that I spoke,” said Paul, “and he heard me; I
could not foresee it would so much have terrified him.”

“You full well know all that had passed, for you must have heard from
the room in which you were concealed, every word we uttered. My father,
my poor father, had recognized me, and I, seeing him thus, could, not
repress my uneasiness: notwithstanding the risk I ran of irritating my
mother, I went up to his room--the door was locked; I knocked softly at
it. He had recovered his senses, for I heard a faint voice asking ‘who
was there?’”

“And your mother?” said Paul eagerly.

“My mother,” replied Marguerite, “was no longer there, and she had
locked him in as she would have done to a child; but when he had
recognized my voice, when I had told him that it was his daughter
Marguerite who wished to see him, he told me that I could get into the
room by going down stairs again, and that in the study I should find a
private staircase which led to it. A minute afterwards, I was kneeling
by his bedside, and he gave me his blessing. Yes, Paul, I received his
blessing before he died, his paternal benediction, which I trust will
bring down the blessing of God upon my head.”

“Yes,” said Paul, “God will pardon you; you may now feel tranquil. Weep
for your father, Marguerite, but weep no longer for yourself, for you
are saved.”

“You have heard nothing yet, Paul!” exclaimed Marguerite. “Hear me
still.”

“Proceed!”

“At the very moment when I was kneeling, kissing the hand of my father,
and thanking him for the relief he had afforded my afflicted mind, I
heard my mothers footstep on the staircase. I recognized her voice, and
my father also recognized it, for he again embraced me, and made a sign
to me to leave him. I obeyed him, but such was my terror and confusion,
that I mistook the door, and instead of the staircase by which I had
ascended, I found myself in a small cabinet which had no issue. I felt
all around its walls, but could find no door. I was compelled to remain
there. I then heard my mother, accompanied by the priest, entering my
father’s room--I restrained my breathing, fearing that she should hear
me. I saw then through the glass window of the door, and I assure you,
Paul, that she was paler than my father who was about to die.”

“Gracious heaven!” murmured Paul.

“The priest seated himself by the bed-side,” continued Marguerite,
so terrified that she pressed still closer against Paul; “my mother
remained standing at the foot of the bed--I was there, just opposite to
them, compelled to remain a witness of that mournful spectacle, without
the means of retreat!--a daughter, obliged to hear the dying confession
of her father!--was it not horrible? I fell upon my knees, closing my
eyes that I might not see--praying that I might not hear--and yet in
spite of myself--and this I swear to you, Paul--I saw and I heard--Oh!
what I then heard, can never be obliterated from my memory--I saw
my father, whose recollections seemed to inspire him with a feverish
strength, sit up in his bed, the paleness of death imprinted on
his face. I heard him--I heard him pronounce the words, a
duel--adultery--assassination!--and at each word he uttered, I saw my
mother turn pale--and paler even than before--and I heard her raise her
voice so that it might drown the voice of the dying man, saying to the
priest: ‘believe him not--believe him not, reverend father; what he says
is false--or rather, he is mad, he knows not what he says--believe him
not!’ Oh! Paul, it was a dreadful spectacle, an impious sacrilege; a
cold perspiration stood upon my forehead, and I fainted.”

“Justice of Heaven!” cried Paul. “I know not how long I remained without
consciousness. When I recovered my senses, the room was as silent as the
tomb. My mother and the priest had disappeared, and two wax lights were
burning near my father. I opened the door of the cabinet, and cast my
eyes on the bed; it appeared to me that I could distinguish beneath the
sheet which completely covered it, the stiffened form of a corpse. I
divined that all was over! I remained motionless, divided between
the funereal awe which such a sight inspired, and the pious desire of
raising the covering to kiss once more before he should be inclosed in
his coffin, the venerable forehead of my dear father. Fear, however,
overcame every other feeling--an ice-like mortal, and invincible terror
drove me from the room. I flew down the staircase, I know not how, but
I believe without touching a single step,--I fled across the rooms and
through the corridors, till the freshness of the air convinced me that I
had left the castle. I fled, completely unconscious of whither my steps
were leading me, until I remembered you had told me I should find
you here. A secret instinct--tell me what it was--for I cannot myself
comprehend it, had led me in this direction. It appeared to me that I
was pursued by shadows, horrid phantoms. At the corner of one of the
avenues I thought--(had I then lost my senses?)--I thought I saw my
mother, dressed all in black, and walking as noiselessly as a sceptre.
Oh! then, then! terror lent me wings--I at first fled without knowing
whither; after this my strength failed me, and it was then you heard my
cries. I dragged myself along a few more paces, and fell motionless at
this door; had you not opened it, I should have expired upon the spot,
for I was so much terrified, that it appeared to me,”--then suddenly
pausing, Marguerite trembled, and whispered to Paul, “Silence! do you
not hear?”

“Yes,” replied Paul, instantly extinguishing the lamp, “yes,
yes--footsteps--I hear them also.”

“Look! look!” cried Marguerite, concealing herself behind the curtain of
the window, and throwing them around Paul at the same moment--“look! I
was not mistaken--it was my mother.”

The door had been opened, and the marchioness, pale as a spectre,
entered the room slowly, closed the door after her, and locked it, and
then without observing Paul and Marguerite, went into the second room
where Achard was lying. She then walked up to his bed, as she had only
a short time before to that of the marquis, only that she was not now
accompanied by a priest.

“Who is there?” said Achard, drawing back one of the curtains of his
bed.

“It is I,” replied the marchioness, drawing back the other curtain.

“You, madam,” cried the old man with terror; “for what purpose have you
come to the bedside of a dying man?”

“I have come to make a proposal to him.”

“One that will lose his soul! is it not?”

“To save it, on the contrary. There is only one thing in this world,
Achard, of which you stand in need,” rejoined the marchioness, bending
down over the bed of the dying man, “and that is a priest.”

“You refused to allow the one who is attached to the castle to attend
me.”

“In five minutes, if you wish it, he shall be here.”

“Let him be sent then,” said the old man, “and believe me there is not a
moment to be lost. He must come quickly.”

“But if I give you the peace of heaven, you will give me in exchange
peace on earth.”

“What can I do for you?” murmured the dying man, closing his eyes, that
he might not see a woman whose looks chilled him.

“You stand in need of a priest, that you may die in peace,” said
the marchioness, “you know the gift I require, in order to exist in
tranquillity.”

“You would close heaven to me by a perjury.”

“I would open it to you by a pardon.”

“That pardon I have already received.”

“And from whom?--”

“From him who, perhaps, had alone the right to grant it to me.”

“Has Morlaix then descended from heaven?” asked the marchioness, in a
tone in which there was almost as much terror as irony.

“No, madam,” replied he, “but have you forgotten that he left a son upon
this earth?”

“Then you have also seen him,” exclaimed the marchioness.

“Yes,” replied Achard.

“And you have told him all----”

“All!”

“And the papers which prove his birth?” asked the marchioness, with
trembling anxiety.

“The marquis was not dead--the papers are still there.”

“Achard!” cried the marchioness, falling upon her knees, by the bedside.
“Achard! you will take pity on me?”

“You, on your knees, before me, madam?”

“Yes, old man,” replied the marchioness, in a supplicating tone, “yes,
I am on my knees before you--and I beg, I implore you, for you hold in
your hands the honor of one of the most ancient families in France--my
past, my future life! Those papers are my heart, my soul--they are
more than this--they are my name--the name of my forefathers--of my
children--and you well know all that I have suffered to preserve that
name unsullied. Do you believe that I had not a heart as other women
have? the feelings of a lover, of a wife, and of a mother? Well! I have
overcome them all, one by one, and the struggle has been long. I am
twenty years younger than you are, old man, I am still in the prime
of life, and you are on the verge of the grave. Look, then, upon these
hairs; they are even whiter than your own.”

“What says she?” whispered Marguerite, who had softly crept to the door,
and could see all that was passing in the inner room. “Gracious heaven!”

“Listen, listen, dear child,” said Paul, “it is the Lord who permits
that all shall be thus revealed.”

“Yes, yes,” murmured Achard, who was becoming weaker every moment. “Yes,
you doubted the goodness of the Lord, you had forgotten that he had
forgiven the adulterous woman--”

“Yes, but when she met with Christ, men were about to cast stones at
her--men, who for twenty generations have been accustomed to revere our
name, to honor our family--did they but learn, that which, thank heaven!
has heretofore been hidden from them--would hear it uttered with shame
and with contempt. I have so much suffered, that God will pardon me--but
man! men are so implacable, that they will not pardon--moreover, am I
alone exposed to their insults--on either side, the cross I bear, have I
not a child?--and is not the other that we speak of, the first-born? In
the eyes of the law, is he not the son of the Marquis d’Auray? do you
forget that he is the first-born, the head of the family? Do you not
know, that in order to possess himself of the title, the estates, the
fortune of the family of Auray, he has only to invoke the law? and then
what would remain to Emanuel? The cross of the order of Malta--and to
Marguerite?--a convent.”

“Oh! yes, yes,” whispered Marguerite, and stretching out her arms,
toward the marchioness, “yes, a convent, in which I would pray for you,
my mother.”

“Silence! silence!” whispered Paul.

“Oh! you know him not,” said Achard, whose voice was scarcely audible.

“No! but I know human nature,” replied the marchioness, “he may recover
a name, he! who has no name--a fortune, he! who has no fortune. And do
you believe he would renounce that fortune and that name.”

“Should you ask it of him, he would.”

“And by what right could I demand it?” said the marchioness; “by
what right could I ask him to spare me, to spare Emanuel, to spare
Marguerite? He would say, ‘I do not know you, madam--I have never seen
you--you are my mother, and that is all I know.’”

“In his name,” stammered Achard, whose tongue death was beginning to
benumb, “in his name, madam, I engage, I swear--oh! my God! my God!”

The marchioness arose, observing attentively by the old man’s features,
the approach of death.

“You engage, you swear!” she said, “is he here to ratify this
engagement--you engage! you swear! and on your word, you would, that I
should stake the years I have yet to live, against the moments which
yet remain between you and death! I have entreated, I have implored, and
again, I entreat and implore you to give up those papers to me.”

