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BOOK II I.
The Fruit of the Seed.
In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him.-DANIEL.
AFTER THE EVENT.
THUS far I have been able to let the count's papers speak for themselves. A great portion of the succeeding pages, however, is occupied with irrelevant details; and I have therefore thought it convenient to reduce the substance of these pages into narrative form, extracting only such passages as appear peculiarly significant.
If any one well acquainted, in other and happier days, with the chateau of Count R and its inmates, had revisited that household after the date of the letter transcribed in the previous chapter of this book, he would have been struck by the fragility of those foundations upon which human happiness is built.
The grief of the count and countess for the death of their youngest son must have acutely increased their anxiety at the precarious state of their eldest and only surviving child.
Insensible to the presence of all around him, Edmond wanders, restless and solitary as a spectre. Whole days he passes alone in ever the same spot
upon the river bank, watching with glassy eyes the rolling waters. At nightfall he glides home, shadowlike, among the shadows.
In the old drawing-room, once so cheerful-there where Juliet's joyous song and Felix's merry laugh are missing now-wan faces in the heavy twilight hours peer at the melancholy windows, or through the doors no greeting enters. When night is falling, the woful watchers at those windows see a lonely figure here and there about the ghostly park restlessly wandering. When night has fallen, and the silence is heavy on the house, the poor pale listeners at those noiseless doors can hear a dull and leaden footstep on the stairs. It passes the door which no hand opens. Edmond goes straight to his own chamber, and shuts himself in. All night along the floor of that chamber, monotonously backward and forward, the same dull, leaden footstep sounds. They can hear him muttering to himself in those short incessant walks, and sometimes groaning loud.
Suddenly a great change comes over him. Still taciturn and more than ever self-involved, but calm and quiet as before, he resumes the daily regularity of his previous occupations. At earliest dawn his horse is at the door. The whole day long he is busily engaged about the property. Accompanied by the inspector, he visits every part of it; sets all things in perfect order; and makes such careful provision for the future as would seem to imply the purpose of a prolonged absence.
In the course of a single week, as I find, he was three times at Breslau. The next week he goes there
again. This time he does not return. Three days after his departure, the coachman who drove him there comes back with a letter which he is charged to deliver to the old count. In this letter Edmond takes leave of his family in terms which indicate, chiefly by the exaggerated effort to conceal it, a violent grief, violently repressed.
With vehement bitterness of reproach, and in words often incoherent, he accuses himself of the death of his brother. Life has become to him an intolerable burden. He can not hope for relief of mind so long as he is surrounded by scenes which remind him. every hour of that terrible accident. He announces his departure for St. Petersburg. It is his intention to enroll himself in the Russian army, now on active service in the Caucasus. If he should not return, he implores his father, and mother, and Juliet to let their forgiveness rest upon his memory, etc., etc.
None of the family is much surprised at this decision, nor at the language in which it is announced.
Though Edmond has nothing whatever wherewith to reproach himself, yet it is easy to understand how naturally, how inevitably the mere fact of having been sole witness of a calamity so sudden, and of which the victim was so nearly related and so dear to the survivor, must have planted into every bleeding memory thorns which a conscience so delicate, and a nature so severe in the criticism of itself as those of Edmond, would be impelled rather to drive deeper in than to eradicate. All had felt the absolute necessity of change of scene for Edmond. But that he should have chosen a remedy so sharp would doubtless have