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grieved them more, had not the excess of a previous grief already blunted those susceptibilities which are most prominent to pain.
In the spiritual no less than in the physical world, the maximum of power resides in the infinitely little.
As the surface of the globe is changed at last by the gradual crumbling of the hills; as continent is severed from continent by the slow small toil of multitudes of softest water-drops washing the sides of the world; as from the bosom of the deep rise up new continents of vast extent, whose coral-building architects might be covered by millions in the hollow of a man's hand, so, also, in the economy of the life within us, the constant and uniform recurrence of little things at last irresistibly establishes the durable basis of Habit and Custom. In this consists the healing power of work. And in work itself, as well as in each man's faculty to work (second only to religion, and the faculty to apprehend and employ the presence of a Divine Comforter), is the highest blessing bequeathed to man by the helplessness of his nature. For man is a day-laborer, paid by the day and the hour; not for the thing done, but for the doing it. He can not command results; he can not comprehend the plan of the Architect; he can not always choose either his place among his fellow-laborers or the materials given him to work with, but he can always do a day's work, and earn a day's wages.
So it was with these three poor mourners in the old house at L. Hardly two years had passed away. A superficial observer might have seen nothing to remark about the inmates of the chateau beyond the
fact that the habitude of a tranquil sadness had settled itself into the vacant place of a peaceful felicity. The chateau had become a convent. But in the one as in the other, life followed its natural and necessary course, reflecting now more of the inside, as it had formerly reflected more of the outside world. The only tangent at which the sphere of this closed and inner world came into contact with that of external circumstance was in the one point of Edmond's distant lot.
At first, for some time after his arrival on that theatre of war, once the cradle of our race, his letters had been few and brief. As time went on, they became more frequent and more full.
Remarks about the manners and customs of those primordial tribes; descriptions of the nature and scenery of that country; observations upon the analogy and relationship of languages-that fine but firmlywoven thread which traverses, throughout millenniums of change, the confused history of man, and unites, by almost imperceptible fibres, the end with the origin of human culture-such are the contents of this part of the journal and letters of Count Edmond, which indicate only by the different names of the places from which they are dated the participation of the writer of them in the events of the war. He himself never speaks of these events. That he was concerned in them, and that he survived them, is proved by his letters; that this was almost a miracle is proved by the details of the official bulletins of the Russian army in the public journals of that time.
At last came the spring of 1817, and with it the first warming ray of hope and comfort to the hearts
of those who read these letters by their cheerless hearth at L
Edmond has announced his return in a long letter to his father.
But amid the pulses which this announcement quickened in the old man's heart was one to which a message from a yet more distant land had already said, "Thou shalt be the last."
One day, when this letter of Edmond's had been joyously discussed at the dinner-table at L, the old count died in his chair while still at table. He died of apoplexy without pain, and his eyes closed on the hope of his son's return.
So that it was now as lord and master of Lthat Count Edmond returned to the house of his fathers, and there were still three mourners in the old chateau.
But the firm, deliberate footstep which now sounded on the stair, and over the long silent hall at Lwas no longer that of a boy. Whatever of masculine power had hitherto slumbered unemployed in the dreamy character of the young count, two years of martial strife and toil, the hardy life of a barbaric camp, and long resistance to inclement weathers, had now ripened into complete development. His tall, spare stature; his sinewy frame, suppled and hardened by constant bodily exercise and endurance; the smooth metallic lucidity of his firm and finely-chiseled features, embrowned and fortified by long exposure to wind and sun; and that severe suavity and gentle sternness of manner which is only the attribute of men who have fought down violent passions, and con
quered the prerogative of a strict reliance on their own powers-all these, in their accumulated impression, gave to the bearing of Count Edmond that accurate smoothness and strong consistency of power which the sculptor demands from the bronze to which he confides his conception of a demigod. The large regard of his luminous and quiet eye, naturally soft and plaintive, had also acquired an intensity and depth, which lent to the spiritual expression of his whole countenance a placidity that might well pass for the repose of a soul at peace with its own passions. In all the manner and appearance of him at that time there was, according to the unanimous testimony of eyewitnesses, that lordly, unobtrusive, but irresistible self-assertion, which is the characteristic of those who, from the habit of controlling themselves, instinctively control others, and assume unconscious but undisputed precedence in the great Ceremony of Life.
His influence upon those around him was the greater inasmuch as, during the last two years of absence, he had either acquired that rare tact, or developed that yet rarer natural quality, which graces the submission of one will to another, by giving to it the appearance rather of a spontaneous homage than of a conscious concession.
There are some natures that are like suns. Place them wherever you will, they instantly become the centre, and control the movement of all things. This inborn faculty of control exists quite independently of age, or experience, or social position, or intellectual power. You often see a child of six years old ruling by right divine an entire household; and nothing is
more common in public life than to find men of no surpassing capacities, whose names never appear in the newspapers, but who nevertheless exercise paramount and permanent influence over the master-minds of their time.
The most striking novelty in the present conduct. of Count Edmond was that he now spoke with perfect frankness and marked frequency about all that was still most painful in the events of the past. So far from avoiding allusion to these recollections (upon which, in the minds of Juliet and his mother, two years of silence had settled undisturbed), he seemed rather to seek for every occasion to dwell upon them. And, in doing this, he contrived with such singular skill to make these yet sore subjects the accustomed ground for constant interchange of ideas, that day by day, and little by little, they at last began to arrange themselves, under his guiding and constructive touch, into the consistent parts of a picture, the general effect of which, if pensive, was at least not painful, as daily more and more at the touch of a master-hand the new and brighter lights that grew out upon the foreground softened the harsh outlines, and melted them imperceptibly back into the long perspective of the past.
If by such means, on those occasions which he had acquired the faculty to create, Edmond, with unwearied assiduity incessantly, either sketching in new objects, or dexterously completing with consummate art such faint unfinished indications as he chanced to find already on the canvas, contrived by slow degrees to engage the interest of Juliet, by, as it were, drawing her into counsel upon every detail of that work of