“Those papers now are his.”

“I must have them! I repeat, I must have them,” continued the
marchioness, gaining strength, as the dying man became more feeble.

“My God! my God! have mercy upon me!” murmured Achard.

“No one can now come,” rejoined the marchioness “you told me that you
wore the key of that closet always about you----”

“Would you wrest it from the hands of a dying man?”

“No,” replied the marchioness, “I will wait.”

“Let me die in peace,” exclaimed Achard tearing the crucifix from the
head of his bed, and raising it between, himself and the marchioness, he
cried: “leave me! leave me; in the name of Jesus Christ!”

The marchioness fell upon her knees, bowing her head to the ground. The
old man, for a moment, remained in the same awful attitude; then, by
degrees, his strength forsook him, and he fell back on his bed, crossed
his arms, and pressed the image of the Saviour to his breast.

The marchioness seized the lower part of the two curtains, and without
raising her head, she crossed them in such a manner as to conceal the
last struggles of the dying man.

“Horror! horror!” murmured Marguerite.

“Let us kneel, and pray,” said Paul.

A moment of solemn and dreadful silence then ensued, which was only
interrupted by the last gasps of the dying man; these gasps became
fainter by degrees, and then ceased altogether. All was over; the old
man was dead.

The marchioness slowly raised her head, listened with intense anxiety
for some minutes, and then, without opening the curtains, passed her
hand between them, and after some effort, withdrew her hand again--she
had obtained the key. She then silently arose, and with her face still
turned toward the bed, walked to the closet. But at the moment she was
about to unlock it, Paul, who was observing all her movements, rushed
into the room, and seizing her by the arm, said--?

“Give me that key, my mother! for the marquis is dead, and those papers
now belong to me.”

“Justice of heaven!” exclaimed the marchioness, starting back with
terror, and falling into a chair, “justice of heaven! it is my son!”

“Merciful heaven!” murmured Marguerite, throwing herself upon her knees
in the outer room: “merciful heaven! he is my brother!”

Paul opened the closet, and took the casket which contained the papers.



CHAPTER XVI.--RECRIMINATION.

     Thou canst save me,
     Thou ought’st! thou must!
     I tell thee at his feet
     I’ll fall a corse, ere mount his bridal bed!
     Go choose betwixt my rescue and my grave.

     Knowles.--The hunchbach


Notwithstanding the dreadful nature of the events which had occurred
during that fatal night, Paul had not forgotten the mortal defiance
which had been exchanged between himself and Lectoure. As that young
gentleman would probably not know where to find him, he thought it only
decorous to save Lectoure the trouble of seeking for him, and about
seven in the morning, Lieutenant Walter presented himself at the castle,
being charged on behalf of Paul to arrange the terms of the combat. He
found Emanuel in Lectoure’s apartment. The latter, on perceiving the
officer, withdrew, and went down into the park, that the two young
men might more freely discuss the matter. Walter had received from his
commander directions to accede to every thing that might be proposed.
The preliminary terms were, therefore, very speedily arranged; and
it was agreed between them, that the meeting should take place in the
afternoon, at four o’clock. The place of rendezvous the sea-side, near
the fisherman’s hut, which was about half-way between Port Louis and
Auray castle. As to the weapons, they were to bring their pistols and
their swords; it would be decided on the spot which they were to use, it
being clearly understood that Lectoure, having been the party insulted,
should have the right to make his choice.

As to the marchioness, although in the first instance petrified by
the unexpected appearance of Paul, she soon recovered all her natural
firmness, and drawing her veil over her face, she withdrew from
the chamber, and walked across the outer room which had remained in
darkness. She did not, therefore, perceive Marguerite, who was kneeling
in one corner of it, mute from astonishment and terror. She after that
crossed the park, entered the castle, and repaired to the room in which
the scene of the contract had taken place. There, by the dying light
of the wax tapers, with both her elbows resting on the table, her head
supported on her hands, her eyes riveted to the paper to which Lectoure
had already affixed his name, and the marquis had signed the half
of his, she passed the remainder of the night reflecting upon a new
determination. Thus she awaited the coming day without even thinking of
taking the least repose, so powerfully did her soul of adamant support
the body in which it was enclosed. This resolution was to get Emanuel and
Marguerite away from the castle as speedily as possible, for it was from
her children, most especially, that she desired to conceal that which
was about to take place between Paul and herself.

Marguerite, who had been thus most unexpectedly present at the death-bed
of the marquis and of Achard, through which she had so providentially
discovered her mother’s secret, rushed into Paul’s arms immediately
after her mother’s departure from the cottage, exclaiming:

“Oh! now you are really my brother.”

Her tears choked further utterance, and it was some minutes before
Paul could tranquillize her agitated spirit, torn by so many and such
conflicting emotions. Paul then fearing that the marchioness might
enquire for her daughter, on her arrival at the castle, urged
Marguerite to hasten thither; and seeing she was still trembling at the
recollection of the many horrors she had witnessed, led her out of the
cottage, of which he locked the door, and accompanied her to within a
few paces of the castle. During this walk, Marguerite had in a certain
degree, recovered her composure. Paul stood gazing at her till he saw
that she had safely entered the court yard, and then returned to watch
and pray beside the body of his father’s faithful servant.

At seven o’clock, the marchioness hearing the noise occasioned by
Lieutenant Walter’s arrival at the castle, reached a bell which was
standing on the table and rang it. A servant presented himself at the
door in the grand livery he had worn the previous evening--it was easy
to perceive that he also had not been in bed.

“Inform Mademoiselle d’Auray, that her mother is waiting for her in the
drawing room,” said the marchioness.

The servant obeyed, and the marchioness resumed, gloomy and motionless,
her previous attitude. In a few minutes afterward, she heard a slight
noise behind her, and turned round. It was Marguerite. The young girl,
with more respect, perhaps, than she had ever before evinced, held out
her hand toward her mother, that she might give her her hand to kiss.
But the marchioness remained motionless, as if she had not understood
the intention of her daughter. Marguerite let fall her hand, and
silently awaited her mother’s pleasure. She also wore the same dress
as the night before. Sleep had hovered over the whole world, but had
forgotten the inhabitants of Auray castle.

“Come nearer,” said the marchioness.

Marguerite advanced one step.

“Why is it that you are thus pale and trembling,” continued the
marchioness.

“Madam,” murmured Marguerite.

“Speak,” said the marchioness.

“The death of my father--so sudden--so unexpected,” stammered
Marguerite; “indeed I have suffered so much this night.”

“Yes, yes,” rejoined the marchioness, in a hollow tone, but fixing on
her daughter looks which were not altogether void of affection: “yes,
the young tree bends before the wind, and is stripped of its leaves.
The old oak alone withstands every tempest. I, also, have suffered,
Marguerite, and suffered much. I have passed a dreadful night, and yet
you see me calm and firm.”

“God has endowed you with a soul, my mother, firm and austere; but you
should not expect the same strength and firmness in the souls of others.
You would destroy them.”

“And therefore is it,” replied the marchioness, letting her hand fall
upon the table, “that all I ask of you is obedience. The marquis is
dead, Marguerite, and Emanuel is now the head of the family. You must
immediately set out for Bennes with Emanuel.”

“I!” exclaimed Marguerite, “I set out for Bennes! and for what purpose?”

“Because the chapel of the castle is too narrow to contain at the same
moment the wedding party of the daughter, and the funeral procession
of the father.”

“My mother!” replied Marguerite with an indescribable accent of anguish,
“it would seem to me to be more pious to place a longer interval between
two ceremonies of so opposite a nature.”

“True piety,” rejoined the marchioness, “should lead us to fulfil the
last wishes of the dead. Cast your eyes upon this contract, and see the
first letters of your father’s name.”

“Oh! madam!” cried Marguerite, “allow me to ask you whether my father,
when he traced these letters, which death prevented him from finishing,
was in possession of his faculties, and did he write them of his own
free will?”

“Of that, I am ignorant, mademoiselle,” replied the marchioness, with
that imperative and icy tone, which until this time had subjected all
that approached her.

“I am ignorant of that, but this I know, that the influence which made
him thus act, he fully understood; and I know, also, that parents, as
long as they exist, should, in the eyes of their children, have the
authority of God. Now, God has ordained me to effect things terrible in
themselves, and I have obeyed. Do as I have done, mademoiselle, obey!”

“Madam,” said Marguerite, who had remained standing, but who now seemed
motionless, with somewhat of that determined tone, which in her mother
was so terrible, and in which she had inherited from her; “madam! it is
only three days ago, that with tearful eyes, I threw myself first at the
feet of Emanuel, then at the feet of the man whom you would compel me to
receive as my husband, and then at my father’s. Neither of them would or
could listen to me, for grasping ambition, or reckless madness hardened
their hearts, and drowned my voice. At length, I am now at your feet,
my mother, you are the last whom I can supplicate, but also, you are
best capable of understanding me, Listen, then, attentively, to what I
am about to say. Had I only to sacrifice my own happiness to your will,
I would make that sacrifice: my love! I would sacrifice that also; but I
must also sacrifice my son.--You are a mother, and I also, madam.”

“A mother!--a mother!” cried the marchioness.

“Yes! a mother, but by a dreadful fault----”

“Be that as it may, madam, still I am a mother, and the feelings of a
mother need not be sanctified, in order to be holy. Well, then, madam,
tell me--for you should better comprehend these things than I--tell
me if those who have given us birth, have received from heaven a voice
which speaks to our hearts--have not those to whom we have given birth a
voice as powerful, and when these two voices are opposed to each other,
to which ought we to obey?”

“You will never hear the voice of your child.” said the marchioness;
“for you will never again see him.”

“I shall never again see my son!” exclaimed Marguerite, “and who, madam,
can assert that positively?”

“He will himself be ignorant as to whose son he is.”

“And should he some day discover it?” replied Marguerite; whose respect
as a daughter was giving way before her mother’s harshness; “if he
should then come to me and demand an account of his birth--and this may
happen, madam,”--she took up the pen--“and, with such an alternative
awaiting me, tell me, ought I to sign this contract?”

“Sign it,” said the marchioness.

“But,” observed Marguerite, placing her trembling and convulsed fingers
upon the contract, “should my husband some day discover the existence of
this child; should he demand an explanation from my lover, of the wrong
committed against his name and honor? If in a desperate duel, alone and
without seconds--a duel in which it is agreed that one must fall, he
should kill that lover, and then, tormented by his conscience, pursued
by a voice from the tomb, my husband should at length become deprived of
reason--”

“Be silent!” cried the marchioness, her features quivering with terror,
but still doubting whether it was chance, or some unheard of discovery
which dictated the words her daughter had employed: “be silent!”

“You would have me, then,” continued Marguerite, who had now said too
much to pause, “you would have me, then, in order to preserve my name,
and that of my other children, pure and unsullied, that I should immure
myself with a man deprived of reason! you would have me banish from my
sight, and from his, every living being, and that I should render my
heart iron, that I may no longer feel--that my eyes should never shed
a tear! You would have me, then, clothe myself in mourning as a widow,
before my husband’s death? You would have my hair turn white, twenty
years before the accustomed time?”

“Be silent! say not another word!” cried the marchioness, in a tone
which proved that menaces were giving way to fear: “be silent!”

“You would have me, then,” continued Marguerite, carried away by the
bitterness of her grief; “you would have me, then, in order that the
dreadful secret might die with those who have the keeping of it, that
I should banish from their death-beds, both priest and physician--you
would, in fine, that I should wander from one death-bed to another, that
I might close, not the eyes, but the mouths of the dying.”

“Be silent! in the name of heaven! be silent!” again cried the
marchioness, wringing her hands.

“Well, then,” continued Marguerite, “tell me again, my mother, to sign
this paper, and all this will happen, and the malediction of the Lord
will be accomplished, and the faults of the fathers shall be visited
upon the children, even to the third and fourth generations.”

“Ah! my God! my God!” exclaimed the marchioness, bursting into tears,
“am I not sufficiently humbled--am I not sufficiently punished?”

“Pardon! pardon! madam,” cried Marguerite, recalled to filial feeling
by the first tears she had ever seen her mother shed; “I implore you to
forgive me.”

“Yes, pardon! ask for forgiveness, unnatural daughter,” said the
marchioness, advancing toward Marguerite, “you who have wrenched the
scourge from the hands of eternal vengeance, and have yourself applied
the lash even on your mother’s forehead.”

“Mercy! mercy!” reiterated Marguerite; “pardon me, my mother. I knew not
what I said. You had deprived me of reason---I was mad!”

“Oh! my God! my God,” said the marchioness, raising both her hands above
her daughter’s head, “Thou hast heard the words which have issued from
my daughter’s lips. It would be too much to hope that thy mercy will
forget them; but at the moment thou shalt punish her, remember that I
have not cursed her!”

She then moved toward the door; her daughter endeavored to retain her,
but the marchioness turned toward her with an expression of countenance
so fearful, that without needing to lay a command upon her, Marguerite
dropped the skirt of her mother’s dress, and remained with arms
outstretched towards her, mute and palpitating, until the marchioness
had disappeared. And when she no longer saw her, she threw herself upon
the ground with so piercing a shriek, that it might have been deemed
that the heart which had so much suffered, had at length broken.



CHAPTER XVII.--THE BROTHERS

     Be angry as
     You will, it shall have scope;
     Ah, Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb
     That carries anger, as the flint bears fire--
     Who, much enforced, shows a hasty spark,
     And straight is cold again.
     And from henceforth
     When you are over earnest with your brother,
     He’ll think your mother chides, and leave you so.
     --Shakespeare


Our readers will perhaps have been surprised, that after the violent
manner in which Paul had insulted Lectoure the day before, a meeting had
not been appointed for the following morning; but Lieutenant Walter, who
had been commissioned to regulate the conditions of the duel, together
with Count d’Auray, had received from his commander directions to make
every concession, saving on one point, and this was, that Paul would not
meet Lectoure until the afternoon.

The reason for this was, that the young captain felt, that until the
time arrived when he should have wound up this strange drama, in which,
having in the first instance mingled only as a stranger, he at last
found himself in the position of the head of the family, his life
belonged not to himself, and that he had not the right to risk it.
Moreover, as we have seen, the delay he had fixed was not a long one;
and Lectoure, who was ignorant of the reason which could have induced
his adversary to require it, had acceded to it without much difficulty.

Paul had therefore determined not to lose a moment, and therefore, as
soon as the hour arrived at which he could, with propriety, present
himself to the marchioness, he bent his steps towards the castle.

The events of the previous evening, and of that day also, had occasioned
so much confusion in the stately residence, that he entered it without
meeting a single servant to announce him. He nevertheless traversed the
apartments, following the direction he had before twice taken, and on
going into the drawing-room, found Marguerite lying fainting on the
floor.

On seeing the contract lying on the table, and his sister deprived of
consciousness, Paul readily imagined that a dreadful scene must
have taken place between the marchioness and her daughter. He ran to
Marguerite, raised her in his arms, and opened one of the windows to
give her air. The state in which Marguerite then was, proceeded more
from a complete prostration of strength, than an actual fainting fit;
and therefore, as soon as she felt that assistance was being rendered
her, and with a kindness, which left no doubt as to the feelings of the
person who had thus endeavored to relieve her, she opened her eyes, and
recognized her brother, that living Providence, whom God had sent to
sustain her every time she felt she was about to succumb.

Marguerite related to Paul, that her mother had endeavored to compel her
to sign the contract, in order to get her to leave the castle with her
brother, and that having been overcome by her grief, and carried away
by the dreadful situation in which she was placed, she had allowed her
mother to perceive that she knew all.

Paul comprehended at once the feelings which must have rent the heart
of the marchioness, who, after twenty years of silence, isolation and
anguish, saw, without being able to divine the manner in which it had
been brought about, that in one moment her secret had been revealed to
one of the two persons, from whom she was most anxious to conceal it.
Therefore, compassionating the sufferings of his mother, he resolved to
terminate them as speedily as he could, by hastening on the interview
he had come to seek, and which would at once enlighten her as to
the intentions of that son, whose existence she was so unwilling to
acknowledge, Marguerite, on her side, wished to obtain her mother’s
forgiveness; she, therefore, undertook to inform the marchioness that
the young captain waited her orders.

Paul, therefore, remained alone, leaning against the high chimney-piece,
above which was carved the escutcheon of his family, and began to lose
himself in the thoughts, which the successive and hurried events of
the last few hours gave rise to, and which had rendered him the
sovereign arbiter of all that house, when one of the side doors suddenly
opened, and Emanuel appeared with a case of pistols in his hand. On
hearing the door open, Paul turned his eyes toward them, and immediately
perceiving the young man, bowed to him with that sweet and fraternal
expression, which reflected in his features the serenity of his soul.

Emanuel, on the contrary, although he returned the salutation, as
politeness required, allowed those hostile feelings which the presence
of the man whom he regarded as his personal and determined enemy had
awakened to flush his features, and they instantly assumed a look of
fierce defiance.

“I was on the point of setting out to seek for you, sir,” said Emanuel,
placing the pistols upon the table, and remaining at some distance from
Paul; “and that, however, without precisely knowing where to find you;
for, like the evil genii of our popular traditions, you appear to have
the gift of being every where, and nowhere. But a servant informed me
that he had seen you enter the castle, and I thank you for having saved
me the trouble I was about to take, in thus anticipating my desire.”

“I am happy,” replied Paul, “that my desire in this instance, although
probably emanating from a totally different cause, has so harmoniously
chimed in with yours. Well, then, I am here--what do you ask of me?”

“Cannot you divine even that, sir?” replied Emanuel, with increasing
agitation. “In that case--and you will allow me to express my
astonishment that it should be so--you are but ill-informed as to the
duties of a gentleman and an officer, and this is a fresh insult that
you put upon me.”

“Believe me, Emanuel,” rejoined Paul, in a calm tone--

“I yesterday called myself the count; to-day I call myself the Marquis
d’Auray,” said Emanuel, interrupting him with a gesture of haughtiness
and contempt; “and I beg, sir, that you will not forget it.”

An almost imperceptible smile passed over the lips of Paul.

“I was saying, then,” continued Emanuel, “that you but imperfectly
comprehend the feelings of a gentleman, if you believed that I would
permit another to take up, on my behalf, a quarrel which you came here
to seek. Yes, sir, for it is you who have thrown yourself across
my path, and not I who have sought you.”

“His lordship, the Marquis d’Auray,” said Paul, smiling, “forgets his
visit on board the _Indienne_.”

“A truce to your cavils, sir, and let us at once proceed to facts.
Yesterday, I know not from what strange and inexplicable feeling, when
I proposed to you that, which I will not say every gentleman, every
officer, but simply, any man of courage would instantly, and without
hesitation, have acceded to, you refused, sir, and evading my
provocation, you went, as it were, behind my back to seek an adversary,
who, although not precisely a stranger to the quarrel, yet good taste
should have dictated that he ought not to have been drawn into it.”

“Believe me, that in this, sir,” replied Paul, with the calmness and the
same candor of manner which had accompanied all he said; I was compelled
to yield to the exigency of the case, which did not leave me the choice
of an adversary. You had proposed a duel, which I could not accept, you
being my adversary, but which was perfectly indifferent to me with
any other person. I am too much habituated to encounters of this
description, and to encounters of a far more murderous and mortal
nature, to consider an event of this kind, but as one of the usual
accidents of my adventurous life. You will, however, please to remember
that it was not I who sought this duel; you, yesterday, proposed it to
me; but, as I could not, I again repeat it, appear as your antagonist,
I selected M. de Lectoure, as I would have done M. de Nozay or M. la
Jarry, because he happened to be there, within my reach--and because,
if it were absolutely necessary that I should kill some one, I preferred
killing an useless and insolent fop, rather than a good and honest
country gentleman, who would consider himself dishonored, did he but
dream that he had entered into a bargain of so vile and despicable a
nature as that which the Baron de Lectoure has, in reality, proposed to
you.”

“‘Tis well, sir,” said Emanuel, jeeringly; “continue to constitute
yourself as the redresser of wrongs, to dub yourself the knight-errant
of oppressed princesses, and to shield yourself under the buckler of
your mysterious replies! As long as this antiquated quixotism does not
come in collision with my views, my interests, and my engagements, I
will fully permit it to wander over the whole earth, and ocean also,
even from pole to pole, and I shall merely smile at it as it passes by
me; but whenever this madness breaks out against me, as yours has done,
sir; whenever, in the intimate concerns of a family of which I am the
head, I meet a stranger, who orders as a master where I alone have the
right to raise my voice, I shall present myself before him, as I now do
before you, should I have the happiness to meet him alone as I do you,
and then feeling assured, that no one will come to interrupt us before
I had obtained the necessary explanation, I would say to him: ‘You have,
if not insulted me, at all events wounded my feelings, sir, by coming to
my house, and injuring me in my in-terests, and my family affections. It
is then with me, and not with another, that you ought to fight, and you
shall fight with me.’”

“You are mistaken, Emanuel,” replied Paul; “I will not fight, at all
events, with you; the thing is impossible.”

“Oh! sir, the time of enigmas is gone by,” cried Emanuel, impatiently;
“we live in the midst of a world, in which at every moment we elbow a
reality. Let us, therefore, leave the poetical and the mysterious, to
the authors of romances and tragedies. Your presence in this castle has
been marked by circumstances too fatal to render it necessary to add
that which is not, to that which is. Lusignan returned, notwithstanding
the order which condemned him to transportation; my sister, who, for
the first time, has shown herself rebellious against the orders of her
mother; my father, killed by your mere presence: these are the disasters
by which you have been accompanied, which have heralded you from another
hemisphere, and have formed your funereal escort: for all this, you have
to account to me; therefore, speak, sir; speak as a man should to a man,
in the broad daylight, face to face, and not as a phantom gliding in the
darkness, which escapes under the cloud of night, letting fall some few
solemn and prophetic words, as if from the other world. Such things are
well calculated to terrify nurses and children! Speak, sir, speak! Look
at me, you will see that I am calm. If you have anything to reveal to me
I will listen to you.”

“The secret which you ask of me is not my own,” replied Paul, whose
perfect calmness strongly contrasted with the feverish excitement
of Emanuel; “believe what I have said, and do not insist farther.
Farewell!”

After pronouncing these words, Paul moved toward the door.

“Oh!” cried Emanuel, rushing between him and the door, to prevent his
passage; “you shall not leave me thus, sir! I have you now, we are alone
in this room, without fear of any interruption, into which, it was not
I that enticed you, but you have come here of your own free will.
Therefore, hearken to that which I am about to say. The person you have
insulted is myself! the person to whom you owe satisfaction is myself!

“The person with whom you have to fight is----”

“You are mad, sir,” tranquilly replied Paul; “I have already told you it
is impossible. Therefore, allow me to withdraw.”

“Take care, sir,” cried Emanuel, stretching out his hand to the box, and
taking out the pistols; “take care, sir. After having done every thing
in my power to compel you to act as a gentleman, I may treat you as a
brigand.--You are here in a house, in which you are a total stranger;
you have entered it, I know not how, nor for what purpose; if you have
not come into it to despoil us of our gold and jewels, you have entered
it to steal the obedience of a daughter to her mother, and to cancel the
sacred promise given by a friend to a friend. In one case or the other,
you are a violator, whom I have met at the moment that his hands were
about to seize a treasure; that treasure, is honor, the most precious
of all riches! Come, sir, believe me, you will do better to accept this
weapon”--Emanuel endeavored to thrust one of the pistols into Paul’s
hand--“and defend yourself.”

“You may kill me, sir,” replied Paul, again placing his elbow on the
chimney-piece, as if he were continuing an ordinary conversation;
“although I do not believe that God would permit so great a crime: but
you shall not force me to fight with you. I have before told you so, and
I repeat it.”

“Take the pistol, sir!” cried Emanuel, “take it, sir, I tell you! you
believe that the threat I am making is but a vain menace; undeceive
yourself! for three days have you fatigued my patience! for three days
have you filled my soul with gall and hatred! for three days have I
familiarised my mind with the idea of ridding myself of you; whether it
be by a duel or by murder! Do not imagine, that the dread of punishment
withholds my hand; this castle is isolated, mute, and deaf. The sea is
there; and before you could be even laid in the tomb, I should be in
England. Therefore, sir, for the last time, I say to you, take this
pistol and defend yourself.” Paul, without uttering a word, gently put
the pistol aside.

“Well then!” cried Emanuel, exasperated to the highest degree, by the
sangfroid of his adversary; “as you will not defend yourself like a man,
die like a dog!” And so saying, he raised the muzzle of the pistol to
the level of the captain’s breast.

At that moment a dreadful shriek was heard; it was Marguerite, who had
returned from her mother, and who had, at a glance, comprehended all
that had happened. She rushed upon Emanuel, and at that instant he fired
the pistol, but the direction of the ball having been changed by the
young girl’s striking up his arm, it passed two or three inches above
Paul’s head, and shattered the glass above the chimney-piece.

“My brother!” cried Marguerite, with one bound, springing to were
Paul stood, and throwing her arms around him: “my brother, are you not
wounded?”

“Your brother!” exclaimed Emanuel, letting fall the pistol which was
still smoking; “your brother!”

“Well, Emanuel!” said Paul, with the same calmness which he had evinced
during the whole of this painful scene; “do you now comprehend why it
was I could not fight with you?”

At that moment, the marchioness appeared at the door, pale as a spectre,
for she had heard the report of the pistol; then looking around her with
an expression of infinite terror, and seeing that no one was wounded,
she silently raised her eyes to heaven, as if to ask if its anger was
at length appeased. She remained thus for some time in an attitude of
mental thanksgiving. When she again cast down her eyes, Emanuel and
Marguerite were on their knees before her, each holding one of her
hands, and covering it with tears and kisses.

“I thank you, my children,” said the marchioness, after a short silence;
“and now leave me with this young man.”

Marguerite and Emanuel bowed with an expression of the most profound
respect, and obeyed the command of their mother.



CHAPTER XVIII--RECOGNITION.

     Oh! my mother!
     You do not know the heart that you have pierced!
     I--I--thy son--thine Arthur--I avenge?
     Never on thee.

     Live happy--love my brother--
     Forget that I was born.
     Here, here--these proofs--
     These--these!

     Oh! see you where the words are blistered
     With my hot tears?
     I wept--it was for joy--
     I did not think of lands, of name, of birthright--
     I did but think these arms should clasp a’ mother.

     Bulwer.--The Sea Captain.


The marchioness closed the door as soon as they had withdrawn, advanced
into the middle of the room, and went without looking at Paul, and
leaning upon the arm-chair in which the marquis had the night before
been seated to sign the contract. There she remained standing, with her
eyes cast upon the ground. Paul for a moment experienced the desire to
throw himself upon his knees before her, but there was upon the features
of the marchioness such an expression of severity, that he repressed
the yearnings of his heart, and stood motionless awaiting her commands.
After a few moments of ice-like silence, the marchioness addressed him.
“You desired to see me, sir, and I have come to know your will--you
wished to speak to me--I am listening.”

These words were uttered without the marchioness making the least
movement--her lips trembled, rather than opened--it seemed a marble
statue that was speaking.

“Yes, madam,” replied Paul, in a tone of intense feeling, “yes, yes,
I desired to speak with you; it is long since first this desire was
cherished in my heart, and it has never left me. Recollections of
infancy preyed upon the mind of the grown man. I remembered a woman who
would formerly glide to my cradle, and in my youthful dreams, I thought
her the guardian angel of my infancy. Since that time, still so fresh
in my memory, although so distant, more than once, believe me, I have
awakened with a start, imagining that I had felt upon my forehead the
impression of a maternal kiss: and then seeing that there was no one
near me, I would call that person, hoping she would, perhaps, return. It
is now twenty years since first I thus had called, and this is the first
time she has replied to me. Can it have been as I have often fearfully
imagined, that you would have trembled at again beholding me? Can it be
true, as I at this moment fear, that you have naught to say to me?”

“And had I feared your return,” said the marchioness, in a hollow tone,
“should I have been to blame? You appeared before me only yesterday,
sir, and now the mystery which ought to have been concealed to all but
God and myself, is known to both my children.”

“Is it my fault that God has been pleased to reveal the secret to them?
Was it I that conducted Marguerite, despairing and in tears, to the
bedside of her dying father, whose protection she had gone to ask, and
whose confession she was compelled to hear? Was it I that led her to
Achard, and was it not you, madam, that followed her thither? As to
Emanuel, the report you heard, and that shattered glass, attest, that
I would have preferred death rather than to have saved my life at the
expense of your secret. No, no, believe me, madam, I am the instrument,
and not the hand; the effect, and not the cause. No, madam, it is God
who has brought about all this, that you might see at your feet, as you
have just now seen them, your two children whom you have so long banished
from your arms!”

“But there is a third,” said the marchioness, in a voice in which
emotion began to evince itself, “and I know not what I have to expect
from him.”

“Let me accomplish a last duty, madam, and that once fulfilled, he will
on his knees await your orders.”

“And of what nature is this duty?”

“It is to restore his brother to the rank to which he is entitled,
his sister to that happiness which she has lost--to his mother that
tranquillity of mind, which she has so long sought in vain.”

“And yet, thanks to you,” replied the marchioness, “M. de Maurepas
refused to M. de Lectoure the regiment he had solicited for my son.”

“Because,” replied Paul, taking the commission from his pocket and
laying it on the table, “because the king had already granted it to me,
for the brother of Marguerite.”

The marchioness cast her eyes upon the commission, and saw that it was
made out in the name of Emanuel d’Auray.

“And yet you would give the hand of Marguerite to a man without name,
without fortune--and what is more, to a man who is banished.”

“You are mistaken, madam; I would give Marguerite to the man she loves.
I would give Marguerite not to the banished Lusignan, but to the
Baron Anatole de Lusignan, his majesty’s governor of the Island of
Gaudaloupe--there is his commission also.” The marchioness looked at the
parchment, and saw that in this instance, as in the former one, Paul had
uttered but the truth.

“Yes, I acknowledge it,” she replied, “these will satisfy the ambition
of Emanuel, and confer happiness on Marguerite.”

“And at the same time, secures your tranquillity madam; for Emanuel will
join his regiment, and Marguerite will follow her husband. You will then
remain here alone, as you have, alas! so frequently desired.”

The marchioness sighed.

“Is not this all you desire, or have I deceived myself,” continued Paul.

“But,” said the marchioness, “how can I recall the promise given to the
Baron de Lectoure?”

“The marquis is dead, madam,” replied Paul; “is not the death of
a husband and a father a sufficient cause for the adjournment of a
marriage?”

The marchioness, without replying, seated herself in the arm-chair, took
a pen and paper, wrote a few lines, folded the letter, and putting on
the address the name of the Baron de Lectoure, she rang the bell for the
servant. After waiting a few moments, during which time, both Paul and
herself remained silent, a servant came into the room.

“In two hours from this time, you will deliver this to the Baron
de Lectoure,” said the Marchioness. The servant took the letter and
withdrew.

“And now,” continued the marchioness, looking at Paul, “now sir, that
you have done justice to the innocent, it remains to you to pardon the
guilty. You have papers which prove your birth, you are the elder--at
all events, in the eyes of the law. The fortunes of Emanuel and
Marguerite are yours by right. What do you require in exchange for these
papers?”

Paul took them from his pocket, and showing them to the marchioness,
said, “Here are the documents, look at them--they are the letters you
wrote to my poor father--look here, they are moistened by my tears,
for I read them last night, while watching by Achard’s corpse.” Then
approaching the fire-place, he held them over the flaming wood, saying,
“permit me even but once to call you mother! call me but once your son,
and----”

“Can it be possible!” exclaimed the marchioness, rising.

“You speak of name, of fortune,” continued Paul, with an expression of
profound melancholy; “what need have I of them. I have by my own
sword gained a rank which few men of my age have ever attained--I have
acquired a name which is pronounced with blessings by one nation, andi
with terror by another. I could, did it so please me, amass a fortune,
worthy of being bequeathed to a king. What, then, are your name your
fortune, and your rank, to me, if you have nothing else to offer me--if
you do not give me that which I have incessantly, and in every position
of my life most yearned for--that which I have not the power to
create--which God had granted to me, but which misfortune wrested from
me--that which you alone can restore to me--a mother!”

“My son!” exclaimed the marchioness, overcome at length, by his tears,
and supplicating accent, “my son! my son! my son!”

“Ah!” exclaimed Paul, letting the papers fall into the flames, which
speedily consumed them, “ah! that missed appellation has at length
escaped your lips--that tender name so long desired, and which I have
so unceasingly prayed to hear addressed to me. Merciful heaven! I thank
thee.”

The marchioness had fallen back into her chair, and Paul had thrown
himself upon his knees, his head leaning upon her bosom. At length the
marchioness gently raised him.

“Look at me!” she said; “for twenty years, this is the first tear that
has ever escaped my eyelids, give me your hand!”--she placed it upon
her heart--“for twenty years this is the first feeling of happiness with
which my heart has palpitated. Come to my arms! For twenty years this
is the first caress I have either given or received. These twenty years
have doubtless been my expiation, since God now pardons me, for he has
restored to me the power of weeping, of feeling joy, and has permitted
me to embrace my son. Thanks to G-od! and thanks to thee, my son!”

“My mother!” cried Paul, “my beloved mother!”

“And I trembled at the thoughts of seeing you again--I trembled when I
did see you--I knew not--I could not have imagined that such feelings
still existed in my heart. Oh! I bless thee! I bless thee!”

At that moment, the tolling of the chapel bell was heard: the
marchioness shuddered. The funeral hour had arrived. The bodies of the
noble Marquis d’Auray and that of the poor man Achard, were about to be
returned to earth at the same moment.

“This hour must be consecrated to prayer,” said the marchioness: “I must
now leave you.”

“I must sail to-morrow, my mother,” said Paul; “shall I not once more
see you?”

“Oh! yes, yes,” replied the marchioness, “we must meet again.”

“Well, then, my mother, this evening I shall be at the park gate. There
is a spot which is sacred to me, and to which I must pay a last visit.
I shall expect to meet you there. It is on that spot, my mother, that we
should say farewell.”

“I will be there,” said the marchioness.

“Here, my mother, here,” said Paul, “take these commissions: the one for
Emanuel, and the other for the husband of Marguerite. Let the happiness
of your children be conferred by yourself. Believe me, mother, you have
bestowed more on me than I on them.”

The marchioness retired to shut herself up in her oratory. Paul left the
castle, and proceeded toward the hut of the fisherman.



CHAPTER XIX.--THE FAREWELL.

     Hark! she has bless’d her son--I bid ye witness,
     Ye listening heavens--thou circumambient air;
     The ocean sighs it back--and with the murmur
     Bustle the happy leaves.

     All nature breathes
     Aloud---aloft--to the Great Parent’s ear,
     The blessing of the mother on her child.


ON approaching the fisherman’s hut, the place appointed with Lectoure,
Paul perceived Lusignan and Walter, who were waiting for him.

Precisely at the hour agreed, Lectoure appeared on horseback; he had
been obliged to find his way as he best could, for he had no guide, and
his own servant was as much a stranger as himself in that part of the
country. On seeing him at a distance the young men came out of the hut.
The baron instantly put his horse into a gallop, to hasten to them. When
within a few paces of them he alighted from his horse, and threw the
rein to his servant.

“I trust you will pardon me, gentlemen,” said he, “that I should have
approached you thus alone, like a forsaken orphan; but the hour selected
by that gentleman,” he added, raising his hat to Paul, who returned the
salutation, “was precisely that fixed upon for the funeral obsequies
of the marquis; I have therefore left Emanuel to fulfil the duties of
a son, and have come here without a second, trusting that I had to deal
with an adversary generous enough to procure some friend of his own to
aid me in this dilemma.”

“We are entirely at your service, baron,” replied Paul; “here are two
friends of mine. Select which you please, and he who shall be honored by
your choice, will instantly become yours.”

“I have no preference, I swear to you,” said Lectoure; “please to
designate which of these two gentlemen you may desire should reader me
this service.”

“Walter,” said Paul, “be so good as to officiate as second to the
baron.”

The lieutenant assented; the two adversaries again bowed to each other.

“And now, sir,” continued Paul, “permit me, before our respective
seconds, to address a few words to you, not of apology, but
explanation.”

“At your own pleasure, sir, replied Lectoure.

“When I uttered the words which have been the cause of your coming
hither, the events which have since occurred at the castle were hidden
in the womb of time, and these events might have entailed the misery of
a whole family. You, sir, had on your side Madame d’Auray, Emanuel, and
the Marquis--Marguerite had but me alone. Every chance was, therefore,
in your favor. It was for this reason that I addressed myself directly
to you, for had I fallen by your hand from circumstances which must for
ever remain hidden to you, Marguerite could not have married you. If
I had killed you, the case would have been still more simplified, and
requires no commentary.

“This exordium is really most logical, sir,” replied the baron, smiling,
and tapping his boots with his riding-whip; “let us proceed, if you
please, to the main body of the discourse.” |

“Now,” continued Paul, bowing in sign of acquiescence, “every
circumstance has changed; the marquis is dead, Emanuel has received his
commission, the marchioness renounces your alliance, honorable as it may
be, and Marguerite marries the Baron Anatole de Lusignan, who, for that
reason, I did not name your second.”

“Ah! ah!” exclaimed Lectoure, “then that is the true meaning of the note
which a servant delivered to me at the moment I was about to leave
the castle. I had the simplicity to imagine that it was merely an
adjournment. It appears that it was a dismissal in due form. ‘Tis well,
sir, and now to the peroration.”

“It will be as simple and frank as the explanation, sir. I did not know
you--I had no desire to know you; chance threw us in presence of each
other, and with opposing interests--hence our collision. Then, as I have
before told you, mistrusting fate, I wished in some measure to make sure
of a result. But now affairs have become so altered that either my death
or yours would be altogether useless, and would merely add bloodshed to
the winding up of this drama; and tell me candidly, sir, do you thank it
would be worth while to risk our lives to so little purpose?”

“I might, perhaps, agree with you in opinion, sir, had I not performed
so long a journey,” replied Lectoure: “Not having the honor to espouse
Mademoiselle Marguerite d’Auray, I should desire, at least, to have
the honor of crossing swords with you. It shall not be said that I have
travelled all the way from Paris into Brittany for nothing. I am at
your orders, sir,” continued Lectoure, drawing his sword, and with it
saluting his adversary.

“At your good pleasure, sir,” replied Paul, and replying to the
salutation in the same manner.

The two young men then advanced towards each other--their swords
crossed--at the third parry Lectoure’s sword was twisted from his hand,
and flew to a distance of twenty yards.

“Before taking sword in hand,” said Paul, “I had offered an explanation,
and now, sir, I trust you will be pleased to accept my apology.”

“And this time I will accept it, sir,” said Lectoure, in the same
careless and easy manner, as if nothing particular had occurred. “Pick
up my sword, Dick.”

His servant ran to fetch it, handed it to his master, who very
tranquilly put it into the scabbard.

“Now,” continued he, “if either of you, gentlemen, have any orders for
Paris, I am about to return there, and from this spot.”

“Tell the king, sir,” replied Paul, bowing, and in his turn sheathing
his sword, “that I feel happy that the sword he gave me to be employed
against the English, has remained unstained by the blood of one of my
own countrymen.”

And then the two young men again bowed to each other. Lectoure remounted
his horse, and at about a hundred paces from the sea shore, got into the
high road leading to Vannes, and galloped off; while his servant went
to the castle to get his travelling carriage, with which Lectoure had
ordered him to rejoin him speedily.

“And now, Mr. Walter,” said Paul, “you must send the long-boat to the
nearest creek to Auray castle, and have every thing in readiness to set
sail tonight.”

The lieutenant immediately set out for Port Louis, and Paul and Lusignan
returned into the fisherman’s hut.

During this time Emanuel and Marguerite had fulfilled the mournful duty
to which they had been summoned by the chapel bell. The body of the
marquis had been deposited in the emblazoned tomb of his ancestors, and
Achard’s in the humble cemetery outside the chapel, and then the
brother and sister repaired to their mother’s apartment. The marchioness
delivered to Emanuel the commission which he so anxiously coveted, and
gave to Marguerite her unexpected consent to her marriage with Lusignan.
She then handed to Marguerite the king’s sign manual appointing Lusignan
governor of Guadaloupe. And then, in order that the emotions which they
experienced should not be renewed, and which were the more poignant,
because they were concealed within their own breasts, for neither of
them made any allusion to past events, the mother and the children
embraced each other for the last time, each feeling the innate
conviction that they should never meet again.

The remainder of the day was occupied in the necessary preparations for
departure. Toward the evening the marchioness left the castle, to meet
Paul at the place which he had appointed. When passing through the
court-yard she perceived a carriage, with horses already attached to it,
standing on one side of it, and the young midshipman, Arthur, with four
sailors, on the other. Her heart was oppressed by the sight of this
two-fold preparation. She, however, passed on, and went into the park,
without giving way to her emotions, so much had her long-continued
restraint upon natural feelings given her the power of self-command.

However, when she had reached a small clearing, from which she could
see Achard’s house, she paused, for her knees trembled beneath her, and
she was obliged to lean for support against a tree, while she pressed
her hand to her breast to restrain the violent beatings of her heart.
For there are souls which present danger, however imminent, cannot cause
to quail, but which tremble at the remembrance of perils past; and the
marchioness recalled to mind the agonizing fears and emotions to which
she had been for twenty years a prey, and during which time she had
daily visited that house, now closed never again to be opened. She,
however, soon overcame this weakness, and reached the park gate.

There she again paused. Above all the trees rose the summit of a
gigantic oak, whose wide spreading branches could be discerned from
many places in the park. Often had the eyes of the marchioness remained
riveted for hours upon its verdant dome: but never had she dared to seek
repose beneath its shade. It was there, however, that she had promised
to meet Paul, and there Paul was awaiting her. At length she made a last
effort, and entered the forest.

From a distance she perceived a man kneeling upon the ground in the
attitude of prayer. She slowly approached him, and kneeling down by his
side, prayed also. When the prayer was concluded, they both rose, and
without uttering a word, the marchioness placed her arm around Paul’s
neck, and leaned her head upon his shoulder. After some moments’
silence, they heard the noise of the wheels of a carriage at a distance.
The marchioness shuddered, and made a sign to Paul to listen; it was
Emanuel setting out to join his regiment. Shortly afterwards Paul
pointed in a direction opposite to that in which they had heard the
noise, and showed the marchioness a boat gliding rapidly and silently
upon the surface of the ocean; it was Marguerite going on board the
frigate.

The marchioness listened to the noise of the receding wheels as long as
she could hear it, and followed with anxious eyes the movements of the
boat, as long as she could distinguish it; then she turned toward
Paul, and raising her eyes to heaven, for she felt that the moment was
approaching, when he, whom she was leaning upon, would, in his turn,
leave her, she exclaimed--

“May God bless, as I now bless, the duteous son, who was the last to
leave his mother.”

Saying these words, she threw her arms around his neck, pressed him
convulsively to her heart, and kissed him; then gazing at him intently,
she seemed to be scanning every outline of his face, and then, again,
rapturously embraced him.

“Yes,” she cried, “in every feature he is the living resemblance of my
poor lost Morlaix,” then for some moments she seemed to be absorbed in
thought; at last after a seemingly violent struggle, she continued,
“Paul, you have refused to accept any portion of that fortune to which
you are legally entitled, although you know the wealth of the Auray
family is unbounded--and that the fortune which I inherit in my own
right, from the family of Sablé, is very large.” Paul shook his head.
“Well, then, there is one thing that you must receive from your mother,
as her parting gift. It is twenty years since I have dared to look
upon it, and yet I have clung to its possession--it is your father’s
portrait, presented to me when I was authorized to receive it--when, by
the assent of both our families, he was to have become my husband--take
it, my dear son, for although it tears my heart to part with it, yet I
feel that I shall be more tranquil when it is in your possession--to no
one but yourself would I have given it. You will sometimes look upon it,
and you will think of your mother, who must now remain for ever isolated
from the world. But it is better that it should be so--henceforward all
my moments shall be spent in making my peace with Heaven.”

While saying these words, she had drawn from her pocket a case, which
she put into Paul’s hands, and which he had eagerly opened, and gazed
with intense interest at the features of his father. The miniature was
richly set in diamonds of great value.

Then summoning all her fortitude, the marchioness for the last time
kissed her son, who was kneeling before her, and tearing herself from
his arms, she returned alone to the castle.

The next morning the inhabitants of Port Louis vainly sought the frigate
they had seen only the evening before, and which for fifteen days had
remained at anchor in the outer roads of Lorient. As on the former
occasion, she had disappeared without their being able to comprehend the
cause of her arrival, or the motive of her so sudden departure.



EPILOGUE.

     Last scene of all
     That ends this strange, eventful history.


Five years had elapsed since the occurrence of the events we have
related. The independence of the United States had been recognized; New
York, the last strong-hold of the English, had been evacuated. The roar
of cannon,-which had resounded in the Indian seas, as well as in the
Gulf of Mexico, had ceased to thunder. Washington, in the solemn meeting
of Congress of the 28th December, 1783, had resigned his commission as
general-in-chief, and had retired to Mount Vernon, his parental estate,
without any other recompence than that of being allowed to receive and
send letters free of charge; and the tranquillity which America had
begun to enjoy, had extended to the French colonies in the West Indies;
for the mother country having espoused the American cause, they had been
several times exposed to the hostile attempts of Great Britain. Among
these islands, Guadaloupe had been more particularly threatened, in
consequence of its military and commercial importance; but, thanks to
the vigilance of its new governor, the attempts of the enemy to land
there had always failed, and France had not to mourn over any serious
discomfiture in this important position, so that at the commencement of
the year 1784, the island, without being altogether denuded of warlike
appearance, which was maintained in it more from custom than from
necessity, the inhabitants generally had applied themselves anew to the
cultivation of the numerous products which form its riches.

If our readers will be pleased by a last effort of their complaisance,
to accompany us to the other side of the Atlantic, and land with us at
the port of Basseterre, we will conduct them amidst fountains which jet
on every side, through the street which leads to the promenade, called
Champ d’Arbaud; then, after having availed ourselves of the cool
shade of the tamarind trees, planted on each side of it, till we have
proceeded about two-thirds of its length, we will turn upon the left up
a small beaten road, which conducts to the gate of a garden, the upper
part of which commands a view of the whole town.

When we have arrived there, we will allow them for a few moments to
inhale the evening breeze, so refreshingly sweet after the mid-day
heat of the month of May, and they can cast a glance with us over the
luxuriant vegetation of the tropics.

With our backs turned to the woody and volcanic mountains, which divide
the western part of the island, and amid which arise, crowned with their
plumes of smoke and sparks, the two calcined pinnacles of the sulphur
mountain, we have at our feet, sheltered by the hills, which have been
named Bellevue, Mont-Désir, Beau Soliel, Espérance and Saint Charles,
the city gracefully descending towards the sea, the waves of which
sparkling with the last rays of the setting sun, laves its white walls.
The horizon, formed by the ocean, lying like a vast and limpid mirror,
and to the right and left, the most beautiful and richest plantation of
the island; large square fields of coffee trees, transplanted originally
from Arabia, with their knotty and flexible branches, covered with dark
green glossy leaves, of an oblong and pointed form, and bearing clusters
of flowers as white as snow; long rows of cotton plants, covering with
a rich carpet of verdure, the dry and stony soil, on which they thrive
best, and among which we see, like so many colossal ants, negroes
occupied in reducing to two or three, the thousand shoots which
sprout out from each stalk. And then again, but in more level and well
sheltered spots, in which the soil is richer and more argillaceous, we
see plantations of cocoa trees, first introduced into the West Indies by
the Jew, Benjamin Dacosta, with their lofty trunks and porous branches,
covered with fawn colored bark, from which large oblong leaves are
pending, among which we see fresh shoots of a soft rose color, which
contrast strongly with the long, curved and yellow fruit, which bends
the branches with its weight. And further off, whole fields of the
plant, discovered at Tabaco, first brought to France by the Ambassador
of Francis II., who presented it to Catherine de Medicis, from which
circumstance it derived its name of _Herbe-a-là-reine_.* This did not,
however, prevent it from being, like every popular thing, in the first
instance, excommunicated and proscribed, in Europe and Asia, by the
two powers who then divided the world, proscribed by the Grand Duke of
Muscovy, Michael Fedorowich, by the Turkish Sultan Amurath IV., by
the Emperor of Persia, and excommunicated by Pope Urban VIII. Here and
there, we see springing up to a height of forty or fifty feet above all
the shrubs and plants, by which it is surrounded, the banana tree of
Paradise, of which, according to tradition, the oval leaves, seven or
eight feet in length, served to form the first garment of the first
created woman. And finally, elevated above all the rest, and standing
forth pre-eminent, whether hacked by the azure of the Heavens, or by the
dark green tea, the cocoa-nut and the palm-tree, those two giants of
the Western Archipelago graceful and prodigal, as is everything that is
powerful. Figure to yourselves, then these beautiful hills, intersected
by seventy rivers, eased in beds, ninety feet in depth; these mountains
illuminated during the day by a tropical sun, at night, by the volcano
of the sulphur mountain; that vegetation, which never is arrested,
the new leaves of which succeed the leaves which fall; this soil
so salubrious, and air so pure, that notwithstanding the insensate
experiments that man, the real enemy of himself, has made by
transporting serpents from Martinique, and Saint Lucie, it was found
that they could neither live nor reproduce there, and then judge after
the sufferings they had endured in Europe, of the happiness which Antole
de Lusignan and Marguerite d’Auray must have enjoyed there.

     * Queen’s Grass.

To a life agitated by the passions, to that struggle of natural rights
against legal power, to that succession of scenes in which all earthly
pains, from childbirth even to death, had played their part, had
succeeded a life of pure delights, each day of which had passed on
calmly and tranquilly; the only clouds that darkened it, arose from that
vague uneasiness for distant friends, which as if borne upon the air,
and which contracts the heart like a painful presentiment. However,
from time to time, whether by newspapers, or by vessels, touching at
the island, Anatole and Marguerite had obtained some intelligence of the
generous being who had so powerfully served them as a protector; they
had heard of his victories; that after he had left them, he had been
appointed to the command of a small squadron, and had destroyed the
English establishments on the coast of Acadia, which had gained for him
the title of commodore; that, in an engagement with the _Serapis_ and
the _Countess of Scarborough_, after a combat yard-arm to yard-arm,
which lasted four hours, he had obliged the two frigates to strike to
him, and that finally, as a reward for the services he had rendered to
the cause of American Independence, he had received the public thanks
of Congress, who had voted him a gold medal, and had selected him to
command the frigate _America_, to which that name had been given as
being the finest in the service, and the command of which had been
conferred on him as the bravest of its officers; but this splendid ship
had been presented by Congress to the King of France, to replace
the _Magnifique_, which had been lost at Boston. Paul Jones, after
conducting this frigate to Havre, had joined the fleet of the Count
de Vaudreuil, who had projected an attack upon Jamaica. This last
intelligence had overjoyed the hearts of Lusignan and Marguerite, for
this enterprize would bring Paul into their latitude, and they hoped at
last they should soon see their brother and their friend; but peace, as
we have before said, had intervened, and from that time, they had heard
no more of the adventurous seaman.

In the evening of the day on which we have transported our readers from
the wild shores of Brittany to the fertile coast of Guadaloupe, the
young family were assembled in the very garden which we have entered,
and which commands a view of the immense panorama we have described;
the foreground of which is formed by the city, at its feet the ocean,
studded with islands in the distance.

Marguerite had promptly habituated herself to the soft listlessness of
Creole life; and her mind now tranquil and full of happiness, she
gave herself up to the _dolce far niente_, which renders the sensual
existence of the colonies a half sleep, the incidents of which appear as
dreams.

She was lying with her daughter in a Peruvian hammock, netted with
the silken fibres of the aloe, and ornamented with the most brilliant
colored plumes of the rarest tropical birds; her son was swinging her
with a soft and regular motion, and Lusignan was holding one of her
hands between both his. She was still pale, but delicate and graceful as
a wild lily. Her looks were vacantly wandering over the immense extent
of ocean lying before her, and she felt her soul and senses enraptured
by all the bliss which heaven can promise, and all the enjoyments which
this earth can offer. At that moment, and as if everything concurred
to complete the magic spectacle which every evening she came there to
contemplate, and which every succeeding evening she found still more
marvellously beautiful, there suddenly appeared, doubling the cape
_Trois Pointes_, and looking like an ocean king, a large vessel, gliding
along the surface of the sea without more apparent effort than a swan
playing upon the tranquil bosom of a lake. Marguerite was the first to
perceive it, and without speaking, for every action is a fatigue under
that burning clime, she made a sign with her head to Lusignan, who
directed his looks to the spot she had indicated, and then, like her,
silently followed with his eyes the rapid and graceful movements of the
vessel. By degrees as she approached, and as the elegant and delicate
proportions of her masts amidst the mass of sails which they sustained,
could be discerned, which, in the first instance, had seemed a cloud
floating upon the horizon--they began to discover in one corner of her
flag the stars of America, equal in number to the States they represent.
One same idea shot instantly through their minds, and they exchanged a
glance, radiant with hope that they were, perhaps, about to receive some
news of Paul. Lusignan immediately ordered a negro to bring a telescope:
but before he had returned, a hope still more delightful pervaded
both their hearts. It appeared to Lusignan and Marguerite that they
recognized an old friend in the frigate that was approaching. To
persons, however, unaccustomed, it is so difficult to distinguish, at a
great distance, signs which speak at once to the eye of an experienced
seaman, that they did not yet dare to have faith in this hope, and
which, indeed, was more an instinctive presentiment than positive
reality. At last the negro brought the so much longed for telescope.
Lusignan uttered a cry of joy, and then handed it to Marguerite: he
had recognized the sculpture of Guillaume Costou, upon the prow of the
vessel, and it was really the _Indienne_ which was advancing towards
Basseterre.

Lusignan raised Marguerite from the hammock and placed her on her feet,
for their first impulse was to hasten to the harbour; but then they
reflected that Paul had left the _Indienne_ nearly five years, at the
time that his promotion entitled him to the command of a larger vessel,
and that she might now be under the orders of another captain, and they
paused with palpitating hearts and trembling limbs. During this time,
their son Hector had taken up the telescope, and placing it to his eye,
looked through it, and soon after exclaimed,--“Father, see there,--upon
the deck stands an officer, dressed in a black coat, embroidered
with gold, just like the one in the picture of my dear friend, Paul!”
 Lusignan hastily snatched the glass from his son’s hands, looked through
it for a few moments, then again passed it to Marguerite, who, after
directing it toward the vessel, let it fall, and then they threw
themselves into each other’s arms; they had recognized their friend,
who, as he was about to visit them, had put on the dress which we have
before said he had generally worn. At this instant the frigate passed
the fort, which it saluted with three guns, and the fort returned the
salute with an equal number.

From the moment that Lusignan and Marguerite had acquired the certitude
that their friend and brother was actually on board the _Indienne_, they
had hastened down the mountain, followed by young Hector, towards the
port, leaving their little Blanche in the hammock. The captain had
also recognized them, so that at the moment they left the garden he had
ordered a boat to be lowered, and, thanks to the united strength of ten
vigorous oarsmen, he had rapidly glided over the distance between the
anchorage ground and the port, and had sprung upon the jetty at the
instant that his friends arrived there. Such sensations as then filled
their breasts cannot be expressed in words; tears are their only
interpreter. And thus their joy more closely resembled grief, for they
all wept, even to the child, who wept because he saw them weep.

After giving some orders relating to the vessel, the young commodore,
with his delighted friends, slowly ascended the hill down which they
had rushed so rapidly to meet him. Paul told them that the expedition
of Admiral Vaudreuil having failed, he had returned to Philadelphia, and
peace having been signed, as we have before mentioned, with England, the
Congress, as a token of gratitude, had presented him with the first ship
he had commanded as captain.

Upon hearing this, Lusignan and Marguerite experienced the most lively
joy, for they hoped that their brother had come with the intention of
taking up his abode with them; but the character of the young seaman
was too adventurous, and stood too much in need of excitement, to sink
quietly down into the monotonous and unvaried dulness of a life on
shore. He informed his friends that he had but eight days to remain with
them, after which he should seek in another quarter of the globe, to
follow the profession he had adopted.

These eight days passed by as rapidly as a dream, and notwithstanding
the reiterated entreaties of both Lusignan and Marguerite, Paul would
not consent to delay his departure even for twenty-four hours. He was
still the same ardent determined being, considering the execution of a
resolution he had once formed as a positive duty, and more austere with
regard to himself than toward others.

The hour of separation had arrived. Marguerite and Lusignan wished to
accompany the young commodore on board his ship; but Paul wished not to
prolong the grief of this leave-taking. When they reached the jetty he
embraced them for the last time, then jumped into his boat, which was
rowed away as swiftly as an arrow. Marguerite and Lusignan followed him
with their eyes until his boat had disappeared on the leeward side
of the frigate, and they sorrowfully reascended the hill to watch the
ship’s departure, from the same terrace from which they had before
discerned its arrival.

At the moment they reached it, they observed that activity and bustle
on board the frigate which always precede the departure of a vessel. The
sailors had surrounded the capstan, and were employed in getting up the
anchor, and thanks to the pureness of the atmosphere, the sonorous and
lively cries of the seamen reached the ears of Lusignan and Marguerite;
the anchor was soon apeak, and they saw it rising slowly under the
ship’s bows; then the sails dropped successively from the yards, from
the royals to the courses, and the ship, seemingly endowed with an
instinctive and animated feeling, gracefully turned her prow toward the
harbour’s mouth, and beginning to move, cut through the waves with an
easy motion, as if merely gliding upon their surface. Then, as if the
frigate might be abandoned to her own will, they saw the young commodore
spring upon the stern rails, and devote all his attention to the land he
was thus leaving. Lusignan took out his handkerchief and made a signal,
to which Paul replied. And then, when they could no longer perceive each
other with the naked eye, they had recourse to their telescopes, and,
thanks to this ingenious invention, they retarded the separation for
another hour. They all felt a presentiment that this separation would be
eternal.

The vessel gradually diminished upon the horizon, and darkness was about
to cover the heavens, when Lusignan ordered a quantity of wood to be
brought upon the terrace, to form a beacon fire, which was instantly
ignited, in order that Paul, whose vessel was nearly enshrouded in the
darkness, might continue to fix his eyes upon that spot until he had
doubled Cape Trois Pointes. Lusignan and Marguerite had for an hour lost
sight of the ship, while Paul, thanks to their large brilliant fire,
might still perceive them, when a bright flame, like to a flash of
lightning, appeared on the horizon, and in a few seconds the report of
a gun, similar to the prolonged sound of distant thunder, reached their
ears, and all again was silent. Lusignan and Marguerite had received
Paul’s last farewell.

And now, although the domestic drama which we had undertook to relate,
has, in fact, terminated here, some of our readers may, perhaps, have
felt sufficient interest in the young adventurer, of whom we have made
the hero of this story, to follow him in the second part of his career;
to these then, after thanking them for the kind attention they have been
pleased to grant to us, we are about to recount truly and plainly, facts
which a most minute research have enabled us to lay before them.

At the period we have reached, that is to say, in the month of May,
1784, the whole of Europe had fallen into that state of torpor, which
unthinking men imagined to be tranquillity, but which minds more
profound, regarded as the dull and momentary calm that precedes the
tempest. America, by obtaining her independence, had prepared France for
her revolution. Kings and people, mistrustful of each other, were upon
their guard. Peter III., who had become odious to the Russians, in
consequence of his ignoble character, the narrowness of his political
views, and above all, for his excessive leaning to Prussian manners, and
Prussian discipline, had been deposed without opposition, and strangled
without a struggle. Catherine had thus found herself, at the age of
thirty-two, mistress of an empire which extended over one-seventh part
of the globe; her first care was to compel the neighbouring powers to
accept her as a mediatrix in their quarrel, and thus become do-pendent
upon her. Thus, had she obliged the people of Courland to drive from
them their new Duke, Charles of Saxony, and to recall Biren; she had
sent her ambassadors and her armies to Warsaw, there to have crowned by
the name of Stanislaus Augustus, her former lover, Poniatowski; she had
formed an alliance with England; she had associated to her policy
the Courts of Vienna and Berlin; and notwithstanding all these
great projects of foreign policy, she had not neglected the internal
government of her own country, and in the interval of her amours, so
fickle and so various, she still found time to reward industry, to
encourage agriculture, to reform the laws, to raise a navy, to
send Pallas into provinces the productions of which were till then
unknown--Blumager into the northern Archipelago, and Bel-lings into
the Indian ocean; in fine, jealous of the literary reputation of her
brother, the King of Prussia, she wrote with the same hand that had
ordered the erection of a new city, signed the order for the execution
of young Ivan, and the dismemberment of Poland, _The Refutation of the
Journey into Siberia_, by the Abbé Chappe, a romance of the Czarowich
Chlose, several plays, among which was a translation into French of
Oleg, a drama, written by the Russian poet, Dersehawin, so that Voltaire
proclaimed her the Semiraris of the North, and the King of Prussia, in
his letters, classed her between Solon and Lycurgus.

The effect produced amid this voluptuous and chivalric court by the
arrival of such a man, as our adventurous seaman, can readily be
imagined. The reputation for courage, which had rendered him the terror
of the enemies of France and America, had preceded him to the court
of Russia, and in exchange for his frigate, which he presented to
Catherine, he received the rank of Rear-Admiral. Then the flag of
Russia, after having navigated round one-half the old world, appeared in
the Grecian seas, and beneath the ruins of Lacedemon and the Parthenon,
he, who had assisted in establishing the independence of America, dreamt
of the re-establishment of the Republics of Sparta and of Athens. The
old Ottoman empire was shaken to its foundations, the defeated Turks
signed a treaty of peace at Kainardji. Catherine retained Azof,
Taganrog, and Kenburr, and Kenburn, compelled the Turks to grant to
her the free navigation of the Black Sea, and the independence of the
Crimea; she then desired to visit her new possessions. Paul, recalled to
St. Petersburgh, accompanied her on this journey, the route of which had
been drawn up by Potemkin. During the whole of it, all the attributes of
triumph were offered to the conquering Empress and her suite; bonfires
were lighted all along the road, cities were illuminated with the most
fairy-like brilliancy, magnificent palaces erected, as if by magic, for
one day, amid desert countries, and which the next morning disappeared;
villages, rising as if beneath the wand of an enchanter, in solitudes,
in which eight days before the Tartars fed their flocks; towns appearing
on the horizon of which there existed but the exterior walls; in every
direction, homage, and songs of welcome, and dances of the people:
during the day, a numerous population crowded the road, and at night,
while the Empress was sleeping, they would run to station themselves in
the way she was to proceed on waking the following morning: a king and
emperor rode by her side, calling themselves not her brothers, not her
equals, but her courtiers; finally, a triumphal arch was erected at
the last halt she was to make on her journey southward, bearing the
inscription--“_This is the road to Byzantium,_” which if it did not
reveal the ambition of Catherine, demonstrated at least, the policy of
Potemkin. Then Russia became strengthened in her tyranny, as America had
in her independence. Catherine offered to her Admiral places which would
have more than satisfied the rapacity of a courtier, honors which would
have overwhelmed the ambitious, estates which would have consoled a
deposed king for the loss of his dominions; but it was the deck of
his ship, it was the sea with its combats and its tempests, it was
the boundless immensity of ocean for which yearned the heart of our
adventurous and poetic seaman. He, therefore, left the brilliant court
of Catherine, as he had left the austere Congress of America, and
returned to France to seek that, which he could not find elsewhere, that
is to say, a life of excitement, enemies to combat, a people to defend.
Paul arrived in Paris in the midst of our European wars and civil
struggles; while, with one hand, we were seizing a foreign enemy by the
throat, with the other, we were tearing our own entrails. That king,
whom he had seen ten years before, beloved, honored, powerful, was then
a captive, despised and strengthless. All that had been exalted was
abased, and great names fell as did high-born heads.--It was the reign
of equality, and the guillotine was the levelling instrument. Paul
inquired after Emanuel, and was told that he was proscribed. He asked
what had become of his mother, and was informed that she was dead. Then
he felt an irresistible longing to revisit once again, before he himself
might die, the spot on which, twelve years before, he had experienced
emotions at once so sweet and terrible. He set out for Brittany, left
his carriage at Vannes, and mounted on horseback, as he had done on the
first day he had seen Marguerite; but he was no longer the young and
enthusiastic seaman, whose desires and hopes had no horizon; he was a
man bereft of all those, brilliant illusions, for he had tasted of all,
whether weet or bitter, had learnt to appreciate all, both men and
things; had known all, glory and oblivion. Therefore, did he not come to
search a family, but to visit tombs.

When he came within sight of the castle, he turned his eyes toward
Achard’s house, and not being able to discover it, he thought he
would go into the forest, but the forest seemed to have vanished as by
enchantment. It had been sold as national property to twenty-five or
thirty farmers of the neighbourhood, who had cleared off the timber, and
transformed it into a large plain. The gigantic oak had disappeared, and
the plough had passed over the unknown grave of the Count de Morlaix,
and the eyes of his son even, could no longer recognize the spot.

Then he returned through the park toward the castle, now become even
more gloomy and desolate than when he had last seen it. In it he found
only an old man, a living ruin amidst these ruins of the past; it was at
first intended to have pulled down the mansion, but the reputation for
holiness which the marchioness had left behind her, was regarded with
such religious veneration throughout the country, that the old walls,
which for four centuries had been the abode of her ancestors, remained
undesecrated. Paul went through the apartments, which for three years
had remained closed, and which were now open for him. He walked through
the portrait gallery; it was in the same state as he had formerly seen
it; no pious hand had added to the portrait either of the marquis or
the marchioness. He went into the study in which he had been
concealed--found a book lying in it which he had opened and placed upon
the very spot on which he found it, and read the same passages which
he had read so many years before. He then pushed open the door which
communicated with the contract chamber, where had passed the chief
scenes of that drama in which he was the principal actor. The table
was still in the same place and the Venetian looking-glass over the
chimney-piece was there, shattered as it had been by the ball of
Emanuels pistol.

Paul advanced to the fire-place, and placing his elbow on the marble
mantle-piece, questioned the servant as to the last years of the
Marchioness.

The account he received shewed that she had remained austere and
melancholy, as was her wont. Remaining secluded and alone at the castle,
her hours were uniformly spent in three different places: her oratory,
the vault in which the body of her husband had been buried, and the
spot sheltered by the oak tree, at the foot of which her lover had been
interred. For eight years after the evening on which Paul had taken
leave of her, she had been seen to wander amid the old corridors of
the castle, and in the gloomy avenues of the Park, slow and pale as a
spectre; then a disease of the heart, engendered by the agonies she had
suffered, declared itself, and she daily became weaker. At length, one
evening, when her failing strength no longer permitted her to walk, she
had ordered the servants to carry her to the foot of the oak tree, her
favorite walk, that she might once more see, she said, the sun setting
in the ocean. When they had reached the spot, she desired the servants
to withdraw, and to come back to her in half an hour. On their return
they found her lying fainting on the ground. They immediately bore her
to the castle, but having recovered her senses on the way, she ordered
them, instead of conducting her to her own room, which they usually did,
to take her down into the family vault. There she had still strength
enough to kneel upon the tomb of her husband, and made a sign that she
desired to be left alone. However imprudent their doing so might be, the
servants elbow on the marble withdrew, for she had accustomed them
to obey her in every thing at the first intimation of her will. They,
however, remained at a short distance, concealed behind the corner of a
tomb, that they might be ready to render her assistance, should it be
necessary. In a few minutes they saw her fall down upon the stone on
which she had been praying; they rushed forward, imagining that she had
again fainted. She was dead.

Paul requested the old servant to conduct him into the vault, and slowly
entered it with uncovered head; and when he had reached the stone
which covered the grave of his mother, he knelt down and prayed. On the
monumental stone were inscribed the following words, and which may still
be seen in one of the chapels of the church of the small town of Auray,
to which it has since been removed. The inscription had been written by
the marchioness herself, and she had desired that it should be placed
upon her tomb.

“Here lies the very noble and very puissant lady Marguerite Blanche de
Sablé, Marchioness of Auray; born the 2nd of August 1729--died the 3rd
September, 1788.

“Pray for her and for her children.”

Paul raised his eyes to heaven, with an expression of infinite
gratitude, His mother, who during her life, had for so long a time
forgotten him, had remembered him in her funeral inscription.

Six months after this visit, the National Convention decreed, in solemn
sitting, that they would attend in a body the funeral procession of Paul
Jones, formerly a commodore in the American navy, and whose burial was
to take place in the cemetery of Pere La Chaise.

They had come to this decision, said the decree, in order to consecrate
the establishment of _religious freedom throughout France_.





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